Saving Grace – Episode 3-6 Review

A young woman is held prisoner in her own home and raped repeatedly, and when Grace disappears on her way to the crime scene after taking the victim’s statement, her colleagues fear the worst. Frantic with worry, Rhetta and Ham lead the manhunt for their friend, and Earl struggles to keep his cool as things begin to look increasingly bleak for Grace. 

Grace’s inexplicable period of abstinence came to a grinding halt at the beginning of this episode. Ham, romantic soul that he is, professed his burning desire to screw his partner’s brains out, and Grace obligingly ripped off her clothes and threw herself at him before he’d even had chance to ring the doorbell. Earl was forced to make a hasty retreat after stealing a couple of beers from Grace’s fridge (which is more well-stocked than the local liquor store), and seemed amused by Grace’s determination to find Neely – who is still AWOL and as much of an enigma as ever.

This episode had moments of brilliance, but ultimately proved to be anti-climactic. When Captain Perry first discovered Grace’s abandoned Porsche, and witnesses reported seeing her sprinting after a man who shared all the characteristics of the twisted perpetrator, the tension was palpable. However, it soon became apparent that there wasn’t just one “sick piece of shit” on the loose – the rapist’s MO suggested that he was improvising, and there was no evidence of pre-meditation, whereas the sophisticated camera equipment found in the victim’s bathroom indicated that a Peeping Tom had been targeting her on a long-term basis. None of this helped to explain why Grace had pursued the alleged suspect without calling for back-up or drawing her gun, or how he’d been able to get close enough to administer the chloroform without getting his ass kicked, but it did create a case of too many perps spoiling the broth… especially when Rhetta realised that Grace was not being held at the mercy of the same madman as the initial victim, but an old childhood friend who was prone to psychotic breaks. The original victim’s plight was largely overlooked in favour of determining Grace’s own fate, and yet Holly Hunter was denied the opportunity to exercise her acting chops for most of the episode.

When we finally caught a glimpse of Grace, she was hanging listlessly from the rafters in a dank room with her arms bound and outstretched, and her legs tied together. Seeing Charlie cutting off her blouse and bra while she was too drugged to do anything about it was sickening, and I thought we were gearing up for some really powerful and gritty scenes. When Grace finally awoke, I took it as a pre-given that her quiet sobbing and weak entreaties were a ruse to get Charlie to untie her – she is a master of deceit, after all – so, when Grace’s easily-led ‘friend’ obligingly removed her restraints and left Grace in a prime position to drive her elbow into his midsection, I waited with baited breath for her to fight for her freedom. I actually snorted when she promised – in the name of the Holy Ghost – that she wouldn’t run away. And yet the blow never came, and it slowly dawned on me that Grace might not be putting on an act after all.

Her reaction to the whole situation certainly provided some food for thought. Grace is a remarkably resilient woman who has survived ordeals that would destroy most people’s will to live, and often beats the shit out of men who prey on the innocent, so it was jarring to see her feistiness give way to frailty. I never thought I’d see the day when Grace Hanadarko slumped on the floor in defeat and joined in the laughter of a man who had just taken a needle to her back and branded her. She seemed more concerned with preserving Charlie’s life than undertaking the necessary measures to save her own, and it really drove home the fact that, while Grace values her friends and family more than anything, her sense of self-worth must be sorely lacking. Especially as Charlie – who made farting noises, giggled like a naughty schoolboy, and talked about flying off the roof with Grace and a “naked girl” – clearly wasn’t in his right mind.

Although I understood Grace’s reluctance to hurt him because of her knowledge of his condition and their past history (it was implied that Charlie might have been one of Murphy’s victims, too), when she asked him if he still prayed to his Guardian Angel, I thought she was going to shoot him. Instead, although she fired off a warning shot and bit his hand when he attempted to press another rag soaked in chloroform to her mouth, she opted not to go for the lethal blow and allowed him to overpower her again. Given that it seemed to take Grace a long time to realise the true extent of the peril she was in, the scenes fell far short of what they could have been – and instead of being taken on a roller-coaster ride of fear, suspense, worry, and every emotion in between, we had to watch this hollow shell of our kick-ass female lead muster the energy to be proactive about determining her fate.

Thankfully, the rest of the squad were a lot more concerned with Grace’s welfare. Ham’s desperate and slightly unhinged bid to find his missing partner was gut-wrenching stuff (kudos to Kenny Johnson), and Rhetta left a lump in my throat when she dialled Grace’s cell phone and struggled to contain her own emotions as she softly proclaimed, “Grace, I love you.” That being said, although there were a few poignant scenes dotted throughout the episode, I couldn’t help but feel as though the writers overlooked a lot of opportunities for team bonding, and I think that particular aspect was handled much more effectively in the Season 1 episode, ‘Everything’s Got A Shelf Life,’ where Grace nearly died after taking a bullet during a shoot-out.

Earl’s feelings for Grace became abundantly apparent when he railed at God for putting her in peril and pleaded her case – claiming that he has more faith in Grace than he ever did in Joan of Arc. However, given that God is still taking the form of the slobbering dog with the abnormally long tongue, the scenes seemed more absurd than poignant. The religious aspect became a little too cliché and heavy-handed when Earl summoned his very own Army of Angels to help look for Grace – despite the fact that he’s never had any trouble locating her before. As for the revelation that Charlie tattooed Grace with a pair of Angel’s wings… well, what exactly are we supposed to infer from that? That she was the one person who never turned her back on him in his time of need and loved him in spite of his flaws (even when she was forced to point a gun at him, she still vowed to protect him), or that God’s Big Plan involves priming Grace to be Earl’s sidekick?  I sincerely hope it’s the former rather than the latter.

‘Am I Going To Lose Her?’ probably would have been a far more well-rounded and emotionally satisfying episode if the writers weren’t trying to resolve so many plotlines within the course of 45 minutes. The ‘Peeping Tom’ subplot seemed inconsequential within the overall context, and Charlie seemed to come out of no-where purely to rebut our expectations. Although it was amusing to see Ham and Rhetta fighting over who got to stay with Grace (Ham won), I also felt as though we were cheated out of an emotional rescue scene, too. And I personally would have preferred to see Grace talking about her ordeal with Rhetta, rather than Earl, but that’s probably because I felt the religious aspects of this episode had reached overkill by that point.