In a nutshell of tonight’s episode, Harry defends a disobedient juror who broke away from duty during a front-page murder case, while Adam and Phoebe represents a reality-TV star who’s being sued, and Oliver and Cassie struggle to balance their workload and relationship.
The show opens with the reality star case. Tina, the star of the show, “It Takes Two”, is being sued by the family of her deceased husband, Elliot, for bearing culpability in driving him to commit suicide. At the get-go, this case highlights mostly the cons of reality shows a la “House Wives of you name the city”. I don’t watch those show, primarily for the slant and focus of created drama and generated negativity that this case brings to light.
In the case that Harry is involved in, we’re introduced to a woman, Bryanna, who was sequestered for two months during a high-profile murder trial. Apparently, the pressure of being sequestered became too much for her, and she couldn’t take it any more. After speaking to the judge about being released from duty, and being denied her request because all the alternates had been used up, she flees and goes underground. She surfaces at Harry’s firm, conflicted and not certain what to do? Harry is stunned to learn that she’s been gone for several days and asks who her judge is. She tells her that it’s Judge Lester Babcock, and Harry informs Bryanna that she’s in a lot of trouble, and advises her to turn herself in.
Cut to the last lead-in of the evening’s stories, and we see Oliver and Cassie romping in bed when the phone rings. It’s Harry. Cassie tells Oliver to ignore the call until she hears Harry’s voice telling her Cassie to pick up her I-PAD and look at her.
“New rule,” Harry says loudly through Skype. “All conjugal visits end by eight a.m., so you’re in the office by nine!
After that directive is dispensed with, Harry asks Cassie to do research on juror cases, namely skipping out as one.
Back in the Adam’s office, Phoebe is meeting with Tina and her present attorney regarding the wrongful death case. Tina admits that her husband killed herself, but she denies being the cause of it. She states that they had a nice home and over a million in her bank account. They were on a hit show, and their life had problems but didn’t warrant the choice her husband made. Her lawyer tells her to settle because he thins a jury is going to skewer her. She tells Phoebe that she needs her to take her case, because she’s not going to settle.
Elsewhere, in a courtroom across town, the judge in the AWOL juror case is yelling at Harry about the ramifications that her client has caused the penal system, namely the cost of the sequestration itself and now having to re-try a case that was almost settled. He’s ranting about all the time and energy – 4 million dollars worth – that’s gone down the drain. He states that the particular trial at issue was an especially wrenching ordeal – stressful for the witnesses to come forward as well as the family to have to endure it once let alone have to go through it all over again.
Harry, as defense, to the judge’s accusations, she said that it looked like the jury was heading toward being hung. The judge, however, is having no excuse and finds Bryanna in contempt. Immediately, Harry says her client is entitled to due process, and calls for her to have her day in court.
Back in the law office, Phoebe Adam aren’t pleased with the client or her image. Adam says rather condescendingly that Tina makes Snookie seem like a choir girl, to which Phoebe replies that it’s their job to change that perception.
“There are a few victims in this story, and our job is to make this client appear sympathetic.” Adam tells Phoebe that he’s in–he’ll help her with the case.
Meanwhile, on the stand, Elliot’s sister testifies that her brother would never had gone on the reality show had he not been brow-beaten by his wife. She stated that opening their lives up for public scrutiny wasn’t his style. She lamented that he became the object of public ridicule, especially by his wife. She tells the court that Tina ridiculed him–emasculated him on tv, which drove him into depression, causing him to become despondent. Then, they show a video of the show.
On cross, Adam asks her why she thought Elliot married Tina? “Did he love her?”
The woman said she believed that her brother did which made his pain so much more unbearable for him, given the manner in which the show portrayed him and his marriage. We learn that Elliot had esteem issues and saw a psychiatrist.
Adam asks her if she was aware of her brother’s psychological “deficits”. She stares at him and states that she wished she’d stopped him from going on the show.
Back at the Korn Law Firm, Tommy wants to know why Phoebe didn’t talk to him about her case, because he’s a reality show! He wants Adam’s case, but tells him that he’s in trial with her. He tells Harry that he could be more beneficial on the other case, and she tells him “tough”, ending that discussion.
Meanwhile, Harry’s case takes up again, and we learn just how unpleasant being not only sequestered but being on a jury for months at a time can take a toll on a person. Bryanna testifies that there can be no use of the phone, no tv viewing, or contact with friends and family. Harry then brings up the votes inside the jury room – the two hold outs. Tina tells how the conversation took on a bullying tone at times for the two who had voted “not guilty”, of which she was one. Tina told Harry, under oath, that she became frightened when someone on the jury said they weren’t going to hurt her, and she was alarmed that such a phrase would even be used in context with her holding her position on the same set of facts and circumstances they’d all been presented. She said the pressure got to her, and, at one point, she considered suicide.
