Monday, September 28, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Comey Rule' - A Loyalty Pledge Threatens to Derail the Norms of the United States Government in 'Night Two'

Showtime's The Comey Rule - Episode 1.02 "Night Two"

James Comey awakens on November 9, 2016, now known nationally as "the man who got Donald Trump elected." With that hanging over him, he now must try to find a way to work with the new President. That grows complicated when it becomes clear that Trump wants to use Comey, the Bureau, and the Department of Justice for his own political aims - forcing these two men on a collision course whose result is as inevitable as it is tragic.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series finale of Showtime's The Comey Rule.

"Night Two" was written by Billy Ray and directed by Billy Ray

Public servants admire the ideals and longevity of our country's institutions. Their time in service will come and go. However, the institutions they proudly serve will long outlast them. They will stand the test of time. These ideals will hold firm because the people will continue to proudly serve. That's a comforting thought to so many people. They acknowledge just how tested and strained our institutions have become with the transition to a new presidential administration. Donald J. Trump doesn't particularly care about the rule of law. He doesn't care that he breaks from tradition. He simply upholds his own ideals. He trusts the same instincts that he believes have gotten him to success throughout his entire life. Under the surface, it's clear that he is a weak man who needs constant pandering and appreciation from those around him. And yet, he is also an insanely manipulative bully who commands respect because of his own sense of gravitas and importance. He serves in the role of President. That brings a whole bunch of inherent respect. An investigation is opened that no one could have ever fathomed at any other point in our nation's history. The FBI is looking into whether or not the President is a Russian asset. That's terrifying. The people juggle how to handle this concern with actually working with this leader. Trump was elected by the people. He will serve as president. He leads unlike any other person who has held the role. He demands loyalty. People of great honor and respect recognize immediately just how corrupt and amoral this action is. And yet, all they can truly do is write memos detailing everything said. They can write books after the fact. They can advise their colleagues to the apparent criminality on display. But that's about it. They believe that the system and institutions will survive. The audience has a vastly different reaction to that though. It's not a comforting sight because we understand just how fragile this human experiment has become in the years since the events of this story happened. This is just the first few months of the Trump administration. The actions taken here are clearly important. However, James Comey is long gone. Every individual associated with the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation is gone. Even the people who were loyal to Trump have been pushed out of the public sphere. Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein are no longer in charge of the Department of Justice. Numerous national security advisers and chiefs of staff have come and gone following Michael Flynn and Reince Priebus. Some of these people have gone on to do well for themselves in the private sector. Life moves on for them. They can acclimate to those changes. Trump is still in charge of the country though. These questions and concerns still linger. Comey holds himself up as a pillar of truth and justice. He notifies Congress to everything he has seen within this administration. He outlines the specifics of the Russia investigation. He is a noble man trying to do the right thing. In the end, he still has the comfort of his family. He falls back on that. He views that as the most important thing in life. He passes that advice to everyone who asks for it. There has to be more than devotion to this work. It can't consume people. But that argument comes with the belief that the other side is operating under a similar good faith argument.

Trump doesn't care about family. He just talks about how he is being perceived. He hates being demeaned. He views himself as being treated so unfairly. And yet, he contorts the system to his advantage over and over again. He helps people solely because they remain loyal to him. He breaks norms because he doesn't care if they stand the test of time. They help him retain this power and control. He is still in the office when everyone else has vanished. Our institutions are more broken now than ever before. Comey and his wife look up at the FBI building and still beam with pride. The audience is asked to look at it with more caution. The final text notes that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election just like they did in 2016. Trump still refuses to recognize those efforts. People have essentially stopped trying to inform him about the truth when it comes to intelligence matters. These figures hold firm in their beliefs that trusted men and women remain in these institutions. They are honorable in their actions. These places have still been gutted though. They've been destroyed by people who fail to understand just how big a deal it truly is. That's disparaging. The country is profoundly different now than it was four years ago. It was insanely political and divisive back then. Now, the atmosphere is toxic. The sense of nobility is always weak and fragile. It doesn't have to be. That's what has become acceptable. We fight back. We can feel hope. But Trump has weakened the power and influence of the FBI and the DOJ. That will take time to rebuild. Public servants can only do so much to save the world from this existential threat. They still have their voices though. Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page remain engaged in lawsuits against the administration over how they were fired or the release of their personal information to the public. Rod Rosenstein can't be positioned as a hero despite him trying to frame this narrative around Comey to justify the actions he took in his firing. James Comey is getting his side of the story out there. It started in his testimony. It continued with the release of his book. It may now come to a conclusion with this two-night event. This series could have an impact on the political world. It may also just be seen as a straightforward biography of recent history. It will undoubtedly be the first of many in this space. People have long commented that this administration has had so much going on that it would be overstuffed as a piece of narrative storytelling. This show condenses a lot to fit it into a four-hour timeframe. So much is still left unsaid because the future of our country is still undecided. Questions remain open about the relationship between Trump and Russia. Those questions deserve to be answered. But the public will have to rely on public servants and institutions to hold him accountable. That won't happen with Trump still as President. This series hopes to expose that corruption. His leadership doesn't mesh with the ideals of the country. He is corrupt. People may have hope he is made to deal with the consequences for his actions. Right now, it's uncertain. Barack Obama hangs his head in despair during the final days of his presidency. Meanwhile, Donald Trump can still hold his up high because he gets to operate the same as he always has while all of these career officials have disappeared around him.