Shark: Wayne's World 2 (season finale)
The subtitle of this episode is Revenge of the Shark, which truly sums it up. This episode is full of the, by now, standard motifs: Stark barking at his team while they become convinced he is crazy, the star prosecution witness's hidden past emerging on the stand to embarrass Stark, and the ritual tossing-out of all incriminating evidence by the presiding judge. Maddie, who has to take the hit on the evidence this time, when Wayne's youthful slasher short story is excluded, breaks character: she doesn't even try to use sex to get her way.
Well it's not really worthwhile to analyze the case since its all a set-up anyway. A full-blown conspiracy, actually: one that involves at least five people Stark has enlisted to fabricate a murder to blame on Wayne. Stark just knew, he says in a closing confessional monologue to Wayne, that he could get Wayne to incriminate himself on the stand by making him confront his textbook psycho-killer childhood (complete with mommy issues).
It works like a charm, which raises the question of why Stark didn't try it in the first trial.
And if Stark was determined to throw his ethics completely out a window, why didn't he just shoot Wayne in an alley somewhere? That would have at least saved the time he wasted in waiting for just the right suicide to come along for the frame up, and would have eliminated so many co-conspirators: the medical examiner, the grieving mother of the suicide victim, the young mental patient, to name three, all of who had to be convinced to help frame a man they didn't know on Stark's say-so.
It could be argued that Stark wanted to beat Wayne on the stand: using the system so to speak. Even so, Stark can hardly be proud of his victory. It's not a victory for his legal skills after all; it's a victory for his ability to subvert that system.
Jess Devlin gets to do the actual burying of Wayne on the stand, after Stark is thrown off the case. Since every other step of Stark's plan is executed flawlessly, making chumps of his team, and the audience, I can only assume he planned his own expulsion too. This is not only to have a woman cross-examine Wayne and expose his misogyny (either Maddie or Raina could have done that) but also to get Jess's prosecutorial juices up so Stark can later convince her to come back to the D.A. office and work for him.
Sure, that would happen. Even if the incoming District Attorney allows it -- which he never would -- this can only happen on TV. But for drama's sake it should give Jeri Ryan more to do in the show next season. Shark was renewed awhile ago.
Wayne's threats against Julie in his previous episode are not even mentioned tonight. That plot thread was completely dropped. Stark does initially refuse to let Jules take advantage of a significant academic opportunity. But he practically had too, as they've gotten along for two whole episodes now. In the end, maybe with a growing awareness that the corrosive tactics he employs more and more frequently at work are beginning to have their affect on him, he admits that he is afraid of losing his relationship with his daughter.
Stark the character is a complex guy. He has his ideas about right and wrong and they are jumbled up with his driving need to win at any cost, his need to appear to be right every time, his desire to be the center of attention at home as well as at work, and his guilt over all the criminals he got off in his earlier career. It's that character that's made me wish week after week that this show was better. The plots are too black and white, too abbreviated, just too damn CBS-procedural, to really make the most of that character.