Dig packed a lot of exposition into the pilot, leaving the possibility that its second episode would weave those threads of present, future, and ancient past into one coherent, compelling tapestry. Instead, it keeps repeating itself, tangling its plotlines into a fabric that keeps its lofty subject matter woefully prosaic. Peter wants to solve the case with “old-fashioned legwork,” but it’s more like plodding.
For a show about Biblical wonders and mystical intrigue, Dig is short on both wonder and intrigue. It telegraphs its character moments and plot developments, then revisits them to be sure we caught every detail. Peter’s daughter is dead; the pilot alluded to her death and his grief, but “Catch You Later” gives us the details: an apparent suicide 18 months ago. Josh, the boy chosen for some unspecified destiny, was killed and replaced by an identical boy; we learned that last week, then covered the same ground tonight. The pilot indicated a connection between Yusef Khalil, the fugitive professor from Chicago, and Emma Wilson, the murdered archaeology student; in this episode, Peter Connelly spells out the connection for Lynn Monahan.
When conversations do relay something new or notable, it’s through naked exposition. Stuck in traffic, Peter yells at Det. Golan Cohen to stop honking his horn, to show some patience. Patience is an uncharacteristic trait in this impulsive, impetuous man, but instead of creating character complexity, it’s an excuse to tell, not show. Golan’s been digging into Peter’s personal history. “Three years in the seminary, days before you get your collar, and—boom!—you drop out. Probably an interesting story in there somewhere.” If there is an interesting story in Peter’s past, the creators of Dig should film that instead.
The episode’s title, “Catch You Later,” is a quote. Dropping the FBI agent (and suspect in a fresh murder case) at his office, Golan throws out his goodbye: “Catch you later!” Peter pauses, does a double-take, and slams the car door, glowering in concentration. The double-entendre might be clever if the show didn’t give it tedious weight, if the tension between the two men were anything but a rote stereotype of cops dueling for ascendancy, or if the show let the escalating tension between them simmer for more than a few scenes.
Golan Cohen knows Peter Connelly was with Emma Wilson in the hours before she died, he knows Peter didn’t return to his hotel until after Emma’s time of death, and he knows Peter withheld that information from the local police. He’s so suspicious, he bags Peter’s coffee cup for DNA and prints. But his suspicion’s not enough to find a way around Peter’s diplomatic immunity–until it is.
In the meantime, the two men circle each other in a series of growling matches, taking barely-veiled shots at each other. “If you want to catch a killer, you have to be smarter than they are. Fortunately, most of them are idiots,” Golan smirks, and it’s a dig (I know, I know) because everyone in the scene and everyone watching knows he’s looking at Peter as a suspect, not a law enforcement agent.
Dig is full of meaningless, uninformative exchanges, and even the most accomplished actors can’t do much with dialogue like this. Whether it’s routine antagonism between Peter and the local police, like the pissing contest over facial recognition software, or Lynn exhorting Peter to behave and being rebuffed (she should have “You didn’t hear a word I just said!” printed on her business cards) these empty conversation convey nothing new or vital, either to the characters or to the audience.
David Costabile does his best to continue the genteel menace he established in the pilot, but feeble lines like “You have seen… things… that you weren’t supposed to see” make it hard. Debbie’s horror at Josh’s corpse (that’s Josh 1.0, I guess; the other Josh is also named Josh, which must make things confusing around the compound) and her confusion over the strange boy—“He looked just like Josh, but it wasn’t him. How is that possible?”—lacks punch because the show is retreading its revelations, dulling any surprise they once packed.
Anne Heche breathes a bit of life into all this staleness—but only a bit—interrupting Golan’s interrogation of Peter with an elfin smile and a breezy “Hey, guys!” That breath of fresh air diminishes quickly as it becomes clear her character is just an excuse for Peter to narrate his next move. (Who can blame him for ignoring her? Only the most naïve Agent In Charge in the history of the FBI would advise him, “You’re innocent, you’ll be fine.”)
Another gasp of fresh air comes after Golan arrests Peter. Driving Peter, already in handcuffs, back to the station, Golan starts questioning him as a suspect, then shifts into collegial speculation. There’s fascinating potential in that uneasy ground, and it gives that scene a bit of verve absent from most of the show.
Also promising are the sequences in Norway, where Avram (Guy Selnik) readies the red heifer for its journey to Israel. The would-be ominous scenes with the newly arrived assassin are too transparent to be suspenseful, but Avram’s innocence and anticipation, as well as his frank affection for this calf raised only to be sacrificed, gives his scenes a sense of humanity and vulnerability most of Dig is missing.
These few glimpses of interest aren’t enough to buoy the whole. Repetition and plodding placeholder dialogue keeps Dig from becoming the transcendent story its pretensions to myth and history suggest. It claims to be an epic story, but so far, it’s a procedural, and not a particularly competent one, that just happens to have its roots in a spiritual mystery instead of a worldly one.
- Ambassador Ridell’s necklace of large rectangular stones echoes the shape of the hoshen stones. Kudos to the wardrobe department for that subtle nod.
- The police rarely accept “You had to be there” as an explanation, Peter.
- Peter still hasn’t divulged the secret ritual slaughter he and Emma saw on the archaeological site, or the bricked-up passage he found when he returned, which ranks him along with the island inhabitants of Lost as the most uncommunicative, least curious characters ever created.
- Seeing his face on TV and watching a bystander notice him, Yusef Khalil makes a panicky phone call and ends it by bashing the receiver into the phone repeatedly. Way to lay low, Yusef!
- “The boat is named Enigma.” Of course it is.
- The show isn’t impressive, but Jerusalem certainly is. Again this week, a chase scene gives us a tour of the city, ancient walls and modern courtyards, all in one lush blur as Peter races past them.