Shark: Trial By Fire
Evan Handler gives an enjoyable performance as the poor loser who claims he's innocent and is looking at his third strike. Handler played Hurley's probably imaginary friend Dave, the title character in a Lost episode last season and, more recently, one of the two hacky comedy writers on Studio 60, that Matthew Perry's character liked to bust on.
Stark is in court giving moral support to Raina, who is advocating the death penalty for a double-murderer. Raina seems to be Stark's go-to-colleague, most weeks, as we near the end of the season. And once Stanley seizes a gun and takes over the courtroom, Stark quickly steps up to engage him and try to negotiate a resolution. The judge doesn't seem to mind Stark taking charge. Heck, it is James Woods' show, after all. And the judge gets shot soon enough, anyway.
The episode has its share of credibility-stretching moments. It takes the baddies a ridiculously long time to realize the security camera's bright green light is back on, for one thing. But the story is an interesting way to show us Stark acting as a defense attorney of sorts as he tries to get to the bottom of Stanley's case.
The rest of the cast assembles outside and works on reconstructing the facts in that case, eventually discovering Stanley's innocence. Jessica Devlin argue with the L.A.P.D. hostage-negotiator guy, who is the requisite obtuse- face-of-authority-to-be-bucked. He's also, according to Jess, "the best hostage negotiator in the city," even though everything he does here threatens to screw things up. But when, in the history of movies and television, has there ever been any description of hostage negotiator other than "the best in the city?"
Added to the mix is the murderer awaiting sentencing. He tries to manipulate the crisis, and throws wrench after wrench into the gears that Stark is trying to turn in Stanley's head. That was an interesting twist on the standard hostage-crisis plot.
Stark almost lost me somewhere in the middle of his final "I don't know if there is a God, and whether or not I'm on His Christmas list" soliloquy. Stanley seems to get it though, and acts accordingly. Stark and Raina are freed with the other hostages and rush into the waiting arms of Julie and Isaac, respectively. Last week's arguments are, at least for the moment, forgiven.