This drama is, by far, the best legal narrative I have come across. While most legal movies and novels only have the scope to portray a one-sided view of Prosecution and Defense as either protagonist or antagonist, 18 one-hour episodes were delightfully sufficient to delve into the moral dilemmas that lawyers in both roles face.
Although the premise of the show is a main character that can hear other people’s thoughts (and hence know the truth of the matter), its narrative goes far beyond a superhero-esque plot. This superpower is utilized much more intelligently: as a plot device to deeply explore the tensions between truth, justice and the legal process (evidence).
And these moral and legal issues explored are hardly superficial either. They include:
- Should the Prosecution prosecute when she knows that the accused is not the one who committed the crime, even if there is evidence against the accused?
- Mutatis mutandis, should the Defense defend when she knows that the accused is the one who committed the crime?
- In (2), is it ethical for the Defense to collaborate with the Prosecution to bring the truth to the light, against the interests and wishes of her client?
- What do you do when twins are co-accused for a crime, and you know that one of them definitely did it (if not both); but because you cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was one of them, both will be acquitted? (solution: Prisoner’s Dilemma)
- Can an accused who was previously convicted for murder of a victim (who faked her own death and has been declared legally dead) be charged again with attempted murder of the same victim?
These issues are tightly weaved, with the characters’ histories skilfully interwoven with one another. So while the narrative is punctuated by distinct court cases, each case leads into the next seamlessly (c.f. the standalone nature of cases in Suits). And all the while, the key dramatic tension incited at the beginning is always building between the characters.
The drama’s characters are also compelling and charismatic. The female lead is arrogant, sassy and endearing; the male lead is youthful, innocent, mature and a somewhat blur know-it-all. The minor characters such as the mum and the clerk are all quirky and hilarious and carry their own complexities. The antagonist is as creepy as any villain gets. And almost all of them (even the antagonist) undergo transformation. This is drama at its best.
(Caveat: No one is as awesome as Donna though.)
The drama closes by elevating the criminal legal process to its highest aspirations. A murderer is prosecuted and convicted; but the Defence also knowingly and competently defends him, bringing the his story to the fore. Ultimately, this entire process heals and transforms everyone involved by presenting truth for what it is – not as a simplistic one-dimensional portrait but a multi-facted narrative that can only be fully understood from the many perspectives of those that the truth touches.
Macrocosmically, this multi-facted approach is precisely how the drama examines the adversarial criminal justice system through its tensions and dilemmas that the characters face in the 18 episodes. And it concludes with nothing less than the ideal: that Truth and Justice are at the heart of the Law.