Relative to “All Rise,” I had some expectations for this episode. It seemed like they’d wrapped up the season’s existing threads last time and were ready, once again, to try to figure out where they’re going. “All Rise” has had Covid—there’s a very meta moment this episode where Jessica Camacho (whose B plot is actually a C plot and she’s just background) complains about her new workload and boss Rebecca Field, who’s really good and should be a regular if only the cast weren’t three times too big, tells her it’s Covid universe and get used to it. The show’s had Covid and a pregnant lead (Simone Missick) to figure out this season, with every episode or two seeming like they’re trying to establish a new normal.
This episode does a little with the new normal but not a lot. For example, we get to see Wilson Bethel in his new new role in the D.A.’s office, which has him doing celebrity cases and not ones where he might have to deal with social injustice apparently. Here he’s prosecuting a movie star, Lesley Ann Warren, for a crime she would’ve committed thirty years before. It seems like it’s going to be a cool Hollywood mystery thing.
It’s not. There’s a mansion at least.
But then we also J. Alex Brinson’s restorative justice in the D.A.’s office subplot getting a big change, but his story arc this episode is just filler. The big change is a last few minutes thing and could’ve just as easily been a first few minutes thing and had actual contributions.
A lot of attention goes to Paul McCrane taking over Missick’s courtroom during her maternity leave and getting on the staff’s nerves, particularly Samantha Marie Ware, who’s only in the job to learn from Missick anyway. It’s maybe Ware’s most effective subplot so far, even if it is only a couple scenes, but nothing goes particularly wrong with them.
Though the show seems to have cut a thing about McCrane being very obviously anti-mask.
Warren’s okay in an extended cameo. Amy Davidson’s decent as her troubled daughter. Tony Denison comes back to ogle Warren, provide a juxtapose on bad parenting (he’s Bethel’s dad), and show off his great hair. Though demoting Lindsey Gort to hanging out with Denison is maybe the best use of her this season. He’s in town to give her potential client ideas, which can’t be done over the phone or email. Also he comes to town from Florida and doesn’t seem to quarantine. It’ll be fine.
“All Rise”’s second season just seems like a treading water marathon. Who knows what they’ll be able to do—or have to do—next.
It does feel like Missick and Camacho are losing their show though. Camacho’s basically just there for “it’s complicated” scenes with ex Brinson (even though it’s her birthday), whereas you do kind of wish they’d just let Missick have some maternity leave. Though when she and Bethel do their exposition banter you can at least remember how the show used to feel.
Oh, and much better music than usual. Who’d have thought in 1991 a U2 song would end up on a CBS drama.
Also—Jere Burns as Warren’s lawyer. He’s just doing his Jere Burns asshole thing but it’s welcome enough.