By now, most prestige television fans are aware of Bryan Cranston due to his roles in hit shows such as Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad. However, the A-lister’s latest dramatic series has recently seen a major uptick in viewing numbers, due in large part to the series finally landing on Netflix in recent weeks. The series, titled Your Honor, is currently in the Netflix top 10, and sees no sign of losing steam as more viewers from around the world flock to witness Cranston’s intense performance. Your Honor first premiered as a Showtime limited series back in 2020, and only got renewed for a second season due to an overwhelming fan response that demanded to see additional entires of Cranston’s Judge Michael Desiato.

Now that the second season has ended, and the show seems to be over for good, it seems like as good a time as any to explore the thrilling finale. Please be advised that there are heavy spoilers ahead for the entirety of Your Honor seasons one and two, so be sure to bookmark this page and return later if you haven’t seen the entire show just yet. Without any further preamble, let’s dive into the plot and themes of the series, and examine the critically-acclaimed conclusion of Your Honor.

What Is ‘Your Honor’ About?

For anyone who might be completely out of the loop, let’s briefly recap the overall plot of Your Honor before diving into the thrilling conclusion. The series centers on New Orleans judge Michael Desiato, as portrayed by Bryan Cranston. In the pilot episode, Desiato’s 17-year-old son hits and kills a motorcyclist with his car, only to panic and flee the scene. Once Michael returns home, his son admits to his crime and cowardice. As a well-respected and upstanding officer of the courts, Michael first urges his son to turn himself in to the police, before learning that the victim is the son of a ruthless organized criminal. Upon this realization, Michael heel-turns, demanding that his son keep his mouth shut about the accident and never tell another soul.

As the plot progresses, Judge Desiato attempts to cover-up the crime without implicating himself or his son, eventually spinning a web of lies that has a major ripple effect on other players. Meanwhile, the father of the victim, Jimmy Baxter, kicks off a brutal mob war over the death of his son, which he believes to be a hit job from a rival gang. Before long, it becomes clear that Baxter has local police officers and members of the court on his payroll, making it obvious to Michael that he and his son are in great danger of being discovered. As a result, Michael’s cunning web of lies grows larger and larger, to the point that he starts drugging witnesses who take the stand during his trials, tricking fellow judges into DUI arrests, and framing felons for the hit-and-run slaying.

Season 1 Ending Explained

The first season of Your Honor closes out with a shocking finale. After Michael attempts to cover-up the murder by getting rid of his son’s car, another young man named Kofi is framed for the hit-and-run. Kofi is killed in prison by the brother of the victim, Carlo, who was already incarcerated for an unrelated crime. On the outside, Kofi’s home is firebombed by Baxter’s goons, killing his mother, and leaving Kofi’s brother Eugene with an unshakable lust for revenge. As this is all playing out, Michael’s son begins a romantic relationship with Jimmy Baxter’s daughter, Fia, the sister of the man that he killed.

In the final few episodes of the season, Michael presides over Carlo’s murder trial, and eventually hands down a not guilty verdict, essentially closing the loop on the whole situation. Though Michael believes he has washed his hands of the cover-up, Eugene has other plans. As Carlo celebrates his not guilty verdict alongside his entire family, Eugene shows up with a gun, and attempts to kill Carlo to avenge his family. Unfortunately, Eugene’s shot misses Carlo, and instead kills Michael’s son, who was in attendance as Fia’s plus one.

The ending of the first season goes to show that Michael’s choice to turn on his morals were all for naught, as he still couldn’t save his son when the dust finally settled. While speaking with Netflix’s Tudum, Bryan Cranston said of the thrilling finale “that brilliant ending of enormous tragedy was so shocking to me — and the perfect ending … perhaps inevitable. It underscores a cautionary tale that, whenever someone tries to become someone they are not, it cannot sustain. The truth will eventually reveal itself. And man, did it ever.” 

What Happens In Season 2?

Season two of Your Honor manages to get even crazier, by stripping Michael of the one thing tethering him to his humanity. In the first season, Michael turns his back on the law which he holds most sacred because he is willing to go to any lengths humanly possible to protect his son. Once his son is dead and buried, there’s nothing stopping Michael from unleashing his inner-most demons. When season 2 begins, Michael is in prison, rocking a biblical beard and refusing to eat as he is mired with depression. Via flashback, we learn that he confessed his role in the corrupt acquittal of Carlo to assistant U.S. Attorney Olivia Delmont, who then recruits him to help take down the Baxter crime family. In order to get close to the gang, Michael agrees to go to prison under fabricated charges of tax fraud, as directed by Delmont, who continues instructing him on how to infiltrate with each passing visit. While this is going on, multiple crime families face internal power struggles, leading to a powder keg of criminal activity across New Orleans.

