Saturday, May 5, 2012

Goodbye Mary Shannon

Goodbye: US Marshal, Mary Shannon

********SPOILER ALERT for anyone who hasn’t seen the final episode of In Plain Sight********

It is a bittersweet ending for me and my connection to this amazing show. There is something to be said about going out on top. You haven’t fallen back on your overused mechanisms. You haven’t become trite or boring. You haven’t gone three hundred and sixty degrees over the top like a lot of shows that break ground with interesting characters. When you go out at the top of your game, you’ve hit your stride and are coasting along in your glory. You’ve established a fan base, people who get your show and its intentions and you’ve been able to develop characters to the most interesting. That’s exactly where In Plain Sight has decided to takes its bow.

As I’ve discuss before in my post Queen Badass: US Marshal Mary Shannon.  Check it out here: 

Mary Shannon is a woman with many foibles that give her layers of interest that female characters have lacked in previous generations. She is no Mary Sue: a perfect heroine with skills to tackle anything that comes her way. Her weaknesses make her strong. Her vulnerabilities give her conviction, even though misguided at times. Those vulnerabilities become exposed and breathe true, vital air in the last three episodes of the series. We see James Shannon return thirty years after leaving his daughter on the front lawn with her baby sister in the playpen and her mother sleeping off a hangover in the house. We see Mary holding true to her promise that if she ever set eyes on him again, she would arrest him. Her father shows up at her door and she slaps the cuffs on him – her inner little girl shocked at seeing her daddy there again, her inner woman enraged that he had the balls to come back now after all this time and her inner protector – her marshal side – winning over and doing what needs to be done.

What unfolds is an appropriate handling of the situation. Dad was a criminal, for years on the run, as we find out to protect his family from the criminals he associated with. He’s working one last angle to make sure that no harm will ever come to them. He has cancer – he’s dying and like every good addict/criminal/ or ne’er do well, he’s come to make amends. Mary’s angry, frustrated and bitter. She has every right. But she doesn’t let it consume her. She doesn’t go on a rampage, well she does rage in her endearing Mary way, but that’s not what I meant. She works within the confines of the law she upholds. Of course there is a scene where she eludes the FBI tail that is placed on her house because the dipshit agent in charge, who had been a thorn in her side in the first season, believes that she is aiding her father in his plot. The truth is that she knows this agent is incompetent and that they’ll never find James Shannon. So she goes after him for herself. That is, after all, what marshal’s do – the hunt down fugitives. Through out the course of this, and with some honest talk from Marshall – the best friend a girl could ever have, apparently – she comes to some kind of tacit understanding of who her father really was. While the ancient wound is opened and seeping, she is able to come to terms with the Why. Not that it will ever make it right and she will magically transform to a loving trusting human being, but it provides a closure for her on a story that felt like would never be resolved. Even Jinx her mother, got to say her peace to him, and he her for leaving them at their weakest. The ghosts have been purged. And when James is shot and dies in the hospital, it’s a shock to Mary because I think she wanted just a little more time.

The final episodes ties up the lose ends of whether or not the Albuquerque WITSEC office will close, what happens to Brandi and Jinx, and what exactly is this relationship between Mary and Marshall. Brandi shows up pregnant and sober, matured and ready to tackle motherhood because she admires Mary’s fearlessness to do the same thing. It makes Mary see her sister as an equal now, not someone who needs to be lifted up and taken care of. Jinx stands up to Mary and tells her to get over it – to stop wearing her 'Daddy left me mantle' like a twenty-foot brick wall. She is shocked that her mother had such conviction, but reflects back to when Marshall told her that life was messy and that messy might be what she needs. Jinx has grown too and is able to stand on her own two feet now as well, having embraced her sobriety and feeling strong with in it. Stan, the ever-present rock of the office, has found love in his tango instructor played adorably by a well-aged and beautiful Tia Carrere. He is moving on to be the Deputy Director in DC. Kudos to you Stan. And our dear Marshall Mann is promoted to chief.

But what about Marshall? He’s loved with Mary since day one. We’ve seen how much he cares for her, how he truly understands her and how the thought of losing her tears at his heart. He recognizes that she is the other half of him – his best friend, his partner and the woman who takes precedence above all others. But he also understands that he isn’t in love with Mary because it can’t ever be like that for them. He is her rock and her tether in the storm. She has learned from him that not all men leave. I believe that Mary loves Marshall equally as much. Theirs is a symbiosis, where one can’t really function without the other. In the end, Marshall begs for her to set him free. He wants to be happy, to be able to love Abigail, the cute, perky genuine police detective who is willing to let him go figure out what Mary really means to him. Marshall only ever want to protect Mary. He wants to know that Mary will be strong enough on her own so he can move forward. Mary, who has been through so much over the past few weeks, doesn’t freak out, doesn’t fight, doesn’t try to hold on with her sarcasm and snarky attitude. What she does is gracefully take a step aside because she only wants him to be happy. She admits that she likes Abigail, that she is good for him. And she knows that Marshall will still always be there if she needs him. He is her soulmate in the purest sense of the term. And while I’ve hoped and wished that these two would end up together, I am pleased with how it worked out. It places value on the true friendship between a man and a woman and it honors each individual’s personality and needs. They didn’t go for the expected or the cliché. And that’s what good writing does.

So yes, I am sad to see such a character driven adventure end. But I am so glad that it ended in such a classy way. I cherish everything that this series has taught me as a writer. I go back to what is important to me in character development and relationships. I look to this amazing show and Mary Shannon as the mold. She is what I want to write. She is the strength and courage and the way I want to portray women. Thank you Mary, and thank you In Plain Sight for giving me a pinnacle to emulate.

~Indigo Grace

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