You’re selfish, Your Honour!

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There isn’t much to say about The Firm this week. While an improvement over last week’s episode, the biggest thing about it was that we are now only two weeks (or episodes) away from catching up to those pesky flash-forwards. I’m really interested to see how the show will change at that point. Certainly being able to tell stories past a fixed point will free up the writers. Or will we just get another set of flash-forwards? I hope not.

The episode was pretty much stolen by Victor Garber as a politically-minded judge looking to pad his statistics for re-election. Garber just has that deep voice that commands attention even if he’s ordering at a McDonald’s drive thru. The best part of “Chapter Six” is the guest appearance from Garber, who was cool in Alias and flat-out amazing in Eli Stone. Watching him tangle with Lucas is a delight; he’s an adversary we love to hate. There have been plenty of smarmy judges, but Garber’s presence makes his all the more interesting. If this were Law & Order and he wasn’t an antagonist, I’d say he would be a perfect candidate to be a recurring judge.

When we last left The Firm, Mitch was being put in prison for throwing Martin (Sir Sniffs-a-lot) off of the hotel balcony.  We open this week with Mitch saying through the two-way glass, “I need to make a phone call.”  Mystery Man on the other side of the glass demands a swift conviction for Mitch.

This week, Mitch discovers ulterior motives when a judge offers leniency for his client; Claire tries to convince her parents she needs a cell phone; Tammy and Ray continue working on the Sarah Holt case.

As the opening credits rolled this week, I had a realization: I like this show.  I look forward to watching it each week. I am invested in these characters, and the mystery, and I want to know what happens!

In addition to what’s going on with Sarah, Mitch is also defending a man accused of burning down a nightclub that he was thrown out of. The man swears his innocence and claims that an incriminating fingerprint must have been planted. Judge Walter Dominic (Victor Garber) seems a little too sympathetic; he calls Mitch into chambers and convinces him to get his client to sign a jury waiver. Dominic unexpectedly convicts the defendant of assault and sentences him to eight years in prison. He insists to a livid Mitch that “I did you a favor.”

With help from Ray and Tammy, Mitch realizes that Dominic is trying to pad his stats for his re-election campaign, by sentencing only white defendants to prison time. How do they hold him accountable? While Mitch fakes an apology and Tammy distracts a secretary with a fake marriage idea, Ray sneaks his way into the judge’s chambers and narrowly escapes. Mitch then confronts Dominic, who realizes too late that he’s been bugged and all the incriminating stuff he’s just said has been heard by the FBI. Mitch’s client walks free and Dominic gets arrested.

We open with Claire giving arguments to her mom about why she should have a cell phone.  This feels very familiar to this former teacher, who often had arguments with her students about how cell phones weren’t really necessary at age 10.  Cute moment as Mitch smiles to himself at Claire’s use of note cards to lay out her argument—already a lawyer!  Later in the episode, when Claire gets lost at a museum, Abby realizes the importance of a cell phone, and decides to give one to Claire.  Bonus points: Claire didn’t bug me this episode!  She’s growing on me!

We are led to believe that Claire might have been taken by the Moralto crime family thug, who follows Abby, Claire, and the class to the museum, and proceeds to strike up a conversation with Claire. Turns out he is just continuing his spy mission, as he reports back to Moralto Jr. that the McDeeres are easy-to-reach. Junior says to leave them alone…for now.Tammy and Ray spend the episode working on the Sarah Holt more-than-it-seems case.  They find another piece of evidence that leads Mitch to a meeting with an insurance company.  In the meeting, Mitch meets Sir Sniffs-a-lot, and the Mystery Man from the beginning of the episode (who we learn is named Kevin). During the meeting, they brush Mitch off, but Sir Sniffs-a-lot passes on some secret numbers afterwards.

It’s also nice to see some of the pieces of the big picture come out this week. We’re down to two more episodes before the show catches up to the flash-forwards, so it was definitely time for us to meet Martin. And there really wasn’t much move on the mob angle until now, although I’m still trying to get a bead on how we’re supposed to feel about Joey. One moment it seems like he wants to be relatively normal, the next he’s making not-so-veiled threats. It goes back to what I’ve said before about still trying to get a read on the show’s villains. It’d certainly be interesting if Joey turned out to be a more sympathetic villain, much like Andrew, but I can’t quite figure out where the show is going with either of them.
Addict Verdict: Overall, Chapter Six is a fair entry in the season so far. It seems to really be setting up the next part of the story, as nothing really mind-blowing occurs in any of the cases. We usually see more background for the Case of the Week story, to give us a little more emotional resonance into the defendant, but even that was light so that they could focus on Mitch’s investigation of the judge.
Fix-Your-Eyes-On-Me Scene: I definitely enjoyed the Mitch/Ray/Tammy tag-team of the judge’s office, and the satisfying way that it was concluded. The information that we were given this week in the Sarah Holt case seemed to be building blocks for what is to come, but it wasn’t very interesting information. At least we finally got to meet Sir Sniffs-a-lot and learn how he plays into the story.

