Tess represents a group of former employees in a class-action suit against family-owned Fairchild Tobacco. Her opposing counsel in Marc Hamilton, who has accepted this assignment to the dismay of his mother, Esther. When he was growing up, both she and his late father worked for Fairchild as a maid and a chauffer. Young Marc vowed to one day sit in the back of a limousine rather than drive it. Now that he has arrived professionally, he is determined to live in the life of luxurious life his parents coouldn't afford. J.D. Sinclair, Fairchild's vice president and heir apparent, becomes impressed with Marc's legal prowess and doubles his hourly fees. He decides to buy the old Sinclair mansion. As they settle in, his wife Vanessa delivers the news that she's pregnant. She is concerned by Marc's newfound materialism, especially his hiring Andrew and Monica as a butler and maid. In court, Sinclairs is taken aback when he recognizes Esther as his family's former maid. Tess, however, is delighted to meet her and finalges an invitation to Marc's lavish housewarming party. The attorney is chagrined when his mother helps play hostess at the affair. During the resulting discussion, Esther reveals she has lung cancer from exposure to second-hand smoke during her tenure at Fairchild. Marc is stunned by this turn of events and Vanessa's increasingly vocal opposition to their new lifestyle. He tries to resign as Fairchhild's counsel but is persuaded to stay byb a smooth-talking Sinclair, who later visits the Hamilton mansion and tacitly threatens Esther. Troubled, she returns home and retrieves a mysterious envelope. During a subsequent court session, Marc and J.D. are stunned when Tess calls Esther as a material witness. The judge grants Marc a recess, but he returns home to discover Vanessa has moved in with his mother. In court the next day, Esther reveals the contents of her envelope, letters proving Fairchild tried to bribe the government not to release its 1964 report linking cigarette smoking with cancer. The company also bribed Marc's father to be silent by buying the family a house. Unsure of what to do, Marc is given a revelation by Tess. She tells him to focus on the real prize, God's love, "the only thing worth winning." Upon return to the courtroom, he urges Esther to tell the truth, which prompts Sinclair to call for a settlement in the case.moreless
If this episode was just about the dangers of smoking, that would have been fine with me. But the stereotyped tobacco exec and smart-talking lawyers really detracted from the rest of the plot.
My favorite line came when Vanessa was chiding her husband for being so quick to abandon their simpler happy life in favor of gaudy wealth. Marcus accuses her of twisting his words. And her reply is, "That's what lawyers do, twist words, twist the truth. That's why people hate them." I enjoyed Ja'net DuBois' portrayal of Esther Hamilton. Kadeem Hardison (as Marcus) and Tim DeKay (as J.D. Sinclair) were also fine actors, but they were unfortunately saddled with characters that were one-sided to the point of being comical.moreless