Bluff City Law Recap: Too Little Too Late?

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: November 26, 2019 (Last updated: 3 weeks ago)
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Bluff City Law Season 1, Episode 10 (Finale) recap: "Perfect Day" | RSC


“Perfect Day” proved a respectable finale with a well-earned payoff and a suggestion of a better show that poor ratings might mean we never get to see.

This recap of the Bluff City Law finale, Season 1, Episode 10, “Perfect Day”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.

There’s every chance that Bluff City Law Episode 10 will be the show’s last, which is both fitting and a shame since, while it wasn’t the “Perfect Day” the title suggested, it was just good enough to make one wonder why most of the other episodes weren’t better.

You could, perhaps, point to the Bluff City Law finale’s director and lead writer credits. Both John Terlesky and Bill Chais respectively directed and wrote “25 Years to Life”, which I myself said was both the best and worst of the show’s run thus far. Whatever the case, after that episode Bluff City Law lost most of its audience, largely for good reason, and only managed to recoup decent viewing figures as the first season was about to end and several additional episodes had been denied a greenlight. Where things stand now is anyone’s guess.

Still, we got a half-decent finale out of the matter, so let’s not complain – not too much, anyway. The inciting incident is Sydney (Caitlin McGee) being approached by a former classmate, Layla Hosmani (Dalal Badr), and being informed that she, a Saudi journalist, has been labeled a terrorist by her own government and is at very real risk of execution. She’s quickly spirited away to a safe house to be babysat by Briana (MaameYaa Boafo), while Sydney, Elijah (Jimmy Smits) and Anthony (Michael Luwoye) figure out how best to fight her case.

The legal plot was better-executed in Bluff City Law Episode 10 than it usually is, but I have problems with it nonetheless. The Saudi representative is basically a cartoon villain who makes absolutely no effort to hide what he’s up to; at one point he despatches two of his goons to execute Layla in a hotel where she’s live-streaming her testimony, and when the men are apprehended by U.S. Marshalls as part of a Strait sting, he feigns outrage at the development, apparently forgetting that the two men were sat directly behind him moments before. The presiding judge at least chides him for being inauthentic, but come on – isn’t there some legal recourse to be taken against a foreign diplomat who just clearly arranged an assassination attempt on American soil?

No matter. “Perfect Day” also employs some formal tricks to build suspense around the outcome of the case, not that it’s really ever in any doubt, but it leads to a decent if rather improbable subplot in which Sydney befriends and represents a fellow in custody who illegally daubed a mural on private property confessing his love for his girl.

Space was also devoted in the Bluff City Law finale to the on-going bromance between Jake (Barry Sloane) and George Bell (Scott Shepherd), even though the previous episode seemed to bring it to a definitive if perfunctory conclusion. I’ve openly never bought anything about these two becoming unlikely besties, and I still didn’t all throughout Bluff City Law Episode 10, during which they played piano together, opened up about their respective pasts, and reunited with old family members. (George did, anyway – Jake watched on tearfully from the car.) I said from very early on that the ballsy ending to this dramatically inert subplot would have been for George to be revealed as guilty after being proved innocent, but “Perfect Day” found the next best thing: After becoming rich, both financially from the settlement and emotionally from reconciling with his son, George killed himself. His farewell message to Jake proved surprisingly touching, and perhaps justified this storyline occupying so much of the season.

In the aftermath of this, Jake turns to Sydney, who he suddenly seems to have a romantic connection with, which I don’t believe has been much of a thing until this point. He finds her with Robbie (Josh Kelly), and I think the implication is that we’re suddenly supposed to care about Sydney’s love life now, despite her being basically asexual for the entire first season excepting that one time she slept with some guy she’d just met and the whole office gave her grief about it.

Of particular note is that the Bluff City Law finale finally managed to make the whole unconventional family dynamic work, even if it was through a contrived gimmick in which Emerson (Stony Blyden) compiled a video of Strait & Associates testimonials extolling why Elijah is simply the best. It’s a hokey thing but worked about as well as it ever could; it gave the impression that Elijah and his family were moving on from Carolyn’s death; it deepened some of the backstories and relationships of peripheral characters – I genuinely, for example, didn’t know Della (Jayne Atkinson) was even a lawyer; I thought she just hung around the office – and it finally, authentically brought Emerson and Sydney together as siblings. This was the thread that most embodied the “Perfect Day” moniker – not actually perfect, but the best these people could get on short notice.

TV, TV Recaps
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