It's so good to have Mary, Marshall and "In Plain Sight" back. Even if Mary's on administrative leave after her kidnapping by drug dealers, and her PTSD is manifesting itself as heightened empathy and a remarkably positive outlook. And even if she's got to relinquish control of an investigation into the death of one of her witnesses to Marshall.
Spoilers, flowing like a river, right ahead…
Seventeen years ago, three bikers checked into a family's going-out-of-business motel in Arkansas. They stashed drugs and bags of gold coins in an air vent, and later that night the mother, Lily, ended up getting shot as the father tried to break up an argument. She testified against the leader, and the next day the father dropped dead. Lily and the kids — Angela, Amy, and Henry, went into witness protection. And now Lily's been found dead in her home. She left a note — she's begun to show symptoms of Huntington's disease, and she's decided to end her life. But investigators have ruled the death a homicide.
Enter Mary and Marshall. Marshall's put in charge of the case, and Mary's surprisingly eager to be his "helper." Maybe that is what 30 hours of sleep can do for you — I'd like to find out. Stan's also brought in a new office administrator, and he and Marshall brace themselves for Mary's reaction — which is calm, low-key and very un-Marylike. Except when she shoves her desk in a momentary tantrum. And when she finally does break — sobbing, trying to catch her breath, and feeling like she's totally broken — Marshall's there to talk her down off the ledge. It bears repeating: we all could use a Marshall in our lives.
Angela, Amy and Henry — now grown — are devastated by their mother's death. Lily died from a mix of carbon dioxide and a lethal alkaloid toxin. Angela gets sick and lands in the hospital with extreme cardiac distress, and after some initial fumbling, they connect the dots and realize it's the same poison in their mother's system. And there's a new red flag: the biker Lily's testimony put in jail did a 10-year sentence and moved to Albuquerque. But it's not what it seems. The guy tells Mary and Marshall an amazing story about how Lily forgave and befriended him, and help him settle in Albuquerque. She turned his life around, he says. After they tell him they suspect Lily was killed, he realizes she must have the gold coins. He and his biker friends had stolen them from a chemist who, we find out later, coated them with the alkaloid poison — which ended up killing Lily's husband and Lily, as she divvied up the coins for her kids. It also nearly killed Angela and Amy, who both handled the coins when they went to get them from the storage lockers she directed them to.
In the end, Angela explains that she's the one who found their mother and read her note warning whoever was coming in the house that she had plugged the exhaust pipe from the stove to fill the house with carbon monoxide. She wrote another note explaining to Amy and Henry why their mother did what she did.
Back at Mary's house, both Jinx and Brandi are surprisingly much less annoying than anyone would have guessed — they've dialed it way down in deference to what Mary's been through. It doesn't stop Jinx from getting obsessed with tracking down the source and location of the letters from Mary's dad. And Brandi needs to say goodbye to Chuck in the morgue. But in the end what comes through more than anything is Mary's ability to be thankful for the fact that they're all awake and alive.
Some quick additional thoughts:
- I love Marshall, I love Bobby D, and I really love Mary's reaction to their bonding: "And you've become black in the process?"
- Watching Marshall, Bobby D and Stan react to Mary's unexpected calm was both funny and touching.
- I'm eager to see what will happen with Brandi now. This season's starting just two days after last season left off, so everything's still very fresh — but I was surprised to see no mention of what's hanging over Brandi's head.
What did you think? Did you find Mary's efforts to cope in character? And will this episode make you run the other way should you ever encounter stolen Nazi coins?