Lawrence Trilling, Goliath TV series showrunner and director, pays tribute to David Lynch – and Lynch’s film Blue Velvet in particular – with season 3 of Goliath, currently streaming on Amazon Prime. It’s all there: a retro-style torch singer in a lounge bar, velvet curtains, hallucinations, the creepy bad guy singing Roy Orbison’s ‘In Dreams,’ and an eerie opening scene filmed in classic Lynch style. Oh, and by the way, this is still Goliath, so Billy Bob Thornton returns as world weary lawyer Billy McBride.
The wealthy landowners growing almonds in California’s irrigated valleys need lots of water and don’t mind shortchanging local residents in order to get it. It’s a familiar tale, and while we’re referencing classic films, add Chinatown to the list. Dennis Quaid plays Wade Blackwood, who owns Blackwood Almonds. His sister Diana (Amy Brenneman) runs a new-age lifestyle website Soop. Yes, it’s an obvious reference to Gwynneth Paltrow’s Goop. Diana also helps with the almond business. Her interactions with Wade and their bizarre rituals involving toasters and bathtubs tease at an incestuous relationship.
McBride sides with the drought-stricken locals, of course, when an old friend asks him to help seek justice for the unexpected death of his wife. Billy agrees to take on the metaphorical Goliath, partly to escape his life back in Los Angeles.
Trilling brings back familiar characters from Goliath seasons 1 and 2, but it’s better to let their appearances be a mild surprise. The familiar – both characters and typical film noir genre touches and plot twists – counteracts the Lynch-inspired tangents, which are fun in their own way, but feel somewhat out of place in an already established series with set standards and expectations.
Just as Billy McBride finds he can’t really leave his old life behind, Goliath the series can’t quite successfully reinvent itself. While Goliath is still entertaining, the current season doesn’t match what we’ve seen before. If, or more likely when, season 4 happens – let’s hope Goliath stays grounded with the solid plot lines and characters that caught our attention when the show premiered.