Loyalty & Lies!

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This week’s The Firm starts off with a bang. In the present day, Mitch is being followed by the bad guys as he is on his way to meet up with Andrew. Mitch calls Andrew his friend, so hopefully in the past storyline we’ll see more of that develop in the next couple of weeks. Just before the bad guys catch up with him,  two men are about to pull guns on Mitch until BOOM!—a cop tackles him and arrests him for throwing Moxon off the roof, (which is not what actually happened). The scene is short and impactful and makes me wonder how exactly Mitch discovered the truth about Moxon, Sarah Holt and the shady firm he now works for. (On a side note, how effective is the APB system in Washington, DC? One was just put out on Mitch, and not 20 minutes later, a lone police officer is able to recognize and arrest him? DC must be the safest city in the nation!)

After the superb music and title sequence, “Chapter Five” transitions to 3 weeks earlier—at this rate, we are going to get to the present day quickly! We are visiting 3 cases this week: the Althea Sanderson heart stent case (the big medical settlement case which motivated Mitch to join forces with the firm), the Sarah Holt more-than-it-seems case, and

The Case of the Week: Mitch is defending Jud, a lawyer who also owns an illegal gambling bar. Jud is accused of killing the local loan shark, who had earlier paralysed his best friend over some money. Mitch is trying to get Jud acquitted based on the self-defence argument. There was a small moment where the Prosecuting Attorney congratulates Mitch on his rebuttal questioning that I really enjoyed. It reminds us that at the end of the day, both the prosecution and the defence are lawyers, and though they may be on opposite sides of the case, they can still appreciate each other’s skills in the courtroom. In an interesting twist, we learn that Mitch’s client really is innocent, but willing to go to jail for the crime anyway. “You can never know what the jury is thinking” is the overriding sentiment throughout this week’s episode, and I really was unsure how the jury was going to rule in the case.

His characterization helps forgive the usual plot twists in a typical dramatic trial. The prosecutors bring in a surprise witness to stab Mitch’s client in the back. Then in another twist, Jud reveals his friend who was paralyzed by the gangster actually is able to walk and was the one to shoot the gangster. Wait, what? It’s a little hard to believe that someone is faking paralysis and that Jud still refuses to admit that he might be going to jail for life. That’s where the unique luster at the beginning of the trial turns sour.

The heart stent corporation is offering a $200,000 settlement to Althea’s family, which seems like a great offer when you’ve got bills to pay, like Althea’s daughter has. Abby becomes the bulldog, telling the daughter to wait one more week to get a larger settlement. Abby gets convinced by Andrew that the firm is working hard to find the smoking gun that will get a large settlement for Althea’s family. Don’t be fooled, folks: Abby is still a teacher. Turns out, she handles most of the finances for Mitch’s business—and as a former elementary teacher, I can tell you that if she is a good teacher, she does not have time to handle lawyer billing as well. It does give her a little bit more reason to be involved in the cases, though. This case has a nice “In Yo Face” moment with a pompous medical attorney, and a great, emotional moment with the daughter when the case is resolved.

Ray continues to work on the Sarah Holt case while Mitch is working on the CotW. I hope he gets a good salary from this! While visiting Sarah in jail, he comes to the realization that Sarah might not be all that she claims to be. He also investigates Sarah’s apartment and finds evidence that Sarah might not be quite as removed from the murdered woman as she has led everyone to believe. Could Sarah have been hired to make contact with the dead lady? It is interesting to see the twists each week as this case gets more and more complicated.

Back in the present day, the unrelenting action comes to a grinding halt, as we watch Mitch being led into a witness interrogation room at the police station, and we get an end title.

Addict Verdict: Quite a unique case this week that presents many different facets. First, Mitch struggles to convince Jud, his client, to take a plea bargain. The client claims he’s innocent and only killed the gangster out of self defense. Second, the client’s background and motives are murky. A lot of police procedurals try to present confusing backgrounds, butThe Firm does a great job of shrouding clients in mystery.

Fix-Your-Eyes-Me Scene: For the first time in the series Mitch’s humorous flare in the courtroom shines through. So far he has been a sharp-witted lawyer, but while cross-examining a medical examiner he becomes cocky and almost treats the doctor in a demeaning way. Perhaps that’s why The Firm is able to compel a niche audience to return week after week.

