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Series / Briarpatch

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"Felicity called this 'Breadknife Weather.' When the temperature gets up in the triple digits like this, folks don't even bother reaching for the sharp stuff before they start stabbing each other."
A.D. Singe

Briarpatch is a 2020 miniseries airing on USA Network, created by Sam Esmail and starring Rosario Dawson.

When her sister is killed by a car bombing, Senate investigator Allegra "Pick" Dill returns to her hometown to investigate and find out who did it.

This series contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Freddie Laffter, the local crime-beat reporter, loves his cognac.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Brattle is very touchy-feely with his minions and speaks of Spivey almost like an ex-lover. When Spivey meets one of Brattle's new assassins, he wryly refers to him as "the new me," as if he's meeting his ex's new boyfriend.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Gene Colder comes across as a timid, Henpecked Husband who just wants to be a proper cop. Turns out he's Clyde Brattle's mole on the San Bonifacio police force, and the guy who actually killed Felicity.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Raytek, Colder, and Brattle all kill each other. Allegra trades the incriminating evidence on Ramirez for her freedom and bolts as fast as she can, leaving Jake to face the music alone. San Bonifacio remains a festering pit of corruption (though it's implied that Freddie Laffter has finally been emboldened to start exposing things), and Ramirez has no obstacles to his political ambitions. The only person with a real happy ending is Cindy, and that's only by virtue of her being removed from all the machinations.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: As per the Noir-esque setting, nobody in the story is innocent. Not even Allegra.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Clyde Brattle, the Big Bad of the series, has eyes black as midnight.
  • Boxed Crook: Cyrus got Allegra out of prison in order to make use of her skills, and he never lets her forget that he can put her back there if she ever outlives her usefulness.
  • Butch Lesbian: Eve Raytek, butch in personality and feminine in appearance. A petite blonde who likes fashionable shoes, she's also a tough, no-sense, hard-drinking cop and former soldier. Her sexual orientation isn't even confirmed until the penultimate episode, when she and Spivey's attorney Daphne..."celebrate" their political victory.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The tiger that escaped from the local zoo is mentioned and has a brief appearance in the first episode, and finally shows up in the flesh in the final episode, to save Allegra from a murderous thug.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: "Candy Bar" Baines, last surviving member of the Baines family and heir to the local sugar refinery fortune, is a conspiracy-theory spouting weirdo who lives alone in an abandoned cult compound outside of town. Oh, and he's the one who bombed the zoo, "liberating" the animals. He claims that he's a Defector from Decadence, having walked away from a wicked society to live a virtuous life in the wild. Considering what a Wretched Hive San Bonifacio is, it's hard to disagree.
  • The Corrupter: Brattle has an uncanny ability to convert people to his way of thinking.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Jake Spivey is a goofy drug-addled washout who lives larger than he can afford to and is just barely able to stay ahead of the people who want him dead. He's also an Iraq veteran who's seen and done some truly bad shit. When Brattle sends a squad of mercenaries to his house, Spivey single-handedly takes them out with just a knife and his bare hands.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: Brattle, after intimidating the hell out of the three delinquents who pranked him, makes a point of drinking the last of one of their sodas.
  • Epic Fail: Spivey tries to cut a deal with Senator Ramirez, but a combination of his PTSD and his untreated flesh wound play havoc with his usual smooth-talking ability, causing the Senator to flee from him in horror.
  • Ethical Slut: Cindy is the kindest and sweetest person in San Bonifacio. She just happens to make her living via sexy webcam videos, and doesn't much believe in monogamy in her personal life.
  • Fall Guy: Floyd Ferness, Felicity's ex-boyfriend, is set up to take the blame for the bombing, and he knew he would be from the very start. His last words before being gunned down by the police are an appeal to Allegra to find out what's really going on.
  • Gambit Pileup: Everyone wants to capture Clyde Brattle to use as a bargaining chip for their own agendas. Clyde Brattle's got his own agenda. Allegra just wants out. All of it converges in the final episode, and nothing goes according to anyone's plan.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: In the first episode, Allegra whacks her boss in the head with a bottle after he sneaks into her hotel room.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: The blonde kind-hearted Cindy is perhaps the only innocent character in the entire series.
  • Identifying the Body: In the second episode, Allegra is shown pictures of Felicity's burned remains.
  • I Own This Town: When Raytek throws her hat in the ring to run for Mayor, she seeks support from James Staghorne, the richest and most influential person in San Bonifacio. Staghorne throws her New Era Speech back in her face, responding with a blatantly racist and sexist tirade about how he and his fellow patriarchs will never let her succeed in what she wants to do.
    Staghorne: You don't win an election. You accept our offer to serve.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Not that Ramirez was as pure as the driven snow to start off, but when Brattle gives him dirt on his political opponents in exchange for immunity, his immediate reaction to decide to kill everybody, including his lover Allegra.
  • Knight Templar: Raytek wants to clean up San Bonifacio, and she's willing to go to some horrifying lengths to do so. Including multiple cold-blooded murders.
  • Mugging the Monster: The gang of delinquent teenagers hanging around town somehow manage to do this twice:
    • At the diner, they loosen the lids of the salt shakers so that the next person to use them will spill salt all over their food. The next person to do that happens to be Clyde Brattle, who promptly sits down at their table and very quietly puts the fear of God into them.
    • Later, they attempt to harass a shell-shocked Allegra, even pulling a gun on her. Her unnerving non-reaction creeps them out so badly that they immediately back off.
  • Oh, Crap!: Raytek staggers to her car after winning a brutal fistfight with Spivey over the blackmail evidence, starts up the car...and then sees Colder's crushed soda can on the dashboard. She has just enough time to register what this means before the Kaboom.
  • Police Are Useless: San Bonifacio is so corrupt that the cops can't do much other than just barely maintain the peace, and only a handful of them are actually motivated to do more than that. Raytek, despite claiming to care a lot about Felicity, does not hesitate to sweep her murder under the rug in order to keep her own plans running.
  • Running Gag: At some point before the main narrative began, an explosion at the local zoo caused a mass escape, and the police are still trying to round up all the animals. A completely out-of-place animal will frequently pop up when least expected. Oh, and they still haven't caught the tiger.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Spivey's experiences in Iraq haunt him still.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: In the first episode, Allegra is left with ringing ears after barely avoiding a car bomb.
  • Spotting the Thread: Allegra notices that her late sister's supposed residence is too neat and tidy, and the decor doesn't match her sister's personality.
  • The Mole: Gene Colder is Brattle's inside man on the police force.
  • Victory Sex: Raytek secures a deal with Cyrus: Senator Ramirez's endorsement of her mayoral campaign in exchange for ownership of Spivey's properties. The moment Cyrus leaves the office, Raytek and Daphne immediately engage in loud enthusiastic lovemaking - much to Cyrus's bemusement.
  • Villainous Breakdown: the last shot of Jake Spivey is him sitting in his empty house screaming in frustration, his plans in tatters all around him and Allegra in the wind.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Jake, Allegra, and Felicity were all childhood friends growing up in San Bonifacio. They drifted apart as they got older and Allegra went to prison due to a scheme of theirs backfiring.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Everyone speaks of Felicity as a good cop and a good person, who really did want to do a good job and make a difference in her home town. Unfortunately she ended up trusting the wrong people, and paid with her life.
  • Wretched Hive: San Bonifacio is a grungy Texas border town where everyone seems to have their hands in something dirty, whether it be gunrunning, drugs, or human smuggling.