Sunday, April 22, 2012

In Plain Sight

USA Network's In Plain Sight is in its final season. When the show was renewed for it's fourth season, USA went ahead and renewed it for a fifth season, too. This made it rather strange when USA cancelled the show before season five even began airing. Now that season five is airing and the series premiere is set for May 4th, the show has become serious and introspective in a way that seems to do justice to the beautiful writing that brought it this far.

Something I have always enjoyed about In Plain Sight, aside for the biting sarcasm, wit and the best one-liners in television, is the closing voiceover. It allows us to see the softer, vulnerable side of the hard as nails U.S. Marshal Mary Shannon. And for five seasons, the writers have written smart, almost philosophical voice overs to close the show. In the final season, they seem to be taking the voiceovers much more seriously. In fact, there is a seriousness to the show that reflects on what is about to happen. The show will end. Mary Shannon will be just another character in television history. But on the show, there is something bigger happening and the voiceovers reflect that.

Since I first took note of the new depth of the voiceovers, I have found three particularly meaningful and thought provoking. The voiceover that seemed to begin the trend:
"What is unleashed in the soul when we love outside ourselves is sharp, unexpected and beyond words. Love turns smart people stupid and conjures courage from thin air. That we can love so wildly, so recklessly, yet feel it in the tame ways of everyday, is something of a miracle.
For some, a miracle -- ordinary or otherwise -- would take a miracle. Still, there's room for repentance; there's hope, if only in glimmers. For others, hope is all there is.
Love, miracle, hope -- not my kind of words. But I find, as life pushes relentlessly on, that they nudge their way in and set up shop, undeniable as moon tides. Pie-in-the-sky magical thinking is replaced by a grounded, grownup sense of wonder, and the reality that something as simple as a sunrise can still surprise you." 
-- Mary, Four Marshals and a Baby
Mary's skepticism is something I have always connected with. I suspect this is what draws many viewers to the show, just as I'm certain the brilliant, witty writing draws a significant audience. The line about the sunrise is one of the best lines In Plain Sight has offered in five seasons.

There isn't much that can preface the second voiceover:
"The mind's ability to fool itself knows almost no boundaries, but eventually the lucky among us come to our senses, the smoke fades, and we see things for how they really are. Whether by words of wisdom or the flicker of a flashlight, we muddle through the fog, landing on the long and winding road we're meant to travel. However baffling, we learn to trust the path or at least stay on it, and having no earthly clue where it's heading means we'll never be lost. At least not for long." 
-- Mary, Reservations, I've Got A Few
The closer we get to the May 4th finale, the more introspective Mary appears to be. We have seen her struggle with her family, particularly her father. We have seen Mary struggle with her partner, his engagement and their friendship. We have seen Mary struggle with the challenge of working and having a new baby. We have seen all of these things on the screen, but the most telling moments with Mary Shannon have come when she isn't on screen at all. Her voiceovers will be the longest lasting aspect of the show.

Friday night's episode contained perhaps the greatest voiceover the show has featured:
"Everything's mythical when you're seven-years-old: fathers, mothers, Santa, God, the alleged protective powers of a gold medallion. It's not that certain things seem larger than life, it's just...life seems larger, but the world keeps spinning and in a thousand tiny surrenders, or sometimes one fell swoop, what you'd seen as truly mythical you learn is merely myth. The good news, if you can call it that, is that ultimately you find other myths to believe in, and other men as well. You see the myth for what it is: close up and in its bones. Smaller and greater and more like you than you care to admit, it nevertheless leaves you, always, every single time, sitting foolish on the doorstep awaiting its return." 
-- Mary, The Medal of Mary
The beauty of this show is that they can go from zingers and the best one-liners on television to a commentary on the most difficult things we each struggle with in our lives.  It is as much a commentary on living as it is a show about witness protection.

When In Plain Sight comes to an end on May 4th, the voiceovers may remain the most important.  

2 comments:

Joanie said...

I stumbled across your blog, this post in particular, as I rewatched In Plain Sight (I'm already nostalgic as all get out) and had googled "Undeniable as moontides". The end of episode voiceovers have always managed to get to me, particularly that episode's because it required me to think back on a time when my life changed in the most drastic way: I became a mother. Here I am, twenty years later, working as a nanny, watching little miracles unfold before me as my young charge discovers the world around him. I'm reminded of the inherent trust he has in me, in his parents, how they had to learn to trust a stranger to care for their son with the same love and concern they feel...we've become our own strange kind of family because we all love this one small child.

Anyhow, I really wanted to tell you how much I appreciate the way you wrapped up those several episode voiceovers because they all spoke to the changes that Mary's going through, that I'm going through, and that I know others are enduring. It's nice to know it means enough to someone else, too.

Don't know if you're a mother or not, but just in case: Happy Mother's Day!

Joanie said...

I stumbled across your blog, this post in particular, as I rewatched In Plain Sight (I'm already nostalgic as all get out) and had googled "Undeniable as moontides". The end of episode voiceovers have always managed to get to me, particularly that episode's because it required me to think back on a time when my life changed in the most drastic way: I became a mother. Here I am, twenty years later, working as a nanny, watching little miracles unfold before me as my young charge discovers the world around him. I'm reminded of the inherent trust he has in me, in his parents, how they had to learn to trust a stranger to care for their son with the same love and concern they feel...we've become our own strange kind of family because we all love this one small child.

Anyhow, I really wanted to tell you how much I appreciate the way you wrapped up those several episode voiceovers because they all spoke to the changes that Mary's going through, that I'm going through, and that I know others are enduring. It's nice to know it means enough to someone else, too.

Don't know if you're a mother or not, but just in case: Happy Mother's Day!