Common Law's Season 1 Finale Goes Out with a Bang

Common Law S01E12: “Gun!”

First of all, was the exclamation point at the end of the episode title necessary? It just reminds me of one of those over-the-top action movies from the '70s, which is unfortunate because Common Law’s finale was actually quite a bit better than that.

Despite the happy(ish) ending, “Gun!” was a pretty somber romp through Travis and Wes’s past, finally revealing the events that ultimately led to their forced therapy sessions with Dr. Emma. It was the sort of mature story that I would expect from a show that wasn’t Common Law because throughout this season, Common Law has really embraced its cheese. That’s not the worst thing that a series can do, but it IS frustrating, as a viewer, to routinely be jerked back and forth between serious business and slapstick.

Case in point: Wes’s retelling of the night he drew a gun on Travis, featuring a bandolier-clad Travis wielding a bazooka, was the weakest point in this episode. There we were, in the midst of the big reveal of this season’s biggest question, moments after a crushing personal and professional loss floored both detectives, and we resorted to the cartoon-y caricatures that Travis and Wes tended to see each other as. When Travis told his side of the story, Wes was rocking an ascot. It was an unwelcome interruption of a storyline that had worked hard to cultivate some emotional investment in the audience.

Some shows can successfully make an audience laugh during a dark time in the storyline: Scrubs, Weeds, The Big C, early seasons of Breaking Bad.

Common Law is not one of those shows. In the event that Common Law finds itself renewed for a second season, it would benefit everyone involved to remember that.

Common Law: "Gun!"

So how DID Wes and Travis end up under Dr. Emma’s authority? It was actually a pretty emotional ride. Back when they worked in their previous separate departments, Travis and Wes were introduced to one another by David Paek, nicknamed “Pacman” by his peers. After their successful first case and subsequent promotion to Homicide, Travis and Wes tried to pay their good fortune forward to Pacman, handing a few high-profile arrests over to him so he could up his own reputation at the LAPD. The gesture paid off and Pacman was picked up by Special Investigations.

Unfortunately, shortly after his promotion, Pacman uncovered possible corruption in the department and found himself conveniently murdered before he could do anything about it... other than, you know, give Wes and Travis a heads up.

Convinced that his superiors had orchestrated his death, Wes and Travis gave the investigation everything they had. When a witness managed to place Pacman’s boss at the scene of the murder, a formal investigation was launched... only to fall apart when that witness conveniently disappeared. Are we sensing a pattern here?

So, the bad guy was off the hook, but because he was a dick, he visited Travis and Wes to gloat and whisper a confession in Travis’s ear before walking out with his entourage of goons. Classy. Travis drew his gun, which prompted Wes to draw HIS gun, and that’s how they ended up in couples therapy with Dr. Emma, who was so proud of them for telling their story and agreed to take them back as patients. Aww. Group hug time, guys.

Emma also encouraged Travis and Wes to do right by Pacman and bring his killers down. Wes revealed that he had been stalking—I mean keeping tabs on—the Special Investigations gang in the months since Pacman’s murder and had enough evidence to take to Captain Mike (found sleeping in the office, aww) and organize a sting. He theorized that the crooked cops were planning to steal millions of dollars worth of gems from a museum exhibit because why not. I was kind of hoping for something a little more spectacular considering they wasted two cops to keep the robbery a secret, but sure, gemstones, why not?

Special Investigations claimed to be running a sting of their own after Wes and Travis’s group crashed their party. Without any evidence to the contrary, Wes and Travis were suspended and given a choice between being separated and sent back to their old jobs or staying together and taking a severe demotion.

I was prepared for “Gun!” to end on a cliffhanger and if it HAD, I think I’d be a lot more excited for a potential second season than I actually am. It could have been a great lead into a new season, setting Wes and Travis up for the sort of overarching plot that Common Law desperately needs. Think about it: separated, shamed, demoted, and well aware that the murderer of their friend had “won” and was walking around the office regarded as some sort of honorable officer. I would have come back. I would have even been excited about it.

