Dig features an international conspiracy of (literally) Biblical proportions, a desert program for children being groomed to take part in an ancient prophesy, a dogged FBI agent haunted by several personal demons, and a mystery whose disparate threads and connections are only beginning to come together.
In other words, we’ve seen this all before. But that’s not to say it’s not worth seeing again. USA’s Dig (a change-up for them from frothier fare) comes from Homeland‘s Gideon Raff and Heroes‘ Tim Kring, which means essentially that it’s a thriller with some magical and fantastical elements. It’s also serious, stylish, and has a great cast.
To wit, Jason Isaacs stars (with an American accent) as Peter Connelly, an FBI agent stationed in Jerusalem, trying to outrun his life back in the states. He’s taken up casually with his exasperated but forgiving boss Lynn (Anne Heche) and has a testy relationship with a local detective he’s been paired with, Golan Cohen (Ori Pfeffer), as the two pursue a murderer who is also in possession of a priceless ancient artifact.
One night, Peter meets a mysterious young woman (Alison Sudol) — the kind who doesn’t wear undergarments, and has Raggedy Ann hair with a bad fringe — who shows him the site of an archeological dig, where another twist in the mystery begins. Meanwhile, out in the New Mexico desert, a fundamentalist compound is home to an egomaniacal pastor (David Costabile) and his followers, including the jittery and emotional Debbie (Lauren Ambrose). They are raising one of those children who seems a little bit magical, and who has a “destiny.”
But there are twists to this, too, and how it connects to another story taking place in Norway, where a Jewish sect has tasked a young man to watch over a sacred red calf (one that will fulfill yet another prophesy) is so far unclear. Everything is connected, and one can definitely assume at the close of this 10-episode event series that the world will be probably be saved.
Dig is fast-paced and very plotty, but its twists and turns are easy to get wrapped up in. It has some global flair to it, as the dialogue of its international cast flows in and out of different languages, admirably necessitating subtitles. The series was actually partially shot in Jerusalem (until it had to move during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict), and it makes great use of those surroundings, with action sequences employing those familiar shaky-cam tactics to keep the energy high. The series’ first few episodes mix in their exposition and mystery well, and most of the characters feel clearly drawn (at least, the male characters), particularly Isaacs as Peter, who carries the series and anchors it emotionally (and even allows for there to be a little humor here and there).
Some of Dig‘s conceits feel a little tired, and others a little too ridiculous, but for those who enjoy international conspiracies filled with murder and mystery (and a surprising amount of animal sacrifices), Dig feels like a worthwhile journey. And while it seems like everyone is getting into the limited event series game these days, there’s something to be said for closure. Ultimately, Dig‘s conspiratorial revelations don’t exactly “challenge everything we know” so much as give us exactly what we expect. In fact, it’s the opposite of ABC’s staid American Crime, premiering at the same time. Dig is not an entry into prestige television, but it’s easy to like. Sometimes, that’s all that is required.
Rating: ★★★ Good — Proceed with cautious optimism
Dig premieres Thursday, March 5th at 10 p.m. on USA.