Despite writer Damani Johnson never having written an “All Rise” before, this episode feels very much like a regular episode. Simone Missick’s not worrying about bringing about Black child into the world, she’s having fun avoiding FaceTime calls with her mom, being a supportive friend to Wilson Bethel (who only needs the support because he’s dating terrible white woman Lindsey Gort—if they’re not planning a full-on Karen episode for her, they need to be), managing her now bickering office staff (more on them in a bit), and trying to put together a baby crib without her husband around.
Even though she says she doesn’t need the husband around to put together the baby crib, spoiler, she apparently does. Because this episode is the furthest from Missick’s as it can be and still have her in it—she does get a mini-pregnancy scare arc, which is a very weird thing and serves more to establish the wholesome nature of the friendships in the Superior Court building than anything else—and, in the end, we basically find out pregnant Missick can’t handle what not pregnant Missick can handle.
Not sure the show’s intentionally making that statement about pregnant women but it’s making it. Though “All Rise” being coy about its politics, capital P, gender, or race ones, is another return to normal.
It’s CBS, after all.
The episode’s yet another soft reset, setting Bethel back on his “maybe cops are bad, actually” arc from the end of last season after the diversion into cop-loving at the beginning of this season because they needed Missick to have a shitty white best friend. It brings in Steven Williams, who’s a pretty good old man sidekick for Bethel, and hopefully gets us to Gort and Bethel breaking up. She storms out on him because he went to Missick for help instead of listening to her low-key white supremacist Barbie take.
Oh, the judge’s office. So, the subplot there is all about tightwad Ruthie Ann Miles having to work with new law clerk Samantha Marie Ware, who’s just too young, Black, and free for Miles’s tastes but not really because it’s more Ware doesn’t do any work.. Miles is the bad guy for expecting Ware to do work. Also Ware’s not good. And then Lindsay Mendez is the third wheel to be a good friend to Ware and a bad friend to Miles? Also Mendez has lost her grandparents losing their shop subplot and her wing-woman to Marg Helgenberger’s e-dating subplot.
It’s almost like the supporting cast is way too big.
The best thing in the episode is J. Alex Brinson’s arc where he discovers no one in the District Attorney’s office gives a shit they railroaded a young black woman into a conviction without taking the time to check into the circumstances of the crime. It’s a disheartening as all hell subplot—not just because they’ll forget it soon enough and Brinson will be back to “Blue Lives Mattering”—but also because it makes Helgenberger into a major villain. Or a mundane major villain.
Jessica Camacho’s also involved in the subplot, but more as support for Brinson. Though she does get to do a “mad as hell” rant, which ought to be better—Pete Chatmon’s direction is wanting.
I’m sure I’m forgetting something but it won’t matter next episode anyway.
There’s also a bunch of group socialization scenes where if you knew this people you’d say they deserved Rona, which is a bit of a change from the last two episodes where they were very careful about it. In fact, Camacho gives her new beau (Shalim Ortiz) shit for not wanting to buck medical guidance and get busy.
But Brinson’s actually great. Hopefully the show won’t fail him but of course it will.
The most consistent thing about “All Rise” is how it inevitably lets its cast down.