But in the end, Travis and Wes went rogue, figured out that Pacman’s killers planned to rob the evidence warehouse where the gems were stored, not the museum itself, and working in perfect tandem, managed to do right by Pacman and win themselves some justice. Welcomed back into their rightful department as heroes, their previous suspensions (levied after that whole gun thing) were erased from their records, and they were told that they didn’t have to go to therapy anymore.

Except now they think therapy is totally awesome and why wouldn’t they want to go? I’m not sure how that angle will work in a new season either. Part of the entertainment of the therapy sessions was Wes and Travis’s mutual reluctance to be there.

There is no official word regarding a Season 2 renewal yet, but let's be optimistic! While I haven’t been Common Law’s greatest champion, I’m not entirely ready shuffle it off to the firing squad, either. With a little reworking, a better understanding of what kind of show it wants to be, and a firmer grasp on when drama and humor can coexist happily, the series could be really great. What are you hoping to see in a new season of Common Law, if it gets one? Mostly, I want an overarching plot. I want direction. I DESPERATELY want direction.



CASE NOTES


– Between this show and Suits, it was apparently Flashback Week on USA.

– Did anyone else spot those creepy baby masks from earlier in the season in the evidence warehouse? They’re still creepy.

– What'd you think of Season 1 overall?

Comments (44)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Totally enjoyed the show, and I hope it comes back for many more seasons to come!



Reply
Flag
i dont like shows that cancelled after airing leaving a cliffhanger. so if it does not comeback for a 2nd outing then i feel that the finale served its purpose which had to be addressed at some point. a cliffhanger only works when they know it is definately coming back for another season. overall i thought season one was good and very funny.
Reply
Flag
I liked it. It had some tough moments as the reviewer mentioned but overall it was a nice finale. I'm glad they didn't leave it with a cliffhanger because I get so annoyed when a show does that and their fate is uncertain, than later on you hear that they aren't getting picked up. Frustration at it's finest. They deserve a season two though.
Reply
Flag
Personally, my wife and I have enjoyed the whole season. The finale was something new, but it worked. It is a fine art in American tv to do humour and drama together, and this episode did a pretty good job of it. The show though works best as a fun buddy copy show. Please USA, renew it (do like the idea of having an overarching narrative for next season). It could with time become as good as Burn Notice, the best USA show. Suits and White Collar are other excellent shows on the network, and Common Law could with a little tweaking join that group of fine television shows that become must see tv (why is it on Friday nights though?).
Reply
Flag
I agree completely with your review. CL needs to make a decision, if it is renewed, whether to be light comedy/slapstick or something more. It calls itself a buddy cop show, but when we look at the buddy cop shows of the past, the ones which lasted for a number of seasons (with 23 episodes each not 12!), such as "Starsky & Hutch" the ultimate buddy cop show, had in-depth personal discussions between the partners, harrowing drama such as being shot, addiction, kidnapping, etc., and real displays of bromance. Here, we have each cop telling Dr. Ryan his problems (like two fighting brothers asking Mom to decide), but never each other, which makes the plot seem shallow and does not engage the audience. Slowly, the show is becoming more in tune with the potential of two cops in 2012 and what you can do with that theme, and is saved by the great acting by all of the four principal actors. You can delve further into Wes' failed marriage, Travis' girlfriends, situations which constantly challenge their friendship, etc. In fact, although I liked the comedy, I liked the drama much more (for example, Wes taking a symbolic bullet for his partner by stopping him from shooting the bad guys even though Wes know he would be severely punished). If CL does not see this, the ratings will continue to decline and we will have another ill-fated "Houston Knights" on our hands!
More+
Reply
Flag
Not the greatest of finales but I liked it and I think it wrapped up the season pretty nicely, and just in case the show doesn't get picked up for a second season at least we know why they ended up in therapy. I think the show was fairly decent, and it got better as the episodes went along, they just need to maybe create more of a story arc as opposed to a lot of stand alone episodes. As for them continuing with therapy, they still need Dr. Ryan, because although they are not nearly as bad as they were in the beginning, they both still have issues that they need to work on so it will be nice to see how they deal with them now that it is not required, but because they want to. I'll watch if they bring it back next year.
Reply
Flag
Well... that was interesting. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it. With how serious they were trying to be, you're right that CL's usual cheese hurt more than helped this episode.



