Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack) has never denied that she has family issues – a Dad she adored who ran out on the family when she was just seven; a dreamy mother who turned to alcohol after her husband abandoned the family; a sister who had a penchant for finding trouble, even when she had a good thing going with a fiancé who loved her despite her past; and an unplanned pregnancy to her ex-husband, Mark (Bryan Callen).
Through it all, Mary is a US Marshal who always knew what she would do if she ever came face to face with her bigamist, criminal father. In the final minutes of “Drag Me To Hell”, James Wiley Shannon (Stephen Lang) turns up at Mary’s doorstep in the middle of the night, asking for help. In five seconds flat, instead of hugging her long-lost father, Mary slapped handcuffs on her father and read him his Miranda rights, just as she always pictured she would do if given the chance (she’s not really a hugger anyway).
“The Medal of Mary” opens with James, who has been on the FBI’s and the US Marshals’ “Most Wanted” list for the past thirty years, in the interrogation room at the FBI office. He wants to do a deal – in exchange for a reduced sentence, he will turn on his former partner, Cormack “Sully” Sullivan. Unlike James, Sully was incarcerated for his crimes but had broken out of supermax three years earlier and continued his criminal ways. James has an idea to lure Sully out for “one last score”. He believes putting Sully back in prison is the only way to guarantee the safety of his family – or “families,” as Mary puts it, taking into account James has a second family in Florida as James Griffin.
While James is making deals with the FBI by Special Agent Robert O’Connor (Will McCormack) – or as Mary likes to call him, “Agent Douchebag” – Delia (Tangie Ambrose) is in Florida looking for the rest of the Shannon and Griffin families. Although unhurt, Scott (Aaron Ashmore), the half-brother Mary didn’t know she had until a couple of years ago, declares he cannot trust their father and refuses police protection – a decision that will later prove to be costly.
As Mary and James prepare for a sting to catch Sully, they share a father-daughter moment. They know Sully is dangerous and even after they capture the fugitive, the sting could go pear-shaped. Mary offers her father the necklace with the medal of Mary (hence the title of this episode) she had been given by him for her First Communion before he deserted the family. Just as he had given it to her as protection to keep her safe thirty years ago, Mary now returns the medallion to her father for the same.
Meanwhile, Mary’s partner, Marshall (Frederick Weller) is dealing with his own daddy issues as his father, Seth (Geoff Pierson), arrives in Albuquerque to meet his soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Abigail (Rachel Boston). With all that is going on with Mary and James, Marshall leaves Abigail to bond with his father alone. Seth, whose brand of fatherly love meant young Marshall was never hugged enough as a child, surprises his son in more ways than one, starting with a warm greeting that caught Marshall slightly off-guard, and ending with some marital advice: “Marriage has no room for guess work. Who you’re there for at four in the morning, that’s the one.”
On the topic of fatherly advice, Mary’s own father had taught her, in addition to the list-making skills (and it has been a long time since we have seen Mary make a list – something which was her trademark in earlier seasons), to never trust your partner. That said, it is safe to say there is no one Mary trusts and relies on more than her own partner as he points out that her mistrust of her own father is threatening to mess up her own child’s relationship with Mark, who has been a good father to their baby.
There is no doubt family has always been a big part of IN PLAIN SIGHT, both on paper and in its brilliant casting over the years. Through its five seasons, we have seen returning guest stars in the form of Ali Marsh as Dr Shelly Finkle (real life Mrs Frederick Weller); Holly Maples as Eleanor Prince, the Marshals’ office manager in season 2 (wife of show creator); and Will McCormack as FBI Agent Robert O’Connor (younger brother of Mary McCormack). Mary’s husband, Michael Morris, has also directed several episodes.
I loved this episode and am terribly sad that the series will soon come to an end. However, I can’t help but point out a couple of things that bugged me just a little in this episode:
- When Mary sees her father’s prescription bottle, the label clearly has his real name on it. I can’t imagine how a known fugitive could be seeing a doctor under his real name and yet neither the FBI nor the US Marshals had been able to track him down all these years;
- Mary should trademark “Marshall, what the hell are you doing here?” given the number of times she says this;
- I want to hear more about young Marshall’s band camp story and his love for the cowboy hat and holster!