Amazon TV’s Goliath is back for a third instalment and after the diverse offerings in Seasons 1 and 2, no-one knew what to expect in Season 3. When Billy McBride in Season 1 said, “Ever since I took this case, weird shit is happening to me…”, well, that kind of weird has nothing on this. This story combines the weird and the wonderful in equal measure.
In 2016, we saw Billy Bob Thornton’s washed up but tenacious lawyer Billy McBride taking on a corporate Goliath, Borns Tech, in Season 1 of this courtroom drama. Then, in 2018, we saw dark and disturbing goings on with Marisol aka Claudia, her brother Gabriel and the depraved Tom and friends in Season 2. So what, I wondered, would be in store for us in Season 3?
According to an interview with Billy Bob Thornton in Hollywood Life, Goliath would have some courtroom drama this season. This news was very welcome since Season 2’s offering was more of a gruesome organised crime drama than the lengthy legal struggle that I had hoped for after Season 1’s triumph.
Fast forward to October 4, 2019 and eight episodes of Season 3 dropped on Amazon Prime promising serious Goliath fans a lost weekend. After eagerly watching the series through twice, this article sets out my two pennies’ worth.
Get ready to take a ride on the back of a tortoise, go down the rabbit hole, be greeted by goats, ogle at owls and converse with crows. My title doesn’t lie. Goliath Season 3: the weird and the wonderful is all wrapped up in a superbly crafted slice of tort.
OK, let’s get the comparisons over and done with right now and move on…
Not far into Episode 1, as Billy McBride unsuccessfully tries to elicit information about local water distribution from the County Water Board, I was reminded of the movie Chinatown (1974).
In Chinatown, Jack Nicholson plays a private investigator who uncovers a plot, involving the Los Angeles Water Department, to deprive landowners in the Northwest Valley of water, and then to clandestinely repurchase the dried up land at a lower price. That movie was inspired by the real California Water Wars in the early 20th century when water was diverted away from farmers and ranchers in Eastern California to feed the rapidly growing city of Los Angeles.
In Goliath Season 3, Billy McBride is investigating who runs California’s Blackwood County Water Board, an organisation that controls the distribution of water in the Central Valley. In this story, a small group of wealthy corporate farmers and ranchers, including those who run the Blackwood Almond Company and Tallgrass Farms, are found to be depriving the local residents of water. As a direct result of this one resident dies, and as a result of that McBride brings a class action against one of the almond farmers.
Some may experience brief flashbacks to the movie Erin Brockovich (2000), as McBride’s colleague Patty (with the unpronouncable surname) teeters around the desert in mini skirt and heels in search of the Water Board. In Erin Brockovich, a class action is brought against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company for leaking a toxic form of chromium into the ground water of Hinckley in California, affecting the health of many of the town’s population.
There are also undercurrents of Twin Peaks in this season’s Goliath – and that’s not just due to Sherilyn Fenn and Ana de la Reguera being in the cast of both (albeit in different decades), with the latter resurrecting her role of Marisol Silva from Goliath Season 2 and who is still controlling more than she should as Mayor of Los Angeles.
Hallucinations, symbolism and MacGuffins
Near the start of Season 3, we see clandestine goings on inside and outside the Rising Sun Casino in the middle of the desert, not limited to secret night time drilling operations and women in flowing white robes disappearing down manholes. All this is taking place while the big four local ranchers are being served up mind-bending substances in the high stakes room at the back of the casino.
The latter results in a series of hallucinations, including an auditorium full of hundreds of spangly-clad Dennis Quaids (as Wade Blackwood) serenading his on-screen sister Diana (played by Amy Brenneman) who looks down on him adoringly from the balcony.
Later we see a ballroom full of Regency-styled dancers presided over by Billy Bob Thornton looking not unlike Adam Ant.
It’s all too much for Roy Wheeler, Wade and Diana’s uncle (played by Beau Bridges), another of the big four farmers, whose heart gives out before the end of the dance.