When his prison sentence concludes Michael becomes even more immersed in the Baxter family, as he learns that Fia has given birth to his grandson, whom she named after her late brother. While Michael is trepidatious about embracing Fia and her son at first, he soon comes around, and begins attending Baxter family gatherings, bringing him closer and closer to the heads of the organized criminal industry. During Jimmy Baxter’s 50th birthday party, Michael is introduced to Carmine Conti, a high-ranking mob associate who seems to be mounting a Cold War against the Baxter family. Jimmy begins to grow jealous of Michael’s relationship with his daughter, causing a rift that makes Michael fear for his own life. As the series culminates in a number of climactic conclusions for each member of the sprawling ensemble cast, Your Honor delivers its final episode, closing the loop on the incident that incited the entire show.

How Does ‘Your Honor’ End?

In the final chapter, Eugene faces trial for the murder of Michael’s son. With nothing left to lose, Michael takes the stand and confesses to everything he’s done in the show thus far, including his son’s hit-and-run and his support in covering it up. As the trial progresses, investigators come to learn that Eugene was acting in revenge after the Baxter family blew his house up, killing his mother. This revelation prompts prosecutors to offer Eugene a deal. Eugene exposes his knowledge of the crime family and is given a shot at a normal life in witness protection, after sharing a final touching moment with Michael.

As all this is going on, Carmine Conti’s daughter Gina manipulates her father into killing Jimmy Baxter, allowing her an opportunity to take over the New Orleans crime syndicate. With the Baxter family all but dismantled, the crime war over, and the truth revealed about Baxter’s son, Michael is finally content to move forward. He is sentenced to serve prison time for his role in covering up his son’s actions, and gladly accepts his fate with his peace of mind returned for the first time since the series’ pilot.

Ending Explained & Analysis

Unlike Bryan Cranston’s other famous television drama, Breaking Bad, Your Honor centers on a man who breaks the law for a noble cause, and always maintains his desire to return to a sense of normalcy. While speaking with Tudum, Cranston underlined this running theme of morality throughout the series, arguing “I believe that a person’s character is determined by the decisions they make under pressure. My role as Michael Desiato is a person who starts out as a protagonist and maintains his hope to remain one. Unlike [Breaking Bad protagonist] Walter White, Michael doesn’t give in to the dark side. He’s just trying to make the best of a bad situation.”

Cranston also explained that he first signed onto the project after speaking with writer and producer Peter Moffat, who pitched the series with a simple question: “What would you do to save your child?” Cranston, who is a father himself, says he would easily commit to breaking the law to protect his children, though he would hesitate if he knew that an innocent person could get hurt in the process. When Michael begins his journey, he never considered that someone like Kofi or Kofi’s mother could be killed due to his actions, and he surely never envisioned Eugene showing up and accidentally shooting his son.

Michael’s actions cause such a great ripple effect that he spends the majority of Your Honor struggling to reconstruct his life, despite his violations of the law being so incongruous with the person he wishes to be. Once his son is killed, Michael relinquishes any hope of returning to normal, and seeks only to free his mind from the burden of his actions. By aiding in the destruction of the Baxter family and eventually going to prison, he finds peace for the first time since his son’s fateful accident.

Will There Be A Third Season Of ‘Your Honor?’

While it’s not wholly impossible for the series to return in the coming years, it seems incredibly unlikely that Your Honor will produce additional seasons. The show was originally billed as a single-season limited series, and only returned for a second year after receiving massive critical and audience acclaim. Still, if the show does return, Cranston has confirmed that he will no longer appear in a starring role. Per a 2023 write-up in Variety, Cranston spoke on the possibility of a second season, explaining “Showtime has indicated there is interest and we’re very proud to know that every episode in Season 2 increased in the audience from the previous week. If it happens, fantastic but it’d have to be some great reason to keep expanding in this world and to find out where the allegiances are. I’d be very interested in producing that. I don’t know about being in it because my guy’s back in prison.”

For now, it seems more likely that Bryan Cranston and the rest of the Your Honor creative team move forward with new and exciting projects, perhaps even collaborating again in the future. Luckily, the series managed to offer a tight conclusion to each character and arc in the story with only two seasons, making the show a wholly fulfilling watch with no loose ends left to examine. Those interested in streaming Your Honor can find the series in its entirety on Netflix, where it currently enjoys a slot on the top 10 most streamed projects.