Written by Ben Murchison
Billy Bob Thornton has been a fixture in Hollywood for a long time and has earned his fair share of awards, but if you find yourself watching Goliath in awe of how authentic his performance is, there is a good reason for that. He has described his role as Billy McBride as the closest he has ever been to playing himself. It would in turn make sense that he earned a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the flawed redemptive lawyer in 2017, and as the show begins season three it appears the story has taken another leap forward.
Following the death of an old friend in a tragic accident, Billy accepts a case where a drought and unsafe water mining by larger farms has caused land to become unstable. If you are familiar with prior seasons, you know that the unique thing about this lawyer drama is the dash of the unusual that creator David E. Kelley and writers infuse into each storyline. William Hurt’s creepy portrayal of burn victim recluse Donald Cooperman in the first season, Tom Wyatt’s (Mark Duplass) unusual fetish in the second, and through one episode of season three it already seems that they ratcheting up the touch to a full serving of bizarre.
The cast of season three features its returning nucleus plus some high profile additions, including Dennis Quaid, Beau Bridges, Graham Greene and Illeana Douglas, among other recognizable faces. Quaid looks like he is really enjoying his turn as Wade Blackwood the successful owner of a large almond farm and whose family the town is named for. In just one episode he manages to not only tap into his typical charm and a relaxed naivety, but also a musical number.
There are oddities in every frame of the episode, but the most distinct is how many characters seem to believe that they have already met Billy during his visit to a casino, despite it being his first time in town. It would seem that there is a supernatural element to those that are in power, and their dealings, but it could be smoke and mirrors for something more easily explainable. Either way you know that Billy is not someone that is fooled easily or willing to let anything go.
The writing behind the show has always allowed it to stand out since its start, but make no mistake that Billy Bob is the driving force behind what makes it exceptional. He is the kind of actor that you can tell takes the narrative being told and makes the dialogue his own. He has said in the past that he believes if he is going to say something, like legal jargon in the case of Goliath, he needs to understand it so that he can make it believable in his own mind as well as to the audience. That truth shines through this show.
There are high expectations for this season of Goliath based on its preceding installments, but the strong first episode lends itself to fulfilling them all and sets up what appears to be another eccentric and gripping journey.