It was also almost too much for me as I became disheartened at the Twin Peaks-styled direction that Season 3 seemed to be taking. But I didn’t lose hope.
The story is also not short of the odd MacGuffin, for example when McBride comes face-to-face with his doppelgänger at the casino bar. Is this why people are telling McBride they’ve seen him there before, because he can’t remember – or has he really been there before?
By the very nature of a MacGuffin, the lookalike leads nowhere in the story, but it does tell us that nothing here is what it seems – a common theme throughout the story. It also turns out this is not McBride’s first visit to the casino, as we find out in Episode 4, Full Circle.
Mind-bending substances feature heavily throughout the story, the effects of which almost jeopardise McBride’s first courtroom appearance in Episode 5, Battledome, when a seemingly innocent sip of orange juice for breakfast at the casino’s hotel sends him on a highly inconvenient hallucinatory trip in the courtroom just as he tries to get his class action case certified by the Judge.
There are also rumours being spread by Rita (played by Illeana Douglas), a self-confessed carny whore at the casino and who seems to have no other function in the story other than to drink with McBride, that the casino’s manager, Joe Little Crow (played by Graham Greene), turns into a crow by night and flies around spying on the locals. McBride clearly puts her suspicions down to alcohol consumption (and let’s face it, he should know), although the viewer may at this point in the story believe there may well be something in what she’s saying.
The crow, the goat, the owl and the tortoise: this season is heavy on symbolism – from the heavy use of colour, to the creatures that brand the illicit substances and that greet McBride in the most unexpected of places.
So when I describe this season as weird, I mean it. Twin Peaks has a lot to answer for; at one point I thought it couldn’t have become any more bizarre even if Laura, Leland and Lynch turned up speaking backwards.
Happiness from the ground up
Whatever Season 3 holds for you in terms of love or hate, rest assured that visually it is nothing short of stunning. Every shot is framed to perfection and the editing is glorious.
The aerial scenes shot by drone camera are super-smooth, unlike in previous years (a tad jumpy in Season 1). The aerial shots charting McBride’s journey to Blackwood County in Episode 1, The Subsidence Adventure, really do (to quote the Blackwood Almond Company’s tagline) give me happiness from the ground up, especially when accompanied by the country soundtrack, “Hello trouble, come on in… ”. Oh Billy McBride, you have no idea what awaits you…
The colouring throughout is also superb, with what appear to me to be definite colour leitmotifs, the associations for which I have yet fully to grasp. But if you don’t like yellow and blue, this season isn’t for you, because hefty use is made of the combination of these two colours in terms of lighting and placements throughout.
As I see it, blue signifies trust and authority (it’s the colour used in some countries to repel evil). Yellow signifies hope and happiness and, in this case, good fortune.
Then there are the white and pastels that colour the semi-virginal Diana Blackwood’s activities and the questionable relationship with her brother Wade.
Red provides us with warnings of trouble head, not limited to what goes on in the backroom of the casino – and let’s not underestimate the trouble McBride is about to unleash on the farmers of Blackwood County as he rides into town in his red Ford Mustang.
The more subdued hues, the oranges and browns, are reserved for scenes which depict the legal aspects and gathering of evidence for the case. It’s almost as if it depicts the autumn, the season of harvest and gathering for the tough events to follow.
Then we have names like Violet Webster and Rochelle Purple. Well, the colour violet has overtones of blue (that fits; we can trust her) and purple has overtones of red (which fits too, because she’s one angry lady after what happens to her later on and undoubtedly gets her revenge on those who dared to cross her).
Or maybe I’ve read too much into all of this, but I don’t think so.
Post-production had played with colour in previous seasons of Goliath, although I don’t recall it being particularly successful. I remember how some standalone shots in Season 1 were sickly over-saturated, especially in green and yellow. But they certainly got it right this time round.
