It has been a wobbly second season of Your Honor season 4, as the show has scrambled to expand beyond the first while still feeling like one cohesive, 20-episode story. The finale doesn’t necessarily solve all of its problems, but in this courtroom revelation, where Eugene Jones exposes the lie that his mother and younger siblings were killed in an explosion caused by a gas leak, the series comes together beautifully. It’s not just the shock of the moment and the ripple effects it has on many of the major characters. It speaks to the soul of the show and the wayward, elusive pursuit of justice by those who try, often in deeply flawed ways, to seek it out in Your honor season 4.
For one, there’s the plain fact that the Jones family could not afford to pay the gas bill. Also they would have to scramble for whatever food they could scrape together, which Eugene recalls as “pickle juice and hot fries,” . And perhaps some cold cereal, but not anything that could be cooked. The “gas leak” lie the Baxters told was already absurd on its face, but they had a corrupt police department. This is at their disposal, so it could become official. It’s not like anyone could speak for the Jones family . Eugene was the only one left alive, and even if others had survived, the system was engineered to keep them silent.
But the true elegance of the gas-leak twist is that its source is Judge Michael Desiato’s courtroom. Before tragically tumbling off his moral perch in an effort to protect his son, Michael was known for running a fair courtroom with unusual sensitivity toward how those not in power actually live. This ruffled quite a few feathers in the police department, as we learn later. But such consideration is the reason why Michael showed mercy to Eugene’s mother that day in court, and the testimony he gleaned from Eugene himself from the bench was a key part of his decision-making.
Here was a family without the means to get by, especially if the very young Eugene is the only person left to look after his siblings. Michael’s compassion as a judge, his willingness to get to know Eugene, is the pivot point of the episode and the season and the series. That’s a meaningful twist in Your honor season 4.
The second season has been about a lot of things
too many things, really — but Michael’s redemption is the arc that needed to be satisfied with the finale, and that gets pulled off nicely, too. Lee had wanted him to lie on the stand to protect Eugene, much like he had lied and schemed to protect his own son, but that second wrong, to Michael, could not make a right. He tells the truth on the stand about what he saw through the hotel window: Eugene shot his son. As sympathetic as he was to the circumstances surrounding the shooting, that is what happened and can’t be avoided.
It’s a dramatic convenience for Michael to offer the information to Lee that eventually liberates Eugene — a truer, harder ending would have him carry the guilt for doing the right thing — but it works on its own terms. In the end, he and Eugene can look each other in the eye and express sincere condolences over their losses.
The fallout isn’t so great for the Baxter family, however. When Fia finally learns that Adam was driving the car that killed her brother and that Michael had kept that information from her. she tiptoes back into fold, however briefly. Learning in open court that her family blew up the Jones house loosens her grip on the “gas leak” narrative they’d been selling her all that time. Now without anyone to turn to, she and baby Rocco pay a visit to the Cool Priest to discuss her options and ruminate about the cruelties the universe has visited upon her. “It’s fucked up that the only reason I’m willing to entertain the notion that God exists,” says Fia, “is that I know the Devil does.” (Cool Priests will allow for a little salty language in the church off-hours.)
Turf war between the Baxters and Desire
Calling greater attention to these two criminal elements in New Orleans has felt like a way of padding out the show, drifting away from the moral and civic corruption at the center of it. The engineering of Jimmy’s demise is extremely clever, with Big Mo coming to Jimmy with an offer to buy the club in exchange for access to the French Quarter — not dissimilar to the port deal he struck with the Calabris — and then using it as a fatal (or near-fatal) wedge between Jimmy and his wife. To Gina, Jimmy’s refusal to make a deal for the club is the final straw and she sends Carmine to take care of the situation.
Your Honor goes out in a montage that feels similar to the one that ended The Wire, though that show had five seasons instead of two. Michael tosses the fateful Mariano Rivera–signed baseball into the water, Eugene smiles as the Feds drive him out to WitnessProtectionLand, Carmine lands in prison with Olivia smiling at him, Carlo and Gina seem to have happily consummated their Oedipal relationship, Big Mo locks up the club she’s sold to Gina, Jimmy wakes up at the hospital, and Charlie, well, looks out a window. (Isiah Whitlock Jr. is a fine actor and does his best to suggest “still mayor but wistful and slightly regretful about all that’s gone down,” but you have to read a lot into it.)
• There’s a somewhat strained effort here to bring the women of the show together in common cause. This is against the men who have mucked up their worlds. Hence the nod between adversaries like Big Mo and Gina These who have united in a way to rub out Jimmy, and a few scenes where Olivia, Nancy, and Lee come together. Nancy offers the mission for this team-up: “The history of men getting away with shit always emboldens them to do it again. And we’ll be there.” For Gina, that means getting her father out of the picture, too.
• Eugene saying his own name repeatedly in the hospital links up with his testimony in the finale. This is in which he insists that his mother and siblings had names, too. It’s a powerful moment, though an echo of the “Say Their Names” movement to recognize Black victims of police violence. Your honor season 4 is something else!