One thing I'm curious about: we've had that whole serial-killer case mentioned a couple times now, and since the therapy origin story has been covered I'm wondering if we'll ever get a flashback episode where we get to see them working that specific case? I think it'd be cool to watch their first case together.
Reply
Flag
actually i was expecting a cliffhanger i thought "great ill get one sappy sad season finally" and... i didn't! so yay? i guess ive been watching common law cause i was trying to figure out what kind of show it was.. so far it's not so much about solving crimes but about bromance (and the chief dammit that man is adorable) and i like it so i hope i get that (if USA renews this show) the next season
Reply
Flag
awesome season finale, awesome story lines, awesome show great season one!!! and yes I noticed the baby masks!!
1
Reply
Flag
Scary baby masks! YAAAA! weren't they used in the first episode?

I like these dudes but their story plots must be more interesting!!!
Reply
Flag
I am still of mixed feelings on this show. When it is good it is good. When it is bad or boring it is really bad or boring. And the finale jumped back and forth over that line. I liked that there was a big bad kind of a guy. But I can't help but think if that was an overall story arc for the whole season, it would have made the season better. I think that real tension between them, between Travis wanting to enact revenge and Wes trying to be pragmatic about building a case against SIS would have been better. Then their issues with each other would have been more tangible instead of seemingly forced at times.



The puling the gun out on travis didn't seem worthwhile. We have been waiting for that all season and that was it? He could have tackled him or restrained him like he did early and pulling the gun seemed unnecessary and really un wes like. And if he had been keeping tabs on SIS the whole time then why didn't we get to see any of that. That would have been nice to see rather than squeezed into one episode.



The issue, between them seemed silly and convoluted, Wes pulled his gun on Travis to protect him from going after SIS and getting killed. Which would lead me to question why he keeps being the aggressor in the majority of their physical confrontations. Just seems odd. Unless he is pissed that Travis doesn't realize that and that leads him to act out physically. Also it was a relatively easy fix for the Doc, once they actually talked, (also who doesn't leave hot Pilates women there to hear the story. I mean really guys, priorities) it was rectified. Which leaves a problem.



If they are relatively fixed in regards to therapy then what are they going to do next season? Is it going to be more forced issues to create conflict for their therapy sessions? It will be contrived and annoying.



I think they need to focus on a big bad or a larger story arc that Wes and Travis can be at odds about. Then the conflicts between the two will then be more natural. And require them to still seek out therapy. Maybe that will be that extra something that is needed to push the show over the edge into a great show. Who knows.
More+
Reply
Flag
Here in the uk we dont get all your shows, i managed to get my hands on this show and love it, really hope there is a second series, this finale was good but i agree with others, a cliff hanger may have meant a guarentee for a second series, This was great light hearted cop show, no blood and guts just entertainment, and to be fair the cast was not hard on the eyes either
Reply
Flag
Just gotta say, I couldn't help but feel that the SAS was a huge nod to The Shield's strike team .There were a lot of similarities to Vic Mackey's crew

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Wes was rocking an ascot. It was an unwelcome interruption of a storyline that had worked hard to cultivate some emotional investment in the audience."



Really? I disagree. I don't come into Common Law looking for high drama, it's a light hearted cop show that's a bit of fun.. I kind of expect that kind of thing...I thought the ascot bit was pretty funny. I thought I was seeing things until Wes mentioned it



I do agree that the therapy angle is pretty thin at this point but I like the Doc and the group.