Now on with the story…
A game of charades
One word, two syllables, starts with ‘i‘, sounds like ‘obsessed’.
Wade Blackwood (Dennis Quaid) is a billionaire corporate farmer and almond grower, as well as the self-appointed president of the Blackwood County Water Board. His twisted, entrepreneurial sister Diana Blackwood has him under her emotional control. Or is it the other way round? Or both?
“It’s always maybe with you,” says Wade to Diana as she teases him again, this time over a business matter. It’s an uncomfortably intimate relationship we see between these siblings, with undertones not unlike what we saw in Season 2 between Marisol Silva aka Claudia Quintero and her brother Gabriel Ortega (although those two were related by adoption). And Diana, we soon find out, is thick as thieves with Marisol (who is still Mayor of Los Angeles since Season 2) which gives us some idea as to what to expect from Diana.
Diana’s easy smile and apparent empathy, all wrapped up in delicately pale flowing robes, belie her true colours. Her extreme mood swings, although blamed on a history of anxiety and depression, appear to the viewer to be more sinister in nature. Certain events lead us to question whether there is something not too far back in her family history that has shaped her current behaviour. We are also left to wonder whether the spikes in her personality are being controlled by the potions she is producing for her new lifestyle brand, Soop – substances which she also uses to tap into her inner creativity. Or are the substances themselves to blame for her mood swings?
This brother and sister duo are also not shy about playing games and taking risks. They almost play at being a couple. “No-one understands us, except us…”, she says. Then he growls like a panther as she draws pleasure from some seriously sadist situations. And they have a mutual fetish for some seriously dangerous toast-making activities. Let’s hope that bath is properly earth-bonded (you’ll understand what I mean when you watch it).
A secret water deal
Aside from hallucinatory drugs, this season is all about water. Or, rather, the lack of it…
The background to the story is that 11 years ago, in 2008, Wade Blackwood agreed terms in a secret deal with the California State Water Department for him and a small group of farmers and business associates to control the distribution of the State’s entire surplus water reserve in Blackwood County. The deal was signed off by a public official at the State Water Department in return for Wade agreeing to drop a lawsuit against them when they diverted the water allocation for his own land to the residents of Los Angeles during a period of extensive drought.
We later find out that when Wade considered his personal lawsuit a lost cause, his sister persuaded him to pursue it. And it was also Diana’s idea to take control of the Blackwood County water reserve, something she thought up one night in the backroom of the casino when they were both under the influence.
Diana used her connections to get the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District on side by bringing in Marisol Silva, then a Los Angeles City Councillor, and Tom Wyatt (from Season 2), although we are never expressly told what Wyatt’s involvement was in the deal, if any.
Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreements were signed by six participants at a secret meeting at Big Sur to ensure that details of the deal would never be leaked: Wade Blackwood, Roy Wheeler, Gerry Keenan and Warren Hebb – the big four corporate farmers – plus Spencer Jackson, the deputy director at the State Water Department, and Marisol Silva. Another of these NDAs was signed by Delores Summers, Wade’s secretary who was coordinating the signing of the agreements at the meeting.
The big four farmers then used the county’s water reserve to maintain their own farms and other businesses in which they had an interest, causing the majority of residential properties in Blackwood County to run dry when their individual allocations were used up during the drought. The Big Sur deal effectively meant that Wade and his associates had privatised a public water resource for their own financial gain.
According to Wade, the deal was signed off because the State saw “the economic benefit of the Central Valley agricultural industry to the whole of California”, but later in court Wade admits that in order to sign off the deal Spencer was given a whole lot of money in political donations, not bribes. Okay, if you say so.
We also learn that Wade’s almond growing business uses more than two thirds of the total amount of water used by the whole of the city of Los Angeles. In fact, every single almond he grows consumes a gallon of water – and he grows about ten million almond trees.
