Remember those M*A*S*H* episodes where Hawkeye or Radar turned over his jeep or sits out a bombing raid in a hut with an old Korean couple, and the character spits out a monologue of self-revelation? I loved those stunts, and this week’s “Saving Grace” (airing tonight) has that high-concept feeling, with Grace getting trapped for most of show in the back office of a company that’s been wrecked by a tornado (the show’s set in Oklahoma City; twisters are Okie versions of bombing raids). Grace’s foil is the company’s business manager, played by Mary Kaye Place, who the storm has pinned under a flying desk. It’s soon apparent, however, that Grace’s companion is not the victim she seems.
What’s riveting about the show, as I’ve written elsewhere on the blog, is that Grace, as she’s written and as Holly Hunter plays her, is not cowed by the knowledge that God is after her soul. Hunter’s impulsive, self-medicating cop is after justice, and if God doesn’t give her the space to pursue it, He’s not worth much. And certainly, if she feels that way about God, she’s not going to pay a funnel storm much mind.
In Season One, we’ve watched Grace slug cowpokes and slug back whiskey without knowing what either the Deity or the woman have in common. Some of it bordered on cornpone without content, and this twister-with-a-twist episode shows the writers have plenty more where that came from. But the episode does more to explain just what it is that drives Grace away from God and why God has decided to save her. If, as one character suggests, she wants to be saved.