Time flies when a network blows through two—sometimes even three—episodes of a series per week, and thus we’ve already reached the end of Trial & Error’s first season. In a perfect world, this would be the first of many seasons for the series, but if justice should fail to prevail on that front, at least we got an ending that feels comfortably like a conclusion.
At the end of last episode, Larry was claiming that he had indeed killed Margaret, resulting in Carol Anne screaming, “Yes!” and Mitchell setting off the champagne, which is a perfectly appropriate reaction to what appeared to be an instant win for them. But in a moment straight out of Spartacus, not only did Summer repeat her confession, but Dwayne promptly did the same. Anne did not. She did, however, walk into the courtroom backwards, providing us with one more malady for the road: backwards cheerleader syndrome, a.k.a. dystonia. And she wasn’t the only one to make a surprising entrance: moments later, Josie popped in, drink in hand, to confirm Summer’s innocence, thereby resulting in both Larry and Dwayne abruptly rescinding their confessions. (Thankfully, with no jury present, their pronouncements didn’t mean anything, anyway.)
Regrouping back at HQ, Josh decides that their best plan of action is to try and refocus the trial on Rutger by calling Carol Anne to the stand and bringing up her relationship with Rutger. It’s evident that the trial is taking its toll, as evidenced by her rash, which is spreading at a seemingly exponential rate. Seriously, it’s getting so bad that even John Stone might take pity on her. But just because she’s scratching like Grandmaster Flash doesn’t mean that she doesn’t still have game: when Josh gets her on the stand, he starts with the upper hand, but it isn’t long before she’s shifted into drama queen mode, declaring that things were so bad with Rutger that she “started to believe I didn’t deserve any better.” Her seemingly obvious theatrics inspire profound eye-rolling from Josh, but the jury has clearly had their heartstrings tugged but good, which frustrates him tremendously. Still, is he frustrated enough to actually put Larry on the stand?
Yes. Yes, he is. But even when Josh is reminded of just how darned charismatic Larry can be, he’s still not willing to risk the whole case on it without investing in a little insurance first. Enter Sebastian “I’m Not” Rappaport, played by guest star French Stewart. That’s right, 3rd Rock fans: it’s Dick and Harry Solomon, together again, and the comedic chemistry between the duo is as solid as ever, with Sebastian instructing Larry on how to keep his hands under control in order to come across a little less like a cold-blooded killer.
Emboldened by Sebastian’s assistance, Josh is ready for court, but Carol Anne is still as feisty as ever: even as she’s literally breaking out in front of him, she’s giving Josh some serious jazz-hands action and demanding to know, “Which way am I coming from, Josh? Which way?” But he’s so confident about how well his next move is going to play that he can’t be bothered. In his defense, his instincts are on the money: Larry reads the poem that he wrote for Margaret the morning she died, and at the conclusion of the romantic verse, Josh produces the other 316 poems Larry wrote Margaret—one for every Friday, because that’s the day they met—and the courtroom collectively swoons. With that, Josh gives Carol Anne a taste of jazz hands and takes his seat, victorious.
Not that it lasts: moments later, Carol Ann drops her own bomb by introducing the assembled masses to Harrison Wells, Larry’s real identity. It’s a huge laugh when the camera promptly cuts to Sebastian, who does little more than blink in surprise and say, “I’m gonna take off,” but it understandably sends everyone else into a tizzy, most notably Josh. Larry does his best to explain what sorts of traumas he went through in his late pre-teens that led him to Larry-cize his Harrison Wells-ness, but he knows the effect that this new revelation is likely to have on the case, hence his remark, “I don’t know about the law, but…do we get any do-overs?”
No, Larry. No, you do not. And yet after he mentions offhandedly to Josh that the only place anyone might’ve gotten the information about his birth name was from the baby pictures that he keeps in the top drawer in his bedroom, Larry unwittingly secures a reprieve for himself from Carol Anne’s bombshell. We also get to see a sneakier side of Josh when he bluffs Carol Anne into believing that he actually had footage of her swiping the photos, but it works: the jury is instructed to disregard the information about Larry’s earlier identity, as it was obtained illegally.
So it’s all looking good for the closing arguments, right? Not really, as it turns out, but at the time it sure seemed like they were on track to a not-guilty verdict, in no small part because of Josh’s pre-scripted announcement that he needed to speak from the heart. It had to have stung him just a little bit when he realized that Larry believed that his words were spontaneous, but to be fair, just because he’d worked out his words in advance doesn’t mean that he didn’t mean them. In retrospect, though, maybe he really should’ve been spontaneous, because planning ahead still ended up resulting in Larry’s conviction.
