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So Help Me Todd - Co-Pilot - Review

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While the pilot left me feeling overwhelmed by an abundance of backstory, most of which was not even relevant to the character development, the co-pilot was more succinct, focused and therefore a lot more enjoyable to watch. This episode focused on Todd’s (Skylar Astin) new position as Investigator at his mother Joan’s (Marcia Gay Harden), law firm. He quickly learns that being the boss’ son does not come with many perks (despite what others may think). His new partner, Lyle, with whom he made a bad impression in the pilot, shows Todd to his new office- a file closet without so much as a desk or chair. The arc between these two is sure to be a complicated and hopefully comedic one, as they could not be more different. Lyle is an uptight, by the book professional, unlike Todd who is best described as a whirling dervish, preferring to cut corners to get what he needs. Todd is further put off when he finds out that his mother has assigned him to a case covering water damage to porcelain dolls, and assigned the major case she is working on- the Mayor’s cheating scandal- to his counterpart. When confronted by her son about her reasoning, Joan describes that she is trying to make partner with this case and needs her best man on the job. However, her boss has other ideas when he takes over the case and assigns her second chair thus allowing Joan to feel what life is like in Todd’s shoes. 

Despite this only being the second episode, viewers know Todd well enough to know that he is not going to just sit idle on the Mayor case and as predicted, Todd uses his unconventional (often illegal) ways of investigating to solve the case and pull out a win for his mother. During his investigation, Todd finds the mayor’s alleged mistress dead and the mayor’s wife Elaine (played by Sunita Prasad), quickly becomes the prime suspect in her murder. With some quick thinking and some inadvertent help from Lyle, Todd ends up at Elaine's former high school where he discovers she had a relationship with a man named Dragon who turns out to be the biological father of Elaine and the mayor's son. The reason Elaine was acting guilty was because she had kept the paternity a secret from the mayor, the real killer was in fact Dragon. Todd's antics that lead to him sharing this revelation include pulling the fire alarm at the court house and announcing his findings to the room amid panic over the alarm going off. Realistic? Hardly, but it is completely characteristic of Todd who lacks any semblance of self-control, so in this case it works. 

It is clear that the writers are leading us toward a will they, won’t they with Todd and his engaged ex-girlfriend, Susan (played by Inga Schlingmann), who also works at the law firm. Small interactions both in the pilot and this episode have hinted at lingering feelings between the two. I am not sure the chemistry between these two characters is there yet, but hopefully the writers will take the slow burn route and allow the chemistry to develop (or not) before plowing full steam ahead with this relationship.

The dynamic between Astin and Harden is infectious which allows viewers to ignore the somewhat cheesy writing and engage with the plot simply to root for this mother and son duo, whose chemistry is clearly the highlight of the series. Todd’s sister Alison (played by Madeline Wise) has clearly been cemented as a supporting character, showing up occasionally with dry skepticism to help drive the plot. More hints were dropped, however, about Alison’s marriage being on the rocks, including Joan pointing out that Alison wasn’t wearing her wedding ring. It will be interesting to see how this storyline will be developed, and where it will leave Todd, who has taken up shelter in the couple’s garage. The elusive brother of Todd and Alison, Lawrence, was alluded to yet again, but viewers have yet to be introduced to him physically. This still strikes me as quite odd and hopefully the show will provide a point to the introduction of this character soon.

What were your thoughts on the co-pilot? Are you hooked? Let me know your thoughts by sharing them in the comment section below, or by engaging with me on Twitter @ms_c_almeida.

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