Then, she told Harry that she was really at her wits end after she saw the judge in chambers, and she faced the judge. She said that he had told her about all the time and money spent on the trial, and that it would be a shame to go home without a verdict. She became emotional when she looked at him and reminded him that she’d said she thought she would die if he didn’t let her go. The judges response to her was to take some deep breaths. She knew there was no help for her from him, which is why she told the court that she ran. Bryanna apologized to the court for running, and for the expense that her action had caused, but she maintained that she hit a breaking point, and couldn’t continue on as a juror. It raised the question of whether jurors do have rights with regard to serving on a case if doing so poses serious mental consequences to them personally.
Pan to Phoebe and Adam in a bar discussing their case when we see Nancy Grace on a television directly over them. She’s discussing their case and wanting to know what in the h*%% is going on in Ohio? More footage of the reality show is shown.
Phoebe and Adam aren’t pleased, and they go to see Tina to further discuss the case and the particulars of the show.
Tina tells them that the show made her look worse than she truly is. She tells them that Elliot never once said he didn’t want to do the show. She admitted that the idea of being a tv star appealed to her, but they truly DID need the money. That appealed to both of them. Tina explained to Phoebe and Adam that the show shot over 100 hours of footage, and they didn’t show the positive stuff. She told them, of course, they embellished feelings and arguments because they were told to as that’s the type of programming that sells and gets high ratings.
On the stand, Phoebe asked her if she understood that she came across as a bit of a monster and she admitted that she realized that, but she never had any idea that Eliot would kill himself. He wanted to leave after the first season, but she convinced him to stay.
Then, she said that she was the most popular character on the show, because she was the bitch. She admits that the show didn’t show her in a good light – some of the scenes are exaggerated. They show footage of her being drunk, as well as dancing on top of the bar and showing her boobs. Tina admits it doesn’t show her in a good light, but says that the producers put them in situations where they gave them a lot of alcohol.
The prosecuting attorney didn’t except that excuse. He charged that she was put into a situation, but she made a conscious choice of how she would act, and her true inner self came out.
The scene flips to Harry’s case, and we see her questioning another juror. The woman said that they all experienced pressure regarding the rules and regulations of the case, and she admitted that Bryanna was pressured so they could conclude the case. She expressed disgust that Bryanna didn’t think the man was guilty, and stated that the jury pool was hostile to her because she was trying to punish them all but holding to her position. The other juror in the case testified that they ALL lost. She said the conditions of sequestration were horrible for everyone, not just Bryanna, but she’s the one who took off.
Meanwhile, Adam is telling Tina that her chances aren’t looking good. She said she wont’ be blamed for Elliot committing suicide. She won’t be labeled as a person responsible for murder. She wants them to keep fighting.
In a twist to the show, we see Tommy talking to Oliver. Their discussion turns to Cassie. Tommy can’t help but tell Oliver that Cassie is a dynamo and asks how she is in bed just as Cassie walks in. Oliver tells Cassie what Oliver wants to know, and she proceeds to sidle up to him and tell him in a seductive tone that she’s good just as Harry pops her head in.
“Tommy!” she calls abruptly. “You coming?”
A hot and bothered Tommy pipes up “NO! NO he’s not coming!” then realizes what Harry’s really asking and gets up quickly to leave.
In court, Tommy speaks to an expert on the stand about Bryanna’s situation and what she was going through for those few months as a sequestered juror. The doctor says that Bryanna was going through “Restless Jurors Syndrom” and likened it to living in Antarctica for a few months in isolation.
The expert goes on to say that, those individuals go through intense screening, and some of them still crack under the pressure of that type of isolation. Jurors, he defended, don’t go through such a process. He found that Bryanna’s executive functioning was compromised, and that, in essence, she was a mess. The fact that she felt bullied from the other jurors didn’t help her mental rationale.
The other attorney asked if the doctor had a term for what it was like for the family victims of the trial. He stated that the man was beaten, the woman was raped, than their son was killed.
“Do we have a syndrome for this family doctor? What do you say to them? Buck up – stiff upper lip?”
The doctor looks straight ahead, with no response to that.
Back to the Reality show case, a producer is on the stand. Adam is questioning him, asking him what they look for to create this type of show. The man says they look for colorful people.
“Train wrecks?” Adam shoots back.
“Okay,” the producer replies then admits that Tina was over the top. She was loud, trashy, and her husband was the opposite. He said it made for good viewing.
Adam asks about the fights – if they’re real. We learn that they are “Frankenbiting”, a term used in the industry, where they build their monster. And, we learn just what this process is. They show a clip that had been edited. In the uncut version, Tina said that Elliot had made all her dreams come true, and she’d marry him again, but on the show, that part of the scene had been cut out and we only saw the scene preceding it where it looked like she was simply drinking and ridiculing her husband. The producer said that the Tina one saw on tv was her with a mere nudge from them. He said that the scenes of her being drunk in a bar and spanking someone was who she was.
