Updated: Nov 30
Written by M.N. Miller
The Lincoln Lawyer was a surprise smash hit for Netflix last year. After CBS tossed their adaptation starring Logan Marshall-Green on the scrap heap because of COVID-19 production issues, that’s when the streaming giant swooped in with a 10-episode run and replaced Marshall-Green with the more appropriate and more authentic to the novel casting of Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. The David E. Kelley-produced show, based on the popular Michael Connelly book series, racked up nearly 900 million hours of viewing time during The Lincoln Lawyer’s opening week. Now, the binge-worthy series is back to explore more murders in the City of Angel’s sun-soaked streets with likable characters and engaging mysteries.
We now find former addict and lawyer Mickey Haller (Garcia-Rulfo) graduating from defender of the little guy who caught a bad break to a hot-shot defense attorney on the rise. The unintended consequence of his newfound fame has his ex-wife Maggie (Neve Campbell), a criminal prosecutor, saddled with a demotion that throws water on their rekindled romance. However, they are still co-parenting their teenage daughter, Haley (Krista Warner). The rest of the team remains intact, including Lorna (Becky Newton), Haller’s office manager and second ex-wife (apparently cheaper to keep her on the payroll than alimony), who is engaged to his investigator, Cisco (Angus Sampson). And, of course, Izzy (Jazz Raycole), Mickey’s driver, who’s also a former client and addict, who Haller can easily relate to and trust unconditionally.
The season kicks off with Haller finding the identity of the tattoo man rather quickly and dismissed just as fast. However, the season’s storyline concerns a new love interest, a spicey restaurateur named Lisa Trammell (24’s Lana Parrilla), whose Mexican dishes rival only Mickey’s mother. After spending the night together, Trammell is given a restraining order after protesting against a developer attempting to gentrify the neighborhood. Things deteriorate when Trammell is arrested for murder, and the businessman turns up dead. Mickey breaks the cardinal rule of defense practice by defending the woman with whom he has a personal relationship.
The sophomore effort from executive producer and esteemed television creator David E. Kelley (Picket Fences, Big Little Lies, Ally McBeal, Boston Legal) is based on Michael Connelly’s fourth book in The Lincoln Lawyer series, The Fifth Witness. Along with the help of showrunner Ted Humphrey (The Good Wife), the team keeps what made the first season so appealing. They keep Haller’s angelic-like nature, reaching a helping hand to those in need, regardless of the case’s size. This is essential in a show like this that knows the importance of folding in these established quirky characters from the first season into a new case that feels like a visit from old and welcomed friends, along with intriguing new cases. If you are a fan of the shows I mentioned above from Kelley and Humphrey’s resumes, they know the importance of this marriage for procedural television.
That said, The Lincoln Lawyer continues to lean more toward mainstream television, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. What I mean is the characters are never too eccentric like Fyvush Finkel’s legendary Douglas Wambaugh, and the cases are not as nuanced or as blatantly honest when it comes to the political and cynical monetary influence of the law in regards to the above long-time CBS procedural. Some first-season storylines seem out of place and almost forced into the narrative. For instance, Cisco suddenly reversed course by staying involved with a biker gang and the life he left behind. On the flip side, the plotline that ended last year with the tattoo man on the beach was wrapped up, and I would almost say, shockingly quickly. I held out hope that it may be a Harry Bosch from the Michael Connelly universe, but as fans know, Prime Video owns the rights to that character. Sadly, Haller’s half-brother will not be making an appearance.
Ultimately, even if the series continues to lack some of that Connelly grit found in those sunburnt “la la land” streets, part one is a satisfying outing that builds more intrigue than answers. Garcia-Rulfo’s chemistry with Parrilla’s Lisa does bring the heat, and the mystery of defending your new lover in a murder trial does lean towards some interesting storylines. However, it’s the writing of the character’s relationship with Haller and the dynamic performance of the series lead that gives The Lincoln Lawyer that hook to entice viewers into the trappings of the series straightforward, mainstream, and unpretentiousness approach to legal episodic television.
“The Lincoln Lawyer may lack some of that signature Michael Connelly grit to the sunburnt streets of Los Angeles, but the second season, part one, of The Lincoln Lawyers succeeds because of the quirky characters, engaging mysteries, and the dynamic turn by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo.”
Check out the trailer for Netflix's The Lincoln Lawyer - Season 2, Part 1: