Donnie Wahlberg guest-stars in tonight’s season three premiere of In Plain Sight [USA, Wednesdays, 10/9C]: Father Goes West. Wahlberg plays Boston trucker robber Jimmy Porter who runs afoul of his boss when his crew tackles a truck that turns out to have no cargo. Faced with his boss killing his son, he kills the boss and his gunmen and winds up in Albuquerque under the watchful eye of Witsec Marshals Mary Shannon [Mary McCormack] and Marshall Mann [Fred Weller].
At the end of season three, Mary was shot and the final shot was of her in a hospital bed. Now, she’s back at work and troubled by a truck heist that followed Jimmy’s old MO exactly. Jimmy, who is remarried, with an adoptive son as well as Nicholas to look after, has no alibi – and has a second mortgage on his diner, on which his payments are three months in arrears.
Making things more complicated for Mary are her family, which is unexpectedly harmonious – making her very nervous and the fact that her memory of her shooting is blocked – which makes her touchier than usual. In the case of her apparently together family, she temporarily avoids the situation by fleeing; in the second, Marshall tries to lend a hand by waging psychological warfare on Lala, the gang leader who witnessed the shooting, in an attempt to get him to identify the shooter.
Father Goes West us a well thought out hour. Tension builds as Mary gets more frustrated with her memory and Jimmy seems more and more likely to be behind the heist. Seeing Mary’s family be as harmonious as they appear in the ep is almost as unnerving for the audience as it is for Mary – we’ve seen how well her family functions [or rather, doesn’t] as a unit and to see them this together through an entire ep is almost creepy – and certainly unexpected.
A scene with Paul Ben-Victor, as Mary and Marshall’s boss, Stan, reminds us of how much Mary hates public displays of emotion – and sets up Mary’s final scene, in which she allows herself to be more vulnerable than we’ve seen her before [even in a coma in the hospital she seemed more guarded].
Weller shows us, once again, how well he knows his character – and how well Marshal knows Mary – when he explains to her how he was able to bounce back from being shot, while it took her much longer to recover. He also gives us a glimpse into the workings of Marshal’s mind when he allows us to see how much he enjoys playing mind games with Lala – while simultaneously hurting the gang leader’s business dealings.
Wahlberg, though, gives the standout performance in the ep. His love for his family; his deep reservoir of rage towards anyone who would harm them is utterly believable. In some scenes, he is reminiscent of Charles Bronson at his best.
USA’s tag, characters welcome, applies more to In Plain Sight more than any other of its excellent series. That’s a good thing.
Final Grade: B+