Todd is a private investigator out of a job residing in Portland. He works part-time for health insurance companies to make sure claims aren’t going out scandalously. But he’s not a bad guy.
In the opening scene of So Help Me Todd episode 1, we see Todd discover that Betty was indeed faking an injury to get her insurance claim and then let her off the hook when he sees she has kids. His overbearing mother, Margaret, is a successful lawyer. She runs her own firm and keeps reminding Todd not to bother his sister, Allison. Todd is currently living in her sister and her husband Chuck’s garage.
Harry, Margaret’s husband, leaves for somewhere as the couple changes to a new house. Margaret is currently representing her friend Cecelia’s daughter, Kim, in a murder trial. Since the prosecutor was advised bed rest after a serious concussion case, the trial is on hold. But Margaret reassures Kim that they will start in any case on Monday. When Todd tries to slip in a check to Margaret for the money he “owes” her, Margaret worriedly reveals to him that she cannot find Harry. He has Parkinson’s and has been missing for five hours. His father committed suicide because he had brain cancer. But Todd is discovering all of this just now.
Using his skills, Todd is able to get Harry’s current address – that he got changed – from the credit card company to a house in Gresham. They reach the address and wait for movement. In conversation, Margaret reveals Kim’s case to Todd but the prosecutor’s (Christopher) story seems fishy to him. After some probing, he discovers a video uploaded by the prosecutor’s daughter, where he can be seen sitting just fine. Margaret senses that the State has some hidden evidence and rushes to the local courthouse. Her suspicions prove to be right.
The Prosecution is sitting on a secret witness without telling about them to Margaret. Todd deduces that the witness has a video that he will be testifying to in court when he reads the contents of the slip. Suddenly, the cameras he placed in front of the Gresham address start blaring. In the video, though, they find a strange man holding a newborn babe. What the hell is going on?
Todd is paired with Lyle, a colleague of Margater’s from work, to help. But he is a little too uptight to understand the situation and dismisses Todd. The former PI runs into Susan, her ex-girlfriend at the office. He spots a ring on her finger; she’s engaged to someone called Peter. Todd reveals the Gresham house to Susan and asks for her help. She obliges and the info says it is a rental belonging to a corporation. Todd tries to snoop into Kim’s consultations with Margaret and overhears some stuff about a gun.
Todd digs deeper into the background of the man. His name is Tomas, the one who was holding the baby. He is the landlord and Harry is his new tenant. Allison invites Todd and Margaret for dinner at her house. Laurence, Todd’s gay brother, is unable to join them. But his partner is there. Laurence is the Chief of Staff for the Governor of Oregon. Margaret learns of Todd’s “spying” on her clients and is angry with him. They have a heated argument in which it is revealed that when Todd’s father died, Margaret did not stay back at home and went to work. Todd was left alone to deal with the situation.
Margaret walks away as Todd’s anger becomes more resentful. Todd called Tomas as an FBI Agent and he returns his call with a voicemail. He says his new tenant’s name isn’t Harry but someone who is a magician. The next morning, Allison drives Todd to the magician’s shop. It seems Allison too is having marriage problems. When Todd reaches the shop, he notices a news clip attached outside the window. It said that the magician was lost at sea a couple of months back and is presumed dead.
When a package is delivered to the doorstep, Todd hides across the street to see who picks it up. He notices a sign that says “Multnomah Parking Garage”, and recalls it as the place where Kim’s boss was shot. Todd leaves a device in the package and heads over to the garage to investigate. His detective work is actually good and leads him to the Convention Centre. He rushes to Margaret’s office and tells her about the expo for the little dashboard cameras that night. His theory is that some German guy had to park in the “murder lot” because the Convention parking was full and placed a machine in Kim’s boss’ car.
Only after the prosecutor’s filed everything did they notice this detail and contacted the man. But his theory is half-baked. Todd’s device in the package picks up on movement and the mother-son duo track it down. They bump into Morris, whose father, also named Morris, was the one who died at sea. He doesn’t know about Harry but his wife does, who is an attorney. She refuses to give out information and Margaret spots something in the boxes and takes their leave. She has picked up Harry’s laptop from the box, which has some of his other stuff. Actually, Harry has contracted to end his life, it seems, and they are giving his stuff away as “goodwill”.
While going through his junk emails, Todd stumbles across a receipt for the redemption of air travel miles. It says that Todd will board a flight to somewhere the next day at 10 AM. But Margaret has court duties. Todd comes up with a solution – an earpiece. While on call, she overhears the announcer calling for the final boarding call to Iceland. She messages Todd that the place is on his bucket list and that is where he might be headed. He is not able to get through security but spots Betty, from the opening scene, and asks her to return the favor. She gives him her uniform and he is able to board the plane.
Christopher introduces the witness and Todd’s suspicion was right. It is a foreign national in the city for the convention. Todd spots Harry and confronts him. Harry says although he still has time left, he is leaving Margaret., as she is too controlling and critical of him. Pretending to die was a ruse. Todd stands up for his mother, which pleases her. In court, the prosecution plays the raw video footage from the camera. It seems like Kim was indeed there with a gun. But Margaret senses something isn’t right as she looks back at Kim’s mother, not shocked or sad.
Harry reveals to Todd that Margaret has been fighting to get his license reinstated for the last two years, something that he didn’t know. Margaret tricks Cecelia into confessing it was her with the gun in the video. She only meant to scare him. Margaret picks up Todd from airport jail and kind of wins the case. Nicki and Kim’s dad had actually stolen Kim’s gun but Cecilia knew where it was hidden. Margaret is thoroughly impressed with his detective work and since Nadia is on maternity leave, she employs him temporarily as the investigator at her firm.
The Episode Review
The new CBS dramedy leaves you with mixed feelings in the end. As far as pilots go, it is worthy of raking in decent praise. But otherwise, only episode 2 can provide clarity on a decisive conclusion.
Skylar Astin and Marcia Gay Harden give good accounts of themselves, and so do the writers with a clever ruse to set up the cinematic universe. We know it will be a 13-part season airing weekly, giving them plenty of time to experiment with their interesting characters. So Help Me Todd definitely has vibes like The Flight Attendant. It is this new mix of sarcastic and dark humor with serious-minded moments of drama that is gaining popularity.
Some negatives that instantly speak out to you can be easily rectified. Dramatic moments are ushered in too hastily. They aren’t allowed to marinate in the scenes, thus losing continuity and consistency. The dialogues felt like empty lines with little emotion or acting. The cast is talented and proven pedigree.
I am pretty sure with better direction and steady writing, they can achieve what they’re going for. The pilot had smart plotting and exploited the familiar dramedy tropes well. The pilot gives it away a bit with the mother’s confession in the end but a decent showing overall.
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|