“Terrible, Shocking Things” brings even more demented characters into the fold, but still refuses to rush its core mystery.
This recap of Briarpatch Season 1, Episode 3, “Terrible, Shocking Things”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
USA Network’s oddball neo-noir mystery Briarpatch now has a new, unhelpful timeslot of 11 pm on Monday nights, and episodes like “Terrible, Shocking Things” probably aren’t going to entice a new audience to its unique pleasures – although the show’s snail’s pace at least gives them plenty of time to catch up. But as the core mystery is beginning to take on some kind of shape our intrepid hero doesn’t seem to be moving any closer to it; luckily, that hero and the increasing cast of outright weirdos she interacts with are engaging enough on their own terms to please me, if nobody else, and I suppose that’s all that matters.
Briarpatch Episode 3 is, in large part, about introducing even more of San Bonifacio’s strange and probably corrupt figures, and teasing their connections to the murder of Felicity (Michele Weaver) and whatever is going on with Jake Spivey (Jay R. Ferguson) and Clyde Brattle (Alan *******) and American weapons missing in Syria. But more on that in a bit.
In the meantime, we have to attend Spivey’s extremely extravagant benefit party for the town’s sexist mayor (Mel Rodriguez), where we meet more colorful characters including newspaper mogul James Staghorne Sr. (Ed Asner) and Lucretia Colder (Christine Woods), Detective Colder’s (Brian Geraghty) wife. Allegra (Rosario Dawson) sticks out like a sore thumb among this depraved menagerie but fits perfectly into the harangued gumshoe archetype she’s obviously intended to fulfill; while we’re still yet to see her façade crack and some real emotion peep through, “Terrible, Shocking Things” at least gives us a glimpse of her mounting frustration at having barely survived a car bomb in the first episode and been strangled unconscious by parties unknown in the second. Her relationship with Singe (Edi Gathegi) as they both hunt for Felicity’s missing burner phone gets some contouring in this episode, but her most interesting one remains with Ferguson’s demented Spivey, utterly untrustworthy as he may be.
An interrogation scene once Allegra and Singe trace Felicity’s phone to her apartment and find Harold (Timm Sharp) hiding in the closet helps to give Allegra and Briarpatch Episode 3 a bit of needed edge, as we learn that the apartment was bugged at the request of Floyd Ferness (Jon Beavers), who is still the subject of a manhunt. We also get to meet Brattle himself, who makes it clear that Spivey can’t be trusted – truth, or a tactic to finagle a reduced sentence? Possibly both. The last-minute appearance of a fleet of drones taking off into the night adds another, vaguely sci-fi mystery to proceedings, their purpose and owner still nebulous for now.
It’s difficult to say what happens next, both in terms of the plot and the show itself, which has been consigned to an unholy hour after poor ratings and seems determined to indulge itself week after week. Those of us who enjoy Dawson in the lead and find enough pleasure in her interrogating a burgeoning cast of untrustworthy misfits can enjoy the show’s artistic pleasures and its willingness to be itself, even if we lament the fact its mystery, at least as far as Briarpatch Season 1, Episode 3, seems to be the least of its concerns.
We are fast becoming the number one independent website for streaming coverage. Please support Ready Steady Cut today. Secure its future — we need you!
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.