So much water was sucked out of some regions that a giant sinkhole opens up on Eugene and Bobbi Bennett’s land, into which Bobbi (Sherilyn Fenn), an old college flame of McBride, falls to her death at the start of Episode 1, The Subsidence Adventure.
Bobbi’s death is the reason McBride gets involved in the first place, although he had been approached by Bobbi some months earlier when she suspected something was wrong with the land. McBride had declined her request for him to get involved back then, saying he had no expertise in property and water rights. Now he is motivated to learn.
Bobbi returns in a few flashbacks later on, but only briefly and certainly with no time for Sherilyn to show us that trick she does with the cherry stalk.
In pursuit of what caused the sinkhole on the Bennett’s land, McBride visits the offices of the Blackwood County Water Board to try and find out how the water is being distributed. The Water Board is under the same roof as Wade Blackwood’s Central Valley Tallgrass Farming Company. The on-site secretary, Delores (played by Delanna Studi), is reluctant to assist him, so there’s no information from that source flowing his way about where the water goes.
In competition with her brother, Diana Blackwood has been undertaking her own water redirection project, tunnelling beneath Blackwood County, but she’s gone rogue and is now drilling on Federal land. Diana is also competing with Gwyneth Paltrow by setting up an all natural, non-toxic, age-defying, happiness-inducing, almond-based skincare range as part of her Soop lifestyle brand. But she takes it a step further with a range of products that incorporate CBD oil. Unfortunately, everything turns very sour when Wade and Diana fall out over funding in Episode 7, Conscious Uncoupling.
The legal case
Step 1 – Wrongful death lawsuit
Patty with the unpronounceable surname (played by Nina Arianda) is drafted in from McBride’s office in Los Angeles to help gather evidence for the wrongful death lawsuit that McBride has agreed with Eugene Bennett to file on behalf of Bobbi. (Let’s just recall from Season 1 for a moment that McBride agreed a settlement of $50 million in damages in the wrongful death lawsuit brought against the Borns Tech giant on behalf of Ryan Larson.)
Reluctantly, Patty takes on the dusty desert highway in her skinny dress and blue suede heels to try and extract information from the Blackwood County Water Board. After her yellow Mini bursts a tyre swerving to miss a tortoise, she is picked up by Violet (Marisa Echeverria) who drives around delivering bottles of water to the residents who have had no water, in some cases for years, since the farmers took control of the water supply.
When Patty reports back to McBride that the water problem is affecting almost all residential properties in Blackwood County, McBride decides that a class action lawsuit would have a greater chance of success than the single wrongful death claim for Bobbi.
Step 2 – Class action
So McBride plans to file a class action lawsuit against the Blackwood County Water Board – meaning Wade Blackwood – with Eugene Bennett as lead plaintiff on behalf of the other residents. McBride plans to get all the residents their water back plus some form of compensation each for the hardship they have suffered.
McBride and Patty, now joined by longstanding colleagues Brittany (Tania Raymonde) and Marva (Julie Brister), hold a town meeting to try and get as many as possible of the residents of Blackwood on side and things are going well until a heavily pregnant lawyer from McBride’s old firm, Cooperman’s, shows up representing Wade Blackwood.
The lawyer, Sumi Sen (played by Shelby Rabara), throws a spanner in the works by informing the residents that if they join the class action they will be suing their own boss, seeing as most of them work for The Blackwood Almond Company or else for Tallgrass Farms, both of which are owned by Wade Blackwood.
Needless to say there is little interest from the residents to join the class action. Then Eugene drops out after Diana Blackwood gets to him. As a result, Violet is convinced by Patty to become the lead plaintiff, which helps others come around.
Step 3 – Class certification
A court hearing takes place to get the class action certified to proceed, but the Judge seemingly blocks McBride at every turn and we wonder whether he is under Wade Blackman’s control in some way.
Patty is accused by Sumi of soliciting litigation for the class action by asking Violet to replace Eugene, effectively violating the rules of professional conduct, and as a result the Judge grants a motion to dismiss the case.
