With “Meet The Rosenbergs,” Dig finally starts playing out some of the exposition it hammered home for the first two episodes, but it’s still moving slowly, especially for a show with a limited run. The miniseries was originally slated for six episodes, then expanded to 10, and the first three episodes suggest the expansion was mostly padding and repetition.

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Even the new plot developments come with a hearty helping of exposition. Special Agent Peter Connelly finally studies the journal he lifted from Emma’s apartment, which leads him to The Jerusalem Heritage Center, “dedicated to celebrating the great patrimony of Jerusalem as capital of the world throughout history,” where a helpful film briefs him and Det. Golan Cohen on the role of the high priest, the only person allowed to enter the chamber housing the Ark Of The Covenant.

Thanks, filmstrip! Oh, wait, we already knew that. Peter and Golan needed to learn it, but by now, Dig shouldn’t be struggling to convey information to characters without repeating it ad nauseum to viewers.

Det. Cohen describes the JHC as “nutjobs at best and dangerous at worst,” and Rabbi Lev confirms that impression, as does the undercover officer from the Israeli Secret Police, who warns them off. “I’ve never seen her in my life. She never set foot in the place,” he tells them, and “your victim had nothing to do with the center, nothing. So stay away. Just stay away!” It’s not a great sign when the writing relies on saying everything twice to get its ominous ideas across.

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There are some small, promising moments of character development in “Meet The Rosenbergs.” It’s no surprise when Peter dreams of the dead girl who reminds him of his daughter, or even when his dream becomes sexual. His attraction to Emma and that striking resemblance are both established in the pilot. But when Peter shows off her photograph, pretending she’s his niece, Rabbi Lev’s “She certainly looks like you” suggests Dig might eventually delve into the discomfiting notion of Peter’s intense attraction to a woman who looks so eerily like his daughter that his boss, his co-workers, and even a stranger can see the similarities.

Yussef Khalid takes on some dimension in tonight’s episode. Coloring his hair and donning a crisp linen suit, he presents himself as a antiquities buyer, scoping out a wealthy collector’s safe room (and bodyguard) to return later. The polished cordiality he displays in the remote mansion contrasts effectively with his brutal efficiency attacking the bodyguard later, and it turns Khalid from a rote fugitive into something more—still a sketched-out character, but a more interesting one.

Prof. Khalid (Omar Metwally) cleans up nicely (Virginia Sherwood/USA Network)

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Most encouraging is the glimmer of humor between Peter Connelly and Golan Cohen, which is vital if the show is going to rely on them working as a team. As they hustle their way into the JHC, the guide asks “Are you the Rosenbergs?” and their immediate, in-unison “Yeah!” and the hemming and hawing that follow are straight out of a buddy comedy. Watching them work together instead of against each other gives Dig a badly needed jolt of chemistry that just might energize it for seven more episodes.

Some of the backstories are more routine than others. Debbie’s furtive pay-phone call adds information both surprising and… less so. She’s been missing for three years, she’s a former drug abuser, and even she isn’t sure where the cult’s compound is located. The whole phone call is a dead end, at least for the moment, and her appeal to the local police officer, predictably enough, ends up delivering her back into the hands of The Rev. Billingham. You’d think Debbie would recognize the cop’s blank-faced earnestness from her own mirror.

The most intriguing detail in Ingram’s tour—the immense house’s history as a former crusader’s fort, which suggests it might prove difficult to breach—led nowhere, and the rest of his spiel unnecessarily describes his collection of Israeli artifacts and (once again) the history of the breastplate jewels. This repetition is characteristic of Dig so far, as if it’s written to accommodate inattentive or occasional viewing. The modest touches of depth and humor in tonight’s episode add some verve, but Dig is still plodding along where it should be sprinting, which keeps it from ever attaining the wonder to which its subject matter could aspire.

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Stray observations:

  • This marks my final weekly review of Dig. Thanks for joining us!
  • Peter’s wife’s therapist suggests she stop taking his calls, which depress her so she can’t get out of bed all day. It doesn’t look like they do Lynn much good, either.
  • First Peter leaves behind his falafel, then his espresso. Doesn’t he get hungry? Thirsty?
  • Why does everyone on this episode answer every unexpected knock at the door? I don’t, and I’m not even a fugitive or a rogue cop trespassing in a murder victim’s apartment.
  • Peter accepts Emma Wilson’s package with a wildly unconvincing “Wilson, yeah, that’s… that’s me.” The delivery guy’s response makes him by far the most believable character in the show: “I don’t care.”

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