For its fourth season, USA’s In Plain Sight [Sundays, 10/9C] returns to its original timeslot with an episode that is a bit of a departure. The Art of the Steal finds Marshal Mary Shannon fearing that her sister, Brandi, has become involved in grand theft auto [again!] – and seeks advice and insight from a car thief in the WITSEC program in Albuquerque.
When Mary [Mary McCormack] learns that her sister, Brandi’s [Nichole Hiltz] fiancé’s posh auto dealership has lost half-a-dozen expensive cars to theft, she immediate assumes that Brandi is somehow involved – much to the embarrassment of Brandi, who insists she’s innocent. In an attempt to find out for sure, Mary has Riley Barnett, a car thief in the WITSEC program in Albuquerque check her out at work.
Meanwhile, Mary’s boss, Stan [Paul Ben-Victor] is insisting she exchange her cool blue Mustang for a less conspicuous car, and is also interviewing for a marshal to fill the vacancy in the Albuquerque office. Between this, her mother’s successful dance studio and her sister’s impending wedding, Mary is surrounded by change – and she is not happy. To make matters worse, her partner, Marshall [Fred Weller] is dating a local cop – a perky young thing named Abigail Chaffee [Rachel Boston], who also happens to be investigating the stolen vehicles. Even better [for us, at least], there’s a life-altering change ahead for Mary [that I can’t wait to see!].
Another plot arc follows Brandi and Peter [Joshua Malina] as she meets his parents for the first time – and they do something to completely alienate him.
The Art of the Steal is typical of In Plain sight in a few regards: Mary is acerbic and resistant to change [when she is ordered to get rid of her Mustang, for example, she returns to the same model of Probe – in a color that Marshall refers to as ‘angry aubergine’ – as she had before acquiring the muscle car]; Marshall is drily witty, and Mary is quick to believe ill of her sister [though, based on past experience, she can hardly be blamed for that default position].
The majority of the episode finds Mary – and therefore Marshall – working on the car thefts in an unofficial capacity, under the watchful eye of Detective Chaffee. The array of marshals interviewed for the Albuquerque office is amusing in the many ways it irks Mary, as is the genuine love between Brandi and Peter [I can picture Mary Shannon planning a bridal shower – and it ain’t pretty!].
Besides having the Mary/Marshall relationship down, whoever wrote the episode [no credits on the screener] certainly understands Mary well enough to be able to create uncomfortable scenarios in which to place her. The director creates adequate space for maximum impact of the ep’s humor [Marshall sitting in Mary’s Mustang – that’s all I’m saying…] without skimping on the ep’s more dramatic moments.
Overall, The Art of the Steal is one of the funniest eps of the series – and after some of the dramatics we’ve seen on the show, it’s refreshing to see an In Plain Sight ep that is, primarily, just fun.
Final Grade: B+