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Death Be Not Proud / Season 1, Episode 17
First broadcast: March 20, 2005; repeat: September 6, 2005
Chelina asks Alan to assist her in Texas because her former client is
getting executed but may be innocent of the crime. An old friend of Denny
and Shirley asks them for legal representation when she charged with
having sexual encounters for a fee. Lori files a complaint about Denny
with Shirley and Paul and they seriously consider doing something about
it; especially when they suspect he performed an unethical act on his
Directed by .... Matt Shakman
Written by .... David E. Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro
Sterling K. Brown .... Zeke Borns
Traber Burns .... Warden Silverman
John Considine .... Judge Lance Abrams
Liam Craig .... Attorney Gerald Litman
James Dalesandro .... Judge Theodore Mitchell
Henry Gibson .... Judge Clark Brown
Shelley Long .... Miriam Watson
William Murray .... Attendant
Conor O'Farrell .... A.D.A. Glenn Jackson
Kat Sawyer-Young .... Judge Martha Brenford
Donovan Scott .... Judge Christopher Serra
Ken Strunk .... Father Thomas Martin
Kerry Washington .... Chelina Hall
Alan: I'm not about to go to Texas and not ride the mechanical bull,
Chelina. That would be like going to Los Angeles and not sleeping with
Alan: I promise you. By the time I finish tomorrow, those judges - every
last one of them - will rise up and say 'Never mind executing Ezekiel
Borns. Let's kill Alan Shore instead.'
Alan: With all due respect.
Alan: How can you kill him?
Alan: Chelina. Let's go argue the cause
Did You Know... ?
..working on it...
Into The Next Life by Abney [written for TV Tome]
Wow...I mean, wow.
Probably the strongest episode of the series, dramatically speaking. Of
the few episodes of The Practice that I did see prior to the introduction
of Alan Shore in Season 8, this rang true as an episode that could have
come from that series, with a classic Boston Legal tongue-in-cheek subplot
to undercut the seriousness of the main plot, which was nothing short of
phenomenal. Alan is so effective in this role - because for once, he isn't
sardonic or smug. He's passionate about a case that he truly believes in,
and he doesn't have the upper hand - he's fighting an arduous uphill
battle that he knows he probably can't win. But he fought anyway. For
Chelina, for Zeke - for his own personal beliefs. That's admirable whether
or not you're morally upstanding.
I'm not going to comment on whether the death penalty is virtuous or a
monstrous institution, and I'm not even going to touch the fact that Texas
is responsible for so many of our nation's state-inflicted capital
punishments. David E. Kelley did plenty of that for the both of us.
Instead, I'd like to examine the people that make up this show - it's the
characters that carry us through the story, case by case. That's why I
watch the show in the first place, and that's why I stick around. I'll
tell you, plain and simple, right now - Alan Shore is THE most
interesting, involving, sarcastic, and yet at the same time utterly
serious character on television. Period. I just couldn't help but watch in
awe as he delivered his final speech to the Texan justices, scrambling to
find some way to stay Zeke's execution, any way he could. He likes that
people such as Chelina would turn to him for help in this insurmountable
situation, and he hates that sometimes, he fails. But that's what makes
him more real than the (pleasantly) one-dimensional Denny.
Who, from the first day we stepped into the Boston office of Crane, Poole,
Schmidt, has been rude, crude, inappropriate, coarse, impolite,
vulgar...you get the picture. Tara doesn't seem to mind, and while Sally
took issue with that type of thing from time to time, it wasn't really an
issue for them. But Lori is not like them, and she can't keep on looking
the other way when he makes his classic comments. Sure, they win him
cases, as does bribery and judge intimidation, but perhaps Lori's official
complaint will be the catalyst for a power struggle within the office that
could rip our already troubled lawyers, who for the most part can't stand
each other's company, even more apart than they are right now. And I'm all
for any kind of an overlapping story.
The other story, involving a nymphomaniac (are you serious!?), didn't feel
right matched up with Zeke's case. That's twice in a row that two cases
that don't fit together AT ALL have been forced together into one episode.
In fact, I think this episode would have been far better off with a set-up
of only one case, for once. The humor did serve to break tension, but it
also trivialized it, and didn't do it justice at all. (Pun very much
At the end of the day, everyone who heard Zeke's story passed judgment on
him. Not just those who convicted him or did not halt his potentially
wrongful execution, but even our legal heroes, Alan and Chelina. Chelina
was so willing to believe that he was innocent that she had demolished any
inroads with the Texas court system and made an unwinnable case even less
winnable before she even called Alan in. It's not that she's to blame,
though; she didn't feel she or Zeke or his case were being treated the way
they deserved to be, and it was an injustice Alan came to witness. It's
not difficult to see both sides of the story, however. I sympathize with
Zeke and Chelina's ploy, but I'm not a Texan, and I won't criticize the
way they do things in Texas regardless of how suspect their system may
appear. It's not my place.
