Friday, October 4, 2019

REVIEW: 'Goliath' - Billy Reacts to Crazy and Weird Things Happening at a Farm and Casino in 'The Subsidence Adventure'

Amazon's Goliath - Episode 3.01 "The Subsidence Adventure"

The unexpected death of an old friend takes Billy McBride to California's Central Valley, where a record drought has made water more valuable than human life.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of Amazon's Goliath.

"The Subsidence Adventure" was written by Jennifer Ames & Steve Turner and directed by Lawrence Trilling

At this point in its run, it feels like Goliath has become a drama where Billy Bob Thornton essentially wanders around reacting to increasingly crazy things. It fundamentally wants to be a legal procedural where Billy takes on a huge corporate interest in the hopes of winning for the little guys. However, it also wants to examine just how weird humanity can be as well. This is a somewhat slow premiere that simmers in its own sense of mystery without making things too easy for the audience. That's not inherently a bad impulse. Plenty of shows can be weird. That can be very effective. The shows just have to maintain a strict sense of internal logic. Here, it feels like the show just wants to embrace weird character quirks in the hopes of establishing just how strange the world can actually be. Moreover, the pacing can be very deliberate. It just feels like there are vital pieces being withheld from the audience without the actual stakes rising above what is very straightforward at face value. The new season opens with farmers Gene and Bobbi talking about their finances before a sink hole opens one night killing Bobbi in the process. Sure, that may seem like a waste of Sherilyn Fenn. Bobbi's death is the inciting incident for the season. She apparently has a history with Billy. That's what brings him out to this part of California. He is learning all about the water aqueducts that supply this region with the valuable resource that allows them to be profitable. The drought over the last few years has made that an even more precious commodity. Wade Blackwood happens to be the president of the water management board and the owner of his own farm in the region. It seems like a glaring conflict of interest that ensures corruption is taking place here. If that wasn't abundantly clear, the show keeps suggesting that there is something more nefarious going on with all the cryptic glimpses at something not seeming quite right. And yet, there is nothing all too out of place about migrant workers being the predominate workforce in a farming community. They are afraid of being picked up by ICE. That's a part of this world. Billy may be startled by the sheer numbers. But this is a frank and true reality of the business right now. It's all about working the land as cheaply as possible while forging business relationships to ensure that no products are ultimately spoiled. However, the season also seems to be built around a mystery of missing time for Billy. It does appear as if some time has passed since the previous season. Mayor Marisol Silva may be engaged to someone new. That's a tease that Billy notes when he sees it on the television in the casino. However, he is mostly on a fact finding mission. He wants to understand the details of how this tragedy occurred and if there is anything he can do about it. Gene welcomes his help. But this isn't Billy's grand introduction to this world. Wade and his associates have dealt with him before. Billy doesn't remember and that immediately sends him into danger. Again, that is fairly commonplace for Billy at this point. He always goes against these big corporate interests by himself thinking that nothing bad will happen to him. He does have a team of associates. They just happen to still be in the office apartment back in Santa Monica. So again, Billy is just wandering around this world. He's keeping a close watch over everyone. They are doing the same exact thing to him. It's a life of constant surveillance and suspicious. However, it largely feels like empty drama because the audience doesn't quite know what's going on. That sense of confusion can be disorientating. It can also help Billy seem more empathetic and endearing as a main character. But this season doesn't start off with a hook that may immediately entice viewers back into the proceedings. The second season was a disaster. There was the hope there would be more consistency in the third season. The creative team has stayed steady. They can form the narrative they want. That story just happens to be one in which Dennis Quaid and Beau Bridges get high together in a secret backroom at the local casino in the town they largely own because they have the only profitable businesses. It's strange but remains fairly hollow too.