Painkiller Jane, Episode 8: Trial By Fire

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Connor King is anything but a role model for police procedures. In "Trial By Fire" he gets his yank caught in a crank when he is the prime suspect in a series of arson fires that began with the death of a woman caught in the back draft.

Let me take a moment to say that there will be many spoilers in this review and even more metaphors relating to heat, fire, explosions, shooting Jane, and he man-style, innuendo laden jokes. So, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the fireplace.

Was it Woody Allen who said that 90 percent of life is just showing up?

Tell your sob story to the judge, Connor King. The cops caught you at a crime scene and now all your dirty little secrets are coming back to haunt you.

I will now attempt to tell the hot plot of "Trial By Fire" in 91 sizzling words; 91 was chosen because it is the projected temperature at Oceanside beach today.

Connor is accused of the fiery death of a woman. Andre’s crew can’t testify because they’d alert everyone about the existence of neuros. Riley figures out a fiery pattern, but it’s not consistent. At the trial everything points toward Connor’s guilt. Bummed, he breaks away from his guards; Jane takes their hot lead. Later, Andre shoots Jane in front of Connor’s ex-cell mate so he won’t testify. Riley finds evidence, confirms his theory. After some shaky feints, all fingers point to the dead woman’s husband – a pyro neuro – as the killer.

Whew! After writing that, I should head off to the beach with my Coppertone, an inner tube, and a good book.

But where would that leave this review?

"Trial By Fire" is an warm little crime drama, but Law & Order is ain’t. Here are a few blistering pros and cons:

Three Witnesses for the Defense:

1. The episode had some decent touches during the courtroom segments. For instance, when each witness took the stand their name and identity was flashed to the audience via an animated freeze frame graphic. The production value helped the episode to stand apart from other Painkiller Jane episodes. However much I liked this treatment, it was a little jarring as the episode cut back and forth between the courtroom and the regular sleuthing, scenes in Connor’s jail cell, and various people shooting Jane in courtrooms and back alleys.

2. Ridiculous as it was (because no one seemed even vaguely interested in what Andre and Jane were doing taking Connor’s ex-cell mate, who was about to testify, into an alley outside of the courthouse; and then no one responded in any way to Andre’s point blank shooting of Jane … haw haw!!), Andre shooting Jane in front of a witness had some fun factor. If you guessed that this was the guilty pleasure of this episode, you were right.

3. The orange jumpsuit on Connor King … Yowzers … if there were a neuro for bad fashion sense, he’d be it. Scorching!

Three Witnesses for the Prosecution:

1. No one would defend a low life looser like Connor King as tenaciously as Andre (and the PKJ team). He spews sexual innuendo like a Rain-Bird shoots water, his attention to law enforcement protocol makes the Police Academy cast look like Serpico, and evidently has a criminal record as thick as Jane’s Blue Cross file. All I can assume is that Connor’s increasingly amorous intentions for Jane are just a smokescreen to cover up the flowering romance between himself and Andre. You heard it here first.

2. Pardon my Yoda speak, but so funny it was when Jane took the guard’s bullets to protect Connor during the closing moments of his jailbreak … and then her showing up in court several scenes later, apparently unscathed … and apparently unnoticed. Talk about blind justice!

3. The irony that Andre’s boss won’t let him testify for Connor for fear that the existence of neuros would be exposed to a fearful public, possibly setting off a wave of panic. Then, as part of the show’s climactic finale, the guilty witness causes the courtroom – and the prosecutor! – to erupt in gouts of flame. What part of that wouldn’t set off a wave of panic … and wouldn’t ultimately make for bigger headlines than Connor King’s exoneration from all charges?

Regardless of the results of the mock trial above, Painkiller Jane makes an effort to entertain, and it makes an effort to be coherent. It even makes an effort to build up its characters from week to week, to introduce new details in their lives, and especially in Jane’s life.

But by building an entire show around defending such an indefensible character as the redoubtable Connor King, it takes a Herculean effort from the audience to care enough to stick it out.

Your honor, I rest my case.

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