All Rise (2019) s01e20 – Merrily We Ride Along

This episode’s credited writers, Gregory Nelson and Aaron Carter, have written episodes before but they mustn’t have stood out enough I was going to remember the writers. The writing only stands out this episode because there’s a great courtroom scene with Jessica Camacho cross-examining a witness, Rodney To, and catching him up. “All Rise” is a lawyer show without exceptionally good trial lawyering scenes, usually because it’s all about Simone Missick’s judge, but also because the writing’s never particularly smart.

It’s smart this time. It’s very cool. Albeit exactly what you used to get in every episode of “Perry Mason” or whatnot.

Camacho’s case aside—she’s defending a blackout drunk (an effective Jamie Anne Allman) who confessed to a murder she doesn’t remember committing—there’s not a lot of court stuff going on here. Missick’s worried about Camacho’s mental state, but more about her seemingly failing long-distance marriage—the husband doesn’t appear in anything but photos and they’re still a chemistry vacuum in those—and her mom, L. Scott Caldwell, feeling old. So Missick has scenes with Caldwell and dad Brent Jennings. It’s okay… nothing more. And doesn’t feel like a good use of time.

Meanwhile, Wilson Bethel starts the episode going on a police ride along with detective Romeo Brown; Brown wants to show Bethel just how the streets really work. Bethel’s all, “Blue Lives Matter!”, in the first scene with girlfriend Lindsey Gort and the first thing Brown shows him is how he gives comic books to drug dealers for their little brothers or something. But very, yeah, good cops, yeah! Only then Brown assaults some guy and wants Bethel to lie about it so the episode is Bethel trying to work out what he’s going to say in his official statement and seemingly deciding he’s going to quit the D.A.’s office by the end of the episode.

Kind of a bummer because Bethel’s office banter with J. Alex Brinson and Audrey Costa is fun, but also… maybe it’s what the show needs. Bethel’s stagnating. Everyone’s stagnating.

Good direction from Cheryl Dunye this episode, no surprise. Lindsay Mendez gets more of a plot than usual being worried about boyfriend Bret Harrison’s mom, Marg Helgenberger, not wanting them dating. You’d think Helgenberger would be more worried about court reporter Mendez living with defense attorney Camacho and Camacho telling Mendez details of her cases. You’d think it’d also be a problem for Brinson, who works in the D.A.’s office.

But c'est la vie.

There’s better material in the episode than there’s been lately and it certainly doesn’t approach the season lows but… unless they bring on a new show runner, wouldn’t it be better for the show to done in one (season) it and release Missick and Bethel to better projects. Even Camacho, who’s been the most uneven of the four top-billed, could do a lot better than her character arc this season, which has sucked and continues to be a little exploitative even now.

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