Judge Nicastro enlists Kate and Ben to mediate a contract dispute. Lauren looks for a painting to hang in the lobby of the firm.
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Previously on Fairly Legal Season 2 Episode 8 "Ripple of Hope", Kate and Ben team up for a prison mediation and have difficulty avoiding their feelings for each other. Elsewhere, Lauren takes on a copyright case on Leo's behalf.
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On this week's Episode title "Kiss Me, Kate", Judge Nicastro enlists Kate and Ben to mediate a contract dispute. Lauren looks for a painting to hang in the lobby of the firm.
Kate Reed is a firm believer that justice can always be found-even if it's not always in the courtroom. Once a lawyer at her family's esteemed San Francisco firm, Kate's frustration with the legal system led her to a new career as a mediator. Thanks to her innate understanding of human nature, thorough legal knowledge, and wry sense of humor, Kate is a natural when it comes to dispute resolution. Except, it seems, when it comes to conflicts in her own life.
Since her father's sudden death, Kate's relationship with her new boss-her "wicked" stepmother Lauren has grown ever more complicated, and the situation with her soon-to-be-ex-husband Justin, a San Francisco ADA, is no less confusing. With help from her resourceful assistant Leonardo, Kate's doing her best to focus on work and avoid her own problems. But with new personal challenges and tough, unconventional cases suddenly on her docket, this newly-minted mediator's skills are about to be put to the test.
"Fairly Legal" an energetically delightful dramedy about a San Francisco mediator played by Sarah Shahi, which premieres Thursday. Shahi, last seen on the short-lived but wonderful "Life," is Kate Reed, a former attorney so unpredictable she wears Christian Louboutins but lives on a boat and so frustrated by the law that she becomes a mediator. As such, she uses her considerable capacity for empathetic diplomacy to help people solve their own problems — in early episodes these include corporate mergers and the size of parking spaces — outside the stuffy and legally hamstrung court system.
The anti-lawyer lawyer show. It's a nifty trick by creator Michael Sardo ("Wings," "Caroline in the City") and a terrific idea — to neatly detach all the human elements that make courtroom dramas so delicious from the increasingly worn-thin "objection, your Honor" scenes. Not that there aren't still a few gavels knocking about — Gerald McRaney appears occasionally as a judge who is Kate's nemesis/father figure. Because as the action opens, Kate's famous attorney father has died and Kate finds herself now working for the new other Reed of the firm "Reed & Reed" — her young, lovely and tough as nails step-mother, Lauren (Virginia Williams.)
But Lauren's no more a predictable trophy wife than Kate's a predictable young attorney and as they fight to keep clients from abandoning the firm, the two women exchange stinging barbs, but the cattiness is kept to a merciful minimum. If nothing else, Lauren realizes that Kate can do things that no one else can.
Every miracle worker needs a support team and Kate's includes Leonardo (Baron Vaughn), a Dungeons & Dragons-playing fanboy assistant, her new-dad younger brother (Ethan Embry) and her soon-to-be-ex-husband Justin ("Battlestar Galactica's" Michael Trucco) who also happens to be an assistant district attorney. The three men manage to come through with all the emotional support and necessary props — an incriminating file, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer watch — that allow Kate to convince people that a compromise of their own construction is, 9 times out of 10, a better option than a decision made by a judge or a jury.
It's actually a fine and refreshing message and "Fairly Legal" is bit weightier, in terms of themes and issues, than some of the other shows in USA's increasingly terrific lineup. Each episode includes at least two self-contained stories — in the pilot, the A-plot involves a father, played by Ken Howard, who has suddenly gotten cold feet about turning his clothing company over to his son — but they often overlap with other thematic elements and/or each other.
Like "White Collar" or "Royal Pains," "Fairly Legal" deftly balances the procedural elements with the ongoing narrative arcs of the characters, but in an unexpectedly philosophical way. Kate is dealing with romantic issues and Daddy issues, of course, but her story goes deeper than the usual "who am I and why can't I find love?" personal journey. As she juggles the desire for justice (and the commitment the firm has to its clients), Kate is asking the central question of any mature society: At what point do the needs of the individual outweigh the rules of an institution, even one designed to protect the individual? And she's actually asking it, sometimes point blank.