Meanwhile, throughout the hearing, McBride has been struggling with hallucinations of owls and crows and wriggly pens following a sip of tainted orange juice earlier in the day and he is briefly visited by Bobbi Bennett who prompts him to remember that there’s no rule against soliciting litigation in pro bono. In a moment of lucidity, McBride offers to take the class action case for free – and let’s face it, he can afford to do so after his substantial win fee from Season 1.
On a no-fee basis, the Judge has no option but to allow the class action to proceed.
Step 4 – Depositions
Deposition meetings take place separately with Wade and then Diana. Ultimately McBride needs four things: (#1) Wade and Diana to turn on each other, (#2) Wade to tell them who was at the Big Sur meeting, (#3) the names of who signed the NDAs, and (#4) what the parties received in return.
Wade dutifully provides all the information he is legally obliged to divulge, protecting his sister at every turn, until he learns that Diana had set up a clandestine company, Fer-de-Lance Inc., through which she has been channelling funds for her illegal tunnelling project. Wade is informed that Diana had structured the company in such a way that the funding, all provided by Wade, cannot be traced back to her.
Look up the name Fer-de-Lance online and you’ll read that it’s the common name of a deadly viper that can lie camouflaged and nearly undetectable for extended periods of time and strike with high speed when agitated. That should give you some idea of what will soon be unleashed as the story unfolds.
McBride and Patty sit back and watch as Wade and Diana consciously uncouple. Wade freezes Diana’s bank accounts just as she is about to launch Soop with a lavish press party laid out like a Mad Hatter’s tea party in an almond orchard – and when her request to Joe Little Crow at the casino to step in with funding is turned down, she loses her temper and kills him.
To make matters worse, a trademark lawsuit is then brought by Goop, which ultimately seals the lid on Soop. As a result, Diana sacks her business manager Rochelle Purple (played by Leslie Grossman) who is seen off with the help of an almond tree shaking machine. It’s more than a little gruesome.
Meanwhile, back in the deposition meetings, Wade is advised by his lawyer Sumi not to answer any questions that violate the NDA, the privilege to which is held by him, or rather by The Central Valley Tallgrass Farming Company. McBride points out that holding the privilege to the NDAs does not prohibit Wade from answering questions about the NDAs, and that he is, in fact, legally obliged to answer any question asked of him at the deposition. But Sumi advises Wade not to answer any more questions until a Judge orders him to.
So McBride seeks a hearing with the Judge.
Step 5 – Court Hearings
McBride and Patty attend a closed court session seeking access to the information about the water deal contained in the NDAs. Sumi informs the Judge that the NDAs only cover what happened at the Big Sur meeting, not details of the deal, which McBride disputes and wants the court to grant him access to the documents. Note, though, that McBride has already seen the NDAs, courtesy of secretary Delores, but he can’t admit to having seen them. But he is able to use the information to his advantage in the way he structures his questions.
McBride requests an evidentiary meeting to gain access to the details in the NDAs. If denied, he plans to seek a Continuance, which the Judge doesn’t want and so agrees to an evidentiary meeting for the next day.
At the start of the second closed court hearing, the Judge makes a point of reminding Wade that he can plead the Fifth Amendment at any time to avoid implicating himself in a crime. The way this message is delivered, we again get the impression that there may be a conflict of interest concerning this judge.
During the hearing, Wade confirms the names of the seven individuals who each signed an NDA at the Big Sur meeting and that Marisol Silva was there representing the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District. But there is no official record of Marisol’s involvement in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District, so who was she working with? Although it is never said, this may be the link to Tom Wyatt.
McBride produces a photo taken at Big Sur of the big four farmers after the NDAs were signed and questions Wade about who took the photo. After eliminating the seven people who signed the NDAs, and with very little persuasion thereafter, Wade admits the photo was taken by Diana. And…Bingo!