Suddenly, we’re not so sure.
Adam wants to know if the producers insist that the stars drink, but he’s told that the participants on the show drink because they want to.
“Eliot was a reluctant astronaut who went along for the ride, because Tina wanted it!” and that’s how the producer ends his testimony.
Back in Harry’s courtroom, she addresses her jury, telling them that the kind of process that our jurors go through, breeds a kind of insanity especially among a group of whacked out peers. She argues that our system doesn’t explain to people exactly what is going to be involved or expected of them in cases of long trials. She argues that her client had prior bouts of anxiety and panic attacks and was prone to depression. She was isolated from her family. Then, she turns to them and poses the question: You want to throw her into jail for the very reason she cracked in the first place?”
The D.A. steps up and counters, “So when the going gets tough, we should let the jury get going?”
Harry bristles and states that her client was borderline suicidal, then asks the D. A. not to trivialize this! Again, she begs the question. “Do they warn jurors what they’re getting into?”
The judge says he’ll talk now. He thinks it’s a valid question that Harry raises regarding the validity of the jury system. He doesn’t disagree that jurors should be pre-screened to see if they’re up for the task of overseeing a trial. Yet, he surmises that this is the system they have in place in our country, and the courts simply don’t have the financial resources to have extensive screening for jurors. The answer, however, he states is that a juror can never flee from their responsibility once they’ve been selected and the alternates have been used. People have a civic duty to uphold, and the judge holds Bryanna to hers. He also asks the DA’s office to file obstruction charges against her too.
Harry is talking to Bryanna trying to assure her that they aren’t done, and she could be out by the weekend.
Back at the conclusion of Tina’s case, the prosecutor states that she had to have contributed to her husband’s suicide, by virtue of the way she allowed the show to use and abuse him and used her to do it to him also. He makes the point that people take vows when they get married to love, protect, cherish, and defend. He argues that Tina did the opposite. She risked his emotional state, reputation and ridiculed him. She in-sighted his outcome just the same as those on the show.
Adam steps up and lays it all on the line. He agrees from the footage he saw, that Tina didn’t seem like a nice person. But, he defends, she was cast to be the bitch that people wanted to hate. Then, he said that Elliot signed up for all of the trappings the same way that Tina had. He points out that Elliot got more than $60 thousand dollars per episode. Then, he puts the blame squarely on the backs of the show: Reality exploits contestants for entertainment purposes. All the producers need to find are sacrificial lambs, her argues, and they found them both in Tina and Elliot.
Next, he begins to run through the reality shows in existence [some real/others created for this episode] and names the suicide victims from each of those shows. The list goes on and on, he states, and it will continue to go on and on, because we watch these show and love it. It makes the public happy to watch the actors self-destruct, he accuses. Let’s blame Tina, he tosses that idea out there, instead of taking on the responsibility ourselves. Then, he walks away and goes back to the table to let the jury ponder his thoughts.
Cassie tells Oliver that Harry and Tommy lost their case, and, perhaps, they should clear out. She says Harry’s not fun when she loses a case or wins for that matter. Oliver defends Harry, and we realize that Harry is on Skype. Cassie storms out yelling how much she hates Skype.
Back in the courthouse for the TV-reality show case, the jury finds in favor of the Tina but orders her to pay $120 thousand dollars in damages to Elliot’s family. She walks out of the courtroom and puts on her sunglasses…ready to play the part – ready to play to the crowd. It’s a sad commentary on a victory that instead of expressing regret and taking a high road, Tina sees the lights, cameras and masses of people, and it seduced by the celebrity that she’s come to know instead of the tragedy.
Adam and Phoebe go to the bar for a celebratory drink, and who do we see on the television set but Nancy Grace, asking “What is up with Ohio?” and her guest saying that she would have fed “that” Tina into the wood-chipper. Adam and Phoebe look at one another and shrug because it appears that people are not happy with the verdict. Still, she thanks him for the help and asks him to come work with her. Adam asks her to come work with them.
“Come do it with us,” he pleads. “You need community in your life. Come join us. Think about it.”
Tommy and Harry are on the other side of the bar having drinks and talking.
Harry looks over and says, “Ten bucks says he’ll try to kiss her!”"
Tommy sloughs it off. “She’s too much for him!”
Harry asks Tommy to come and work with her – become one of her ducks.
“Isn’t it time our firms merge?” she tosses the idea out there to him to consider.
Tommy gets emotional. “All I ever really wanted was to be part of a family.”
His reaction is too much for Harry, and she goes to get another drink, leaving Tommy verklempt as he watches her go…
Once again, as we come into the ending of this season, we see changes on the cusp, but it’s not clear yet which ones will take on a full metamorphosis. I guess we’re just going to have to stay tuned and see where all this hints take us next week. Stay tuned…
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