[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Your Honor, Season 2, Episode 1, “Part Eleven.”]
It’s been over two years since viewers last saw Bryan Cranston‘s morally-compromised judge Michael Desiato on their screens in Showtime‘s thought-provoking drama Your Honor, and he made quite the return in Season 2’s dark premiere episode.
As viewers may recall, Michael’s son Adam (Hunter Doohan) accidentally killed mobster Jimmy Baxter’s (Michael Stuhlbarg) son in a hit-and-run. Doing what he could to cover it up, Michael found himself in various precarious positions by the end of Season 1, and ultimately, his son was caught in the crosshairs after someone sought retaliation for events Michael helped take part in.
Ashamed for his misdeeds, the premiere opens with Michael in prison, defeated and emaciated. Forced to have a feeding tube after refusing to eat, it’s clear the former judge just wants to die, but Rosie Perez‘s assistant U.S. attorney Olivia Delmont isn’t going to let that happen. She’s itching to bust the Baxters and is looking to recruit Michael who is initially resistant but agrees to participate upon his release from prison where he’s been held for more than a year after confessing he rigged a case in Baxter’s favor with the intention of protecting his son.
“He wants his body to catch up with his emotional state of mind and intellect. He wants to be dead,” Cranston tells TV Insider. “He has nothing to live for. He lost everything. He failed.” Pointing out that he not only lost Adam, but his wife as well (a storyline introduced in Season 1), but it’s more than just the people in his life that he’s lost. “He lost his job, he lost his principles, his ethics, his standing in the community, his friends, there’s nothing left.”
“It was fascinating to me and Showtime was willing to dive into that version and make it authentic and honest,” Cranston continues. “We wanted to put that together and show the ripple effect of all these characters and how it affected them, this tragedy and that experience.”
A lot has happened while Michael’s been in prison, mainly with Jimmy’s daughter Fia (Lilli Kay) who was also Adam’s girlfriend. She visits Michael in prison before he’s released and questions why he’s refused to read the many letters she’s sent, he won’t give her a clear answer as he’s trying to keep all ties cut, but she’s insistent.
Her desperation soon becomes clear in the final moments of the premiere episode as a baby is revealed, hinting that she gave birth to Adam’s only son in the months since Michael’s imprisonment. “I equate it to like, what would it be like if you were in a coma for a year? Well, all your relationships would be on hold, and to him, he even feels like he has no intention of coming back,” Cranston shares.
While audiences understand the situation, Michael still has no idea about his grandchild by the episode’s end, which is likely to serve as an interesting reveal as the season unfolds. As for Michael’s relationships with everyone else on the outside, Cranston says, “he’s reluctant on every step he takes, he feels contaminated. That’s why he doesn’t want people around him because he feels that rightly or wrongly, he carries a disease of sorts that ruins lives.”
Olivia doesn’t really have time for that kind of mindset though. “Her motivation is to serve the rule of law in regard to bringing down the Baxter family,” Perez says. “So she sees him as a way in. I need him and I’m gonna use him. And that’s the end of that.” As the season continues, Perez reveals Olivia “slowly starts to show her cards” and “they keep just clashing constantly.”
That fiery frustration stems from the fact that Olivia “cannot believe that this man who was once filled with integrity just wants to let the bad guy get away,” Perez notes. This forces Olivia to get a little creative with her approach at times. “She’s very manipulative,” Perez admits. But she brings a bit of lightness to a season that is certainly starting things off on an extremely dark note.
“Every little thing that happens in Season 2 adds onto the burden that Michael feels about life itself,” Cranston clarifies. “And yet you look at it and you say, is life worth the burden? And that’s an individual subjective question to ask oneself.” Tune in each week as the second and final season of Your Honor unfolds to see how the question is answered, and let us know what you thought about Your Honor‘s return on Showtime in the comments section, below.
Your Honor, Sundays, 9/8c, Showtime (new episodes stream Fridays on demand)