There are a fairly defined genres of shows which rule the TV roost. In Hollywood, there can be a medical show, a lawyer show, a cop show, or a neighbourhood comedy show. The challenge is that each TV show has to sustain interest in all its episodes on a plot which is largely the same all through. This can only be done if the writers get to create memorable characters in the story who keep you glued and make you cheer for them. Billy Bob Thornton's outing as semi exiled lawyer Billy McBride and his ensemble in "Goliath" are one of those happenstances. The show is produced by Legend David E Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro for Amazon Studios. It might be noted that Thornton won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a TV series for Season 1 of "Goliath".
This post is aimed at introducing viewers on the TV Show "Goliath" and will give them a cheat sheet on what the show is about and what subject it tackles. It will first delve into the central characters of the season 2 with a little primer about Billy and his adventures in the first season. After that i will give a mini review with minimal spoilers.
What is the show about?
As the name suggests "Goliath" is the story of an unlikely underdog. Billy McBride is a brilliant lawyer working in Los Angeles area. He builds a large law firm with his partner but after sometime he leaves on professional and personal differences. He then slips into semi exile, gets divorced, becomes a single parent to a daughter, a real antithesis of who he was....Goliath looks at the journey of Billy McBride and his team (consisting of a former assistant, a former prostitute and more) of underdogs taking on big laws and big rivals battling cases related to the average Joe of Los Angeles. Billy sees himself as a crusader for the oppressed and the outcasts. Although season 2 has not much bearing to the first season, it can be safely said that you can enjoy Season 1 if you are a Billy Bob Thornton fan and even if you arent , the second season is a great watch. Billy can have a poor parallel in India ie...Jolly LLB with some additional thrust.
The Plot :-
The second season deals with the murky underbelly of Los Angeles Police Department and its nexus with the Mexican drug cartel. It also deals with the complex relationship of Billy McBride and Mayor Candidate Marisol Silva. The story starts with the ruthless murders of Billy's friend Oscar (played by Lou Diamond Phillips) and his two sons by the drug cartel operating in LA. Oscar's third son Julio gets convicted for this crime under influence by corrupt officials. This murder case sets into motion a series of events which unravel the rot in the police department as well as the top latino politicians. Billy and his start up team gets together to investigate Julio's case which takes them to local politicians and gangsters. The show also highlights the character of Tom Wyatt (loosely modelled on start up billionaires with serious mental issues) who is accused of having ties with the La Mano cartel of Mexico. On this journey, Billy gets involved with Marisol Silva, the frontrunner for L.A.'s Mayorship who is of Latino descent and its their relationship which is at the centre of the show's narrative.
The Central Characters of "Goliath" Season 2
Billy Bob Thornton as Billy McBride :- Billy is a fly on the wall character. He lives in a forgettable motel which also serves as his office in the daytime. He gets drunk regularly, avoids meeting people in general, is extremely passionate about raising his daughter and usually finds refuge in people living at the bottom of the food chain. Its his undying concern for the poor and the unfortunate which builds the "Goliath" in him. He strongly feels that with his street smart attitude, a fairly successful law profession, and a bit of help from his team and helpers, he can bring down anybody of any size. Billy McBride believes in the idea of America and its criminal justice system. He has been created as a soul keeper of USA's conscience in some ways. He drives a Ford Mustang and wears his heart on his sleeve and yet he fashions himself as a crusader for the ones who dont have a voice. In the opening scene, he encounters a murder and is forced to re consider of doing a homicide case or not, as he has given up doing this kind of cases. He then picks it up for his slain friend Oscar who is a bartender at a regular bar which he frequents. Billy also is razor sharp with his legal acumen, he notes all details at the crime scene and builds a premise regularly, predicts a scenario and gives a solution immediately. This is seen when he is dealing with his clients, his daughter and more. In the first season, he prevails against his opponents at the end but here in Season 2, Billy is up against some formidable people.
