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

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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?