Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Apollo Justice: Shady Attorney?

Apollo has only 4 cases under his belt, but he’s already made quite a name for himself (rather like his mentor, Phoenix, actually). He’s undoubtedly the talk of the town for revealing the bombshell truth behind the dissolution of Troupe Gramarye, Phoenix Wright’s disbarment, and the sudden, unexpected fall of once-renowned defense attorney Kristoph Gavin. However, all is not rosy for the “passionate heart burning red.” It’s easy to overlook, considering Apollo himself is such a good guy, but in only 4 cases, Apollo has managed to rub shoulders and establish ties with as many genuine criminals as Phoenix did in his entire career. What is more, if subjected to just a little scrutiny, one crucial detail, combined with how questionable his client history appears to the disinterested observer, could cause Apollo’s promising career to come crashing down like a cursed house of cards. On what grounds do these claims rest, and what could they mean for Apollo? Let’s take a look.

(Before going any further, it should be made clear that I’m specifically referring to criminal ties through the client. For example, Phoenix has definitely crossed the mob far more than Apollo has, but never by way of the person he was defending.)

Let’s examine Phoenix’s client history first. Over the course of his 13 playable cases spanning 4 games, Phoenix has gotten a genuine criminal for a client only about once a game, on average. In GS1, it was Lana Skye. She may have been innocent of Bruce Goodman’s death, but she was guilty of tampering with the body (not to mention tampering with the crime scene of Neil Marshall’s murder and the umpteen other crimes Gant almost certainly made her commit over the course of 2 or 3 years). In GS2, the guilty party was (obviously!) Matt Engarde. No, he didn’t technically kill anybody, but he was enough of a slimeball to hire an assassin to do his dirty work for him. In GS3, we actually had two guilty parties. In case 3-2, Ron Delite was no murderer, but he really was Mask*DeMasque, with all of the thieving and pilfering that implies. (Thanks to some clever finagling, though, he was never actually convicted for it.) Finally, in case 3-5, Iris’s hands were clean of blood, but she, like others before her, couldn’t keep her hands off that crime scene.

If we turn our attention to Apollo, we see that not only does he have his own share of dubious clients, he has also managed to rack them up consecutively. In case 4-2, he successfully defended the son of a mafia boss. Think about that again. He didn’t just encounter the mafia, he defended one of their own! It doesn’t even really matter that Wocky was innocent of the crime he was accused of, the point is Apollo worked for these people and (presumably) accepted money from them for his services. You could say it doesn’t really matter, but just think about how it sounds when you hear of a defense attorney who has successfully defended the mob…

Things would be bad enough for Apollo if that were his only crooked tie, but the fun doesn’t stop there. In case 4-3, he defended a wanted smuggler. This is certainly not on the same order as murder or the like, but if Gyakuten Kenji is any indication, it’s still serious business. Finally, we arrive at case 4-4, where Apollo’s client is…a forger. Not just of art, either. No, we’re talking about one of those talented forgers, one of those people who can produce that accursed bugaboo of the entire series—forged evidence.

So, both Phoenix and Apollo have had more than a few criminals for clients. This never really came back to bite Phoenix, though, so why it should hurt Apollo? Well, it may be true that Phoenix never came out the worse for his clients’ criminal activities, but Apollo’s situation is significantly different. Again, consider just how things look overall: he has, to date, defended the son of a mob boss, a smuggler, and a forger. Never mind that guilt by association is not always a fair standard, just think about how that looks. Then remember that his first client was none other than the infamous “Forgin’ Attorney,” Phoenix Wright. (Again, don’t think about the facts, just consider public perception.) Every single case Apollo has taken thus far, his client has been, shall we say, questionable. (Even if we remember that Phoenix was ultimately exonerated, then Apollo simply trades one fishy relationship for another, considering his former boss Kristoph was accordingly exposed as a totally unscrupulous and manipulative piece of trash).

Again you may say, so what? It’s all guilt by association. This is true. However, now we come to the coup de grĂ¢ce, the one thing that would, together with his slew of shady connections, really kill Apollo's career: he is guilty of presenting forged evidence in court, in case 4-1.

This simple fact is incredibly easy to forget because the game glosses over it, indeed, deliberately shifts the focus to Phoenix and his crime in creating the forged evidence. However, Apollo’s role in using it cannot be ignored. As the game makes abundantly clear later on, the attorney is responsible for the evidence he presents in court. Ergo, it doesn’t matter how Apollo got the forged evidence, nor does it matter that he had no hand in its creation. The bottom line is, he presented it in court, and Phoenix told him flat-out after the trial was over that it was forged. At the time it is presented, Kristoph, too, plainly declares that the evidence is fraudulent, but Apollo is only saved by Phoenix retorting that Kristoph would only know that if he were the killer. The issue is never raised after that, but it still remains. Looking at what happened to Phoenix as an example, Apollo’s career could be sunk all too easily just because of this alone. Throw in the rogue’s gallery of clients from before, and Apollo is really treading a fine line over his reputation. It’s all too easy to imagine a scenario wherein Apollo gets blackmailed over this incident or is somehow otherwise threatened over his murky past.

You may be wondering what my point was in saying all this. I’m sorry if it was difficult to discern, but all I really wanted to convey is that, just observing him “objectively,” from the outside, Apollo looks like a REALLY shady guy! Put together with the fact that he is guilty of presenting forged evidence, someone could put a quick end to his legal career with just a little digging. Does anything remotely like this have to happen? Of course not! Heck, at this point we don’t even know if there’s going to BE a GS5, let alone what the plot details would be. But even assuming Apollo was the protagonist, there’s no reason to also assume that the writers would take the story in this direction. Nevertheless, it just struck me as kind of a huge deal, not something they would do for just no reason, and not something they should be able to just quietly forget about. But hey, it could happen. After all, they were ready to consider the “new era” of Ace Attorney concluded after only one game.