Briarpatch is a homecoming of sorts. Returning to your home town with anxious energy and uncertainty is a common experience. Seeing the sights of your childhood, all the moments and memories that have shaped you into who you are after a long period away, is an emotional event.
Combine the singular emotional experience of returning home with your sister’s murder by car bombing, your high school reunion, a senate investigation about your old friend who was an arms dealer, the unraveling of an incredibly corrupt town, and the unbearable heat of Texas, and you have Briarpatch.
Based on the Ross Thomas novel of the same name, Briarpatch follows Allegra Dill, played by Rosario Dawson. Allegra is an investigator for an ambitious senator who returns home to the Texas border town San Bonifacio to find who killed her sister. The deeper down the rabbit hole she goes, the more corrupt and rotten her hometown grows and the more she has to grapple with the past. It’s a compelling crime thriller and a stylized pulpy showcase for everyone involved.
Briarpatch is stylish and detailed. San Bonifacio looks alive and has that distinct feel of a small but large Texas town. The town’s personality is continuously conveyed on screen, making it feel unique and fitting of the often dreamlike nature of the series and the city. San Bonifacio is a town with a giant old-school hotel and a zoo that recently had all of its animals released after a break-in. The show was shot in New Mexico, creating that palpable heat that is so indicative of Texas.
The little details that pop up like custom alcohol brands and Lupes Tamales (the best in town) along with the exotic animals that appear throughout make the journey in this Texas border town memorable. When you sit down and start a show, you usually want to be transported to a place for however long you are indulging in said show. Briarpatch transports you to that weird town you drive through that you know something deep down isn’t right, but you might stop for tamales on the way back through but never do.
San Bonifacio is a playground for its fantastic cast play on, led by Dawson (Sin City, He Got Game, Unforgettable). She gives a star performance, commanding attention with her long black hair and a seemingly endless supply of beautiful pantsuits. She wears the weight of everything going on dealing with her past trauma and her sister’s murder, soaking up all the absurdness and the ever-increasing crookedness of her hometown. She has a lot on her plate; she’s angry and grieving with the stress of superiors weighing down on her.
The supporting players include Jay R. Ferguson (Mad Men), who plays Jake Spivey, Allegra’s old friend who is a maniacal ex arms dealer; Kim Dickens (Gone Girl, Deadwood), who plays the chief of police of San Bonifacio; Brian Geraghty (Flight, The Hurt Locker) plays Captain Gene Colder an on the surface model police officer who is close to tearing at the seems; Edi Gathegi (The Blacklist, X-Men: First Class) plays a local lawyer with an affinity for Hawaiian shirts and friend of Allegra’s late sister.
On paper, Briarpatch is stacked with so many talented performers and plenty of surprise appearances from great actors (like Ed Asner and Alan Cumming) that make everything from the show’s impeccable stylishness to its sharp dialogue sing.
Briarpatch Premiered on the USA Network early last year but is now available to stream on Peacock for both premium and free users. Many avid TV watchers missed its run every Monday after WWE Raw, and now that it’s available to stream, so many are discovering something special that they missed. Between its superb cast and its creative style, Briarpatch is a gem of a series, and if you like crime-mystery-conspiracy-type media with a sense of humor and style, then it’s worth the watch, and you’ll probably finish it in a weekend.
Briarpatch is available to stream on Peacock
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