Your Honor includes plenty of cunning and brilliant characters – and a few particularly stupid ones. Who is the smartest of them all?
Your Honor has the perfect protagonist-villain dynamic. New Orleans judge Michael Desiato (Bryan Cranston) is doing his best not to lose his son to the claws of both legal and street justice while crime lord Jimmy Baxter (Michael Stuhlbarg) has already lost his son and is seeking revenge. Michael also misses his dead wife while Jimmy is tired of his living one.
The two characters mingle with different kinds of people who make choices that have an immediate impact on them or those around them. It’s a shame that Your Honor is only a miniseries. Given how high the stakes keep getting with each new episode, it would have been easy for the writers to find more material for future seasons.
Adam accidentally hits someone with his car, unaware that it’s crime lord Jimmy Baxter’s son. He acts responsibly at first by trying to resuscitate him. His streak of bad decisions then begins. He calls 911 and leaves the call on for a while before driving away. Bad mistake since Jimmy Baxter, who has the police on his payroll, later gets his hands on the 911 recording.
While fleeing, he stops by a gas station and is caught on the surveillance cameras there. Then, he looks back at the car behind him and even waves at the driver. This way, he makes the driver a witness. His bad decisions don’t stop there. He parks the car right outside his house and proceeds to dump his bloody clothes in the trash bin. Adam is clearly not one of the wise ones.
High school teacher Frannie risks her job by sleeping with her student Adam. If word about this comes out, she will not only have her name plastered across local dailies but also lose her job.
Despite being told by his dad to ‘keep it between them,’ Adam lets Frannie know what he did. He is remorseful because his actions have begun causing the deaths of innocent people. Surprisingly, Frannie doesn’t seem to care. She encourages him to keep the secret. Doing the right thing is something she cares little about.
As a young gangster looking to rise quickly in the underworld, Kofi makes a lot of little mistakes. He accepts the task of disposing of a car without finding out why exactly the owner is getting rid of it. He then drives it casually through major streets where there is a heavy police presence. As expected, he gets arrested.
Kofi later finds himself in the hands of Jim Baxter’s men who mercilessly torture him for a crime he knows nothing about. He eventually gets killed in prison. If only he thought to ask some smart questions before taking the job.
Gina Baxter is a loving mom who is adored by her children but her ruthlessness often gets in the way of her thought process. When her son gets killed, she is justifiably devastated. Sadly, she rushes to order a hit on Kofi as soon as she learns that he was caught with the car. She does this despite the fact that her husband has advised against it.
Gina tasks her only remaining son Carlo, who is also in prison, with taking care of Kofi. Carlo is almost getting out of prison but she risks having him remain behind bars for life for a fresh murder. Her decision to go behind her husband’s back also puts a strain on their relationship.
Michael initially lies to his politician buddy Charlie that he wants to get rid of his late wife’s blue Volvo because it gives him bad memories. Charlie then uses his connections to contact a dirty cop who in turn contacts Little Mo’s gang. Little Mo then tasks Kofi with getting rid of the car.
Herein lies the problem. Why would Michael need someone else to dispose of the car if he is genuine? Who not sell it or give it away? These are questions that Charlie would have asked himself if he was bright. However, he shows a little bit of intelligence during his campaigns and when covering his tracks after actual details about the car emerge.
Nancy is a by-the-book detective but she isn’t exactly the brightest, being so blind to Michael’s schemes. As someone who has been in the police force for a long and handled hundreds of cases, she should be quick to realize that she is being used.
Michael lies to her about his interest in the Volvo and she believes him. He also spins a crazy story to get her to Nancy to help him locate the owner of the Toyota Camry that was at the gas station. This way, he is able to find out who is blackmailing him. A police raid spearheaded by Nancy is also thwarted by Jimmy, thus making her look less capable of doing her job.
Jimmy isn’t as bright as he is intimidating. Despite having the police and a few members of the judicial system on his payroll, he is quick to conclude that the death of his son was a hit, not a hit-and-run. He obviously wants to see dead bodies because such are his delights. He relishes in inflicting pain.
Baxter is easily fooled by Michael too on a number of occasions. However, it can be assumed that he didn’t become the top drug lord in the city for being completely dumb. There is a little intelligence in there somewhere.
Lee is introduced as a successful lawyer who has won plenty of cases. She is the only person that Michael trusts to take on Koffi’s case. Michael has met plenty of lawyers in the courtroom and he feels that none is as good as Lee, which says a lot about her intelligence and level of hard work.
Weeks after the medical examiner was ordered to cover up the cause of death, she is the first person to discover that Carlo is the person that killed Kofi in prison. The discovery helps in solving plenty of puzzles, but it’s not the only time her intelligence is on display.
Frankie distinguishes himself from most movie and TV henchmen who are usually all brawn and no brain. He is the first person to find a piece of evidence that links Adam and Michael to the crime. When he accompanies Jimmy and Gina Baxter to the crime scene, he notices an inhaler lying around on the road. It’s Adam’s inhaler.
He also helps Jimmy in his search for the gas station that Adam stopped at. They narrow it down to three stations in Chalmette before locating the exact one that Adam was at.
Michael is a star judge in New Orleans. In the courtroom, he is able to sniff out lies from defendants and witnesses by reading their body language and asking basic questions. When his son Adam accidentally hits Baxter’s son with the Volvo, he does a great job of covering up for him.
The brilliant judge dumps the clothes over the bridge, and when a policeman approaches, he pretends he was peeing. Why pee on the bridge? He tells the officer that he has prostate cancer. He also tricks Baxter into killing the gas station attendant who has too much information about him.