Tonight’s episode of Harry’s Law, “Gorilla My Dreams”, featured a plotline that revolved around a woman, played by Erica Durance, who dressed as Wonder Woman and brutally beat up abusive husbands. I’ve never watched a full episode of Harry’s Law, and tonight’s episode did nothing to convince me that I’ve been missing out, but it actually wasn’t entirely terrible.
The main story of the show was about a gorilla, as you may have guessed from the title. It was all about whether great apes can be treated as people under the law, and it was pretty dumb and melodramatic and this isn’t a gorilla blog, so let’s skip on past that.
The Wonder Woman story made up the secondary plotline. For some reason, we got tons of gorilla backstory but we joined the Wonder Woman trial in progress, and had to piece the facts together as the show went along. I’m still not entirely sure what she was charged with, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
We start off by hearing from a couple witnesses, a man who got beat up by “Wonder Woman”, and a woman who found “Wonder Woman” online and called her when her ex-husband showed up drunk and angry. In both cases, the men suffered various broken bones and other serious injuries. The prosecution argues that vigilantism is illegal and that the beatings these men, and several others, received were criminal, while the defense says that these men were wife beaters and that “Wonder Woman” was just trying to defend their wives.
The main defense lawyer, the guy Nate Corddry plays whose name I don’t know, knew “Wonder Woman” from high school. Her name is Annie Bilson, and she was the sweet, pretty girl everyone loved, and of course he had a crush on her. Then things went south for Annie. Her husband was abusive and raped her repeatedly, to such a degree that Annie basically had a complete mental breakdown and shut down emotionally, and received extensive psychological treatment for several years. Her breakthrough finally came when she channeled her feelings into a Wonder Woman persona and beat the hell out of abusive husbands. She returned to a normal, happy life, and occasionally put on a Wonder Woman costume and kicked some ass.
For Annie, “Wonder Woman” is a persona she takes on. Her doctor says that it isn’t actually her, that she’s not aware of her actions once she’s taken on the persona. So technically she’s not responsible for her actions, but she also refuses to take any drugs that would stop her from slipping into the persona, which suggests some culpability.
There’s some drama… Annie gets mad at Nate for bringing up her abusive husband because she doesn’t want to be painted as a victim, but that never really goes anywhere. Ultimately, impassioned closing arguments are made on both sides. Nate gets all emotional talking about the girl he once knew, but in the end they agree to a plea deal where Annie serves three years in a mental institution. Which is probably a good idea… having a violent persona you can’t control really isn’t an ideal way to go through life.
At the end of story, Nate and his lady lawyer associate, whose name I also don’t know, visit Annie at the institution, and Annie gives Nate her tiara and tells him to ask her out in three years if he’s still single. Emotional healing!! She can finally trust again!!
So that’s the rundown. Really, the story didn’t make a ton of sense to me. I mean, clearly the girl needed to be in a mental hospital to sort out her split personality issues. I have NO idea why she’d be tried in a criminal court with proper jail time on the line, other than to make it more dramatic and let David E. Kelley use up his lingering Wonder Woman rights.
And that’s what was really odd about the episode… we see the Wonder Woman costume for like three seconds, in a grainy flashback video of her taking down one of the abusive husbands. The pictures that were released a couple weeks ago, like the one at the top of this post, must have been from a scene that got cut for more gorilla time, because that wasn’t in the show at all. For all but those three grainy seconds, Erica Durance is pants suited up or in her mental asylum sweats. It seems to me that if you’re going to do a Wonder Woman-centric show, you should put in some Wonder Woman.
There were some shout outs, though. The prosecution asks Annie if she has bullet-deflecting bracelets, a lasso of truth, or an invisible plane, and her doctor mentions that Annie knows she’s not “some immortal Amazon, born and raised on an all-women island”. But that’s about it. The show was really low on Wonder Woman, overall.
But there were some good things. Robert Picardo was her doctor, for one… he’s the Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager!! So that was pretty exciting… I always like to see him in things. And Mark Valley is on this show I guess, so that’s a fun Fringe connection.
What I liked best about the show, though, was that it got into issues surrounding domestic violence, and in decent detail. Everyone talked about how domestic abuse is widely under-reported, and how it’s an epidemic for women of all walks of life. They dropped lots of jarring statistics… some I knew, like 1 in 4 women suffer domestic abuse of some kind, but some I’d not heard before, like 1 in 3 women murdered in America are killed by an intimate partner. And both the defense and prosecution spoke strongly about domestic violence. It wasn’t a debate over the merits of women claiming to be abused… both sides agreed it was a serious problem, and instead the actual debate was about vigilantism. It’s hard to dislike a show that uses primetime entertainment to make viewers more aware of the epidemic nature of domestic violence.
Ultimately, it wasn’t the best show. The plot was pretty meh, the Wonder Woman stuff was minimal, and the guy lawyer helping the lady and getting a date out of it storyline was pretty lame. The whole thing felt rather abbreviated, really, like it was meant to be the main story but then they cut it down in favour of the gorilla. But again, there was a really consistent message about domestic violence, backed up with rather shocking stats and figures, that I have to respect. I didn’t care much for the program, but I appreciated that component of it.
Plus, Robert Picardo!! Star Trek actors on other shows are ALWAYS fun.