It is, however, Alan's. And Chelina's. Last week, Alan was the champion of
free speech. This week, he didn't just represent a mentally challenged
client, he represented his own brand of justice. He didn't come to his
case out of money - greed is not a factor for him, though money is
certainly something that is nice to have. He didn't have to come to Texas
with Chelina to see this case through, but he's not as hardened and
heartless as he comes off upon first introduction. He's not infallible,
and he doesn't always win. He's still a damn good attorney though.
Maybe Zeke's confession was coerced. Maybe he was brainwashed - Chelina
went as far as to suggest that, perhaps out of desperation. They did
interrogate him for an unbelievable 16 hours. Take into account that he's
a man of diminished mental capacity, and it probably wasn't that difficult
to convince him that he did what they wanted him to have done. He may not
remember it, but then again, all you need is to parade a doctor in front
of him who convincingly explains that one's own mind often blacks out
traumatizing events. Zeke was bent to the wills of others, made pliable,
his fighting spirit killed. Made to believe his salvation was in accepting
his own death for a crime he isn't even sure he did. Alan was able to stir
that very human urge within him once more, to find the humanity in Zeke.
The will to live overrides everything when it comes to the human mind, no
matter its IQ.
'Death Be Not Proud'.
-Alan Shore! God do I love that man. I'm quite sure a part of it is how
beautifully written he is, but Spader delivers every line with the perfect
mix of arrogance, subtety, disdain, sarcasm...you name it, and there's an
element of it in his speech. It's amazing to watch. Give this man another
-Chelina (I know her name!) became interesting for the first time here. I
would have loved the scene of her breaking down, seeming to give up on
Zeke and the case - if the illicit kiss had not happened. Seriously - I
know Alan is charming, but does every single woman who is or ever has been
in the legal profession have to fall for him?
-I loved the usage of Big & Rich's "Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)" for the
scene in Texas, and Alan's cowboy hat throughout the episode. Sure, it's a
stereotypical portrayal of the state, but that doesn't mean I can't love
-In desperation, with nothing else to turn to and all legal options
exhausted, Alan's final speech to the judges who sat before him was
incredible. He really shined.
-The governor didn't call. Alan's last second hula girl didn't come
through. He lost. And Zeke died.
-When Chelina got the phone call, her eyes teared up - but you didn't know
why right away. It was a great way of conveying emotion even though it
could have been one of two that are on opposite ends of the spectrum.
-But by far, THE BEST scene of the episode and perhaps the series was the
closing scene. Zeke fought, even though he knew he couldn't win. Just like
Chelina; just like Alan. And when he slowed breathing carried through to
the fade to 'Executive Producers...'; amazing.
-I almost loved this episode enough to put absolutely nothing here, but...
-They wasted Shelley Long in a very stupid plot which I already mentioned
did not mesh at all with the core of this episode. And it's a shame,
because it's the lone (glaring) black mark on this fantastic episode.
-Chelina turned away when Zeke was fighting being tied down so he could
receive his punishment. My stomach actually turned a little bit and I
almost felt like turning away myself.
-Alan running through the list of defenses he was willing to attempt and
may have gotten Zeke off but were never raised by his initial
representation, which was undoubtedly inadequate, if not in the legal
sense. It makes me sick that people die because of other's people's apathy
Boston Legal goes on hiatus so ABC can introduce Grey's Anatomy, which
works out for me since I will be out of the country for Spring Break. I'll
see you all when I (and the show) return.
Written by: Abney | Send feedback and comments to Abney at
September 6, 2005 [repeat of "Death Be Not Proud"]
Households: 3.8/7, #11; adults 18-49: 1.6, #13; lagged behind the
the stories behind the stories of Death Be Not Proud by Stephen Lee
Texas executions by the numbers:
Texas has executed more people than any other state, accounting for 313 of
the 885 executions (about a third) in the United States between 1977 and
2003; no other state had executed more than 100 people as of the end of
2003. Texas executed 24 people in 2003, of whom 17 were white and 7 were
black. The following graphs show how Texas compares to other states in
terms of executions from 1977 to 2003 and in recent years.
>> read more
Boston Legal: Death Be Not Proud
Season 1, Episode 17
Airdate: March 20, 2005
Watch segment clip (11:13)
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March 20, 2005:
...working on it...
[Source: Nielsen Media Research (Fast Affiliate Ratings]
September 6, 2005 [repeat]:
Households: 3.8/7, #11; adults 18-49: 1.6, #13; lagged behind the
James Spader Meeting Place "Death Be Not Proud"
Full transcript of episode
[Thanks to "Imamess" at