Psycho Trauma – Been There. Psychotherapy – Done That. Psycho Trail?! – What The Firm!

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This Week, Mitch takes on the case of psychiatrist Elle Larson, who is accused of murdering a patient that had been stalking her. Meanwhile, Ray digs deeper into the Sarah Holt case.

In “Chapter Four”, the present day, Mitch is on the run. He meets Abby, Ray, and Tammy at Ray’s boat, and lets them know what has happened so far. His dialogue serves as a catch-up for those that might not have seen the show thus far. We also get a glimpse into the FBI/Police (not sure which), and they classify Martin’s dive off the balcony as a homicide, because someone spotted Mitch running from the scene. They put an APB out on Mitch.

Hey! We have a title sequence! YAY! And a decent one at that too! Call me old-fashioned, but I miss the days of title sequences and theme songs. And this one, all angles and dramatic underscore, was pretty neat. Josh Lucas’ fine mug is featured prominently throughout. Interesting that Callum gets second billing. Seems like the show should be called “Josh’s Eyes” instead of The Firm, since every ad, billboard, and this title sequence seem to focus on them quite a bit. Not that I am complaining.

We jump back to 4 weeks earlier, and we start with a scene with Mitch and Abby. I absolutely love their relationship. They remind me a lot of Coach and Tami Taylor from the glorious “Friday Night Lights”. They have highs and lows, but they are always there for each other. The first scene sweetens them for me. Such an easy mushy-mushy chemistry between Lucas and Molly Parker. And, that makes it easier to believe them as husband and wife. And Oh-No!!, Claire does not make an appearance this week! She is only mentioned in passing.

Mitch and the Scooby Gang continue to work on the more-than-it-seems Sarah Holt case. Ray takes point this week, investigating the son who was also at the scene of the crime. I love watching Ray work cases. He is a lot less polished, and a lot more gangster about getting information from people. The way he confronts the son was so fun to watch, because he was so proud of himself when he got the reaction he wanted. And I never thought I’d say this after The X-Files: I Want To Believe, but Callum Keith Rennie is kinda charming.

Meanwhile, the lawyers at Kinross and Clark let us know that Sarah Holt’s computer was firm-issued (WHAT?!), and holds “incriminating evidence” against the firm. This is interesting news, as all we know about Sarah so far is that she met the old lady the day of her murder. Clark tells Andrew to remote-wipe Sarah’s hard drive as soon as the computer was turned on. (Kind of a TV trope, don’t you think?!) Also, is Andrew’s only role on this show going to be as Alex Clark’s minion? There’s so much more that could be done with his character, especially since he’s the one villain with a personal tie to Mitch (even though I think he was never really Mitch’s friend). But after a fair amount of screen time in the premiere, Shaun Majumder has been relegated to running errands.

We also peek in on the Moralto crime family, who has a vendetta against Mitch McDeere for getting Papa Bear taken down. Someone is watching Mitch, and lets Junior know that he is easy to get to, if they want to take him down. Junior isn’t interested right now (Bummer!).

In the Case-of-the-Week, Mitch is defending a psychotherapist accused of murdering a patient who was stalking her. We start this case in a slightly different way as the previous episodes—we don’t meet the defendant at the start of their meetings with Mitch. We meet the defendant on the first day of trial. Actually, now that I think about it, in all of the CotWs’ we have seen so far, we are introduced to them at a different starting point of the case. I wonder why I didn’t notice that before…


Can I just say, I am SO glad that I have never been a murder trial juror! During the Prosecution’s questioning, I am fully ready to convict the defendant, and after the Defense’s questioning, I doubt everything I have heard. I would have the hardest time, and would be the only hold-out on a jury because I wouldn’t be able to make a decision.

A couple of questions popped up for me during the CotW:

– Some new information was brought to light during questioning—would the defense be able to take a break to question its client during the interrogation of a witness?

– I made the connection with a key point in this trial. Why didn’t the defendant or Mitch make that connection right away? I thought this guy was smart? (he did make the connection eventually, but it just seemed like a TV thing, not to realize the connection until the third act!)

The courtroom scenes again had a cinematic quality about them. Mitch continuing to question witnesses through multiple objections by the prosecution seemed to run amiss of what would actually happen. I so need to get my lawyer friends to comment on this! Thankfully, the “twist” in the case this week made it interesting. I really didn’t know how this one was going to end until it was over!

The Firm has settled into a routine a bit. The present-day/past-case/present-day format is easier to follow now, and each Case-of-the-Week is approached from a slightly different way, which makes the format not as predictable. However, this episode had a frantic pace to it, as they are dealing with so many issues during one episode (Not that there isn’t enough of it already on TV!)

