Failure is never an option for US Marshals, so it stands to reason “In Plain Sight” would inevitably focus on what happens when the best efforts of many ultimately are for nothing.
The spoilers would never stand on a ledge for inspiration.
The initial plotline has been seemingly ripped from the headlines: a major bridge has collapsed, causing numerous lives to be lost… except for our purposes, one Norman Baker (The Wire’s Clarke Peters) has been singled out as the reason why the Omaha structure failed. He testifies during the trial of Carl the architect that his plans were not used and his signature was forged. Ultimately, the jury finds Carl not guilty, shifting the blame and other bad attention to Norman, thus allowing for his inclusion into WITSEC.
Flash forward five months from the trial, and Norman just can’t let go of his old life (a serious no-no), as evidenced by Mary and Marshall arriving with Omaha ribs in tow only to find a model of his first ever bridge sitting in his house. Norman looks visibly whipped, which leads him to abandon his car by a local bridge, note in glove box and personal effects strewn all over the river bed below.
With many of the collapse victims looking for a singular cause to focus their grief, Eleanor provides two primary individuals who want Norman held accountable… or dead. Marshall decides its time to pay a courtesy call to Norman’s house, except it has long since been packed up and shipped out. The two things left specifically for Marshall: the stereo system and Norman’s first ever box of drafting tools. What really comes from left field is Norman’s side job as chemist Steven Mayberry. He worked for the company nine months until he packed is up, leaving town with his earnings, but leaving behind five boxes worth of stuff from his locker.
Mary and Marshall don’t know what to make of Norman/Steven’s boxes until Stan reveals our man of bridges just flew back to Nebraska. Road trip! Once in the middle of the country, Mary and Marshall offer to protect Carl during his memorial service, but he declines. They attend anyway; Marshall seemingly on top of things by spotting a threat, but it turns out only to be a photographer. Carl is furious at the distraction, but he doesn’t realize Norman’s been arrested for a DUI 70 miles away. Yeah, about that… it’s only Thomas, one of the angry victims of the collapse “accidentally” posing as Norman to further tarnish the bridge builder’s name.
The Norman trail ultimately leads to the Platte River Crossing on State Highway 454, where our builder-turned-junior chemist has rigged his first ever project with a healthy dose of nitroglycerine. To his credit, he does get Carl to confess that shoddy materials and a pressing deadline lead to the demise of the bridge, but once alone, Norman confesses to the camera that his way of designing and entire thought process in general will be the downfall of the remaining 25 bridges he’s designed. With that, he hands the tape to Marshall and activates the dead man’s switch. Marshall and Mary do their best in two wildly different approaches to talk Norman down from blowing the bridge… but to no avail. Boom goes the dynamite, and Norman is no more after a most spectacular explosion.
In other news:
- Jinx is still (presumably) off in rehab, leaving Brandi with the very small family storyline of the week. She eats the ribs, much to Mary’s chagrin, and wants her help with Psych homework, but Mary is always too busy to help, leaving Marshall to answer on Mary’s behalf on the way home from Omaha.
- Mary seems to be warming to Eleanor, having taken full advantage of the new office electric stapler. With that and a couple lines from Stan, that’s our entire involvement with the rest of the Marshal service.
What did you think? Was this a big enough Marshall storyline for you? Did you actually expect the Norman character to kill himself?