Monday, April 26, 2010

FBI on 'Sight'

USA Network has been using the "Characters Welcome" slogan for a few years and it has always been apropos for a network that has given us Shawn and Gus on Psych, every character from the since canceled The 4400, and of course, Mary Shannon of the U.S. Marshal service (WITSEC division) from In Plain Sight.  But this week, one tiny scene with one tiny moment (that, ironically, dealt with a lack of dialogue) proved why making "Characters Welcome" on your shows is so important.  Sure, the story surrounding the witness-of-the-week is usually interesting, but it is the characters that keep us coming back each week.  And there is no other character on TV quite like Mary.  I'm pretty sure they broke the mold after they made her.  This is what makes her fascinating (you never know what she's going to say next), but it's the more sullen moments that make her sympathetic and relatable.  Watching Marshall trying to keep up with her while simultaneously attempting to hide his very real feelings for her is always fun, but I don't think I've ever seen him unable to say anything at all.  He was completely vocally impotent for an awkwardly long pause.

Telling your partner that you and your fiance broke up isn't on the list of the easiest topics of conversation, but I don't think that Mary thought the news would stun Marshall into silence.  It was already an awkward moment, but Marshall's inability to think of anything to change the subject to made it even more so.  All Mary wanted was some sort of distraction from this latest chapter in her dysfunctional personal life, but Marshall couldn't think of anything else to ramble on about leaving the two in a very uncomfortable state of silence as they drove to their next location.  Knowing how Marshall feels about Mary, I think his vocal impotence had to do with him being unsure how to take the news.  He had to be excited to learn that he has a second chance with Mary, but also sad for her because it was obvious that she was hurting from the decision.  Of course, the entire scene was symbolic of his inability to tell her how he feels.  Again, I'm not necessarily advocating for these two to get together, but I do find their relationship interesting because of Marshall's more personal stake in it.

The witness this week had Mary and Marshall taking a field trip to Denver where they promptly learned that they were going to be the ones to break the bad news about entering the WITSEC program.  The FBI, whom the witness had been helping for three years, neglected to tell him that his involvement in catching and prosecuting his company for laundering money to terrorist organizations would mean that he and his family would no longer be safe, and thus, would need to enter WITSEC.  As you can imagine, this did not go over well with Mary and she and Agent Faber (guest star Steven Weber) clashed from the moment they met.  Things didn't improve between them when the witness refused the program and wound up kidnapped by the very people Mary wanted to protect him from.  In the end, they got the witness back safely and he and his family entered the program so no harm, no foul.  Perhaps, this was why Faber thought it the perfect moment to ask Mary out.  As she put it, he has terrible timing.  Looks like Marshall will have to wait a while to make his move as well.  But hey, at least he has his rambling ability back!

In Plain Sight airs Wednesday nights on USA Network. If you missed this episode, check it out for free at  And for more on the show, visit    


John said...

This was a good episode this week – of course most are.

The witness of the week had a new situation and you could really feel for the guy. Faber was an ass, but he was supposed to be.

I don’t really want Mary and Marshall as a couple. I am not sure Marshall even knows what he wants from Mary.

I don’t know if Marshall’s feelings for Mary got in the way or if it was just that he knew how much pain she was in, but performance anxiety got in Marshall’s way at a critical time.

This week we expanded the Sorkin universe for guest stars, going beyond “The West Wing” to include “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”.

Teresa B said...

Marshall's performance anxiety was one of the best scenes in that episode. I cracked up! I rewatched the episode last night just so I could get another good laugh.

Anonymous said...

The "verbal impotence" scene was hilarious and well-played by both actors.

I agree that Marshall's larger emotional stake in their relationship makes it more interesting to watch. But I disagree with John above - I think Marshall does know what he wants, and it's Mary (he's been with her long enough and has seen the good, the bad and the ugly from her. He knows who she is). But he also knows that she's an emotional wreck who isn't great at relationships, and trying to move things to the next level might hurt their friendship/partnership. But last time he waited around for all the conditions to be right before doing something she ended up engaged to someone else. It will be interesting to see if Marshall makes a move in the near future.

Didn't care for Faber that much, but I strongly suspect that when he's back there might be a fling with Mary. But I hope it isn't more than that - Mary's life is full of people she has to look after, and Faber (with his daddy issues) would be another one. She needs someone who doesn't need babysitting and can take care of her once in a while. Raph could have been that person, but they just wanted different things out of life.