Bluff City Law Episode 2
We find Elijah at the Sutton Farm, owned by his friend Emma. Not for long though, the auction is scheduled to start promptly. We aren’t immediately let in on the reason the farm is up for auction, but we do find out this friendship is long, Sydney learned to ride horses on this very property. What could possibly have caused her to lose her farm? The courts. As it turns out, there is a judgement against Emma for stealing patented seeds and planting them on her land.
The problem? She didn’t plant any such seed. In the city, Sydney is tracking down a judge on the golf course to get a signature. That signature is just what she needs to postpone the auction. Stay of execution so to speak, for now. While Emma wouldn’t call on Elijah for help, Sydney forces her way in to help Emma take on Terennial on appeal. Sydney barely spares a glance in her father’s direction. I guess the recent bombshell revelation is still radiating through that relationship.
Jake and Anthony enjoy the best ribs in Memphis as they discuss the current proceedings at the firm. Jake queries Anthony about a trustworthy lab for blood tests and Anthony is intrigued at Jake’s perseverance on the George Bell case. Uncomfortable with the discussion, Jake diverts attention to more pressing matters: this week’s bet on the mystery ingredient in the barbecue sauce. Jake says cinnamon and Anthony says cumin.
That’s when a case falls right into Anthony’s lap. Charlie wants to sue his brother to keep him from franchising the restaurant with Charlie’s recipe.
The case for farmers
Terennial has patented seeds which, like all seeds, take to the wind to continue their life cycle. The seeds land in fields of neighboring farms and Terennial comes knocking with a claim of stolen property. They win in court and small farmers lose everything. Given this information, Sydney seeks the judgement against Emma Sutton be set aside. Though the panel of appellate judges find the argument compelling, this, in their opinion, is considered settled law. The Straits will have to find another way to save the Sutton Farm.
The firm assembles in the conference room for a mock trial to work out a strategy. Sydney shuts down every argument Elijah offers and before it escalates too far, Della calls for a “get your act together recess”. Can they successfully work together on such a big case with such dire implications for their friend?
Seeing the dysfunction caused by his “announcement” Emerson asks if he should leave the firm. In a moment of endearing honesty, Elijah admits that it will be bumpy, but he wants Emerson there, he loves him, and he is sure Sydney will too (in time).
Sydney takes a breather outside to collect her thoughts for the case in her life. She assumed joined by Jake who accuses her of finding his hiding spot. It turns out this is a common place to hide/think. As Sydney and Jake share a moment, Jake seems less aloof than he appears and maybe just a little more human. That’s when yoga class dismisses, and you think Jake might be exactly who you thought he was. Is Jake a crusader or is he exactly the stereotype we think?
Before we can consider this further, Robbie pulls up and everyone wonders why the Chief of Detectives is at the firm. Brianna took a picture of a suspicious car outside Sydney’s apartment and Robbie has been running it down For Elijah. Sydney is incensed that Elijah would call Robbie without telling her. But before she can run, Elijah takes the opportunity to try to clear the air in their relationship. Not so fast, the moment is interrupted by a call from the Sheriff.
Terennial has a truck parked just off Emma Sutton’s farm to intimidate her, only she wasn’t intimidated, she was mad. Through this conversation, Elijah finds his new strategy. It doesn’t take Sydney long to figure it out either, they are “no better than gangsters”. New legal strategy: file a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) case against Terennial. The judge allows the suit to move forward. Several farmers testify to being intimidated (followed, tires slashed) and forced to either buy the Terennial seeds or lose their farms. When the Straits put Emma on the stand, she talks about liking the honest work of farming. They discuss her actions to protect her fields from contamination by Terennial seeds on nearby farms. But the lawyers for Terennial have no questions for Emma.
The CEO of Terennial makes a show in front of the cameras at every chance he gets. While Brianna is running down a lead on a person responsible for the intimidation tactics, the CEO holds a press conference cutting the Straits off at the pass. Except that in doing so, he gives Elijah the opening to put him on the stand. Rook is in the wind and it looks like the case is lost. In the ensuing questioning, we see how Elijah got the reputation as a hero. I’m not spoiling this part of the case. I’ll tell you that Strait and Associates are victorious, but you really want to see this part for yourself.
George Bell case
Jake continues pursuing the case George Bell. He gets a new blood sample to compare to the evidence from the scene of the crime. As the light at the end of the tunnel looks ever brighter, George finds a bit of anxiety in facing what is on the outside of prison. Jake encourages him to hang in there a little longer as he continues his work. Jake is committed to getting George freed or at the very least, a new trial. When the blood test results come back and completely rule out George Bell. Don’t look now, but that softer side of Jake might just be on display again.
Brother versus Brother
Anthony is in a deposition with Charlie and Coop regarding the ownership of the sauce recipe. Jake enters with an apology for being late and Anthony is less than thrilled about his appearance. Just when it seems clear cut, we find out there is a contract with a 50/50 split of everything. In court, Anthony delivers a victory for Charlie with straightforward, quality legal work.
Don’t look now, but Anthony might just be the most versatile lawyer the firm has. After his victory, he and Jake gather the brothers and Anthony scolds them telling them that it is about more them the two of them. They have built something in a city that is trying to do better and leaves the brothers to work it out. This is bigger than barbecue sauce, it is about community.
Strait vs Strait
No, they aren’t in a legal battle, it is much more serious. They are in a conflict of the heart. Elijah was just making inroads with Sydney when the Emerson news broke around the firm. Now, Elijah finds himself on shifting sand with both of his children. Emerson doubts his place and Sydney can barely look at him.
In the end, Elijah is willing to sacrifice himself to ensure that Sydney holds no ill will toward the memory of her mother. It is neither Elijah nor Emerson who may be able to get through to Sydney. Rather, it may be Emma Sutton who advises Sydney to work it out because life is short. We can only hope that sense will prevail.
They are an unstoppable duo in the courtroom, will they allow themselves to be just as powerful as family?
My judgement goes in favor of the lawyers of Strait and Associates. This second episode is, in my opinion, even better than the pilot. We have already jumped right into character development and complex relationships.
The cases are well presented, the actors are executing their craft masterfully, and I love the writing. The cases are recognizable, important but the legal work doesn’t overwhelm the characters. I don’t always love legal dramas because they can either be too much law or to little. So far, Bluff City Law is a great mix. We have several cases going at a time but through the work, we learn more about each member of the firm.
Once again, Memphis played its character well too. I think shooting this show in Memphis was a great choice. As we go along it will allow Memphis to be an authentic character and backdrop to the show, adding a layer of richness to the storytelling.
I can’t wait to see what’s next for the lawyers at Strait and Associates. We have so many questions we need answered: who is Jake really? (I think he is a good guy who built up a persona to protect himself). What happened between Sydney and Robbie? Who/What really drives Anthony? There is a story there too. How did Della get to be so wise?
I have so many questions and I hope they will be answered as we move forward. We’ll see you in Memphis Mondays at 10 pm on NBC.
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