This Briarpatch review contains spoilers.
Briarpatch Episode 3
While doing press for Briarpatch, which has been pushed to the unfortunate hour of 11 p.m. on Monday nights (let’s hope those streaming numbers stay steady), creator Andy Greenwald has joked that the show should be subtitled “Rosario Dawson Talks to Weirdos.” He’s certainly not wrong; “Terrible, Shocking Things” mostly coasts on that exact premise. While Allegra and Singe are hunting for Felicity’s missing burner phone, the pair find themselves wading their way through Jake Spivey’s extravagant benefit party for the San Bonifacio mayor, rubbing shoulders with some of the town’s most important, and likely most corrupt, figures.
More so than any episode that’s come before, Dawson exudes Big Gumshoe Energy. She perfectly slips into the Humphrey Bogart role, emanating a cool, detached vibe while remaining deeply human. Dawson and the writers continue to subtly convey that Pick had a rough time growing up, and you can feel that energy whether she’s the woman holding the gun, or meeting with wanted felons against her will.
At the beforementioned party, we learn more about San Bonifacio by getting a look of some of the town’s elites, and it certainly explains a lot. The mayor (played by a slimmed down Mel Rodriguez) is a lush, and judging by his brief interaction with Chief Raytek, a sexist. We also get a glimpse of James Staghorne Sr. (played by the great Ed Asner), who owns the town newspaper with his son, and the pair have an unhealthy, co-dependent relationship. Every episode, Briarpatch’s weirdos shade in the show’s setting, and it continues to be a strength.
The most interesting person that we meet at Spivey’s party is Lucretia Colder, Detective Colder’s wife. Lucretia is vivacious and chatty with Singe and eventually is the reason that Pick finds her sister’s cellphone and secret apartment. However, when Lucretia realizes Allegra is Felicity’s sister, the sister of her husband’s fiancé, she instantly narrows her eyes and changes her tone. It’s weird that Pick doesn’t immediately consider Lucretia a suspect, considering she clearly has a motive. Also, based on her performance in service of finding Felicity’s phone, she’s capable of manipulation.
The other big takeaway from the party is Allegra’s short conversation with Spivey. He claims not to know a thing about Felicity’s murder, but we get a little more background on the situation with Clyde Brattle. Apparently, some American weapons went missing in Syria, and Brattle and Spivey are accused of being behind it. Spivey leans on his history with Allegra to convince her he’s being honest, but it’s hard to trust a guy who eats expensive fish eggs on a hotdog bun.
Eventually, Pick and Singe are able to track Felicity’s phone to her actual live-in apartment, but when they arrive, they find Harold Snow waiting inside. Harold scores some laughs dealing with Pick’s interrogation techniques, but he eventually reveals that he was in the apartment looking for a bug he planted on behalf of Floyd Furness. There’s a manhunt ongoing for Furness, but that’s makes him too obvious of a suspect. The bug, while not ethical, was probably good intentioned. Later in the episode, we see Floyd trying to read the bug’s hard drive, but he runs into Harold’s encryption.
Nothing else is discovered at Felicity’s apartment, but trouble finds Allegra anyway. Clyde Brattle himself rolls up in an RV and all but forces her onboard. Played by Alan Cumming, Brattle is well-put together, but oozes mischief and smarm. He makes it plain to Pick that he’s willing to throw Spivey under the bus in exchange for a reduced sentence for his role. He’s also sure to emphasize that Spivey cannot be trusted, even if Allegra thinks she knows him. Brattle drops Pick off at an abandoned warehouse housing a host of drones that take flight, but who owns the drones and what their purpose is remains to be seen.
The other thing worth noting is the episode’s seemingly unrelated cold open, which finds a border patrol agent that Pick used to know discovering drugs and a family’s belongings at a popular border crossing spot. This likely relates to Brattle in some way, and Pick seemingly gets a bad vibe when she stumbles across the character later in the episode. It’s just another shady stranger in the town of San Bonifacio with a secret. I’m positive we’ll meet many more.
Though USA may be condemning the show to waste away at an unreasonable hour, Briarpatch continues to be a compelling watch. As Dawson settles deeper into the role, Allegra becomes a more interesting lead detective, and there’s plenty more left to learn about the suave sleuth. Next week is Felicity’s funeral, and I bet we’ll finally see a crack in her hard exterior.
Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.