What if the Desiatos had done absolutely nothing? What if Michael simply drove home after discovering the hit-and-run victim was Jimmy Baxter’s son, scrubbed the Volvo of evidence as best he could, and simply left it at that? There’s no guarantee that people don’t find out the truth of what happened, but what we’ve learned repeatedly in this first half of Your Honor is that the cover-up has only led to greater and greater exposure. I’m reminded of a favorite image from Joel and Ethan Coen’s Blood Simple, where the effort to clean up a pool of blood merely ends up spreading more blood around— into the floorboards, onto clothing, into the sink.
Every single effort to cover up the crime has backfired: Using political backchannels to dispose of the Volvo has resulted in the driver’s arrest and murder, the death of his mother and three siblings in an explosion, and threat of an all-out gang war. Tasking extremely competent friends like Lee Delamere to serve as the driver’s attorney and Nancy Costello to look into the car theft has resulted in a thorough and ongoing investigation on both their parts. Establishing a graveyard alibi the day after the incident has resulted in Adam’s grandmother puzzling over a very curious lie. And now, Michael getting drunk with a gas station clerk in a scheme to scrub the surveillance footage and get information on a possible witness has led to impending disaster.
Have I accounted for all the catastrophes, big and small? Probably not. But oh what a tangled web has been weaved by Michael’s deceptions, and he doesn’t even realize the full extent of just how badly things are going for him. At this point in the narrative, Walter White would be crafting improvised explosive devices or busting out a vial of ricin, but Michael doesn’t have that scientific know-how at his disposal. All he has are his connections, which would seem to be powerful enough to get him out of trouble, but in fact are making things worse for him. Last time Your Honor dug the Desiatos this deep a hole was the moment that Kofi paid a visit to Carlo Baxter in jail, and the writers got them out of that pickle simply by having Kofi killed. Now the threats have metastasized.
Incredibly, the newest threat may be the weakest. While overseeing court, Michael keeps hearing the bleeping of a cell phone, which annoys him right up to the point where he realizes it’s coming from the drawer next to him. The text messages read: “This is your new phone, Judge. I know it was him. Your son. Do you know where he is now?” Later, a blackmail offer arrives, asking for $222,000, which Michael discovers he can’t withdraw from the bank on so little notice. (But at least he adds two bankers to the list of people noting his suspicious behavior!) His one countermove is to have the burner phone traced to the Algiers neighborhood, but an attempt to call the blackmailer’s bluff fails when he’s shown footage of his son at the gas station.
The possible silver lining to this damning piece of evidence is that it appears to come from the car that was waiting behind the Volvo at the gas station, and Michael was able to take a shot of that car before erasing the surveillance footage. But he doesn’t realize that the biggest possible problem is coming to fruition: Jimmy Baxter knows that Kofi wasn’t the one who ran over his son, because his son died on October 9 and Kofi was asked to steal the car on October 10. (A very big “oopsie” moment, incidentally, for Carlo for killing Kofi in prison and for Jimmy for having Kofi’s house blown up. Even if there was an Edible Arrangement large enough to compensate for the error, there’s no residence for delivery.) Jimmy also knows from the gas station clerk that Michael was there and erased the surveillance footage.
With all that’s going on, including the Desiatos’ dog falling gravely ill from seizures, it’s almost hilariously quaint that Adam is out there doing his best to fuck things up, too. Since the incident, Adam has taken his role both too seriously and not seriously enough: He’s clearly and understandably affected by what happened and his personal culpability in Rocco’s (and Kofi’s and Kofi’s family’s) death, but he’s not as invested as his father in protecting himself. His guilt has led him to tiptoe to the ledge, daring himself to jump, and last week it brought him to a candlelight vigil in Rocco’s honor, where he wound up face-to-face with Fia Baxter. There’s a strong part of him that wants to get caught.
And so while dad is out there dealing with a blackmailer and myriad other loose threads, Adam settles into a café with a copy of Infinite Jest and winds up flirting with a gangster’s daughter. There are plenty of indications that Fia is not like her parents or her brothers. She remembers Rocco as “an idiot” and embraces Carlo only reluctantly—it seems likely that maybe she doesn’t love being in a family of murderous goons. On the other hand, Adam ran her brother over with a car and then fled the scene, which might not sit well with her, either. For now, though, she and Adam are role-playing his upcoming college interview and basically having an informal, impromptu coffee date. He’s out there on the ledge again, daring a stiff breeze to knock him into the abyss.
The only question now is which Baxter will oblige.
• As a few readers pointed out, I incorrectly identified Margo Martindale’s character, Elisabeth, as Adam’s aunt on his mother’s side last week when in fact she is his grandmother. A regrettable error, but in my defense, Martindale is only five years older than Bryan Cranston, who plays her son-in-law here.
• The look on Carlo’s face when he finds out Kofi wasn’t responsible for his brother’s death is absolutely priceless. Sometimes being a dumb, violent hothead doesn’t pay off.
• A good chunk of the episode is devoted to Kofi’s little brother Eugene, the only surviving member of the Jones family. The one major drawback to Your Honor functioning more as a plot machine than a social drama is that it doesn’t register the full weight of Eugene’s loss or his subsequent adoption by the gang leaders who couldn’t keep Kofi or the rest of his family safe. A scene where he gets his own bedroom for the first time is the rare moment the show pauses to register heavy emotion, but we’ll see if there’s any follow-through. He certainly has a key role to play.
• Your Honor surely wants to get some distance from Breaking Bad, but having Bryan Cranston peel across a mid-sized American city at high speed through traffic isn’t going to shake those comparisons.