Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the first “All Rise” since producer Warner Bros. fired creator Greg Spottiswood for being too racist and sexist, which doesn’t appear to have any bearing on the episode—unless it’s somehow in the subtext of Peter MacNicol’s arc about appearing to be profoundly biased against a Black defendant but really it’s because he’s got unresolved issues regarding his brother (MacNichol’s brother, not the defendant’s) since childhood, which only Simone Missick (making a return not just via Zoom but also on location three times) can help him resolve. But MacNicol’s arc doesn’t have much in the way of subtext.
The episode doesn’t have much in the way of subtext, with Missick having a mistaken information sitcom faux pas with Amy Gort and new partners Jessica Camacho and Samantha Marie Ware speaking in exposition dumps to one another the whole time, or J. Alex Brinson and Wilson Bethel having some frosty conversations because Brinson’s on a list of suspicious sheriff deputies. It’s all id, all the time this episode. It works for some of the story arcs, doesn’t work for most of them, works for some of the actors, doesn’t work for… well, it doesn’t work for Ware.
What’s weird about Ware and Camacho not clicking is it’s unclear if they don’t click or if they don’t click because of the script or even the direction. Paul McCrane kind of directs the hell out of the episode, but then also doesn’t. His two shots are great, letting the actors (even Ware) experience the other actors’ deliveries and react in time. But all the close-ups feel mawkish. The instincts are good, the results are not. Then again, might just be the way the script works. And also there’s always social distancing so it’s hard to get two shots.
Everyone in the regular cast—save an absent Reggie Lee—gets something to do this episode, to the point I couldn’t remember Audrey Corsa’s character’s name again. And I suppose all Ruthie Ann Miles gets is to send Ware off on her way in the first scene. The episode makes a good case for Ware’s character being the protagonist of the whole show, as she’s now on a presumably multi-episode arc of shadowing different people throughout the building. Unfortunately Ware’s mostly terrible so it’d be terrible but it makes narrative sense.
Anyway, there are subplots like Ryan Michelle Bathe and Wilson Bethel still feeling the shockwaves from their kiss—which has the added context they never actually dated in college and so all the previous flirtations and references to a relationship were just Bathe and Missick teasing Bethel? But then Lindsay Mendez starts a subplot about an abused kid, which turns out just be a craven gotcha for the audience.
“All Rise” is struggling, as it has this entire season, to get through lockdown, to get through Missick’s maternity leave. Can’t help having your creator and show runner be a piece of shit. Fingers crossed they make it, fingers crossed it gets back to being at least a showcase for its many good actors.
Lastly, the cliffhanger with Brinson confronting his cop buddies is terrifying and hopefully the show does right by him after putting him through a hellish arc.