‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ is back on top and back on the case

The Netflix series based on Michael Connelly’s books returns with Manuel Garcia-Rulfo on fire as defense attorney Mickey Haller.
The Lincoln Lawyer. (L to R) Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Mickey Haller, Becki Newton as Lorna in episode 101 of The Lincoln Lawyer. Cr. Lara Solanki/Netflix © 2022
The Lincoln Lawyer. (L to R) Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Mickey Haller, Becki Newton as Lorna in episode 101 of The Lincoln Lawyer. Cr. Lara Solanki/Netflix © 2022 [ LARA SOLANKI/NETFLIX | LARA SOLANKI/NETFLIX ]
Published July 6|Updated July 20

Season 1 of the hit Netflix series “The Lincoln Lawyer” began with Mickey Haller at a low point in his life. The Los Angeles defense attorney’s career was foundering, his two marriages had ended in divorce, and he was struggling to kick an opioid addiction.

By the end of 10 episodes, though, Haller was back on his game, and Season 2 opens with him on top of the world — and on the cover of L.A. Magazine, smiling suavely under a headline about the hottest lawyer in town.

For Mickey, that high perch may be perilous. His self-confidence is his sharpest tool, and his great weakness. In the first five episodes of Season 2 provided for review, that’s a major theme.

Those five episodes drop July 6 on Netflix; the rest of Season 2 drops on Aug. 3.

“The Lincoln Lawyer” is based on bestselling author Michael Connelly’s series of six novels about Haller, and it’s the third streaming series based on his books. The others are “Bosch” and “Bosch: Legacy” on Amazon. (Season 2 of the latter is expected to drop this fall.) Detective Harry Bosch is also Haller’s half brother; although they sometimes work together in Connelly’s books, in the world of competing streaming services their paths don’t cross.

Connelly, who has a home in Tampa, has been very involved in all three TV series, as an executive producer and a writer — he’s been posting photos of himself on social media walking the picket lines as part of the current Writers Guild of America strike.

Fortunately for fans, Season 2 of “The Lincoln Lawyer” was completed before the strike, and it’s back with all the elements that made it a No. 1 show last time around.

Chief among them is Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Mickey. He delivers the seductive charm and sharp intelligence that make the character so effective in the courtroom, and elsewhere, but he gives us glimpses of Mickey’s dark side as well. Garcia-Rulfo is Mexican, which reflects the Mexican-American heritage of the character in Connelly’s books.

The dumpy office suite Mickey inherited last season has undergone a sleekly posh renovation, although he still often works out his car (hence his Lincoln Lawyer nickname). The staff is the same, and hurrah for that. Becki Newton as office manager (and Mickey’s second ex-wife) Lorna, Angus Sampson as Mickey’s investigator and Lorna’s fiance Cisco, and Jazz Raycole as Izzy, Mickey’s driver and sobriety coach, make up one of the best supporting casts around.

The season starts with Haller preparing to defend a client a second time for the same crime because of new evidence. Despite that, Haller believes Jesus Menendez is innocent of the stabbing death of a sex worker, and he’s trying to track down a witness, another sex worker named Glory Days, who can help his client.

He’s also dealing with hordes of new clients clamoring for his attention because of the publicity he’s getting over the case that dominated Season 1. One of them is Russell Lawson, who hires Haller when he’s arrested for what looks like a minor case of breaking and entering. He’s a nervous, bespectacled goofball who seems entirely harmless. He’s not.

Yet another case, though, will dominate the season’s arc. This season of the show is based on “The Fifth Witness,” Connelly’s fourth Haller novel. Published in 2011, it has a plot centered on the housing crisis and flood of foreclosures. For the TV series, that was updated so that the plot revolves around conflicts in L.A. over development and gentrification.

After Mickey’s dinner date at a trendy restaurant with his first ex-wife, prosecutor Maggie McPherson (Neve Campbell), turns into an argument, she storms out. The restaurant’s chef comes over to console him, and the heat isn’t just in the kitchen. Lisa Trammell (Lana Parrilla) gives Mickey a tour of the restaurant’s inviting outdoor area, which happens to lead right to her house next door.

Over breakfast the next morning, she tells Mickey that a huge high-rise under construction down the block is threatening not just her business but the neighborhood, driving out many long-term residents. She’s joined protests against the developer, Mitchell Bondurant.

When she’s served a restraining order to stay away from Bondurant and his office, she asks for Mickey’s help, which he agrees to despite Lorna crisply pointing out the conflict of interest of representing a woman he’s sleeping with. That will be even more crucial when Lisa is arrested for Bondurant’s murder. The case is complicated further when a true-crime podcaster, Henry Dahl, attaches himself to Lisa and interferes with Mickey’s efforts.

Other plot lines weave around the main arc. Lorna, when she’s not keeping Mickey in line, is busy trying to finish law school and plan her wedding to Cisco. Her fiance is making her nervous, though, acting shifty about his whereabouts and not telling her he’s been drawn into a dangerous situation related to the Road Saints, the biker gang he hoped he had left behind.

Izzy is trying to get both a business and a relationship with her ex-girlfriend off the ground as Maggie worries about her career trajectory, which has curved in the opposite direction from Mickey’s. About the only person who doesn’t have troubles in Mickey’s world is daughter Hayley, and their relationship is a sweet oasis.

Like Season 1, this season was shot on location in Los Angeles, which adds a layer of authenticity to the series and allows for moments like Mickey and Maggie bonding, very temporarily, over octopus dumplings from a food truck, and Mickey gazing out at the city from the deck of his groovy mid-century modern hillside home.

Season 2 promises to be as excellent as Season 1. And don’t worry about the TV show running out of source material: Connelly’s seventh novel about Mickey, “Resurrection Walk,” will be published in November.