"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Friday, August 22, 2008

In Plain Sight: Stan By Me

"My family will be the death of me."

What an opening act! What a set up! This seemed to be the first of the two-part finale for season one, and in this episode, the writers really delivered a knockout. I think we're finally getting that clash of Mary's personal and professional life that's been building from the pilot when Brandi showed up.

The abduction of Mary was well done because they chloroformed her. If she weren't drugged, she would have not been overpowered. As it was, she nearly got away. Of course, they thought they were grabbing Brandi so why did they need to knock her out? Also -- continuity error -- Russell said they grabbed the first hot blonde that came out of the house. That's not where Mary was snatched; she was in the alley outside the theater.

One of the best sequences was Jinx's audition. She sang "Neverland" -- and yes, that really was Lesley Ann Warren singing. She has legit musical comedy chops -- Victor/Victoria, TV's second Cinderella (after Julie Andrews, before Brandi). That was also the perfect song for her character -- it's from Broadway's Peter Pan, a song is about never growing up, and isn't that just so Jinx Shannon? Jinx's reaction to seeing Mary at the audition was a stunner. All that pent up anger. I've heard week after week how frustrated Mary is with her family, who knew they were equally frustrated with Mary! Jinx turned on Mary and screamed, "The only time you're ever happy is when Brandi or I are miserable. You root for our failures. It's the only thing that gives your life meaning." Whoa! That's a heavy burden, especially since Jinx and Brandi are living off Mary. How can her mother really feel that way?

As screwed up as Jinx is, I'm really ticked off with Brandi. She is a maddening character. I think I hate her guts. She's selfish and manipulative. Oh, and did I mention that she's stupid! She's determined to get herself or someone close to her killed. She's already succeeded with Chuck. I think another victim is going to fall. Look out Raph.

The revelation about Mary's background was also stunning. "Honestly, with this family tree. It's a wonder she got into the U.S. Marshall service at all." Boy, did Agent O'Connor hit the nail on the head. Mary's father is on the most wanted list! Jinx and Brandi have rap sheets. I'm wondering if Mary did something underhanded to get into the Federal Marshall program. Did she bend the rules to achieve her goals?

Mary McCormack really shone in this episode. I loved the way she played Spanky, scamming him about the $500,000. It would have worked if not for the media alert the FBI was told not to put out. Later on, when she had to go along with the rape attempt to put herself in a position to kill Russell, that was Emmy worthy. It was also cathartic to see her shoot the guy -- and completely justified.

Other points of interest:

The FBI comes off really badly. Not only is O'Connor a pain in the ass, the two dead agents in New Jersey hang out at Chuck's long enough for Spanky to get the drop on them. If they had just taken Chuck to the office as planned, they wouldn't have been shot.

Hooray for the homeless dude. Bobby D. acted like he couldn't be bothered with him, but the guy did the right thing. So much for prejudging the bums in the alley.

Did you see Marshall's emotional reaction to Mary's abduction? Talking to Bobby and Stan, Marshall was choked up.

The red Mercury Caliente doesn't have seatbelts. Isn't that illegal? Of course, Jinx and Brandi seem to regularly break the law.

For the first time all season, Stan finally rose to the occasion. He not only was involved in the case, he had the topper at the end, locking Agent O'Connor in the office to cool his heels. I guess that's why this episode was called "Stan By Me."

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