Gregory Nelson

All Rise (2019) s01e20 – Merrily We Ride Along

This episode’s credited writers, Gregory Nelson and Aaron Carter, have written episodes before but they mustn’t have stood out enough I was going to remember the writers. The writing only stands out this episode because there’s a great courtroom scene with Jessica Camacho cross-examining a witness, Rodney To, and catching him up. “All Rise” is a lawyer show without exceptionally good trial lawyering scenes, usually because it’s all about Simone Missick’s judge, but also because the writing’s never particularly smart.

It’s smart this time. It’s very cool. Albeit exactly what you used to get in every episode of “Perry Mason” or whatnot.

Camacho’s case aside—she’s defending a blackout drunk (an effective Jamie Anne Allman) who confessed to a murder she doesn’t remember committing—there’s not a lot of court stuff going on here. Missick’s worried about Camacho’s mental state, but more about her seemingly failing long-distance marriage—the husband doesn’t appear in anything but photos and they’re still a chemistry vacuum in those—and her mom, L. Scott Caldwell, feeling old. So Missick has scenes with Caldwell and dad Brent Jennings. It’s okay… nothing more. And doesn’t feel like a good use of time.

Meanwhile, Wilson Bethel starts the episode going on a police ride along with detective Romeo Brown; Brown wants to show Bethel just how the streets really work. Bethel’s all, “Blue Lives Matter!”, in the first scene with girlfriend Lindsey Gort and the first thing Brown shows him is how he gives comic books to drug dealers for their little brothers or something. But very, yeah, good cops, yeah! Only then Brown assaults some guy and wants Bethel to lie about it so the episode is Bethel trying to work out what he’s going to say in his official statement and seemingly deciding he’s going to quit the D.A.’s office by the end of the episode.

Kind of a bummer because Bethel’s office banter with J. Alex Brinson and Audrey Costa is fun, but also… maybe it’s what the show needs. Bethel’s stagnating. Everyone’s stagnating.

Good direction from Cheryl Dunye this episode, no surprise. Lindsay Mendez gets more of a plot than usual being worried about boyfriend Bret Harrison’s mom, Marg Helgenberger, not wanting them dating. You’d think Helgenberger would be more worried about court reporter Mendez living with defense attorney Camacho and Camacho telling Mendez details of her cases. You’d think it’d also be a problem for Brinson, who works in the D.A.’s office.

But c'est la vie.

There’s better material in the episode than there’s been lately and it certainly doesn’t approach the season lows but… unless they bring on a new show runner, wouldn’t it be better for the show to done in one (season) it and release Missick and Bethel to better projects. Even Camacho, who’s been the most uneven of the four top-billed, could do a lot better than her character arc this season, which has sucked and continues to be a little exploitative even now.

All Rise (2019) s01e17 – I Love You, You’re Perfect, I Think

Despite a forced start with Jessica Camacho and roomie and BFF Lindsay Mendez going hiking in some canyon before work and not finding a body, with some particularly forced angst from Camacho regarding boyfriend J. Alex Brinson declaring his love for her, the episode works out to be one of “All Rise”’s best.

Gregory Nelson’s script does a bit of a greatest hits tour through the show, making sure to give Simone Missick and Wilson Bethel banter and bickering banter to showcase the range of their characters’ relationship.

Nelson also takes the show seemingly new places—and revisiting some unfamiliar ones—the episode doesn’t just have a scene in the judges’ lounge, it also goes to the public defender office for the first time either ever or in a long while; the district attorney office is more familiar but rarely showcased as much as here. The show also figures out what to do with Audrey Corsa, now she and Brinson don’t seem to have a flirtation going. She’s a good sidekick for Bethel, who teaches her to be idealistic above all else in this episode.

Bethel’s got an innocent man to free, so lots of good White guy turmoil, while Missick’s got to deal with telling boss Marg Helgenberger what’s what as far as Helgenberger’s informal vetting.

The Missick and Helgenberger stuff turns out to be good, which is a surprise.

Then there’s a subplot with Peter MacNicol having to admit he’s capable of mistakes as an old White man, even means he has to respect young Latina women (in this case Mendez).

Paul McCrane (who does a fine job directing) is around a bit to spice things up.

Of course, the main plot is a soldier has PTSD so is he responsible for this assault, with Camacho as the defense attorney and Gavin Stenhouse as the accused. Stenhouse is pretty good. He’s able to make it work. Much better than when Camacho and Mendez have a really forced conversation about how much they support the troops.

Lots of big swings for the show—the PTSD of a soldier, Marg Helgenberger’s accountability arc, and the MacNichol having to admit his bias… and it does work out pretty darn well for the show. The episode successfully showcases the show at its best.

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