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Most of its first season, “Saving Grace” was a police procedural with a little “It’s a Wonderful Life” mixed in: Somewhere down the line, Grace Hanadarko, the hard-drankin’, rough-lovin’ detective was going to come to terms with the angel, Earl, who keeps showing up to challenge her to think a little about her salacious ways. Grace is going to not only find God, but get right with Him. This week, I’m not so sure.
When the tall, handsome but slightly creepy Jack showed up on last night’s episode—he’s the nephew of the old gent next door who catches carefree glimpses of Grace in the bathroom—my first thought was not budding romance but that Grace was going to be the target of an attempted sex crime. My second thought was, cripes, they can’t have run out of ideas this fast. Every female detective since the invention of the cathode ray tube has had to see what if feels like to be the victim, but usually the trope turns up in the out years, when the writers have gotten bored.
But Jack doesn’t seem to be a one-episode wonder: he’s a bona fide love interest, thrown in, kinda ingeniously, to complicate Grace’s fun but not-so-healthy relationship with her partner, Ham Dewey (does Judd Apatow make up these names?), not to mention the one with ol’ Earl. Jack, it turns out, is an atheist and he has some good comebacks for Earl’s benevolent wisdom about the Big Guy Upstairs. Their theist/rationalist banter doesn’t contain the freshest arguments, but the idea that Grace is going to be in the middle of two dudes slugging it out for her soul (or lack of one) promises to be something we’ve never seen on television before.

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