'Saving Grace': Acts of God

It was all about acts of God this week on the return of Saving Grace -- even  more so than usual.
I have decided that TNT is trying to break me. They follow up a superlative but soul-shattering episode of The Closer with a pretty damn good but soul-shattering episode of Saving Grace. Thanks a lot.

Spoiler warning: Head to underground shelters immediately!

First order of business: A horrific bus crash, caused by a broken axle that was subject to recall, killed three children and seriously injured scores more. The evidence suggests that the bus company owners knew the axle was compromised, and went so far as to fake documentation and file off serial numbers to avoid having to pull the bus out of service and replace it. Grace is so full of rage and grief at this that she decides to confront the bus company owner and bully a confession out of him, no matter what it takes. She doesn't care that tornadoes are threatening the whole city -- she'll stay out there until she gets her answers.

Second: Yeah, about those tornadoes. We get some stunning -- and quite ominous -- footage of the funnel clouds forming and descending, and yes, it really does look like Wrath of God stuff. Grace ends up on Search and Rescue, where she finds Dorothy, a woman pinned in the wreckage of the building. Dorothy turns out to be the office manager, the owner's sister and daughter of the founder of the bus company -- and the woman who signed off on the papers with the faked serial numbers that kept the bus in service. Grace alternates between Avenging and Guardian Angel roles. On the one hand, she badgers Dorothy, who is trapped and in pain, into confessing her complicity. Dorothy begs for forgiveness, and asks for Grace to put her out of her misery. But Grace also stays with her, cares for her, protects her with her body, even handcuffs herself to Dorothy in a challenge to God himself that if he wants to take this woman, he's going to have to go through Grace. It's amazing, especially because we've seen how terrified she is of the storm.

In the end, Grace gets the confession she needs and is able to arrest the bus company owner for his role in the deaths. And Dorothy seems to be safe -- but Grace finds out later that Dorothy died on her way to the hospital in -- you guessed it -- a bus crash. Earl tries to comfort Grace that she managed to save Dorothy. But then she died, Grace says. It wasn't that kind of save, Earl implies. The body died, but the soul was redeemed. That's not what Grace had in mind.

The rest of the team is similarly shaken. Rhetta helps Henry move the bodies of the poor dead kids from the bus crash into the morgue freezer, and they end up trapped there. No one knows where they are. Henry has some wine stashed, and he gets drunk enough to tell Rhetta that Grace has helped him in a very personal, intimate way. Poor Henry -- he has no idea that sex is one of the least personal things that Grace actually does. The most horrible moment is when Rhetta notices a funny smell -- and then realizes it's the children's corpses, starting to go bad. Oh, Rhetta -- that was one of the moments when the full horror of the children's death really hit. The grieving father didn't do it for me as much as Rhetta reacting to the smell.

Everyone else is in the police station, which becomes HQ for downtown Search and Rescue. Ham and Butch end up battling it out over Grace, who's still lost, and I wish I cared more about that, but I'm kind of over that storyline. We get it, Grace slept with both men -- hell, with every man in a 30-mile radius -- and that messes with people's heads. Ham doesn't deserve it, Butch doesn't deserve it, we get it, move on.

Finally, Leon is having some serious trouble. A new guard vows revenge for the guard Leon killed, and comes close to suffocating Leon.  Leon decides to fight back. But first, he has to break up with Earl -- see, Leon has decided to convert to Islam, so he figures Earl will be out. And it annoyed me that Earl played along with this -- come on, was anyone surprised when Earl was still there after Leon made his declaration of faith? Everything Earl has said in the past has led us to believe that his boss encompasses all human religions. So why go through the charade that Leon had to choose between Allah and God? What was the point? Was it to make sure Leon was serious about his faith, or was it just a way to pad out the script? Anyway, Earl's intervention convinces Leon he won't get to heaven if he kills his guard, so there's that.

What did you think? Were you eagerly awaiting Grace's return? Did the episode live up to your expectations? Was the tornado disappearing before it hit Grace and Dorothy an act of God, or a quirk of weather? Did Dorothy deserve to die? Are you as sick of the "men fight over Grace" plot as I am? Did Earl staying with Leon after his conversion surprise you, or did you know all along? And now that he's pulled out Tornadoes, what else will God smite Grace with? Dude, I'd pay money to see Grace deal with a plague of toads.

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