Watch NBC’s The Firm season 1, episode 15.
With TV crime dramas winding down their seasons, what should genre fans watch over the summer? In our Summer Sleuthing series we’re going back to old favorites, starting with one you probably missed the first time: NBC‘s The Firm.
The Firm was largely ignored when it premiered in 2012. It was a follow-up to the John Grisham movie of the same name, with Josh Lucas assuming the role of lawyer Mitch McDeere. But it was not a lawyer show; it was a crime thriller with strong performances and a few plot twists.
Every week we’ll revisit an episode from The Firm‘s first (and only) season. You can rewatch the entire series on Tubi. This week, we open the book on Episode 15.
The Firm season 1, episode 15: “Chapter Fifteen” (originally aired April 28, 2012)
The fifteenth episode of The Firm is a tale of two shows: one that’s focusing on Abby McDeere (Molly Parker) and her traumatic experience being kidnapped by Kevin Stack, and one that’s dealing with the state finally prosecuting the bad guys. Somewhat.
It’s the latter that puts any meat on the story’s bones. Stack (Martin Donovan) originally tries to dupe Mitch McDeere (Josh Lucas) into giving him the computer drive that’s become the smoking gun, but Mitch realizes the woman in Stack’s car isn’t Abby.
When that plan fails, Stack decides to flee the scene and wants his co-conspirator/love interest Alex Clark (Tricia Helfer) to come with him; she declines. The two are eventually reunited when he gets arrested and Alex represents Stack at his arraignment.
The emotional politics of this sequence of events is entertaining. Stack shows perhaps his one true moment of vulnerability in the whole show as he tries to coerce Alex to run away with him. But when he realizes she’s walking free and he isn’t, he flips to immediately threatening her to get him off the hook or else.
Like Alex, Stack would have been a much more interesting character if he had any shading beforehand, but now it’s just a missed opportunity (especially because, as anyone who’s seen Boss knows, Martin Donovan is a great actor who can play deeply flawed characters).
But there are a lot of questions about this show that have been left dangling as the season goes on and it gets further away from the TV crime drama element. Stack is charged with being behind more than 100 deaths, so how long was this conspiracy going on? It would look really suspicious if bodies were dropping that frequently over the last few years, so are we talking decades?
But if it were that long, how long has Alex been running her firm? Because it was her need to protect her father’s business that made her complicit, so she can’t have been doing this when her dad was still in charge.
And who didn’t notice the Canada Post mail truck that passes behind Stack’s vehicle multiple times in one scene—not only affirming to fans that the show is shot in Canada, but suggesting there might be some odd editing going on, unless said truck is doing loops around the block?
The Firm also has to reckon with its episode count, which has become a common criticism of network TV in the years since this show aired. The computer drive is a damning piece of evidence against Stack and Noble Insurance, but because the show still has seven more episodes, it has to get tossed out so that the story doesn’t get wrapped up.
With their smoking gun now broken, the prosecutors pivot toward having Stack charged not for the 117 random people he killed, but for one they know they can prove: shooting Andrew Palmer. That makes Abby their key witness, and fans can see that can of worms coming from a mile away. It’s going to be great drama if not necessarily the most satisfying writing.
And that’s the reason to hang in with The Firm if you’ve come this far. It wasn’t the show people thought it was, and it didn’t become the excellent TV crime drama it could be, but its cast are game for the whole ride and keep the show grounded. It really does have a ton of potential that comes through when it re-centers on what it does best.
The Firm is available to stream on Tubi and Amazon Video, and available for purchase on iTunes and DVD.