“How to Succeed in Law Without Really Re-Trying” brings Lola face to face with her past, while Emily has a decision to make.
This recap of All Rise Season 1, Episode 9, “How to Succeed in Law Without Really Re-Trying”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
All Rise Episode 9 is about a few things, but it’s mostly about the past. Did you make the right decisions for the right reasons? Is it worse to relive a traumatic moment after believing you’d found closure than it was to live through it in the first place? Can the passage of time and the unearthing of new evidence — or the erasure of old evidence — bring into question something that you truly believed was a sure thing?
These are all questions raised by “How to Succeed in Law Without Really Re-Trying”, which sees Mark (Wilson Bethel) retrying one of Lola’s (Simone Missick) old cases, and against her petty nemesis, Felice, who insists that her name be pronounced Feli-chay, to “honor the Italian inflection”. She sits in Lola’s courtroom making odd little noises, like air being released from a sourfaced balloon, and she has a huge grudge against Lola’s appointment as a judge and her personal convictions, which she believes can and indeed have superseded the evidence.
The case is that of an alt-right terrorist who bombed a bookshop; the evidence wasn’t overwhelming but included a partial thumbprint on the bomb’s detonator. The father of a young girl who died in the blast remained present for the whole trial and was promised by Lola — somewhat unethically — that the perpetrator would be brought to justice. And he was. But now there’s a chance that he might not have been the perpetrator at all. While everyone seems in agreement that the case is just an excuse for Felice to get one over on Lola, Lola herself believes that Felice wouldn’t have taken it on unless there was a way she could win.
As it happens, there is. The fingerprint expert who testified in the original trial dies suddenly of a heart attack. And an important witness at the time is now a born-again Christian who is trying to distance himself from his old life — and that includes staying away from the courtroom, where his behavior earned him three months in jail.
Mark’s new clerk Samantha (Audrey Corsa) aids him in his investigation in “How to Succeed in Law Without Really Re-Trying”, and there’s a very last-minute suggestion that she might be just as interested in Luke (J. Alex Brinson) as she is in law and order. She’s certainly a fan of Lola, even if Lola, throughout the episode, is forced to confront the very real possibility that her eagerness to believe the accused was guilty might have led to his conviction even if he wasn’t.
Obviously, though, he was, and irrefutable evidence proves it. But the questions and problems raised by the re-trial don’t go away simply because of this. Lola’s conduct in a case of her own adjusts to signify her arc in All Rise Episode 9; she allows her impulses to get the better of her, is smart enough to recognize her misconduct, and is then able to apologize and move on from it. The show has always done a good job of allowing its characters to grow, both individually and interpersonally, and there’s a lot of that here.
Emily (Jessica Camacho), too, experiences a similar thing. She’s assigned to defend a man who is quite clearly guilty of conspiring to have a judge thrown into a woodchipper. He had no idea that the “hitman” he was conspiring with was actually an undercover cop. Now he’s claiming innocence, using increasingly bizarre excuses to justify what he did, the most specific being that it was an elaborate attempt at new-age therapy to help him come to terms with his feelings about being prosecuted by the judge in the first place.
The complication for Emily is that she knows the man is guilty, but still entertains the prospect of insisting that he’s mentally unfit to stand trial. She has to weigh whether a win — or at least the avoidance of a loss — overrules the right thing, which is obviously to convince the man to take a plea deal. Eventually, she comes around, insisting that she’s dropping the client unless he agrees to a plea, which he does.
The details of these cases are perhaps less important than usual in All Rise Season 1, Episode 9 — they’re both forgone conclusions. But the character work remains the highlight of this show, and with the new introduction of Samantha, a potential love triangle, and the on-going revision of who these characters are, what they believe, and whether they can hold themselves accountable, “How to Succeed in Law Without Really Re-Trying” stands out as a strong and worthwhile installment.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.