The Defenders seems to have found its style.
I’m happy that the two cases of "Whitten V. Fenlee" were appropriate for the Las Vegas setting, while maintaining a balance between drama and comedy.
A construction worker’s death and a blogger accused of trade secrets could certainly be used in a variety of law shows. However, when the worker falls seven stories off a structure that extends even taller, it’s indicative of the grand and luxurious buildings of the city. Even the blogger’s revelation of a magic trick illustrates a staple of the type of shows that take place in Vegas.
This series isn’t simply utilizing the city as a fancy backdrop. It's using it to breathe life into its cases, characters and two main lawyers.
It was also nice to see that this was episode that didn’t involve Nick and Pete facing off against the D.A.Instead, Nick helped a woman win a civil suit against a negligent building company. It was interesting to note that Nick and Pete don’t normally take on these types of clients because of the extreme amount of time and money spent. Ultimately, it’s Nick’s willingness to help others and the arrogance of the opposing lawyer that causes him to take the company to trial instead of settling.
Essentially, this was a relatively serious case about a wrongful death and damages sought by a grieving wife. Even the closing arguments were compelling and persuasive, as Nick illustrated with a big dollar sign that the case was not about the money.
What made it ultimately work for this show was the scene in which Nick and Pete discussed what they would have done with the settled money. It was a humorous moment of “what ifs” before the two returned to reality.
Also, the fact that Nick agreed to give up the expenses and stipend from the nine million dollars in damages was a great finishing touch for the case. You could tell that he really didn’t want to and he was even surer that Pete would not be happy with his decision. Nick certainly isn’t like every other “blood sucking” lawyer out there.
The second case focused on the blogger and allowed viewers to see Pete easily enthralled by any and all magic tricks. Zoe may think he’s old, but he definitely is a young and fresh spirit at heart.
Plus, Penn Jillette guest-stared as a magic shop owner, which gave the show a real Vegas touch. His role wasn’t overly acted and included a clever scheme to stop the blogger from revealing his source. Pete certainly has learned from the best.
A moment that made me smile took place during the dinner scene. Even after Nick thought he didn’t have a chance of winning, he noticed Pete’s dirty fork and concluded the missing piece to his case. The fact that Pete mocked Nick for figuring it all out from just a fork poked fun at the show’s ability to miraculously solve cases from seemingly out of nowhere.
The show isn’t about the mystery, but rather the clever way that Nick and Pete reveal that mystery and persuade the jury in stylish form.
If you’re looking for an hour of intense crimes and non-stop emotional conflict, then The Defenders isn’t for you. If you are, however, in the mood for some clever fun with charismatic lawyers, then you’ve found your courtroom. Let’s hope the show keeps it up.
Sean McKenna was a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. He retired in May of 2017. Follow him on Twitter.