Addict Verdict: The writers continue each plotline each episode, which makes for some breakneck storytelling. With some major groundbreaking shows coming up, I am hoping that The Firm sticks around long enough to have the stories concluded!

Fix-You-Eyes-On-Me Scene: Watch out for Ray’s scene with the son of Sarah Holt’s alleged murder victim, who happened to be a deputy sheriff. He almost seemed to enjoy poking the guy, which befits his history as an ex-con.

A New Chapter Begins!

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I was a huge fan of John Grisham‘s The Firm back when it was just a novel, and I even enjoyed the Tom Cruise movie adaptation. But when I heard that AXN was premiering a television series, I was stunned speechless. I wasn’t sure why the entire story needed to be retold in another format. Except that the series, aptly titled The Firm, isn’t just another copy.

There’s something almost old-fashioned about AXN’s new John Grisham series and for once, it isn’t a bad thing. From its slick, retro opening credits through the foot chase scene that sets the story of this new drama, the television sequel to Grisham’s 1991 novel of the same name doesn’t entirely feel like other 21st century legal thrillers.

The series picks up 10 years after McDeere has been in witness protection for taking down the Memphis firm of the original. Why does he leave? A mob boss who became collateral damage from the Memphis meltdown, and who went down the road of revenge for Mitch, is now dead. But, Nothing’s ever the way it seems, there’s always more to the story than meets the eye, as the opening scene reveals: Mitch is running for his life, chased by three nefarious suits through D.C. until Mitch tells Abby the code-red news: It’s happening again. All of this is set against the McDeeres’ determination to live outside of the witness protection program. But it soon becomes clear that the criminals Mitch crossed a decade ago have very sharp memories, and that is going to force changes in the McDeeres’ lives. In the end, Mitch has to make a significant decision about his career and about the cost of being his own boss.

For people those of you who are not familiar with the character, Mitch is an old-school, self-made hero, worked hard to graduate near the top of his class at Harvard — and you can’t help but root for him. And at a time when the procedural format is constantly being reinvented, The Firm‘s straightforward, one-man-against-the-system story feels quite compelling — especially when that one man happens to look like a Tom Ford model and yet comes off as totally relatable. It’s been a while since Hollywood dusted off the trope of the scrappy, Everyman lawyer fighting against Big Corruption. But if you’ve missed more traditional courtroom dramas, you’ll be glad that Mitch is right: It’s happening again. While he is not a carbon copy of Tom Cruise, Actor Josh Lucas does a fine job of reinventing Mitch McDeere, the lawyer Tom Cruise portrayed in the original film, though this time he’s more idealistic than eager that he clearly makes Mitch his own character, someone the audience can enjoy. Mr. Lucas, a film actor best known as Patrick Dempsey’s foil in “Sweet Home Alabama,” brings a riveting competence with a lot of fire to the role of Mitch. Callum Keith Rennie plays Mitch’s brother, Ray, and brings a rough around the edges charm to each scene. Unlike David Strathairn in the film, Mr. Rennie feels like someone who might have actually committed manslaughter! And while I’ve always had a hard time in general watching main characters’ wives whine and complain and try to force their husband not to do what he wants, Molly Parker gives Abby McDeere more of a loving and worried concern for her husband and family. Her initial reluctance is warranted and when she agrees to let Mitch join the new firm, it isn’t aggressive and against her calm nature. Juliette Lewis portrays Tammy, McDeere’s assistant, with charisma and a fun attitude.

The lead producer of The Firm, Lukas Reiter, is a veteran of Law & Order and of the Kelley lawyer shows like The Practice and Boston Legal. In trying to combine Mr. Kelley’s oddball idealism with elements of a crime procedural and long-arc thriller, he’s set himself quite the victory.

AXN’s new legal thriller “The Firm” is so front-loaded for success, that even two hours feel uncomfortably crammed!

With its frantic pace, jumpy cameras and pounding soundtrack right out of a video game loop, The Firm is determined to prove right out of the gate how edgy it is. And while the time-jumping could be a bit confusing, it is a great way to bookend the two hours and prepares viewers for the intensity to come. It succeeds in its endeavors to provide a compelling and fast-paced plot that introduced characters you want to watch. And although Mitch may never want to work for a law firm again when this is all over, I’m excited to see how he and the rest of his family come out on top.

After all, who doesn’t love an underdog fighting for truth and justice?

P.S.: Television never has enough law series to satiate us; so, let’s take a chance on reinvigorated nostalgia. What say?!

So, Don’t forget,

SUNDAY, FEB 19, 9 P.M., EXCLUSIVELY on AXN!!!

Remember, Its happening again!