Reply
Flag
I really loved both the finale and the season as a whole.. really hope it comes back! (PS: Yes the exclaimation point was necessary) (;
Reply
Flag
To the writer of this. The exclamation at the end is because it was as if one is yelling Gun. For instance just like in the show if somebody draws a gun that is what one would yell. Try thinking before writing I feel it may help.
Reply
Flag
saf is right. The exclamation point was necessary. Your last sentence was not.
Reply
Flag
You were doing well right up until that last sentence. I was about to agree with you, then all of a sudden your tone shifted. Someone might say that same sentence to you re:posting comments like that. I'll try to be a little more constructive by being specific. Before you hit submit, reread your comment, and ask yourself it there is anything you said that will make someone feel insulted or defensive, then delete that part.



For example, in this message, I would delete the third sentence, because throwing your dickish words back in your face makes me a dick, too. More than likely, because of that, you will dismiss my entire message. In this case, I'm gonna leave it in, because it makes a great illustration, and I'm okay with everyone thinking I'm a dick (also, I crack me up).
Reply
Flag
This poor guy just had a peevish moment. Give him a break. That's hardly the most egregious thing people've said to the writers on this site.
Reply
Flag
Maybe. But if so, he immediately had another one slightly down the page (to a commenter, not to a writer). I'll admit, two points doesn't make a pattern, but it makes a vector and you can extrapolate. But, between, you me (and the ten other people who watch this show), I did give him a break. I made liberal use of the backspace key, as per my own advice.
Reply
Flag
I both liked and disliked the finale. I guess that's the general feeling I have of the whole season, too. As for this episode, the parts I liked:



1) The cheesiness. In this episode, the writers seemed to embrace the fact that the show is often cheesy and lame. While cheesiness is usually something I'm against, I actually liked it in this situation. Throughout the season, I kept wondering which way the writers were leaning towards -- if they wanted to be a serious but kept writing it cheesily, or if they wanted to be cheesy but maybe tried too hard to be serious. I found this to be the root cause of sorts of most of the problems I've had with this season and its inconsistency. So if they're embracing the cheesiness, I'm fine with that... just, you know, kind of stick to it. This is also what allowed me to like Wes and Travis telling their little over-the-top version of the story (haha @ a bazooka).

2) Plenty of gun fighting. Most of it was actually VERY reckless, both the one in the jewellery exhibit and the one in the evidence locker, but with the tone seemingly being purposely cheesy, I had fun with it.

3) Wes and Travis had a nice chemistry going. It's been quite good all season, but an episode like this certainly brought that out, and it was fun to watch.



The two things I disliked about the episode:

1) Wes pulling the gun on Travis was totally overreacting. Sure, he could see the look on Travis' face and know he was going to do something really stupid, but immediately pulling the gun on him felt too rushed and not dramatic enough overall to make the story really work. Even just another minute of Wes trying to hold him back or something added to that scene would've made it so much better. Based on previous episodes, I kept getting the vibe that something actually turned Wes and Travis against each other... this story didn't exactly go that route.

2) The timeline was quite confusing. Pacman's death seemed to be quite a while ago... yet he said the SIS guys were planning something very soon... but they went about their plan in present time? It didn't exactly make sense to me. Based on the SIS' actions, it kind of felt like Pacman was killed as early as a week ago.
More+
Reply
Flag
This episode was very sloppy with the flashback timeline, have Wes and Travis been together 6 months, 1 year, 5 years? Was Pacman killed soon after he joined SIS or was it 6 months or 4.5 years? Did the captain go to Dr. Ryan a few days before all this went down or had he gotten into it well in advance? This was so clumsy that it dragged the whole premise down with it - Travis and Wes are such a good crime-fighting team that they MUST be kept together even if it means sending them to couples group counseling, but they haven't actually known each other all that long so how could they have forged such a vital relationship that every single little thing they did got on each other's nerves?



I also had a huge problem with the underlying premise of why Wes pulled his gun on Travis - this is the core of the show, originally presented as the ultimate sign of their personal relationship deteriorating, yet here both Wes and Travis have legitimate procedural reasons to do what they did. Travis, a POLICE OFFICER, was just given a spontaneous confession by a murderer, he has legal right to detain that person and would expect that person to return fire. Wes, not privy to the interchange, would see someone out of control drawing their weapon which would require a POLICE OFFICER to respond with the threat of force to de-escalate the potential for violence. Neither of which should have led to being sent to couples counseling, but instead an inquest. I got the feeling that the writers had no idea why Wes pulled on Travis when they originally wrote the line in the beginning of the series, and this was a justification they pulled out of thin air to wrap up the season.



