Titus Welliver has played Harry Bosch on television for nearly a decade, starting with the seven-season Amazon crime series “Bosch.” Once a grizzled cop who would squint into the harsh Los Angeles sun and uncover ugly truths hiding in dark crevices, he has since retired from the police force. “Bosch: Legacy,” now in its second season on Freevee, is proof that Harry’s story is more interesting — and closer to the noir sensibility hinted in the original — as a private investigator teaming up with the wily and poised defense attorney Honey Chandler, played by Mimi Rogers.
At first glance, they’re opposites. He’s gruff and hardened by life, happy to do his job in jeans and a T-shirt. She’s methodical and strategic and impeccably turned out. They share a world-weary cynicism that has not yet diminished their shared interest in righting a few wrongs. And their mutual respect remains unmuddied by sexual tension. Together, they are a formidable brain trust, thinking through all the angles. If the show were only about them I would give it four stars, no hesitation. Welliver and Rogers have such an easy chemistry playing this pair of professional puzzle-solvers.
But their efforts are only half the narrative.
The other half focuses on Harry’s daughter Maddie. A young cop, she’s eager and earnest and, as played by Madison Lintz, never once believable. Shoehorned into a role she doesn’t have the skill set to play — it’s a performance that amounts to staring and then staring harder — neither the writing nor the ensemble she’s surrounded with can inch things closer to the subtleties achieved in the Harry and Honey portions. Toggling back and forth, the show only invites this comparison, and not to its benefit.
Despite their dual need to project a tough exterior, Harry and Maddie have enough trauma between them to keep a team of psychiatrists in business. They pretend otherwise (get therapy? As if!) and that makes sense for the characters. But the show often falls into this trap as well. “Worrying about you has become a full-time distraction,” she tells her father. “OK, OK,” he replies annoyed, “so don’t worry about me.” It might be the most dysfunctional relationship on television, if only anyone took the time to seriously zing Maddie’s career arc (you’ll never get your father’s approval!) or didn’t just sigh and shake their heads exasperatingly at Harry’s reckless savior complex-slash-death wish.
The first two episodes of the season center on a grisly abduction, with Harry in rescue mode. I prefer him as the gruff, thinking man’s hero, and he reverts to form for the remaining episodes, which pick up four months later, when Honey hires him to work on another case. A woman’s been murdered. Honey believes her client didn’t do it. So she and Harry try to piece together what really happened, often skating around the law — greasing palms, mainly — with Honey gritting her teeth the entire time. They soon realize a pair of corrupt and wildly dangerous vice cops are somehow in the mix.
The FBI is also looking into one of Honey’s older cases involving a pipeline explosion, some murders and the Russians. The feds think she and Harry were involved, or at least connected. “The FBI is here asking for you,” says one of her colleagues. “Me?” Her shrug is so perfect. “Send them in.” This eventually ensnares Harry’s hacker-for-hire, played by Stephen A. Chang, whose overconfidence and desire to impress a pretty face might land him in hot water. Or not. Consequences are rarely long-lasting in this franchise.
That’s actually preferable when it comes to Honey. Steely but with a light touch, she’s thinking five steps ahead. The picture of class, she doesn’t raise her voice or lose her cool. She’s too seasoned, too organized for that. It’s a great late-career role for Rogers and one that has been overlooked by Emmy voters. With the number of TV series competing for attention right now, it’s harder for first-rate but nonshowy performances to stand out. Even so, the character’s shrewd competence is riveting in the hands of a veteran like Rogers.
The finale sets up a storyline that might put Honey and Harry on opposite sides going forward. If so, that will be a shame. Their partnership is the show’s primary draw.
The other draw, as always, is Harry’s house, with its floor-to-ceiling windows cantilevered over the Hollywood Hills. At night, the city glitters in the distance. The Bosch stories have never been interested in Hollywood, despite the L.A. of it all. Harry’s house is the show’s one nod to the glamour of its setting.
2.5 stars (out of 4)
How to watch: Freevee