So you’re just catching on to the fun of The Glades? Here’s a quickie primer:
Jim Longworth (played by Matt Passmore) is a former Chicago detective who relocated to fictional Palm Glade, Florida, after a misunderstanding involving his boss’s wife. (Up until this season, this was explained in the opening credits.) He joined the Florida Department of Law Enforcement partly out of boredom (that hefty settlement from Illinois is supposed to explain how a homicide detective can afford a nice house on the water, I guess) and partly because likes what he does. Because the FDLE is a statewide organization, it gives the show more leeway with settings than if Jim worked for a single-city department and they take full advantage of it with episodes set on beaches, in psychic towns, and deep in the Everglades. Regional Director Manus (Michelle Hurd), Medical Examiner Carlos (Carlos Gomez), and Intern Daniel (Jordan Wall) make up his closest coworkers and put up with the brunt of his unorthodox, but successful, methods.
Of course, the main thing Jim’s been investigating the past two seasons has been Callie Cargill (Kiele Sanchez), a nurse at Palm Glade General. In the first season, Jim did a good job of charming his way into the lives of Callie and her son, Jeff (Uriah Shelton), despite some major obstacles—like Callie’s husband, who got released from prison early. She eventually filed for divorce only to find Jim being charmed by his visiting former partner from Chicago. To complicate matters further, easy-on-the-eyes Dr. Ben Avery reappeared with plans to close Palm Glade General and whisk Callie off to Atlanta where he’d lined up an interview for her to be head of nursing. As season two ended, Callie intentionally missed the flight Ben had booked and took a cab from the airport to Jim’s house.
As season three opens—with an alien encounter in the swamp and a dead millionaire full of mysterious holes—Jim and Callie are trying to make their new relationship work. She has one more week at the hospital and is starting to feel the strain of Florida’s limping-and-bloody economy.
One of the things I like about The Glades is its use of Florida as another character all its own. It lets the kooks and weirdos bubble up out of the swamp and the script naturally. While initially a UFO episode made me inwardly groan, Florida’s ratio of kooks to con artists makes it rather ideal for alien-encounter junkies.
While Carlos is convinced there’s no such thing as aliens and something far more earthly—and greedy— killed their dead guy, Daniel and Manus are more open to the idea of little green or gray men. Jim? As usual, he just wants to push people’s buttons until he gets to the bottom of things, in this case a conspiracy worthy of a bunch of Florida conspiracy nuts. On the list of suspects: the hot, barely dressed younger widow; the alien-obsessed bar owner who stands to inherit $60 million; and the buff-but-stupid cryogenic-treatment attendant.
Callie, meanwhile, isn’t having as much luck with her job search. She insists on doing it on her own, as she’s done everything else up to this point. Jim, however, wants to be helpful even if she keeps telling him she doesn’t need it. Carlos knows them both well enough that when Jim asks him to make a few calls, that’s the last thing Callie wants. In the end, Jim manages to charm away her anger with a gentle reminder that if they’re together, she’s not alone.
It’s no secret that I don’t turn on my TV often. So, why do I make an exception for something as cheesy-looking as The Glades? Because out of all the shows set in Florida, it’s one of the few that looks beyond the nightclubs, mansions, and high-rolling drug dealers to the quirkier side of Florida—and manages to do it without going too far over the top. It makes excellent use of the full variety of geography (and kooks) in the state.
Which means . . . next week? They murder a mermaid.
(Disclaimer: I love Weeki Watchee.)
Neliza Drew is a tofu-eating teacher and erratic reader with a soft spot for crime fiction. She lives in the heat and humidity of southern Florida with three cats and her adorable hubby. She listens to way too much music, writes often, and spends too much time on Twitter (@nelizadrew).
Read all posts by Neliza Drew on Criminal Element.