Wes and Travis' relationship should have deteriorated far beyond petty squabbling and the silliness they went through this season if the root cause was the murder of their friend, it should have been self-destructive acts and falling down the rabbit hole of darkness. It didn't ring true for the lightweight characters we got to know this season, not even Wes with his marriage fallen apart and Travis with his womanizing came remotely close to what this episode was suggesting.



Getting back to problems, the villain in the episode turned out to be damned right on one thing, Wes and Travis' actions at the diamond exhibit were WAY out of line and put the public at huge risk, they were firing assault weapons in crowded rooms without any thought to the safety of the people standing inches away from their targets. That couldn't have been sloppier police work... oh wait, it WAS sloppier because they also had the least safe positions taken - no cover, both laying exposed in the middle of the floor.



This show needs to be dropped or heavily retooled, and this episode needs to be dumped from its lore if they get a second season because it fundamentally alters the premise and brings the whole feeling of the show to a standstill. This season was somewhat crummy, but this episode really brought the whole season to a trainwreck ending of every sloppy problem it's suffered so far.



I did notice the baby masks, was expecting to be walked through all the evidence from this season actually and was a bit disappointed when that didn't happen.
More+
Reply
Flag
To those with more than half a brain the time line was pretty straight forward.
Reply
Flag
Really? Ok, whip out your "more than half a brain" to explain how Wes and Travis have been together for 5 years, according to the episode "Ex-Factor" (which also brought them together because of a bigger case that Travis' then-partner didn't want a piece of), yet here they either have been together only a few months before Pacman joined the SIS, and then within a few months of that event he has ferreted out an evil plot to bribe a property room clerk following a robbery of a diamond event, is murdered, the murderers are brought to court (court, not an internal inquest?), charges dropped, a murderer confesses to Travis, Travis pulls his gun, Wes pulls his gun on Travis, they're suspended, sent to couples' therapy, brought back on the force, and then it's Pacman's birthday and the robbery goes down - all of which seems to take place in the span of under a year, despite the show's history saying that all would have had to have taken place in the course of 5 years, or 4 and a half years until the boys got sent to couples' therapy and then another half a year to get to "Ex Factor" and then this point.



Go on, explain it, mister "pretty straight forward".
More +
Reply
Flag
See, here, what you do is you exercise a little patience, explain the timeline, and because you were paying more attention, you appear to everyone to be smart, instead of appearing to be a complete dick. You're welcome.
Reply
Flag
Really enjoyed it
Reply
Flag
I actually enjoyed Common Law. It is a mild fixation just what the summer is. I wouldn't go into that direction for season two (separated, shamed, demoted, and well aware that the murderer of their friend had "won" and was walking around the office regarded as some sort of honorable officer), it's something that burn notice would have (and had in a similar context). But it would be cool to have a continuation on the corruption within the PD (SIS could have been just the cherry on top). I would hope for a second season, Wes and Travis have issues (and Wes needs to get with Dr. Emma).
Reply
Flag
I absolutely love this show. I love the balance of humor and drama, for these two it works. Yes, I think there were a few to many interruptions while telling such an emotional story but being that they were in therapy and their perceptions of who each other was, WAS the point trying to be made, I am not going to dismiss it. I really want another season, I think with a little tweaking it can be better than the first and I loved the first so that says a lot. As for humor, the captain and the copy machine priceless LOL.
Reply
Flag
Good ending to a good first season. I understood the need for therapy and how they got to that point as well as had some fun along the way. The Captain's abuse of the copier machine was hilarious!!!
Reply
Flag
I'm just glad we got rid of Ed Begley Jr. I absolutely hate that actor - his speech pattern makes me homicidal.
Reply
Flag
Season ! was totally AWESOME!!!! I Love Travis and Wes in a totally no sexually love kinda way.

