Monday, November 16, 2020

REVIEW: 'All Rise' - A Traumatic Experience at a Protest May Change Lola and Mark's Friendship in 'A Change Is Gonna Come'

CBS' All Rise - Episode 2.01 "A Change Is Gonna Come"

Lola and Mark try to rebuild their friendship after Mark witnessed Lola being detained during a protest while defending a teen girl, amid an escalating encounter with police. Through a series of flashbacks, details emerge surrounding the night of the protest as well as the long-lasting effects they have on Lola, Mark, Emily, Luke and everyone else involved. To help with the court backlog due to closures caused by COVID-19, Lola hires Ness Johnson, a bright, outspoken legal clerk who immediately clashes with Sherri.

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 season premiere of CBS' All Rise.

"A Change Is Gonna Come" was written by Denitria Harris-Lawrence and directed by Michael M. Robin

In 2020, the phrase "Defund the Police" has been utilized to evoke strong and visceral reactions from whomever hears it. It is used as a rallying cry to sway both sides into strengthening their ranks in opposition to one another. On the left, it's seen as a sensible solution for how to best allocate public funding to ensure that communities of color are receiving more from their government than just extreme police surveillance. On the right, it's viewed as a call for anarchy that is unpatriotic and dishonors the service of the people who patrol the streets trying to keep people safe from violence and looting. It's a polarizing phrase. One may not expect this particular show to have a nuanced conversation on the subject either. In fact, it may go for the easiest storytelling trope possible. It reduces the protests over racial justice to this one entire issue. It's the reason why people have taken to the streets. It's why things are so tense on all sides at the moment. It's not that simple. And yet, it has to be in this particular story to ensure that Lola faces some terrifying situations that will have major ramifications for her life as a judge. It's traumatic when she throws her body in the way of a police officer accosting a young teenager at a protest. She does it to make a difference in the situation. She has to make her presence known in order to offer a sense of protection to a person being abused by the system. She has to act. She can't ignore it. Sure, the optics are terrible because of the public position she holds. It's still something she is passionate about though. It's not just a hindrance for the folks who work at the courthouse each day to deal with as they come in and out. It's a conversation happening in the world as people are fighting against a pandemic and a society that wants to disregard certain lives. Even the best allies make mistakes as well. At first, Mark believes that Lola had to have done something wrong in order to be arrested by the officer. He accuses her of such. No matter how strong their friendship is, that sentiment is still belittling. In this moment, she is not treated as a judge. The officer didn't believe her or care to see any evidence proving her truth. Mark was given the benefit of the doubt. And in the end, Lola is made to suffer further. The video of the encounter becomes doctored to suggest that she too was an activist on the ground provoking the police into making this arrest. It creates a narrative that isn't true. But it's one that causes great concern for Lisa and Mark. They worry about Lola while fearing that this is what actually happened. Lola has continually argued that a judge needs to be willing to set aside any biases she has in order to rule fairly in every single case. Lola articulates that perfectly to her new law clerk. It's important to her. Mark and Rachel understand that Lola can still preside over their case despite the personal relationships involved and the recent encounter at the protest. They know she will be fair. But those doubts are still allowed to creep in. The truth comes in the moment where Lola returns home and lets out her emotions after this experience. It's raw and visceral. She is dealing with a trauma. She doesn't have her husband to comfort her either. That eventually arrives. Happiness prevails later on when Lola reveals she is pregnant. That's a surprising development given how critical her distance with Robin was in the first season. But it also suggests just how all-consuming life can be. It's full of emotions that do conflict with each other. On one hand, Lola is being accused of being biased and allowing her personal experiences to act unfairly in her courtroom. On the other hand, her life is a celebration because of her pregnancy. And finally, people are terrified about the pandemic. It has caused personal strive and uncertainty. Emily's life is still chaotic and she is diverting attention by focusing on her clients trapped in jail. Her relationship with Luke has deteriorated though that mostly exists as a vague tease at this point. The show suggests a changed world. One that has radically evolved since these characters were last seen. That is certainly true and relatable to the world at large. But the willingness to delve deeper into these stories still seems at about the same surface level as the previous season often produced. Some things may change but some are still basically the same. That could be comforting. But it's also clear that the show is still finding its way in how to move forward with telling stories amidst a pandemic and protests for racial justice.