Much like his tackle of Josh last week, Larry’s decision to bolt for the door upon hearing the “guilty” verdict was a moment of Zen, but he doesn’t get far, and when he see him next, he’s grumbling about having been called a flight risk. There’s a weird mood in the courtroom as Larry’s final fate is being decided upon, with Carol Anne looking mildly smug and Josh laying his soul bare and asking her to show some mercy. Not taking any chances, Larry takes a moment to chastise the jury and threaten them with a lifetime of being haunted if things don’t go his way, but he needn’t have worried: Carol Anne amends her sentencing request and asks for life. It’s clearly a major disappointment for the town’s bear wrangler, who can be seen in the background as he strolls own the hall, looking mildly dejected, but it’s not a lot better for Larry, who’s promptly hauled away. At the last moment, however, he palms Josh a present, calling it “something ot remember me by in case you never see me again.”
It’s his skate key wrench, delivering a callback to an earlier episode which underlines both how Larry cares for Josh and—heavy sigh—how long Larry likely thinks it’ll be before they’ll see each other again.
As it happens, it’s only four months, but when you’re in maximum security prison, it might as well be a lifetime. It’s been an education for Larry, who’s bemused by the irony that it took being convicted for a murder that he didn’t commit for him to learn how to kill a guy. As for Josh, he still can’t bring himself to give up on Larry’s case, believing that there’s got to be something that they missed. Indeed, there was: a baggie of gray hair.
Like a bat out of hell, Josh is out of New York and on his way back to East Peck, where he’s immediately ready to get the band back together, as it were, and prove Larry’s innocence. Given how small East Peck is, it doesn’t take a lot of work to find everyone, thankfully: Dwayne has found his way back onto the police force – God help the citizens when he’s on patrol – and Ann is serving as Larry’s really terrible realtor, effectively guaranteeing that the house will still be available for him to move back in when he gets out of prison.
Okay, so whoever deduced that Margaret’s death was actually just a weird accident, give yourself a pat on the back. And how about that Andie MacDowell, huh? What a great pick for our one true encounter with Margaret. Did anyone briefly think that Dave Goonderson was guilty? He was just creepy enough that I considered the possibility, but I’m glad he ultimately wasn’t. I’m even gladder, however, that Larry wasn’t guilty.
In the end, Larry gets out of prison, sharing a sweet, sentimental moment with Josh upon learning that he’s finally gotten him freed, but what’s arguably even more lovely is the conclusion of the episode, with Larry – realizing that he’ll never be able to just start fresh in East Peck – deciding that he’s going to just slip away while watching Josh becoming blissfully happy at the thought of starting a new case, defending another accused murderer. In short, it’s a new beginning for both of them.
But here’s my question: did anyone else momentarily wonder if Larry had killed this other person in order to provide Josh with a case to keep him in East Peck? Or am I the only one dark enough to have done that?
I’m probably wrong, anyway. But, man, wouldn’t it be great if we got a chance to find out for sure?
- Nicholas D’Agosto has several great moments within these final two episodes, but the best of the bunch occur when Josh is trying and failing to shrug off just how incredible the sex was with Carol Anne. The first occurs when he says, “She’s so dirty! Nothing is beneath her!” and Larry snaps back, “You were.” The look on Josh’s face is priceless.
- “Less yapping, more wrapping.”
- New addition to my list of possible band names: Larry’s Extra Testicle.
- Sebastian is thoroughly impressed with how successfully Dwayne is able to deliver the equation “8 x 8 = 1,000” and make it seem like it’s the truth. Dwayne proudly explains his secret: “I carried the two in my head!”
- I laughed very hard when Larry said he couldn’t finish the poem and, after Josh offered to read it, Larry bristled and simply said,“You’ll betray the words.”
- Even the judge doles out a bit of jazz-hands action. It’s all the rage!
- After glancing at the supposed verdict, the judge says, “I think this is your lunch order,” adding, ‘I thought ‘barbecue’ was a little flippant.”
- I’d really love to learn the back story on Peck Island.
- “Why’d you get rid of the hair?” “Some men like it that way.” Oh, Jayma Mays, you little minx, you…
- Mmmmmmm… Toilet raisin wine…
- Thanks to everyone who kept coming back and commenting on a weekly basis. Reviewing two episodes without advance screeners hasn’t always been easy, but being able to give this wonderful series some press has been my pleasure. It’s the most pleasant sitcom surprise I’ve gotten in a long time.