In Plain Sight is only a few episodes into a second season, but the creators are already taking some welcome risks with the format of the show. Before the typical structure–a client of Mary’s gets in trouble; the way she digs them out of trouble mirrors a problem in her personal life–gets tired, they’re trying episodes that turn the focus on other characters, including Mary’s co-workers. Two weeks ago, the mystery of the week featured an old case of boss Stan’s; this week’s episode found Marshal Marshall having to gently remind Mary every few minutes that they were dealing with one of his witnesses for a change.
And this week’s worked much better, perhaps because guest star Clarke Peters (as an engineer who cannot believe that he might have contributed to a bridge collapse) is just so generally terrific. He’s been brilliant on The Wire; he was recently menacing on Damages; now he’s been heartbreaking on In Plain Sight. What will it take to get Clarke Peters his own show? Perhaps the same question could be asked concerning Frederick Weller, as the success of this episode might be in the way he mirrored Peters’ character. Just as Mary’s messy, well-meaning but colossally screwed-up witnesses reflect the way she barrels through life, Marshall’s more measured approach was reflected in a witness–a friend–who valued the precision of jazz and engineering perhaps a little too much. Marshall’s closing description of what he thinks Mary would see as Brandie’s tragic flaw–that she sheds her failures like a raincoat, and what that says about respecting failure as a part of life–showed us more character depth than weeks of Mary fighting her mother’s alcoholism or her own PTSD. Playing with the basic pieces of their show hasn’t always borne fruit, but more experiments like this will assure that In Plain Sight is built on a pretty solid foundation.