During the first few days of May, I wandered around the In Plain Sight website, clicking here and there, remembering this and that. It was kind of like visiting the house you grew up in right before your parents move to Boca. You know that nothing will ever be the same, so you try to memorize everything.
And finally, it was here—the goodbye episode. Our last glimpse inside the life of Mary Shannon, U.S. Marshal. Crime HQ speculated back in January that Mary had a lot of issues to be resolved in the eight episodes of season five. In the countdown to the finale, Mary struggles with parenting even though Norah’s father, Mary’s longtime ex-husband Mark, is a very participatory dad. Then, Mary accidently discovers Stan’s romance with the lovely dance instructor, Lia. And we see broad hints at Washington D.C.’s plans for major changes at Albuquerque WITSEC. Then, in “The Merry Wives of WITSEC,” protecting a witness who has two simultaneous families brings up all of Mary’s issues about her father’s abandonment thirty years before. Marshall reminds Mary of his oft-repeated mantra, “Sometimes you just have to let go.”
And what about Mary and Marshall? Could there possibly be any hope for a romantic ending? Well, when Marshall gets engaged to Abigail at the end of this episode, I felt a twinge of “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” Still . . . maybe, I thought . . . we had four episodes to go.
The following week, Mary doesn’t take the news of his engagement well, but can’t or won’t voice real objections. Mary allows Mark’s mother, Joanna, to become Norah’s babysitter, which adds stability to Mary’s home and work life. Then, Mary meets a nice single dad named Kenny, who she blows off in typical Mary fashion. Oh, and she runs into ex-fiancé Raph, who is happily married to a Mary look-alike. Clearly Mary’s personal life is set to explode, and then the biggest bombshell lands.
Mary’s father, now terminally ill, knocks on her door. In thirty seconds flat, Mary handcuffs and mirandizes him. Episodes six and seven centered around Mary’s father, his life of crime and his trying to make amends, all while Mary keeps him at an emotional distance. And in the middle of a gun battle, he jumps in front of Mary, saving her life and ending his own. We also see Abigail unraveling a little more each time Marshall drops her like a hot potato (including standing her up when they are supposed to be meeting with the minister who will officiate at their wedding), because he needs to help Mary sort things out about her father.
Finally, it is early May, and the last episode wraps this all in a tidy package. Of course there is a witness to protect, a very young fashion model who needs mothering, which Mary, surprisingly, provides. Mary’s family gathers so that mama Jinx can hold a “remembrance” of her late husband, and sister Brandi shows up pregnant, but straight and sober, looking for all the world like she finally has her act together.
But what of Mary and Marshall? Abigail has read him the riot act, and he keeps telling Mary they have to “talk,” but it looks like they never will. Suddenly, Marshall drags Mary out to the balcony at work and tells her that she has to “release” him. He says he loves her, “. . .you know, I love this, what we have. It’s indefinable.” And when she calls, he will always run to her, but now it’s a problem. Mary understands that he is saying this because he is getting married. She tells him to be happy. She knows Abigail makes him happy. So with that conversation out of the way, and a reaffirmation of their role as each other’s best friend, they agree “to get on with our lives.”
Stan gets promoted and is going to Washington D.C., but the Albuquerque WITSEC office will stay open with Marshall as the new boss, still another separation between the two. They will no longer be partners. As a final “letting go” Mary spreads her father’s ashes, very fittingly, at the race track.
At Stan’s farewell party, everyone is happy and laughing, including Kenny, who Mary has brought. Marshall makes a toast to “old friends and new beginnings.” I felt that he was talking, not just to those assembled ’round the table, but to all the viewers of every episode of the past five years.
I am okay with Mary and Marshall staying friends and not turning into a great romance. And, while I have no complaints about Kenny, he shows up just as Marshall gets engaged and Mary finds out Raph is married. A little too convenient. And just because Mary has made peace with her father, that doesn’t mean she should jump into the first possible relationship that comes along. She is stronger and smarter than that.
Of course, that may just be my reaction to knowing we’ll never have Mary/Marshall. (sob)
The In Plain Sight website has plenty of videos, conversations pictures and memories. But before you click over, tell us. What did you think of the final season of In Plain Sight? How do you feel about the way it all ends?
Read all of Terrie Farley Moran’s posts for Criminal Element.