TELEVISION: In Plain Sight – In the Season Premiere, The Aftermath!

In Plain Sight [USA, Sunday, 10/9C] opens its second season immediately following the events of the first season finale. Marshal Mary Shannon [Mary McCormack] has lived through her kidnapping and, in getting herself free, has killed a man – now, in the season premiere, Mary is on administrative leave pending psychological evaluation [which will happen next week].

IN PLAIN SIGHT -- Pictured: (l-r) Nichole Hiltz as Brandi Shannon, Lesley Ann Warren as Jinx Shannon, Frederick Weller as Marshall Mann, Mary McCormack as Mary Shannon, Paul Ben-Victor as Stan McQueen -- USA Network Photo: Michael Muller

That means that when one of her witnesses is murdered, it’s Marshal Marshall [Fred Weller] who has to investigate – though their boss, Stan [the excellent Paul Ben-Victor] allows her to accompany him as an observer. To complicate things, there’s a new assistant, Eleanor [Holly Maples], in the office – and we all know how much Mary likes change.

One of the things that makes In Plain Sight unique is the combination of setting [Albuquerque] and milieu [the Federal Witness Protection Program]. It’s also different because its lead character, Mary Shannon is not just a tomboy in her dream job, but a person trying to juggle two-and-a-half families: one composed of her alcoholic ditz of a mother, Jinx [Lesley Ann Warren] and her equally ditzy but now drug-free sister, Brandi [Nicole Hiltz]; the second composed of her colleagues – father-figure Stan and brother Marshall; and the potential for yet another family with Raphael [Christian de la Fuente].

In the premiere, Mary is trying to deal with the previously mentioned murder; getting a witness to stay straight and testify against his cohorts in a pot-growing business, and the mess the FBI left her home in following the events of the first season finale. That’s a lot to deal with, and it’s heightened by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

If there’s one thing I didn’t expect in the second season premiere, Gilted Lily, it was for Brandi and Jinx to be so tolerable. They constitute the one part of the series that didn’t really work for me. They still exasperate Mary, but they are no longer out of this ditsy – they’ve grown a bit, and promise to grow a lot more over this season.

The show still revolves around Mary, though, and even Marshall is glad when he no longer has to be “the boss of her.” The addition of Eleanor to the marshals’ office adds a bit of grit to the one place where Mary really felt at home. Throughout the premiere, the writing is, perhaps, the best it’s been so far. The characters and situations feel right – and the development of Mary’s Post Traumatic Stress is so perfectly twisted that it provides humor and pathos simultaneously.

As the supporting cast becomes more interesting, In Plain Sight just continues to get better and better.

Final Grade: B+

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