Saving Grace: Progress Made In Inches

 Saving Grace Review Television

When Saving Grace returns this evening [TNT, 9C], the series shifts into high gear – exploring Grace’s need for self-destructive behaviour [one-night stands, drinking, taking risks on the job] at the expense of a family, friends and colleagues who care about her. Tonight’s new episode revolves around a school bus accident and a group of tornados. 

It’s Better When I Can See You opens with a school bus accident that results in three deaths and several serious injuries. Between EMTs trying to get the survivors to hospital and Grace’s [Holly Hunter] team trying to establish whether the accident was an accident – and everyone trying to get to safety before a series of tornados strikes Oklahoma City, things are about twenty times as hectic as usual.

It’s when it’s discovered that part of a snapped axle is determined to have part of its serial number filed off, that the school bus investigation becomes a homicide investigation. While Grace takes off, solo, to ask some questions at the bus company, the first tornado strikes. At the precinct house, Ham [Kenny Johnson] and Butch [Bailey Chase] have to contend with the father of a dead girl as they try to get their offices back up and running.

Meanwhile, Grace has joined in the rescue effort at the bus company and finds a woman partially buried under rubble and badly injured. When further tornado activity strands Grace with the woman, she decides to carry on her investigation while helping the woman. Back at the precinct, forensics expert Rhetta [Laura San Giacomo] and medical examiner Henry [Mark L. Taylor] get trapped in the autopsy room and Henry breaks out two bottles of champagne he’s been saving for a special occasion… or an emergency.

The angelic Earl [Leon Rippy] finds himself bound by his non-interference rule, but still gets several good moments with both Grace and death row inmate Leon Cooley [Bokeem Woodbine] – whom God wishes to work with Grace, despite her confusion and efforts to avoid it.

Saving Grace Review Television

Upcoming eps deal with Grace actually dating in an old-fashioned manner; tattoos on both Leon and Earl having something to do with Grace; Leon’s conversion to Islam; Grace getting into work late because she was really literally tied up [well, handcuffed, anyway], and Rhetta insistence that the small gifts Earl’s given Grace being clues to something big – as Earl puts it “I’m just Fed Ex, trying to deliver a message” – something that will go a long way toward explaining Grace’s self-destructive behaviour.

When Saving Grace premiered, it caught hold of a solid audience’s imagination. Though uneven [the balance of angelic whimsy and cop world grit needed some tweaking, and Earl’s presence needed to be more than funny]. Since then, we’ve seen more colors out of Earl, and his insistence that God has Big Plans for Grace is seeming more and more possible now that Earl is beginning to talk with most of the people in her life [though not letting them know he’s Grace’s “Last Chance Angel”].

The writing has tightened up considerably and the cast –which has been capable from the get-go – is making the most of it. The special effects are mostly subtle, though Earl’s wings are still bright and flashy – and still not quite believable. As the writing has tightened up, the show’s direction has also stepped And, unlike Grace, whom Earl tells she has only progressed in inches…. these four episodes really rock & roll!

There are still moments when the balance doesn’t seem quite right and the pace falters, but they are fewer and farther between. The result is a more effective show that has really begun to live up to its potential. The unique – and utterly unexpected – season finale definitely works. Saving Grace is closing in on terms of quality.

Final Grade: B+