Because Diana did not sign an NDA and can be shown to have been at the meeting, she can be put on the stand to testify to everything that occurred at the Big Sur meeting. Now, in my humble opinion, this is Billy McBride’s (and Billy Bob Thornton’s) best moment. Watch the scene from 18:40 to 21:10 (Episode 7).
Step 6 – Court Ruling
Unfortunately for McBride, the Judge ultimately rules that how Wade got control of Blackwood County’s water resource is not relevant to the way it was later mismanaged, meaning that what happened at Big Sur, stays at Big Sur. The judge also agrees to Sumi’s request for the transcript of the case to be sealed preventing any further disclosure under the NDA. Furthermore, the judge rules that McBride should pay the opposing counsel’s legal fees.
McBride is given two weeks to come up with more evidence, otherwise the Judge will rule in favour of the defense.
A seemingly promising piece of evidence then comes McBride’s way after Joe Little Crow’s stunt woman stepdaughter Stephanie (played by Julia Jones) inherits her real father Roy Wheeler’s estate. Stephanie discovers Diana’s secret tunnelling route map on Roy’s desk and after agreeing a deal with McBride to keep her inheritance out of the class action, she hands over the map showing the region of Federal land that is being illegally drilled.
Step 7 – Deal or no deal
After going and checking out the tunnel himself, and surviving after one of Diana’s sons deliberately floods it (in a scene wholly reminiscent of what happened to Jack Nicholson in Chinatown), McBride approaches Wade to make a deal or else have a Federal lawsuit brought against him. But Wade refuses a deal believing nothing can link him to Diana’s illegal project or the Fer-De-Lance company.
When McBride tries to file the Federal case the next day, he finds Wade in a cosy meeting with the Judge, who brushes off McBride’s request stating that not only is he not a Federal Judge and his court is not a US District Court, but that this particular tunnelling project has nothing whatsoever to do with the class action.
At this point in time, we are even more convinced that the judge is in Wade’s pocket. But it’s just another MacGuffin. It also looks like the case is dead.
Before continuing with how McBride might save the case, let’s run through a few other familiar faces that pop up briefly in Season 3.
McBride’s arch-enemy Donald Cooperman (William Hurt) appears in half a dozen brief scenes and his capacity for deep hate seems as strong as it was when he confessed to just that in Season 1. We first find out that Cooperman is good friends with Wade Blackwood when Sumi reports back to them after the town meeting. Later we are also left questioning just how close the relationship is between Cooperman and Marisol.
In terms of input, Cooperman’s exceedingly slow-paced dialogue is largely limited to speaking in analogies – mostly animal analogies – you’ll see what I mean when you watch it. But it’s weird.
There’s a fleeting appearance by Tom Wyatt (played by Mark Duplass) in a dazzling yellow blazer, where we find out that Diana was responsible for introducing him to Marisol. He too gets just a few lines, but they’re good. “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” he says to Marisol as an introduction. “If you can handle it” she replies. “With both arms tied behind my back, my dear” is his pertinent response. You’ll need to have watched Season 2 to appreciate that statement.
We also see Peter “the broker” Oakland again. Remember him? He’s Tom Wyatt’s buddy from Season 2. He was last seen packing his Pöyzyn-branded gong into his car as he tried to make a quick getaway from his impending gruesome fate. This time round, Oakland is performing with his new metal band, Nöt Pöyzyn, at the Rising Sun Casino during McBride’s initial trippy trip. Still sporting his over-sized seventies’ spectacles, as soon as he spots McBride at the bar, he cuts his set short and scurries off with his gong, although McBride is too out of it to recollect their past meeting.
There’s also a storyline involving Janet (played by Lauren Tom), McBride’s co-hostage from Season 2. Janet is the reason McBride visits the casino for the first time (the visit he can’t remember). Janet is also responsible for reminding McBride that they met Spencer Jackson (the corrupt official who brokered the secret water deal) at a party during their casino trip.
