by BIBI AJAYI
Just when you think you know where a story is taking you American Crime has a way of twisting that story and taking it to place you never imagined! “Episode Three” of American Crime re-explores the theme of family dynamics as familiar and distant relatives confront the main characters.
“Episode Three” opens in the Gutierrez household with a morning show playing in the background, a sad attempt to fill the uncomfortable silence. Alonzo calls out for Jenny but is greeted with the same silence. Perhaps Jenny is still upset over the way her father handled Tony’s case. Alonzo leaves the house and is ambushed by reporters. We aren’t sure how Alonzo reacts to the reporters, but we later learn that he gives them an interview. Alonzo has a few choice words for Matt’s suspected killer, “He’s illegal. Those are the ones. Always make the rest of us look bad.” Like most of the characters in Modesto, Alonzo has no remorse for telling what he believes is his truth.
Tony is encouraged (forced) to play a pick up game of basketball in juvenile detention center. I think by now Tony knows it would just be easier for him to go along with what they tell him to do in juvenile detention. During the first pass of the game Tony is hit in the face by the ball and falls to the ground, bloodied and visibly shaken. The culprit, Tony’s white roommate, continues to torment Tony and kick him repeatedly until another Hispanic detainee comes to Tony’s defense. This could possibly be the start of a racial alliance. It will be interesting to see how this will play out in further episodes.
Next, we see Barb and her advocate in the District Attorneys office still trying to argue that special circumstances should be added to the charges of Matt’s death. Barb argues, “If a white person said he hated blacks and shot a black, you know you would charge him with a hate crime. You know it!” Barb then adds, “We don’t deserve to be treated equal?” Barb is appearing less and less like a grieving mother and more like a woman with a vendetta.
It is later revealed that the mysterious man that Aubrey called in episode two for help is her stepfather. Due to Aubrey’s choices, her relationship with her stepfather seems strained and toxic. Her stepfather seems broken and hard to please due to Aubrey’s addiction and the chaos she left behind in her wake. She does manage to strike a deal with her stepfather to get help as long as he gets her legal counseling (in order to help Carter).
Tom is on a mission to uncover any new information that may be lurking in Gwen’s emails, but he doesn’t have the authority to do so. In episode two we find out that Gwen wasn’t actually sexual assaulted, but a consensual partner in sexual acts with other men. We find out that Eve has been keeping secrets from Tom. She knows more about Gwen and Matt’s relationship than she led on. Tom is hurt that Eve kept Gwen’s secrets regarding Gwen’s sexual history, but Eve argues that Gwen would have wanted her to keep her secrets. Tom can’t seem to wrap his mind around what Eve is telling him.
Later, Carter’s sister comes to visit him in prison. In one of the most powerful scenes in the series so far, Doreen, also known as Aliyah (Regina King) confronts Carter and chastises him for using “their” drugs, sleeping with “their” women, and then being shocked when “they” put him in their prisons. She then scolds him for leaving behind his black wife for “a little white girl.” Aliyah claims to know a way to help Carter, all he has to do is believe in a power higher than himself. Carter laughs at Aliyah because he doesn’t believe in anything other than himself. But in the same breath Carter asks Aliyah to help him get a message to Aubrey. Aliyah denies his request and tells him he need to be focused on humbling himself, asking for forgiveness from Allah and not worrying about frivolous things.
In one the last scenes of the episode, a officer reveals that they have come to the conclusion that Tony had no direct knowledge of the crime, but it is in Tony’s best interest to stay in juvenile detention. The courts refuse to let Tony into Alonzo’s custody, and like the beginning of the episode Alonzo is silenced.
Throughout this episode we see the characters begin to peel back the layers as they try to make sense of their version of racial injustice. Characters that were left in the dark are beginning to see the world for what it truly is. This could be a real problem for the people of Modesto, California!
Tune in to ABC next Thursday to see what happens next!