Michael has to put his money where his mouth is in “Part Eight” as Carlo’s trial begins, but can he convince a jury of his peers that an obviously guilty killer is innocent?
This recap of Your Honor season 1, episode 8, “Part Eight”, contains spoilers.
It was always going to come down to the courtroom. That’s where we met Michael Desiato, of course, and in “Part Eight”, just two episodes away from the end of Showtime’s excellent crime thriller, that’s where he’s forced into his most difficult position yet. The accused is Carlo Baxter, the son of a notorious local gangster, charged with brutally beating to death the young gang member who apparently ran over and left his little brother for dead. But Carlo, a proudly racist and despicable brute, doesn’t hold his own fate in his hands the way he held the life of Kofi Jones in a fistful of hair. The responsibility of deciding whether he lives or is sentenced to death lies with a jury of his peers. And that’s Michael’s problem.
Michael has already crossed innumerable moral, ethical, and legal lines in attempting to cover up the fact that it was his son, Adam, who was responsible for Rocco Baxter’s death. In just the last episode, he finagled the arrest of Judge Sarah LeBlanc, who had been given Carlo’s case, so that he could take the reins himself. Here in Your Honor episode 8, he has the gall to blame institutional racism for the incident. Sarah knows corruption is involved, but the last person she suspects is Michael, who says, rightly but ironically, “The judges in this building cannot be trusted.” By the time Michael is explaining that, due to Coronavirus, the press and the public will be kept out of the courtroom, the principles he’s apparently violating by doing so seem like a joke at the expense of the system itself. Is this how easy it is to undermine the very fabric of law and order? Just lie with conviction? That’s a rhetorical question, obviously, since we all know the answer.
There’s something captivating about courtroom drama. This one would probably be good without the underlying threat against Michael’s life, which we’re reminded of constantly by frequent cuts to Jimmy, who’s always in attendance, but it’s obviously better with that element included. As the prosecution lays out quite how brutal the attack on Kofi was, and how obvious it is that Carlo carried it out, and how deserving he clearly is of the death penalty for doing so, the dramatic question becomes how Michael is going to convince a jury that this guy doesn’t deserve to answer for his crimes. By the end of “Part Eight”, he still hasn’t figured it out. I can sympathize.
You’re not supposed to sympathize with Michael, obviously, which is why Your Honor season 1, episode 8, like most of the installments before it, goes to lengths to depict him as not just corrupt but also dangerously, almost delusionally self-aggrandizing. Another dramatic question becomes how he can maintain his own lofty opinion of himself while denying to close friends and family and colleagues such obvious truths. He tries to throw Nancy off the scent of a corruption angle. He draws attention to the gang tattoo of one of Carlo’s previous victims, who explains that Carlo curb-stomped him and broke his spine, to give the defense a means of discrediting him. Before long, thanks to Michael’s obvious interference, the case starts to swing the other way — and Carlo can’t help but crack a smile when it does.
But the jury remains a problem. When Michael gets a note from an unidentified juror asking if case law states there can be no self-defense in prison cells, which is the defense’s angle, Michael starts an investigation into who left the note, eventually matching the handwriting and setting up the juror, one Ms. Long, to be dismissed and replaced. He ousts her with an assurance that justice will be done in her absence. Not if he can help it, though, but he understandably keeps that to himself.
And amid all this there’s Adam. After telling Frannie that he didn’t get into NYU, presumably so he can stay in New Orleans with Fia, he’s later put on the spot when Michael invites him and the entire family to celebrate the fact that he in fact did get into NYU. (They go to a restaurant and, despite all the talk of Coronavirus earlier, there don’t seem to be any social distancing measures in place.) Elizabeth, while she’s pulling up outside, sees Jimmy and Frankie leaving, blissfully unaware that they’ve just had a heated chat with Michael in which the latter was given a deadline of 10 am the day after next to make a move that’ll keep Carlo off Death Row. The house of cards is going to come tumbling down one way or another. Adam’s sudden plans to take a gap year, which Michael puts Frannie, of all people, to the task of talking him out of, might somehow be the gust that sends it toppling.
Either way, Carlo Baxter has to get his comeuppance. Your Honor season 1, episode 8 delights in how awful he is, one assumes for good reason. A medical examiner asserting that he must have smashed Kofi’s head into the concrete cell wall hard and frequently enough to leave fragments of the surface embedded in his skull isn’t just for the benefit of the jury, but for us, too. Surely justice can’t fail us now?