Rake continues to be one of the more frustrating series on television, because much like its lead Keegan Deane, it shows several moments of brilliance but as a whole fails. “Jury Tampering” once again has Keegan being a rather inconsistent character as the writers continue to not be brave enough for him to be the lousy and amoral slimeball that is being advertised. The storytelling had some funny and intriguing moments but remains unfocused and scattered. At least for one of the few times (last week being the other one), the case of the week actually felt like a significant part of the episode rather than something just squeezed to make it a procedural.
A Mother’s Love
The case almost seems to be perfectly suited for Keegan who is hired by Lucy Marks (played by Michele Forbes) to actually throw the case. Lucy is on trial for jury tampering, but wants to use the entire thing as a way to expose the corruptness of the Los Angeles justice system. This sort of feels like a much lighter and far less violent version of The Life of David Gale plus Forbes is far hotter than Kevin Spacey.
The purpose of trying to expose the justice system is to cast doubt on the murder conviction of Lucy’s daughter. For the majority of this Rake episode, it is largely accepted that the daughter’s trial was a circus and she was wrongly convicted. The case is also important as it further pushes the rivalry storyline between Keegan and Mayor Marcus. The city has realized the previous trial has made them look bad and so the goal was to do anything possible to make sure this time they lose the trial.
The Loser Wins
This attempt on both sides to lose the big trial leads to a few fun moments. The rookie prosecuting attorney is taken out for a long night of drinking in an attempt to amplify her green skills by having to battle a hangover. Keegan at least stays sober but goes full on sleaze by almost attributing the entire case on PMS in an attempt to enrage the female jury members.
The big twist is when Keegan discovers that Lucy’s daughter likely did commit the murder and even worse, the mother has known all along. This leaves Keegan with some respect for his client based on how far she is willing to go to save her daughter. It also is a neon sign reminder that Keegan has some awful taste in women. Of course, Keegan has to have sexual relations with her, and this gives her to ammunition to publicly humiliate him with altered recorded conversations after she drop him as her lawyer.
The revelation that Lucy always knew her daughter was guilty shows her insanity. She went through with full on plastic surgery as a disguise to manipulate the jury member into the confession even when she knew everything she was doing was not only illegal but wasn’t even solving a misdeed. We learn that Keegan is obviously wrong about his declaration that the “fake boobs were for justice.”
Ben’s Moment to Shine
Ben ends up being the person to discover that Allie Marks was really guilty. This is a crucial character moment as Ben has started to doubt his worth as a lawyer. In order to get the documents, he confronts one lawyer in his firm and essentially, finally stands up to him rather than get walked over. Of course, right after he proves to be a tough boss then he gets part of his suit trapped in a drawer. He still gets his shining moment by finding out from the murder victim’s secretary that she overheard a confession from Allie.
I actually think the show works better if it is Keegan’s friends that help him solve some of the cases. It allows him to remain a schmuck but still gives us some happy endings. Ben finally gets a moment to shine and overcome the doubt of his worth to the firm.
Hot for Teacher
The storylines with the vast army of supporting characters has once again been a little hit or miss. Keegan gets to prove he is a caring father by confronting the English teacher and letting her know she must stop her affair with his son. He did it in an appropriately sleazy style for his character as it feels like he is also trying to pick her up.
The whole storyline seems rushed as only a week ago Maddy believed it was Keegan having the affair. This week, she is following her son and feeling betrayed. Keegan never told her, without ever making it clear, how she discovered everything. It sort of felt like a rushed story just to ensure friction with his ex-wife and son for the next several episodes rather than something natural. It at least lead to the fun gag of Keegan taking the money Maddy gave to cab and deciding to walk instead.
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Love and Taxes
Speaking of the feeling we’re missing episodes or scenes, Mikki is now suddenly dating the same guy who has been trying to get Keegan to pay his back taxes. The lack of explanation unfortunately stops the supporting cast from feeling like real and authentic characters. It is forced relationship in order to tie together storylines. At least, it lead to a fun gag where Keegan told Mikki’s boyfriend a slew of lies on top of the lie that she has forced Keegan to tell. It leads to an awkward moment where she tries to allow her boyfriend to console her over a “rough past” but also trying to figure out exactly what that past was. It has the type of quirky charm this show needs, but it is unfortunate it didn’t come about in a natural and organic way.
Mayor vs. Keegan
The one storyline that has been slow-building is the eventually big showdown with the Mayor. It will likely get really intense in next week’s episode, ‘Three Strikes,” as he has now discovered his wife has been having a close relationship with Keegan. This is another relationship that seems to have been missing steps, as they just started getting friendly last week and now she is sending off sexy texts. There is also talk of a kiss that never made its way on the TV. Despite all that, it’ll be interesting to see how the Mayor’s grudge also ends up affecting the friendship of Keegan and Scarlet who works for the city.
I may be complaining about missing scenes and storyline elements. The saddest omission has been the sudden disappearance of Roy who hasn’t been in two straight episodes now. Hopefully, he is still going to come around for fish fry and face poundings, and he hasn’t fallen in the abyss of cost cutting.
Rake airs Thursdays at 9pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)