'Made in Jersey' recap: 'Cacti' can't quite survive on its own

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Episode 2 of "Made in Jersey" had a sideline plot involving the gift of a cactus plant that was a metaphor for lawyer Martina's ability to survive on her own. Unfortunately, the metaphor may not extend to the show itself. Ratings were low for the premiere, and the series still needs some improvement before it can reel in the ratings. "Cacti" had its promising moments, but "Made in Jersey" still suffers from overly simplistic plotting.

The case

Martina gets handed the newbies' tedious job of combing through letters from prison or institutionalized inmates. She finds a letter from a longtime client of the firm, Hannah Atwood (Kelli Barrett), who had been catatonic for years after allegedly murdering her boyfriend. Apparently a new medication brought Hannah out of her stupor, and she's hoping to get released from the mental hospital and get on with her life.

Though a hearing proves she could likely get released from a doctor's care in a couple years, Hannah risks prison time and opts to go to trial instead to prove her innocence. Now that she's in her right mind, she's remembering enough of the evening to know that she didn't kill anyone. Martina investigates with Riv and using pictures the family had taken at the party, they discover a guest who was never accounted for in the original investigation.

The pictures also don't mesh with how Hannah described herself in her memories, and Martina's intense questioning reveals that the client had combined childhood trauma with recollections of the murder. Turns out the mysterious party guest had been a family friend who abused Hannah when she was a child. Hannah's boyfriend confronted him with deadly results. With testimony from the abuser's ex-wife, Martina and her law firm are able to get Hannah released and cleared of all charges.

Love interest

The best part of "Cacti" was Martina running into her ex-boyfriend, Tommy (Enver Gjokaj), in the DA's office. The two have a fun chemistry/rivalry that heats up when he decides to try the case against Hannah. There's flirtation, one-upmanship, and the gift of the cactus. We learn that Martina once turned down a loan from Tommy to help her get through law school, hence the metaphorical plant. Meanwhile, Martina also seems to be making eyes at fellow lawyer Nolan ("Ringer" alum Kristoffer Polaha).

The family

Martina's sister Bonnie (Erin Cummings) brings a new guy home to meet the family. He seems like the perfect catch, dressed in a suit, a steady job, and a clear background check from Riv. The family, however, decked out in T-shirts and a lot of animal print, decides he's not right for Bonnie since he's too classy and doesn't like football. While the scene plays out with some exaggerated stereotypes, Martina does have a funny line about Bonnie trying to find someone better than her usual bums: "I think you may have over-corrected."

Too easy

"Made in Jersey" still has a way of making everything too easy. Every witness coughs up the necessary information, Martina always knows exactly what to do next, and nearly everyone she encounters is just so darn happy to help her. When she flippantly turns down her boss Donovan's invitation to have drinks with the partners, because she's "more of a beer girl," the big cheese seems perfectly fine with it. In the real world, that would be career suicide, but Martina seems to operate in a pleasant dimension far outside the real world.

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