Radio shock jock Eddie Langhorn (Rachel Griffiths) is charged with inciting racial hatred, and turns to old flame Cleaver Greene (Richard Roxburgh) to defend her.
Meanwhile, Cleaver needs some defending himself when his tax case goes off the rails and he's placed on remand.
Feeling lost without good mate and colleague Barney (Russell Dykstra) by his side, a visit from Missy (Adrienne Pickering), in prison brings him to the realisation that he has hit rock bottom. As he tries recover his position with Missy, she is experiencing the 'joys' of political life with David (Matt Day) as they sit through a session of Ukrainian folk dancing at a local council hall.
Cleaver arrives at work to find Eddie Langhorn waiting for him, and knows immediately that he's in for trouble as he's never been able to resist her charms. As they share a caustic but predictably sexually charged lunch, Cleaver discovers he has a willing participant in his revisited coke habit.
Cleaver then learns his father has had a stroke, and hoping to repair their relationship, takes Fuzz (Keegan Joyce) to the country to visit his ailing father. It doesn't go well. There is a family fight, Fuzz will not forgive him, and the car he borrowed from ex-wife Wendy is side-swiped.
As prosecutor on the Langhorn case, Scarlet (Danielle Cormack) is relishing the thought of seeing Eddie - a woman she dislikes intensely - locked up, but her confidence is shattered when she is surrounded by a gang of hoods in a park. As Scarlet flounders in court, Barney gives her some information that could change the nature of the case, and he also confesses that the woman Scarlet saw at their home was a nanny.
While David, enjoying his embryonic political career and ever more intimate relationship with Missy, proposes.
Cleaver manages to win the case but is disheartened to learn that Eddie Langhorn has conned him once again. And then Missy arrives to tell him that she and David are getting married. Alone, and flicking though an old photo album, Cleaver ponders whether his fractious relationship with his family is probably all his fault.
Whilst barrister Cleaver Greene's ex-wife may call him unreliable, his son will call him a mate. To his learned friends at the bar table he is a real wag, and to most judges he is an outrage. To the Tax Office, he is a defendant, to a certain brothel owner a legend, and to his former cocaine dealer a tragic loss.
The clients he loves the most are those that appear to be utterly hopeless. He will do whatever it takes to defend and save life's truly lost souls. The big sinners. Its drug lords. Its cannibals. Its bestialites. And at the same time, he will struggle to save himself, to stop himself falling back into the abyss that has characterised most of his self-destructive adult life thus far.
Despite his own hopelessness, his wit and charm have won him hordes of companions over the years. Most nights of the week, there is no shortage of invitations: dinner with a judge, drug dealers, or his copper mates.
He tends to wake up bruised. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. Usually it's a combination thereof. Occasionally he wonders how his life came to this. Living in a studio above a café in the Cross, without his wife and son, in love with a prostitute, defending hopeless cases.