McBride’s former Cooperman’s colleague JT (played by Paul Williams) is also back with his Winnebago, still busying around in the shadows, tracking people down like no-one else can. He rightly points out that “nothing here is what it seems”. His time is taken up tracking down secretary Delores after she suddenly disappears from the Water Board office, turning up as a waitress at a remote aerodrome. With the promise of anonymity, she hands over copies of the Big Sur NDAs to JT and McBride.
Other key characters in the story include Diana’s two adopted sons, Anton and Dario (both played by Shamier Anderson) who fulfil the role of her henchmen, like Odd Jobs to her Bond villain. They are extremely loyal despite the horrible punishments they endure when things don’t go the way Diana likes.
Nowhere, though, is the question addressed as to why Anton and Dario’s surname is…Jones? Presumably they would have taken their new family’s name when they were adopted. So was Diana Wade previously married and, if so, where is Mr Jones? Because we never hear of the husband, ex or otherwise, not even during a flashback to one of Wade and Diana’s alcohol-fuelled conversations when they they discuss his two marriages and their messed up lives.
Love will tear us apart
In the final episode entitled Joy Division, the intensity of Wade and Diana’s relationship tears them apart in another close-to-frazzling encounter. Wade tries to make a truce with Diana, which she refuses, and we endure another scene involving the bathroom toaster, this time with Wade holding the plug.
To try and save herself from the Federal lawsuit that McBride may now pursue against her and Fer-de-Lance, and the risk of jail, Diana approaches Patty to make a deal, which Patty refuses as she plans to subpoena Diana to answer questions in court.
McBride and Patty then manage to track down Rochelle Purple, now in hospital after the tree-shaking machine episode, and threaten to subpoena her unless she provides information about Fer-de-Lance. So Rochelle produces a recording of a phone conversation she’d had with Wade, which nicely implicates him and shows he did know all about the company and the illegal tunnelling after all.
Now it’s Wade’s turn to try and save himself from a Federal lawsuit, so he agrees a deal with McBride to settle the class action in return for all copies of the phone recording being turned over to him.
A swift settlement by Wade sees the residents collectively receive £500 million in compensation. Having taken the case pro bono, McBride and his team get nothing.
As part of the settlement, McBride and his team and the class of plaintiffs are all bound by the terms of a new NDA preventing them from divulging details of the case to anyone. Although that doesn’t stop McBride passing Marisol’s Big Sur NDA to his daughter Denise (played by Diana Hopper) who has just started at the same university in Los Angeles as Brittany. Denise doesn’t hesitate in passing the information in the NDA on to the press, forcing Marisol to give up her post of Mayor of Los Angeles.
Speaking of giving up, Brittany decides to leave town having been turned down for graduate law school. Her downfall is that the sex tape she tried to bribe the police officer with back in Season 1, has come back to bite her in the ass. Meanwhile Billy declares his love for her (just as he did in Season 1) or is it just the drugs and alcohol talking this time? I hope so, because that story line doesn’t work at all for me – neither for his character or for hers. I think it was thrown in by the writers to test the water. They also had Brittany playing surrogate mom to Denise at university, which didn’t quite work either. It’s all too normal for Brittany – I mean, remember her and Tom Wyatt in Season 2?
After losing Wade’s case, lawyer Sumi feels the wrath of Cooperman and is sacked, just like poor Lucy Kittridge and others before her. It’s surprising there’s anyone left at Cooperman’s. Still, Sumi should have known what to expect having been effectively blackmailed by Lucy into helping her prepare all the discovery responses for the Borns Tech case back in Season 1 – and Sumi saw how disposable Lucy was back then. It only struck me after the event that the heavily pregnant Sumi may have been Cooperman’s current conquest.
We also find out that Patty is pregnant and presumably this is why we saw her staking out the house of Jeff, the FBI Agent with whom she became romantically involved in Season 2.
