Unfortunately the follow-up episode to CBS’s new series DOUBT premiere was no stronger than the tepid showing last week. The entire promise of the first episode (Sadie having defend the man she’s fallen in love with in a murder trial, Brennan) was sidelined this week. “This isn’t TV, DNA evidence is going to take a while to get back,” Albert says early in the episode basically telling us flat out that the plot is too thin to hit major plot points week after week. Besides that, the show bounces awkwardly from light and airy comedic beats to heavy dramatic themes with no warning, making it feel clunky and disjointed.
We start off with one of those awkward clunky comedic beats (I think?) when Brennan tells Sadie that he actually feels good being back at work (he’s a surgeon for sick children), saying that for the first time since before he went to jail he found himself walking himself through the next day’s surgical procedure and not going over his trial in his mind. “Well let’s hope the future is full of nights of sick kids,” she says which, if it is a joke, fell utterly flat on its face. Not a good start. Brennan leaves and Sadie is back to work.
Isaiah questions whether she can keep it professional with Brennan, and she assures him she can do that in the least assuring sentence ever spoken. But he’s got other things to talk about. He dumps a TON of boxes in Sadie’s office–evidence in the Brennan case. She’ll need to go over it to make sure the prosecution doesn’t have any surprises. She quickly assigns this boring plotline to Tiffany and Nick and is off to defend a former judge in a rape case!
Basically, Judge Porter, an old friend of Isaiah’s, (played by L. Scott Caldwell, aka Bernard from Lost!) is being taken to trial by his step-children for having sex with his wife and their elderly mother, who is deep in stages of Alzheimer’s and therefore can not give consent to sex. Here’s another problem with this show–I don’t like this guy. I don’t particularly like Brennan and I don’t know that I’m supposed to yet. In a third trial this week, Cameron and Albert defend a man who was in the car when his cousin gunned down an innocent man walking his child to school, and they at first advise him not to snitch on his cousin! I’m not sure who I’m rooting for, and while a show that was more fine-tuned could intriguingly pull off these grey area cases, I just end up feeling dirty and being put off by the entire episode.
Sadie’s case gets even tougher when Judge Porter starts criticizing her capability as a lawyer. He tells her her opening statement was not one of the better ones he’s heard. When the psychologist who evaluated his wife Gina determined she is incapable of consenting to sex, the DA offers a plea deal in which he wouldn’t serve any time or be fined, but would just never get to see his wife again. This seems pretty damn cruel, but then again so does raping an Alzheimer’s patient. Anyway, when Sadie presents it to him, he blows up on her and she’s got to reject the deal.
When an eyewitness to the murder in Cameron and Albert’s case goes missing, it actually hurts their case. The eye witness was going to testify they saw the shots come from the front of the car, not the back where their client was sitting. Now the gangbanger’s cousin is faced with a choice–face 25 to life for felony charges or snitch on his cousin, effectively shutting himself off from his entire family and social circle, not to mention more or less signing his own death warrant. For these reasons, Isaiah has a strict “No snitches” policy for people his firm will represent. But the client is only 21 years old, and that doesn’t sit will with Cameron. She decides to go for it and convince the kid to snitch, putting her job at stake. Later she goes straight to Isaiah, says she respects him for the work he did representing the Black Panthers when she was a kid, and how everything is so black and white with him, but that she sees grey areas and exceptions to rules. Isaiah agrees to make an exception himself and not fire her.
Meanwhile, when several other psychologists also determine Gina Porter to be incapable of consent, Sadie is forced to think of some new tactics to win Judge Porter’s case. Her incompetent weirdo assistant Lucy has perfect timing putting Sadie’s favorite snack (an ice cream sandwich) in her desk drawer and proclaiming herself a Sadie expert. Sadie immediately starts off looking for a Gina expert. And who else besides her live-in nurse? She calls her as a witness and asks her if she can tell when she doesn’t like something? The nurse says it’s very clear because Gina immediately pushes it away or becomes visibly and audibly upset. She also says the only time she’s happy and regains a part of herself is when Judge Porter is around. Eventually Judge Porter himself is called up and he tearfully explains how he just wants his wife back, apologizing to his step-children in front of the jury. He then strikes that from the record and tells them to dismiss what he said. Sure, okay, that’ll work. Of course he gets off and is able to see his wife. Should prooooobably stop having sex with her just to be on the safe side though, there, Judge.
We’re served up a twist in the shows final moments when Tiffany and Nick produce a photo of Brennan to Sadie from the night of the murder. One jersey has a v-neck, the other a crew cut. It’s barely noticeable, but he changed shirts. “Why would he do that?” Nick asks Sadie, who is at a loss. I can think of, oh, about seven hundred reasons I’ve changed shirts in the past that didn’t involve me murdering someone, but hey. I’m not a lawyer.
Judith Light’s Carolyn pops in towards the end when Isaiah visits her in prison, and we for seemingly no reason get a very weepy speech about how she doesn’t regret not taking the plea deal for whatever her trial was about because they wanted her to name names and send good people to prison. I suppose we’ll have more of this storyline revealed piecemeal. I kind of get the impression Light only has a few hours every couple weeks to shoot and so they need to contain her character in these short prison visit scenes.
Overall, there’s not much improvement from last week, and I don’t really feel satisfied with the way any of the plots ended this week. Here’s hoping to a better third installment.
Season 1, Episode 2 (S01E02)
Doubt airs Wednesday at 9PM on CBS
Paul Gulyas | Contributor