New partners and more Ricci highlight new Saving Grace

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

It will be the fallout from switching partners, a gun-toting granny and more Christina Ricci on TNT's Saving Grace as the second half of season two continues, said actor Kenneth Johnson, who plays Oklahoma police detective Ham Dewey.

We'll also find out more about Ricci's character, Abby, who joined the squad last week for a three-episode arc and immediately rubbed Grace Hanadarko (Holly Hunter) the wrong way. "Christina's got that star quality to her," Johnson said in an interview with SCI FI Wire. "She's really fun to watch. I think the energy that she brings is really fresh."

The young detective is also a problem for Johnson's Ham, since she replaced him as Grace's partner. "The whole thing with Abby's character is he doesn't know if she can do the job or if she's got the heart of a cop," Johnson said. "So when it gets dirty if something goes on, are they going to be able to watch each other's back?"

During the first half of this second season, Ham struggled to deal with the death of his brother in Afghanistan. That struggle led him to decide he needed to take a break as Grace's partner and partner with Butch. As the season continues, Ham's not sure he made the right choice.

Ham and Butch butt heads because they approach things in different ways, he said. "I think there's a lot of regret there. He misses that person that can finish his lines, that knows what he's thinking. He gets concerned for Holly's character, Grace's character, because he doesn't want anything to happen to her. You get two females partnered up with each other. I think instinctually the male thing is he wants to protect the female, especially if it's a person you're in love with."

Coming up, Grace and Abby will find themselves investigating teenage drug scavenger parties, while Rhetta and Grace's priest brother, Father John (Tom Irwin), decide to help death-row inmate Leon Cooley (Bokeem Woodbine). "And we got a grandmother who shoots two people that come into her home," Johnson said. "Home invasions. And she's, like, crazy with a shotgun. We don't understand why they keep coming into her home and why she keeps getting a shotgun and blowing them away." Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham and Emmy winner Kathy Baker will guest-star.

The remaining six new episodes will also continue to balance a case of the week with the messy lives of the Oklahoma City detectives, as well as keeping Grace's Last Chance Angel, Earl (Leon Rippy), in the mix.

"I don't cross Earl's path that much. I wish I did, because you know Oklahoma is the Bible belt," Johnson said with a laugh. "I wish I had more of dealing with what Grace goes through or what Rhetta [Laura San Giacomo] goes through with trying to figure out the whole Earl thing. Because that's interesting, ... your beliefs in God and redemption and second chances. You have a guardian angel, and is there really a God out there? Those things to me are really intriguing."

Beyond this spring's seven new episodes, an additional eighth episode is being held until summer, which will close out the second season. TNT has already ordered a third season of 15 episodes. Saving Grace airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.