‘Bluff City Law’ 1×03 Review: Prove Everyone Wrong

Bluff City Law’s “25 Years to Life” is the perfect episode to remind us of what this show is about, what the stakes are, and why, despite the fact that we know this is fictional, it’s so hard to separate ourselves from the stories we’re seeing, from what’s going on.

This isn’t corporate law, this isn’t if you lose, all you lose is money kind of cases. No, this is real life and consequences and just …feelings. Emotions. This is the kind of case lawyers care about winning or losing, and that’s what makes it so much harder, even as a viewer, to follow.

Back in law school, I remember more than one teacher saying that criminal law wasn’t for the faint of heart. You’d get emotionally invested, they said. And yes, sometimes, that’d make you fight harder, but it would also mean that, if you lost, it would cut much deeper.

I’ve been there, and for the most part, I haven’t been able to handle it.

So, for me, people like Jake, people like Sydney and Elijah and Anthony, they’re heroes. The heroes we need, and the ones most people wouldn’t hail as heroes. You never think of the lawyer in cases like this, and that’s okay. The lawyer doesn’t want you to be thinking about him/her. If they do their job, you will never have to look at them again.

But it takes a toll, win or lose. You pay a price, and sometimes, that price, is a little bit of your soul. And yet, what can you do but try? What can you do but continue on? Someone’s gotta fight the good fight.

I, for one, am glad these people are around to do it.

So, let’s talk about the win, the feelings and the family of “25 Years to Life”:


BLUFF CITY LAW — “25 Years to Life” Episode 103 — Pictured: Barry Sloane as Jake Reilly — (Photo by: Katherine Bomboy/NBC)

My only regret is that I didn’t get to see the part where George picked up the phone and called his ex-wife and his son to tell them the truth. Because from the moment Jake took that case, I’d been waiting for that, hoping that we would get here.

I never imagined we would get there so quickly.

But the point of George, the point of this injustice, the point of it all, was, I think, to prove to us, not that the system is flawed, because boy, do we know that, or that sometimes the need to find a bad guy outweighs common sense, but to show that despite all that, there’s still hope.

There are still people trying. There’s still a chance.

And George, he’s a footnote, a very tearful footnote, but a representation of a man who probably doesn’t exist. Because the George’s of the world, the real ones, are probably men of color who won’t be looked at sympathetically by a judge, or maybe, find a lawyer willing to stand up for them. But we all should. And though we’re not all lawyers, we can do our part by never letting ourselves be silenced.

See injustice, point out injustice. Shout about it. Never, ever shut up. We have a voice. We might as well use it.


BLUFF CITY LAW — “25 Years To Life” Episode 103 — Pictured: (l-r) Caitlin McGee as Sydney Strait, Stony Blyden as Emerson Howe, Jimmy Smits as Elijah Strait — (Photo by: Mark Levine/NBC)

Sydney comes off as a hard-ass, and despite Jake’s joke, it’s good to know that the thing that drives her isn’t all anger – not that she isn’t entitled to some – but fear. Because those moments with Emerson, having lunch, made it clear that there could be something there, that they could actually be family, if she let it.

But of course, our Sydney doesn’t know how to let good things happen. She doesn’t know how to open up, she doesn’t know how to accept that she’s enough for her father, that she’s more than enough, she’s perfect, and that Emerson is never going to take her place, he’s just …another piece in the puzzle.

Family isn’t a zero sum game. You don’t have to lose so others win. Emerson, Elijah and Sydney, and in many ways, everyone else at the firm, is family. They all fit perfectly together, and without all of them, well …nothing truly works. And I don’t just mean case-wise.

Ensemble shows are hard to balance, and it’s truly remarkable to be three episodes in and feel like everyone on this show has gotten a chance to shine, and like almost all possible pairings and relationships have been touched on. But here we are.

I can’t wait for more.


BLUFF CITY LAW — “25 Years to Life” Episode 103 — Pictured: Caitlin McGee as Sydney Strait — (Photo by: Katherine Bomboy/NBC)

The dynamics between Jake and Sydney are already becoming one of my favorite things about this show. Because there’s the confrontational, almost childish pull and pull, yes, like the kid who’s pulling your pigtails because he likes you, but there’s so much more than that.

Like respect, the kind that goes both ways. Jake respects Sydney, not just as a lawyer, but as a person. And despite his bravado and his cockiness, the opposite also holds true. They’re like mirror images, Jake and Sydney. Both a little too self-assured, both really not as tough as they look.

Now, I know how this goes, and I know …I really, really do know, that boy, we’ve got a journey head of us. These two are barely learning to be friends, and they have to learn to be that, truly be that, before they can learn to be anything else. But I have no doubt this is the right path. I feel it, and I think they can feel it too.

You know when it’s right. It’s just that the journey is important too. Sometimes, the journey is everything.

We’ll be waiting, and watching.

Things I think I think:

  • You don’t just put warm food into the fridge like that, Elijah. Come on.
  • Also, that’s a lot of food. You should, maybe, have your two kids over. Bonding and all.
  • The TENSION between Jake and Sydney.
  • It’s like he’s the only one constantly calling her bluff.
  • “Do something nice, and prove everyone wrong.”
  • Jake is sooo emotionally invested in this case, I just feel like this is gonna go wrong.
  • I’m really enjoying this moment of bonding with Jake and Elijah.
  • The show has done very well so far with balance. I feel like I know everyone.
  • Also, as much as I appreciate Sydney doing things to prove Jake wrong, Sydney needs to learn to do things for Sydney.
  • Funny, isn’t it, Sydney? Maybe a brother is just what you needed.
  • This is a stupid ass argument, and both Anthony and Sydney know it. Max Medina is trying to pull the Chewbacca defense on them.
  • Cross-examination is my favorite part of trials.
  • Damn, Sydney makes a good argument.
  • Even if it doesn’t help Max Medina.
  • The Jake/Sydney thing in the fire escape is ALREADY ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS.
  • Oh, wow. Sydney is adopted.
  • “You’re your father’s daughter.”
  • I don’t like Robbie.
  • But at this point, I almost feel bad for him.
  • Everyone uses him.
  • Jake’s frustration is so all-encompassing I can feel it from my living room.
  • But good on you, Max Medina.
  • Oh, wow.
  • “I don’t want her to feel guilty for what the state did to my client.”
  • I CRIED.
  • And I kept crying
  • Am I ever gonna stop?
  • TEARS.

Agree? Disagree? What did you think of “25 Years to Life”? Share with us in the comments below!

Bluff City Law airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.

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