So I guess it doesn’t matter if J. Alex Brinson committed a crime—presumably falsifying records is a crime if you’re a cop (though, then again, probably not)—it matters if the D.A. is going to prosecute. No resolution on whether the D.A. (who actually appears this episode—Ian Anthony Dale) is going to prosecute. You’d think they’d have decided before putting Brinson on the stand.
He’s got to go on the stand because Anne Heche is beating Wilson Bethel in the seemingly two-day trial of sheriff Louis Herthum. Heche wears a pink fedora during press conferences, doesn’t mask up, and is generally obnoxious. She screams at Simone Missick about how she defends the good cops so the bad ones don’t just kill all the Black people or something. It’s a very confused scene.
Bethel’s trying the case against Herthum—a season long arc—in Missick’s courtroom, which ought to be a no-no since they’re besties but chief judge Marg Helgenberger doesn’t think it’ll be a problem. There’s some potentially interesting material when Missick’s got to sustain Heche’s objections and Bethel gets pissy about it even though Missick’s clearly laying groundwork to do the same to Heche. It’s not a good trial, partially due to the writing, partially due to the case itself, mostly due to Heche and Herthum not being up to the acting task. Particularly Heche. Herthum fails a Jack Nicholson “You Can’t Handle The Truth!” moment but there’s never a chance he won’t. But Heche is ostensibly a solid stunt cast and she’s just a shallow fascist Barbie. Hat or no hat.
But it’s also not particularly effective because the entire rest of the episode is so much better. Out of nowhere, Audrey Corsa is really good as she tries the child abuse case against Helgenberger’s pal, Ashley Jones. Everyone involved in that storyline—Lindsay Mendez (it was originally her story arc), Nev Sharrel as the kid, Patricia Rae as the judge—is excellent.
Meanwhile, Jessica Camacho spends the day with potential boyfriend Shalim Ortiz—she’s still testing him out against Brinson—helping reunite a family. The daughter (Julianna Mendoza-Behrens) is in ICE detention. It’s a harrowing experience, particularly well-executed, and would be an easy highpoint if it weren’t for Corsa’s case.
It’d have been nice if the script—credited to Felicia Hilario and Elizabeth Brunner—had a better trial for the main plot instead of being rather flippant about the corrupt cop thing (though it improves from the bantering walk and talk sequences where Missick and Bethel, separately, complain about not being able to be pals during the trial to their respective supporting casts), but Corsa’s so much better as a lawyer than a sidekick and they aim real high with the family detention subplot.
Even with the Herthum arc being an inevitable disappointment, “Rise” seems to be finding its second season footing finally. Albeit just as they’re winding down and still not renewed.