Goliath Season 4 Review: Billy McBride's Final Case Unfolds Like a Noir Fever-Dream

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Goliath Season 4 starts where previous seasons of the Amazon series began -- with Billy Bob Thornton's Billy McBride picking himself up, brushing himself off, and taking a new direction.

Billy (McBride, not Thornton) got shot at the end of Goliath Season 3. Slaying dragons being his thing, it could have worked for a series finale.

But since Billy and his partner, Patty (Nina Arianda), have made it their mission to go after the biggest of the big bads, their journey wouldn't have been complete without spinning the slingshot in the direction of big pharma and the opioid crisis.

Billy Bob Thornton Goliath Season 4

As the season begins, Billy is grappling with his death experience. Flatlined for six minutes, Billy can't wrap his head around his close call.

Goliath's tone has always been quirky. Dennis Quaid and Amy Brenneman played a brother-sister duo who put Billy through the paces.

They were about as cartoon-villains as you'd expect from the show, so it makes sense that, as he deals with the aftermath of that experience, Billy still takes to the fantastical even in a more solemn legal setting.

This season, Billy follows Patty to San Francisco, where she has joined a prestigious law firm, Margolis & True, managed by the mysterious Samantha "Sam" Margolis (Jena Malone) with her younger step-mother, Ava Wallace-Margolis (Lenora Crichlow).

Jena Malone as Samantha Margolis

Partner Tom True (Elias Koteas) has been the lead attorney on the case against Zax Pharmaceuticals, but when he goes missing, the firm asks Patty if she can land Billy, knowing their winning history against the big guns.

It's the first time we've seen them in this highbrow environment, and it's clear that their work speaks volumes because they don't fit in. It's not always easy to tell how much is real and what's imagined, but that's been the case on Goliath since its inception.

Billy's mental condition finds him flitting in and out of reality with cinematic flair, and Thornton's bewildered Billy is just as effective as his drunk, down-on-his-luck Billy, and he embraces Billy's new direction.

After a season spent in the dust of California's Central Valley during a great drought squabbling over water rights, Billy died in a puddle. Season 4's San Francisco setting juxtaposes the dry California Valley with rain-soaked city streets, bringing another new vibe for the final season.

Billy McBride is Mr. Cool

The new setting is brought to life with steamy streets and brightly lit neon signs.

Between Billy's waking life and his visions, Goliath becomes a noir fever-dream, evoking Hitchcockian themes and frequent nods to classic films such as Rear Window and Chinatown.

Sometimes it's a brief reference, and others, more vivid. For example, Billy moves into a small apartment with large windows that peer directly into a neighboring building. That's how Bruce Dern joins the picture, as an enigmatic man named Frank.

It's hard to tell if Frank is friend or foe, but Billy spends a reasonable amount of time trying to figure it out, window to window, as snippets come to light that intrigue Billy, such as Frank's frequent visitor and Brittany (Tania Raymonde) lookalike.

J.K. Simmons Goliath Season 4

It's much easier to understand George Zax, who exhibits classic evil under and overtones. Even Zax Pharmaceuticals aren't without whimsey, though, and Simmons gets the opportunity to don a top hat for a bit of song and dance.

Anyone unfamiliar with the history of opioids and the crazy campaigning that helped propel sales of the dangerous drug into the record books might think it's far-fetched.

And that's why Billy and Patty working together to take down this particular giant is the perfect ending to this non-traditional legal series. The fiction and reality of the opioid industry are as indelibly interwoven as Billy grappling with life, death, and one more searing case.

Goliath Season 4 is a visually dazzling and emotionally rewarding farewell and one last chance for Billy McBride to reinvent himself.

Goliath's final season drops on Amazon Prime on Friday, September 24.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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