For the People finale recap: Ghosts of courtrooms past
In the Southern District of New York, what goes around comes around, huh? In For the People‘s finale, all of our lawyers finally face obstacles laid out for them earlier in the season. For better or worse, things come full circle for Sandra, Allison, Jay, Seth, Leonard, and Kate.
Before we dive into the meat of the episode: Um, Roger and Jill are in bed together and do not hate it. First of all, yay. My heart is singing. And although I appreciate Roger and Jill’s sexual tension being smashed with a sledgehammer, didn’t we, collectively as a country, deserve to see their first kiss? How did this happen? GIVE ME THE DEETS.
What we do know is that both Jill and Roger are uncharacteristically chipper the next morning while handing out assignments. Their little baby bird lawyers? Not so much.
Sandra is having a meltdown. She’s working on the appeal for Mohammed Fayed’s case — he was the young man from episode 1, who almost blew up the Statue of Liberty — and Sandra is obsessed. She is racked with guilt over how that case went down and is barely sleeping while trying to win this appeal. In the meantime, she is handed a new client: Alice Wong. Alice is being charged with espionage against the United States. She is a government-employed hydrologist who downloaded information from the National Water Distribution Database and gave it to a colleague in China (whom she was having an affair with), in the spirit of scientific collaboration. Sandra knows the only reason she was arrested and is being tried is because she was born and raised in China.
She also knows that the jury in this case will hear lots of technical water-based jargon that will confuse them, and then they’ll see Alice Wong, an immigrant from China. Sandra feels as though she’s lost this case even before it begins. It is Mohammed Fayed all over again. Allison finds her BFF in a panic and has to talk her down. Have we ever seen Sandra Bell so emotional? She didn’t even break down in tears when she was cuffed to that railing in a hospital. She just can’t lose a case like this again — what is happening to Alice Wong is unfair. Allison gives her girl a big hug and suggests that’s what Sandra tells the jury.
Here’s hoping that in season 2 Allison gets more to do than be the loving best friend or get caught up in a love triangle. Of our six baby birds, she got the least courtroom time, and she deserves more, dang it! In the finale, aside from calming Sandra down, Allison is forced to choose between Seth, who informs his ex that he is still very much in love with her (also, he has tried oysters for the first time), and Toby the Hot Wine Forger. She chooses no-strings attached Toby. It seems like this will be short-lived. Also, isn’t she proud of Seth for trying oysters?
Back in court, Sandra listens to her very best friend Allison. She calls up witness after witness demonstrating that other people in the same department as Alice have shared sensitive information, downloaded info from the same database, and even shared information with foreign governments, yet somehow Alice is the only person who has ever been investigated and prosecuted for it. In her Profound Closing Argument Moment, Sandra brings this curious pattern up. It is clear that Alice Wong is only in this position because of how she looks and where she was born. That is the “dark truth” of this case. And now it is up to the good people of the jury to decide to live in that darkness or break free from it. It is all very dramatic and very shouty. Still, it works. Alice Wong is found not guilty of espionage and Sandra Bell doesn’t flip any tables over in rage. What a win!
Alone in the courtroom, Sandra is visited by Jill. Jill is proud of Sandra, but reminds her that while perfectionism and passion are great, they could also be the things that break her if she lets them. You know, in case you were wondering what Sandra’s demon will be going forward in the show. At this moment though, Sandra doesn’t have to worry about those things. Sandra winds up in the elevator with Judge Byrne. He leans over and tells her that she’s worthy. It’s a very nice callback to the pilot, but tell us something we don’t know. (Recap continues on next page)
There’s another big callback to the first episode: Jay and Kate face off on a case. No one is happy about this. Well, except for us because all Jay and Kate scenes are delightful. Jay is defending Nancy Martin, the president of the PTA at a private school who was caught with drugs in her car while picking up her son. Why is this a federal case? Because two other parents at the school — the Gallaghers — are lawyers and friendly with people in high places.
After meeting with Nancy, Jay is sure she is innocent. She has no idea how the drugs got into the car and people at the school, including the Gallaghers, want her and her son gone. They are outsiders there. Nancy has tried to make too many changes in her new position and people aren’t happy about it. When Jay informs Kate about this, she thinks he is simply falling for his client’s con, just like he did the last time they went head-to-head. But then Kate meets with the Gallaghers, realizes they’re demon people, and agrees that something is off with this case.
You know what that means! It’s time for a Jay and Kate team up! Let there be more of these in season 2. After making a plan of action that sounds a lot like arguing but isn’t, Jay and Kate decide to talk to the principal of the school and see if she can shed any additional light on the relationship between Nancy and the Gallaghers. Although it seems like the principal has no real information to supply, Jay catches her making a big ol’ mistake. The principal knows the type of drug found in Nancy’s car — a detail that was not released publicly. The principal framed Nancy! Sure, it’s a TV crime trope, but I’ll take it if it means we get to see Jay and Kate celebrate their joint victory by not hugging, Kate telling Jay he’s a good lawyer, and Jay telling Kate that “there’s something about the way [she] talks that makes [him] feel bad inside and yet [he] like[s] it, too.” Aw, how nice!
Kate’s not celebrating for very long. Leonard’s mother is in town with some news for her son: The Solicitor General of Texas position has just opened up, and Senator Knox has recommended Leonard. The job is his if he wants it. He wants to know what Kate thinks he should do. YOU GUYS. What ensues is a scene in which two characters are speaking but no one is saying what they mean. Their mouths are saying “do what you want” and “tell me what I should do” but their eyes are saying “please don’t go” and “please tell me not to go.” There is heat, but also sadness.
Finally, Kate works up the courage to tell Leonard what she thinks. She meets them at their noodle place —which, let’s be real, they were at only once and therefore isn’t really their place but we shall let it slide IN THE NAME OF LOVE — with a list of things Leonard will hate about Texas. Mainly, being in Texas. It is so cute and so Kate and Leonard adores it. But then, she hits him with the big one. This list could really be just one item long. He shouldn’t go because she would miss him too much. She says this as she is tearing up. What is this world and can we stay here forever?
The answer is no, we can’t, because Leonard has already accepted the job. Everything is ruined. He looks so upset and tells her that if only he had known — but Kate cuts him off and flees the noodle place. Now it can never be their spot!
She gets a text from Sad Seth reeling from Allison’s rejection, because somehow in all this craziness, Seth and Kate have become the closest of friends. And the two of them end up sitting on Seth’s couch, heartbroken, watching Rocky 4.
Can you even imagine if For the People hadn’t been renewed and we ended things here with everyone in such a state? And by “everyone” I mainly mean me. How is everyone else feeling? How will Leonard get out of this job without being disowned by his mother? Will Allison and Seth reunite? Will Sandra ever clean up her office? And will everyone promise to make their friends watch this show over the break so we’ll never have to say goodbye to it? Teamwork makes the dream work, people.