The episode was so perfect I could so relate to them having Pacman as their common ground. And I have an awesome respect for Wes now, and hope Travis appreciates him more. Wow
Reply
Flag
I'd rather have a third season of Fairly Legal!
Reply
Flag
Is that a choice we have to make?
Reply
Flag
I wish the reason for Wes pulling his gun on Travis had been more... I dunno, high stakes. An escalation of an issue between them. Pulling your gun on your partner to stop him from shooting some twat-whilst an extreme tactic-does not warrant "couples therapy", and I found it disappointing... I was just hoping for something more awesome between Travis and Wes. Me and my sister bicker more than those two...
Reply
Flag
I have enjoyed every episode of Common Law. The increasing glimpses we have into Wes and Travis' inner workings is what keeps me interested. There is so much left unsaid between them and so much to say. Travis' nervous rage at Wes' inability to express his feelings (Odd Couple--and the comment about Travis' parade of women cleaning his place and calling him out by invoking Alex) and Wes' clear depth of feeling given the tremble in his voice when he pulled his gun on Travis. This show has such great potential i'd hate to see it squashed. While it doesn't need to get all bogged down in EMO/bromance "i love you man" kinda dialogue, i think vindicating their friends murder (the event that has shaped their relationship thus far) should warrant a bit more than a handshake. Hoping for a Season 2. Great job to the guys!
Reply
Flag
I don't the reviewer knows much about humor; or maybe humor is in the eye of the beholder. The REASON this show is funny and the reason I laugh is because while these two are so good at their jobs, they're emotionally inmmature. It was in character to exagerate. If you want a grown up show, go elsewhere...
Reply
Flag
I love both suits and common law, I really hope a second season of cl happens!!!
Reply
Flag
Please cancel this show. Bring back 'The Good Guys'.
Reply
Flag
Wasn't The Good Guys on Fox? Besides: Blech.
Reply
Flag
I like the last episode although plotwise it was a bit too simple. The twist of the case is good though. I hope this show will be picked up for another season because it is so different from all the other cops series and the chemistry between T and W are great.

The first several episodes were not very interesting but it got better till the end, which makes me believe that if there would be second season, it will get better.



Wes's quitting from law firm is definitely a good story to tell for the second season
Reply
Flag
Staff
I honestly think Common Law could benefit from a second season too. The later episodes were definitely stronger than earlier episodes (except for the Pilot, which I actually really liked a lot) and I felt like, overall, the story WAS getting a little more focused. Wes quitting the law firm would totally be a great story to focus on. I'm actually surprised we never really touched on that again this season.
Reply
Flag
really loved this episode.
Reply
Flag
I wasn't sure I believed Wes would've pulled a gun in the middle of the station like that. The situation hadn't really reached the point of no return that would require. There was plenty of time to chase after him and stop him before he got to that guy. I could really take or leave this episode, which is a shame since it's supposed to be kind of the crux of the show.
Reply
Flag
LOVED it! And I may be the only one who actually loved the bazooka and ascot. Yeah the telling of the same story from different sides where a certain part gets exaggerated has been done before, but it worked with Travis and Wes. In fact, I think it was the first time we saw that tonight.



I don't mind the standalone episodes....I mean its still in its first season (hopefully renewed) and shows tend to be like that in their first season to attract viewers. This show seems more character-driven than plot. If there's a 2nd season I wonder if we'll get into why Wes quit being a lawyer (they seemed to be foreshadowing it a few episodes back).
Reply
Flag
1. Liked both shows. Thought they showed some insight that we wanted to know. Suits set up upcoming episodes.

2. Still too creepy.

3. I like the show, I think a little more than you. However, you were right. The show needed a serious episode but the attempted comedy was kind of overkill.
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook

  • 8:00 pm
    The Bachelorette
    NEW
    ABC
  • 10:00 pm
    Mistresses Blurred Lines
    NEW
    ABC