Goliath - Season 2 Review
Billy Bob Thornton returns for another case of alcohol-fuelled dogged determination
The Amazon Studios show, Goliath, saw Billy Bob Thornton win a Golden Globe, entering its sophomore year with another compelling underdog conspiracy.Something of a surprise hit, Creator David E. Kelley's Goliath could have easily ended up being just another generic legal drama, taking an Erin Brokovich-style David-and-Goliath approach to its ostensibly simple tale of a big corporation in bed with a big firm of lawyers bumping heads with a washed-out defence lawyer who sees through an 'accidental death' case.
One thing makes the show stand out: Billy Bob Thornton.
Thornton's worth watching in just about anything - catapulted to stardom rather late in his career when, at 40, he won an Oscar for Best Screenplay (and was nominated for Best Actor) in Sling Blade, then busying himself in memorable roles over the last two decades in everything from Bad Santa to Monster's Ball; Friday Night Lights to Pushing Tin. But in 2014 he took to TV, stealing the show in FX's first season of the excellent Fargo, despite not being the star, and earning himself his first Golden Globe in the process.
In Goliath, Billy Bob Thornton is the show, earning his second Golden Globe by, at times, coming across as he's just playing himself - or at least the himself that has become his go-to persona over the last few decades: simultaneously laid-back and irascible, often happiest whilst heavily intoxicated, and extremely funny with zero swear filter. Hell his character's name is even Billy.
Simultaneously laid-back and irascible, often happiest whilst heavily intoxicated, and extremely funny with zero swear filter.
In season 1, which took a kind of Edge of Darkness approach to the otherwise Erin Brokovich plotting, the story just plopped Billy smack in the centre of it all, frequently drowning his sorrows whilst talking to homeless people on the beach, and occasionally pulling it together so that he could tenaciously and doggedly tear chunks out of his vicious opponents.
Along the way Billy, and just about everybody in his close orbit, suffered at the hands of the seemingly unstoppable do-whatever-it-takes corporation and their equally nasty lawyers - Billy's own former law firm - who were happy to simply kill witnesses just to prevent the case from going ahead. Despite everything though, Billy just never gave up.
After the events of Season 1, it's somewhat surprising to find Billy back and passed-out drunk in his local bar - which is basically outside the door of his dump of an apartment - as if he hadn't just made a fortune in a big court case. It's business as normal for him until a friend calls upon him for help and, a couple of murders later, he finds himself knee-deep in a conspiracy bigger than he can imagine involving political candidates, gangs and government agencies.
All of his entourage return for Season 2 - from Nina Ariande as his unlikely legal partner, Patty, to Tanya Raymonde as the prostitute-turned-legal-assistant who may just be in love with Billy, but is still working her way back into the fold after stabbing him in the back last season. There's also Diana Hopper as Billy's teen daughter.
This season also adds a number of players, including Mark Duplass as a corrupt philanthropist, Morris Chestnut as a slick DA gunning for Billy, and Ana de la Reguera as a Mayoral candidate, all tying in an unsurprisingly complex plot that twists and turns its way in and out of court, bloodying the streets and seeing the lives of Billy and those close to him put on the line once again, all in the name of getting to the truth and justice beneath it all.
Chain-smoking, chain-swearing and chain-drinking his way through a further eight episodes, they could have just called the show Bad Lawyer.
Goliath lives and dies at the hands of Billy Bob Thornton, and the man is more than up for a second round of dirty dealings in this corrupt LA universe, navigating the world in his trademark dogged underdog style, chain-smoking, chain-swearing and chain-drinking his way through a further eight superb episodes.
In fact they could have just skipped the whole David-and-Goliath analogy in the title and instead just called the show Bad Lawyer, but part of the charm here is that the rest of the show is deadly serious, whilst Billy is... well, Billy.
Utterly compelling, once you've started down this road, you'll be hooked, binging another season of the great Goliath.
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