NBC’s Harry’s Law ends its hiatus last night with “After the Lovin’.” Adam (Nathan Corddry) and Harry (Kathy Bates) disagree over the morality of taking a settlement from Harry’s former firm after her old colleague, Sam (Christian Clemenson, Boston Legal, CSI: Miami), gets a nail in the head. Tommy (Christopher McDonald) is also accused of being immoral when a girlfriend finds out he is seeing other women, and sues him over it. And Cassie (Karen Olivo) tries to help a friend whose ex-husband (Jay Harrington, Better Off Ted, Private Practice, in a chillingly awesome performance) seems threatening.
Morality is something that can be subjective, and Harry’s Law loves to play in the gray areas. Harry does what she thinks is right, even if that crosses the boundaries of what is known to be legal. Adam tends to follow the letter of the law more carefully. But in “After the Lovin’,” the letter of the law isn’t clear. They cannot accept the settlement if Sam is not in his right mind. But is Sam sane? Traumatic events can put one’s priorities in order. Does Sam agree to cutting a large check because his brain is injured, which the doctors deny, or because he has a change of heart?
To be completely fair, should Sam ever come to his senses and press charges, any judge is likely to side with Adam here. Given Sam’s abrupt about face post-accident, it only makes sense that caution should be taken in this situation. Yet, Harry has a point about the evil of cigarette corporations, and wanting to get money out of them. Though her judgment is clouded because Sam works for Harry’s old firm, which kicked her to the curb. But even setting that aside, Harry’s client (Brent Jennings, Moneyball) deserves the money for losing his wife to addiction to the unhealthy product.
Seeing Adam and Harry at odds in “After the Lovin'” is actually a great development. Harry clearly has a motherly instinct for Adam, and Adam is hurt by Harry’s questionable actions because of the high respect that he has for her. Harry threatening to fire Adam may have gone a little too far, but everyone says things that they don’t mean when they are upset. Their business relationship is fundamentally stable, even if they disagree. It’s great that they are there to keep each other in line when a line is in danger of being crossed.
Clemenson is fantastic in the regrettably small role of Sam. A veteran of creator David E. Kelley’s former series, Boston Legal, Clemenson brings the same level of talent he consistently showed in his Emmy-winning performance, now with a different character. There are similarities between Sam and Jerry, to be sure, but there are also differences. Sam is more toned down, and less quirky. It’s wonderful to see him again in any capacity, and hopefully Clemenson will return to the show soon.
The opening of Harry’s Law, when Sam almost breaks the fourth wall at the beginning of “After the Lovin’,” is absolutely fantastic. The fourth wall was frequently torn down on BL, though HL has a somewhat different tone. The scene brings to mind a memorable occurrence when Jerry sang the Boston Legal theme song, though, sadly, Harry’s Law does not have a full theme for him to perform. Terrific reference for Kelley fans.
So Tommy is in trouble again in “After the Lovin’.” And, at first glance, it seems that it’s just his womanizing ways leading him astray. The latest victim? A girl he has been seeing for months (Melinda McGraw, Men of a Certain Age, Mad Men, The Dark Knight), who learns that they aren’t exclusive. She is understandably upset, and perhaps thinks of taking legal action because she has been dating a lawyer and has court on the brain. Of course, this is an overreaction, and she drops the suit. But it shows the level of pain that she is feeling.
Tommy is far from blameless, of course. He acts dishonestly and without regard for her feelings. However, as is the case in other areas of Tommy’s life, his being a player is a defensive mechanism for his insecurities. Tommy is afraid of being alone, and so keeps backups. He does love this woman, but is afraid that she will abandon him. Is it too late for him to make a real go of a relationship with her if he commits to sincerity and drops the act? Let’s hope not. He should be happy. She seems like a warm person who may entertain a second chance, and Tommy needs lots of those.
Tommy’s actions are not exactly defended by Oliver (Mark Valley), whom Tommy asks to represent him in “After the Lovin’,” but still earns Oliver disgusted glances from Chunhua (Irene Keng) anyway. What did Oliver do to her? There has got to be more to this story than has been shown on screen, and it’s important for both of these characters that the viewers are let in on that.
Cassie has a very tough case. Her friend (Emily Maya Mills) is scared, but there isn’t any proof to justify a restraining order. Judge Beckland (Derek Webster) would like to help, but there’s just no basis for him to do so. Add to that, the ex’s counsel (Omar Metwally) believes his client is a good guy, and Cassie has no case. In fact, as “After the Lovin'” goes on, Cassie’s friend seems paranoid, and viewers might be forgiven for thinking that she is trying to set her ex up. And in trying to protect herself, Cassie further hurts her client’s standing.
Which reveals a glaring hole in our legal system, without offering a way to fix it. This is something that Harry’s Law does plenty, but when the safety and well being of a child are on the line, it is even more disturbing than usual. Without the ex acting against the mother of his child, there is nothing anyone can do. But once he acts, it could be too late.
This is ‘solved’ in “After the Lovin'” by Cassie’s friend’s kid (Izabela Vidovic) loading a gun that her mother leaves pointed at the door. The ex comes by in the middle of the night and is killed. He is no longer a threat, but the cold way that the child seems completely unaffected by her actions is even more scary. How must the father have treated his daughter for her to be this way? Not a happy ending.
What’s more, next week’s episode of Harry’s Law will feature another creepy kid. So tune in to the new time slot Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.