“Saving Grace” mini-cap: goddess on a mountain top


Oh, oh — I totally know this one. So a cop, an angel and a death-row inmate walk into a bar. And the cop says to the angel, “Watch me balance this spoon on my nose.” Wait, maybe I don’t know this one after all.

Grace has been having weird dreams—well, one weird dream in particular all week. She has had the same dream with angel Earl and inmate Leon in her local cop bar. Leon falls off his barstool and asks for Grace’s help. Symbolism, meet Grace; Grace, meet symbolism.

But enough existential worries, there’s a party going on. Grace and co. are whooping it up at their bar. Ham’s brother, a marine on leave from Iraq, drops in by surprise and everyone is having a good time. (Well, except for this tightly-wound evidence clerk named Ed, but more on him later.) Now it’s time for what I like to call my weekly Happy Naked Time with Holly Hunter. This week’s HNT is in the men’s restroom with her partner Ham. While I have never thought of the words “happy” and “naked” in reference to a men’s room, Grace’s instructions of “Lower. Lower. Lower.” almost make me change my mind.

Ah, but then comes one humdinger of an interruption: After they hear someone enter and exit the bathroom, the pair recommence their HNT only to be stopped again when a pool of blood forms on the floor. Poor, unlikeable Ed has had his throat slashed in the middle of a cop bar with two detectives in the stall five feet away. Yeah, that’s not going to look good in the report.

As the squad works the case, they quickly realize it must have been the work of a professional. Who else would have the skill or audacity to kill someone in a full cop bar? But before they can get any farther in walks Ed’s widow Gretchen (played by Amy Madigan, who had memorable guest roles on Grey’s Anatomy and Carnivàle). Grace takes her to the morgue to see Ed’s body. What follows is one of the weirdest, funniest, most unexpectedly touching uses of a Bananarama song ever: They sing “Venus” together to his corpse, the couple’s wedding song.

Speaking of surreal experiences, Earl comes to visit Leon in prison. Earl asks the condemned man why he doesn’t play guitar or visit the yard or pray anymore. Leon says he has given up. But Earl is worried about his soul. Turns out Leon has been having his own weird dreams about Grace. And later the weird keeps getting weirder as Rhetta finds Leon’s fingerprints on a stool at the bar. Now that is what I call a vivid dream.

At Ham’s place they are discussing the case. His jarhead brother suggests that the killer might be ex-military. He says vets coming home sometimes find themselves at a loss for employment and their training makes them perfect candidates for contract killing. Gosh, that’s reassuring. Ham and his brother then get into an arm wrestling match about whether cops or marines are tougher. Ham wins but breaks his brother’s arm in the process. Dude, I totally don’t get men.

At the office stuff is equally bad. Internal Affairs gets involved, of course. You’d think they’d have Grace on speed dial by now. Grace and Ham tell them they were setting up a prank in the men’s room (chocolate on the back of the toilet seats, ewww). They don’t seem convinced, and Captain Perry is furious.

Ham and Grace go back to the scene of the crime. They reenact the murder and then Grace realizes it’s quiet, too quiet. She plugs back in the jukebox. “Venus” is playing, but it’s the original 1969 version by The Shocking Blue. Which means it’s time to chat with Ed’s wife again. And, guess what, she confesses. She says she hired a killer because Ed was going to retire soon and she couldn’t stand the thought of him being around all the time. But, wait, there are still 20 minutes left in the show, so please stay seated.

Turns out she has hired a bunch of people — the gardener, a busboy, a neighbor, a bank teller — to kill her husband. Oh, that lady is crazy like a fox. She set up those fake hirings (for $50 and a coffee cake, no less) to cover the actual murder. Nicely played, Gretchen. The whole squad is forgoing sleep and going loopy to try to solve the case.

Grace goes to the evidence locker and guess whose case file is waiting to greet her? Leon Cooley’s file box. Rhetta in the meantime has opted for the real thing as she goes to visit him in prison. She finds out while Grace has dreamed about him asking for her help, he is dreaming about helping her. Someone, get a Jungian analyst here STAT!

Well, it turns out Ed was one of those civil war buff and their house is crammed with memorabilia and artifacts. Grace tells Gretchen they suspect she sold some of his Civil War stuff to raise the money for the killer. But, they can’t prove it just yet. And Gretchen’s only response: “Does this mean I can get a dog?” And then she breaks out into “Venus” again, but this time it’s chilling.

Oh, and just when you thought we’d tapped out on weird for this episode, Earl leads Leon into the bar to find a waiting electric guitar. He starts to play and Grace hears the music coming from — wait for it, wait for it — his evidence box. She opens it and literally sees the light.

So, damn, what was all that about? And is it wrong for me to be excited about seeing Gretchen again? Discuss.

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