It’s OK to approach something differently. Yet, that doesn’t mean that differently is better, or even needed.
Season Two of Amazon Prime series ‘Goliath‘ is sorely missing its creators David E. Kelly and Jonathan Shapiro. By relying on well tread upon genre tropes instead of surprising us with fresh and/or unexpected this paint-by-numbers season disappoints. But, at least we get more Billy Bob Thornton.
Season One offered an entertaining underdog redeems himself against all odds story. Billy McBride (Thornton) is a burn out Los Angeles lawyer who lost himself down a bottle long ago. Even the big victory and $50 million fee he earned last year hasn’t lessened the self-loathing and guilt weighing him down.
But, once again, he ends up reluctantly drawn into another little fish, big pond case that demands his full attention. Things start strong enough, but quickly unravel as courtroom drama gives way to a mess of political corruption and a vicious Mexican drug cartel conspiracy.
Last year’s evil corporate cabal of misfits and greedy bastards were idyllic, early 21st century adversaries. However, this year’s antagonists are simply too icky; lacking any notable purpose or threads of humanity. Making the anti-climatic, yet blood drenched, conclusion feel like wasted potential. Where’s true justice when the guilty maintain no conscience?
Plot-contrived subplots and distractions abound as mere filler for a story lacking any depth. Many of Billy’s associates return from last year including ex-prostitute clerk Brittany (Tania Raymonde) and his chief assistant Patty (a wonderful Nina Arianda). Yet, it’s the cast members not returning (notably Olivia Thirlby and Maria Bello) that might have helped to ground this unraveling, unholy cluster. While new recruits like Mark Duplass’s stand-out billionaire weirdo “Tom Wyatt” can’t begin to fill the void left.
Even Billy’s new love-interest, LA mayoral candidate Marisol Silva (Ana de la Reguera, great), fizzles down a predictable path that only serves this show’s new ‘True Detective’ styled aspirations. It’s amazing that a series with a lawyer as chief protagonist has almost no actual lawyering on display.
New showrunner Lawrence Trilling is quite effective behind the camera as director; he just can’t seem to get the dialog, characters, or story to gel across this 8 episode season. Much of the cast appear to be simply improvising lines as they lumber along from one go nowhere scene to the next.
So despite a few memorable performances, a couple of solid episodes, and nicely stylized noirish direction Season Two of ‘Goliath‘ is a miss. Skin-crawling bad guys, loads of simmering pathos, and an abundance of dirty deeds can’t substitute for well-defined characters, smart writing, and a noble resolution.