I can’t remember the last time “All Rise” was as good as this episode, which is a problem since it’s not really “All Rise.” It’s “All Rise 2.0,” with Marg Helgenberger in the lead. Simone Missick doesn’t make any appearances—again, given she’s just given birth during a pandemic, you hope it’s for an okay reason (Missick herself, the character’s just not around). So instead it’s about Helgenberger, having learned from working with a powerful Black woman, trying to do better. At the same time she’s just met a new woman—guest star Amy Acker (the Georgia of the title, so you can see how little it has to do with anything else)—and is experiencing real, complete with a meet cute romance for the first time since the show started. And it’s a lot of fun. It’s also occasionally very cheesy. But Helgenberger’s always been stuck with this “not sure she’s actually a good guy” character on the show and it turns out she’s not just a good guy, she’s striving for it.
Now, Helgenberger is just taking the Missick spot, so Wilson Bethel stills gets his own. Only his also involves girlfriend Lindsey Gort and ex-girlfriend, recently unprompted kiss partner Ryan Michelle Bathe. Plus Gort has her own subplot branching off, involving guest star Ray Wise (yay, Ray Wise!), and needing to talk to Bathe about something very important. The very important is one of the episode’s two cliffhangers and the far more amusing one, even if not exactly promising because Gort’s blah. We shall see.
Poor Jessica Camacho gets her subplot folded into Bethel’s as they end up trying a case against each other about eyewitness identification. Oh, and Helgenberger’s hearing the case, and Acker’s giving the judges a seminar on eyewitness identification and its fallibility. Elizabeth Brunner’s script is really tight; it’s her first credit on the show. I hope she’s back. Though it works because treats Helgenberger as protagonist and everyone else as a very supporting, The idea of emphasizing a character each week until they can film regularly and Missick’s back… not a bad one. Though it’s unclear what next episode will be; “All Rise”’s second season has never found its footing, even with the better episodes.
The case is good too. Camacho’s defending Asian guy Robert Wu in a robbery case; white lady Sarah Levy (Oh, my God, Twy! It’s Twyla!) is shop owner, who’s really sure it was him even if she couldn’t possibly have seen his forehead birthmark because they have security camera footage and why won’t anyone think about how hard it’s been for her! I’m not sure if they were intending for Levy to go Full Karen, but it’s kind of amazing. She’s so good at playing egomaniac she better be careful about getting typecast.
Bethel’s got a C plot bracket about the police corruption stuff, which leads to the other cliffhanger. It’s far less promising, but who knows… maybe “All Rise” has finally figured out its second season.
Big maybe. Also ten episodes in is real late, even with lockdown and a new mom lead.