A familiar show with a lot of confidence in its well-worn elements, Perpetual Grace, LTD might put Epix on the map.
This Perpetual Grace, LTD premiere recap contains spoilers.
Steven Conrad’s new drama Perpetual Grace, LTD is one of those shows that knows exactly what it is and what it wants to be. And depending on your tolerance for the familiar — including both overt and covert nods to the shows it borrows its well-worn New Mexico noir formula from — it might even inspire you to find out a bit more about the MGM-owned premium cable network Epix, where it began airing last night and will continue to air for the next ten weeks.
Soaking in the sepia-tinged vastness of remote New Mexico, which (I’m sure intentionally) evokes Breaking Bad, Perpetual Grace, LTD boasts an ensemble cast who seem happy to be there, fronted by Jimmi Simpson as a conman, James, who is roped into a scheme to swindle the proprietors of Our Lady of Perpetual Grace, a church intended to help drifters and struggling locals get their lives back on track. Owned and operated by Pastor Byron Brown (Sir Ben Kingsley) and his wife (Jacki Weaver), Our Lady of Perpetual Grace, LTD is loaded with misbegotten millions that are ripe for the taking, as long as James and the Brown’s disgruntled magician son Paul (Damon Herriman) can enact their scheme, which might be harder than it seems.
This is a compelling enough setup, even if the Perpetual Grace, LTD premiere was content to take its time in establishing it. Luckily, Conrad has a real facility for dialogue; there’s just a certain rhythm and unpredictability to it that keeps even basic interactions interesting, and it helps that actors like Simpson and Kingsley (the latter in particular) evidently take great pleasure in spitting out mouthfuls of odd writing. There’s just basic scene-to-scene pleasure here that’s difficult to describe, but then again the show itself, which combines faith and magic and crime and whatever else, is difficult to describe anyway.
But maybe that’s the point. Despite little about Perpetual Grace, LTD feeling new, at the very least it feels confident in its peculiar assemblage of ideas and influences, which is more than you can say for a lot of TV. While a part of me suspects that a lot of people won’t like this, I hope enough do that it draws a little more attention to Epix, to Steven Conrad, and to itself.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.