Saving Grace continues to walk the line between irreverence and piety, between a sermon and a hell of a good time. Damned if they don’t seem to be pulling it off. Credit Holly Hunter, credit the rest of the spot-on cast, credit the writers and directors, or credit divine inspiration — whatever it is, this show has me hooked.

Bless me, father, for I’m about to divulge spoilers.

Grace could be a cliché — a tough gal in a man’s world! — but Holly Hunter brings so much more to her. She’s this tiny little kitten of a thing who thinks she’s a tiger, and apparently she’s got a tiger’s claws. She’s just fearless, completely balls-to-the-wall in everything she does. But she’s smart, too, able to manipulate suspects to get what she needs. She’s tender when necessary, but only for work — god forbid she ever show weakness in front of the guys. She’s thrilled to be one of the boys, to out-tough the big, strapping men, but her best friend is a woman. She’s real.

That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have her quirks. First off, who hunts deer with a handgun? And having killed said deer, who decides to start rolling around and getting bouncy right next to the cooling carcass? Ick. For that matter, who carries around glitter and glue for a couple of years just in case someone shows up with a dead deer draped over her hood? I’d say Butch needs to get a life, but it was great to see the Sparkly Hoof of the Apocalypse spook Grace. Hee!

Poor Ham wasn’t so pleased about that joke, though — it means Butch has gone hunting with Grace, which might also mean he’d "gone hunting" with Grace. Ham, alas, is smitten with his wild child of a partner, and he really wants to think Grace can be his. (This is sounding more and more allegorical the more I type her name.) Considering Grace is still picking up men in the bar — all while Ham and Butch could be staging an actual pissing contest — I’d say Ham shouldn’t get his hopes up. By the end of the episode, he agrees — he thinks he’s gong to move back in with his wife.

Earl tries to get Grace to talk to Ham — although he discovers Grace is going to fight him every step of the way. She literally wrestles with him in an arena in Athens. They wrestle to a standstill until they take a break, exhausted. Grace fights dirty, and Earl eventually responds in kind, making her arm disappear. Grace is amazed he cheated, but I think there’s precedence in Genesis — did the angel Jacob wrestled knock his leg out of joint or something? And what is it with angels and wrestling? Can’t they just play chess, like Bergman’s version of Death? Apparently, they just do that in France. I wonder if Earl is chewing tobacco while he discussing philosophy with his French charge. (And does anyone who read Arabic comment on this blog? I’m dying to know what Earl’s t-shirt said.)

When Earl isn’t trying to put Grace in a sleeper hold, he’s cooking her breakfast, inadvertently dribbling tobacco juice on her (ew!), and exposing her to the Holy Orgasmatron that is unfurled angel’s wings. Seriously, the look on Grace’s face when she’s under the influence of wings is carnal — it’s not just the spirit thats moving, it looks like. But she still has the presence of mind to filch one of Earl’s feathers for Rhetta, who’s keeping an Earl File with evidence of angelic life. Granted, the feather turns out to be from a pigeon, but the spit shows no genetic material. Have I mentioned how much I love Rhetta? Laura San Giacomo is doing a great job with a much less flashy part.

With all that going on, the actual crime everyone was working on didn’t seem terribly important. An oil-rigging magnate was bludgeoned, and Grace figures out it has less to do with oil than it does with love triangles. It’s only significant for a couple of reasons. First, the murderer is played by James Marsters, who will forever be Spike from Buffy and Angel for me. It’s weird to see him with normal hair and an American accent. We didn’t see half enough of him. Second, it gives Grace the opportunity to talk about love triangles with Ham and Butch. Awkward! Although Grace seems more amused than ashamed. That’s our girl.

But the biggest bit of fallout from the case came in the form of Otis Yukon, the boss’ brother. Otis has been a junkie, and he’s got a history of trafficking in stolen watched (like the one taken from the victim’s wrist), but he swears he’s clean — and innocent of any wrongdoing — now. The boss doesn’t believe him. Ham tries to play peacemaker, but things have been going wrong between Otis and Percy for way too long — Percy sent Otis to jail when he was 12. I did, Percy admits — because he stole a watch, mom made him return it, and in retaliation, Otis strangled the family cat. It’s just gotten worse from there. When Otis’ alibi pans out, he demands a reward for the information he provided. Percy tries to kick him out of the station, and Otis pulls gun and shoots him point black. The blood spatters on Grace’s face. She’s in shock. (I was pretty damn shocked, too — well done, show.) Grace cradles Percy, but he looks most sincerely dead.

At home, Grace staggers into the shower to wash off the blood. A man gets into the shower with her, and for one sickening moment, I think it’s Earl — that would be so, so very wrong. But no, it’s Ham, who helps her get clean. Maybe he’s not moving backing with his wife quite yet.

Posted by:Sarah Jersild