The second season of Murder in the First opens with a breathtaking but harrowing scene: Terry and Hildy happen to be in the vicinity when two youths on a school bus pull out guns and open fire on their classmates. I can’t imagine that it comes close to reproducing what it would actually be like, but in fairness the writer (Eric Lodal) and director (Jesse Bochco) do a pretty good job of simulating terror and hellish confusion: kids pleading for their lives, desperately trying to get off the bus, that sort of thing, while the shooters, Dustin Maker and Alfie Rentman, detonate smoke bombs to facilitate their escape.
SFPD attends in force and Maker is captured, but Rentman manages to get away, suggesting that the perimeter was nowhere near hard enough. The show saves its hardest punch for the end of the sequence: the bodies of the dead kids are concealed by sheets outside the bus, and as mobile phone networks are unjammed, and calls to the deceased start to get through, their phones light up under the sheets.
If the first season is a guide this won’t just be a manhunt: we’ll see the case through to trial, at which point Alfie Rentman’s psychiatrist father, who seems to have been treating Alfie with drugs for sociopathy, will presumably be pivotal. He’s already given Kathleen Robertson the opportunity for her best line reading of the episode: during an interview, he allows that his son is dangerous. “Dr Rentman”, Hildy replies, deadpan. “No shit”.
There’s another storyline, as yet deliberately underplayed, and apparently unconnected: the disappearance of undercover cop Sarah Tran. Sarah was on the prostitution beat, so in the grand tradition of procedurals I’m guessing that means someone else is going to have to go undercover (i.e. dressed like a hooker) to solve the mystery. In season 1 that would have been an open goal for Hildy, but this time around there’s competition, as Lorelei Martins from The Mentalist has appeared as part of the team, joining the returning Walter Mashburn on MitF’s roster of Mentalist alums. Adam Noshimuri from H50 is back as well, although it looks as if his DA lover has been written out.
So we’re set up nicely for season 2. The unknown variable this time around is the departure of co-creator/showrunner Eric Lodal halfway through filming, in circumstances which don’t appear to have been wholly amicable, leaving Steven Bochco in sole command. Given how long it is since Bochco had a hit show on his own, that might or might not be a good thing. In any event, I’m not planning weekly reviews, but I’ll definitely keep watching.