Patty also comes face to face with her birth mother for the first time, courtesy of some seemingly well-intentioned meddling by Diana. The interaction between Patty and her mother Christina is really quite moving and played astonishingly well with very few words by Monica Potter (an actress who, like the fictitious Diana and real-life Gwyneth, runs her own natural skincare company, which is, presumably, the reason why her talents have not been seen on screen more over the years).
Once Billy McBride’s class action case closes, the heavens open and the curse of Blackwood County’s drought is lifted. Staggering out of his house into the deluge, Wade collapses on his porch under suspicious circumstances, seemingly inflicted by suspicious substances. But that’s not all…
She’s lost control again
In a further fit of frenzy, Diana tracks down Billy McBride and shoots him point blank.
Driving away, Diana is run off the road by stunt woman Stephanie to meet what appears to be her own end.
Billy McBride is left lying in the road as the rain pours down. The last thing we see is him looking down at his reflection in a puddle. He recalls what Joe Little Crow said to him at the casino and the writing on the wall he found (wrote) hidden behind the bathroom mirror: “The last person you’ll see before you die is you.”
So is this a piece of class action or just a slice of soggy toast?
Once I adjusted to the weirdness, I enjoyed the cleverly-interweaving story with all the little pieces coming together like a satisfying jigsaw puzzle. Once complete, you can then peel off layer after layer of the story revealing the subtleties of its construction back to Seasons 1 and 2. The links and branches filter through the whole story joining up the seemingly unconnected events. It’s like an interconnected network of neurons to get you thinking.
And there’s no wastage of screen time either because almost every scene contains something relevant (save for the odd MacGuffin). Although I did need a second watch-through to understand the flow of legal events and to pick up on the subtleties I’d missed first time round. Who knows, even those MacGuffins might be seeds for something sinister next season.
I would say that if nothing whatsoever about the story knocks you out, at least visually it’s to die for.
And who did die? Well, that’s not at all clear. With all the cliffhangers in Season 3 and the vastly different styles of each season so far, Goliath Season 4 could go absolutely anywhere.
Finally, riddle me this: Why did the tortoise cross the road?
Answer: So that stunt woman Stephanie could help it to the other side, of course.
Stephanie’s lifting of a tortoise from its slow crawl across the road to the safety of the other side is more than just a tortoise surviving in arid conditions, creeping along on its seemingly impossible journey to find water.
You may wonder why the scene is dragged out for so long. In fact, it takes up less than a minute but it feels much longer and may leave you wondering why it wasn’t cut a bit shorter. The thing is, the tortoise represents the whole legal case in one clever scene.
Without the tortoise, Patty wouldn’t have swerved and burst a tyre; she wouldn’t have met Violet delivering bottled water to the residents; she might not have found out that the water problem affected all the residents; and Billy wouldn’t have had his class action.
Without Stephanie’s help, there’s a risk the tortoise could have been squashed by the next vehicle careering down the road, just like Billy McBride was at risk of being squashed by the Blackwoods and the case quashed by the judge at every opportunity.
Stephanie also speeds up the progress of the case. Without her help, McBride wouldn’t have the map that provides the key to finding the illegal tunnel through Federal land. Without that evidence, McBride couldn’t threaten to file a Federal case. Without the threat of prison (and Rochelle’s recording, of course) Wade would never have settled.
So the tortoise represents everything about the legal case in this story. But in case you aren’t convinced: tortoise sounds like tortus, the Latin word for twisted or crooked, precisely what this season’s offering is about, the law of Tort.
Goliath Season 3 has gifts that just keep on giving and really does combine the weird and the wonderful.
Fair Use Notice: All images from Goliath Season 3 shown in this article are credited to Amazon Studios. The images have been carefully chosen to support the commentary of the plot by identifying key scenes. I believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material. But if you would prefer me to take them down, just ask.