Ana De La Reguera as Marisol Silva :- Marisol Silva is a Mayor candidate for the city of Los Angeles. She is a very ambitious woman who has shifted to LA from Mexico when she was very young in the pursuit of her American dream. As Billy McBride takes up the case of the murders, he gets closer to Marisol and begins an unexpected relationship. Marisol keeps her past closely guarded, she is a representative of the Latino community in LA which is a large chunk of the population. She has a large team of supporters and billionaire Tom Wyatt is one of them. But its her capability to covet which comes out in the show. She does that to perfection in very tough situations and will do anything to win! Ana Reguera stands her own ground in front of a much bigger star like Billy Bob Thornton.
Mark Duplass as Tom Wyatt :- Tom Wyatt is loosely based on a cocktail of Travis Kalanick, Elon Musk, Evan Spiegel and some mentally troubled honchos who have had a troubled childhood. He has built skyscrapers across LA and has made billions doing so. The real interesting thing about Wyatt is his back dealings with drug cartels and politicians. In many ways, he is an accomplished billionaire but on a personal level he turns out to be quite the opposite of that. He treats his employees and associates in a terrible fashion, dreams and conjures up weird fantasies, has developed some serious mental health issues since his childhood. But even after this, he develops great composure and strength to deal with his ambitions and agendas. I think this is the most subliminal character in "Goliath" as he is highly unpredictable and steals the show right under Billy McBride. A highly unstable character, Wyatt is the find of the season.
The Content and its treatment :-
"Goliath" pits itself against top notch shows in its second season. Firstly, is that the show takes a quantum leap when Billy and his team takes on a powerful drug cartel across the border which has deep links with LA's wealthiest and LA's most prominent people. So in many ways brings "Goliath" in the league of top rate shows like "Breaking Bad". But here what looks to be a pursuit of a murder of a few local folks, is actually a cover up for the biggest names in town. The writers have made an effort to make Billy McBride look like a minnow in front of powerful opponents like Tom Wyatt, Gabriel Ortega etc. But even then Billy sails through. The audience feel helpless on many occasions like in Episode 7 "Diablo Verde", Billy wakes up in a home of unknown occupants and is stuck there for 2 days without getting out. I felt caged in a way to see Billy McBride like that. Its quite gripping to say the least.There is some overdose of violence and disturbing images in the show to portray the brutality of the La Mano drug cartel.
On a whole "Goliath"is not for the faint hearted as it has a lot of disturbing themes. The show also exploreS the emotional catharsis of police officials of the LAPD. The show makes an effort to take their life under perspective as to how they take to crime and how their families suffer with them. The director duo of Lawrence Trilling, Dennie Gordon and their team of writers ensure that even the smallest of the parts portrayed make an impact. An excellent example is the brief but powerful appearance of Lou Diamond Phillips as Oscar Suarez , the father of the slain children. Phillips makes his presence felt even though he appears in just two episodes. Similarly, the role of LAPD officer Keith Roman portrayed by Dominic Fumusa is also very impactful.
Themes Explored in "Goliath" :
The themes explored in the show are wide. One can point out immigrants and their conflicts as a centrepiece of the narrative. Troubled Childhoods, Mafia Brutality, Interpersonal Relationships in Government positions, racial politics, the deep divide amongst ethnic groups, corruption have been covered in all episodes. In a way, the city of Los Angeles with its many layers is shown to the audience. Marisol Silva,Oscar Suarez are both citizens of LA and are Latinos but there is a stark contrast on what the city has given them individually.
Suggestions for Indian viewers:
In my opinion the best way to watch and absorb "Goliath" is to avoid binge watching. Each episode is packed with enough drama that you can enjoy and savour the characters day by day. Take some time to watch the show and you might feel that you are actually living with them.
Final Verdict :
The Baniya Meter gives "Goliath" a 7 out of 10 for its superlative writing and compelling performances. Its a show not to be missed