“Justice” S1 / E5
- B+ Community Grade
“Justice” is a sneak attack in refocusing Legit as a show about Billy. In the pilot, Jim Jefferies makes it clear that he wants to do good, and he’s going to devote his life to making people like Billy happy in the hopes that it will make him feel happier, too. But this whole time, Billy’s been wanting to do bad. He asks to smoke pot and takes mushrooms with reckless abandon (especially when Wii bowling is being played in the background). “Justice” is him coming to terms with how “evil” he has become, and not only loving every second of it, but being celebrated for it by the rest of the cast.
Billy’s not capable of true evil, and neither is Jefferies. We see that, unequivocally, in what they do when threatened with their lives. In “Justice,” a bunch of thieves case Jefferies’ apartment and believe him to be a drug dealer. They raid the place, holding Jefferies at machete-point and demanding to be shown the goods. Jefferies produces an Altoids tin full of pot and a tiny bag of coke, and…that’s it. Oh, a DVD player too. Faced with certain death, Jefferies tells his girlfriend Peggy to remain under the covers for fear that she’ll be hurt, too. Steve cowers in fear. They’re softies; Jefferies might put up a tough guy facade, but he still struggles to convince the people mugging him that he’s just a lowly stand-up comic and doesn’t have the droids they are looking for.
Billy is the only one who can rise to the challenge. Placed in a corner with his hand taken off the controls of his wheelchair, he wills himself, as if powered by the force itself, to get his hand back on the control stick and knock his oxygen tank away from the wall, emitting a high-pitched screech. This scares away the burglars and saves the lives of his friends. Six weeks later, he’s in court, where he’s called to testify, and he’s not above playing his illness for jury sympathy points if it means those he cares about remain out of harm’s way.
“Justice” messes with Legit’s formula, which is impressive given it’s only the fifth episode of the entire series. Billy began the show as the weak one. Now he’s strong. The fear of death is completely foreign to him. He’s died four times, he says. Jefferies is the one who’s really scared.
It’s amazing that I ever really thought of Legit as a Louie clone. Louie puts Louis CK on a rung below the rest of the world, and we marvel as he attempts to climb up even a modest amount. On this show, everyone is on an equal playing field. Rodney is just as capable of snatching away Jefferies' girlfriend as Jefferies is of holding onto her. Billy's new caretaker Ramona is just as attached to the boy as his own mother. And Steve, the wuss that he is, can rise up, with enough chastising, and shed his wussiness for a brief moment.
There's a selflessness in Legit's DNA. Jefferies and Peter O'Fallon gave Billy all the best lines of "Justice," not Jefferies—who is ostensibly the star. And even the judge fails to see Jefferies' logic in not calling Peggy his girlfriend: "She's worth it," he fires back instantaneously. Hell, Jefferies' career as a comic is seen as a joke. He's too poor to afford anything of real value; even the burglars have never heard of him, and Jefferies can only offer paltry DVDs of his specials as proof. His very real fear of dying, the takeaway from the episode, is reduced to just another joke in his act not because it's unimportant, but because Jefferies would love it if a jaded stand-up comic would treat this life-changing event so casually.
But again, this is Billy's show to lose. DJ Qualls is capable of eliciting extreme sympathy, to the point where when he bursts out of his shell, it's all the more surprising and cathartic. It may sound cliche to say that Jefferies set out to change Billy, but it's really Billy that changes Jefferies. But things are cliche for a reason. And also, Billy is a badass. There's nothing not to like about rooting for the underdog.