This week’s American Crime focused on something it hasn’t explored in the past: redemption. So much of this season has been about regret, denial, and rash decisions leading to disastrous results. Episode nine has the show’s characters looking for an opportunity for redemption, and for finally making attempts at being better. Did anyone really succeed? Not really. But it’s important to note that this episode was one in which the dust finally begins to settle, making this episode far more character–centric than ones previous. The audience finally has a chance to see the arcs of most of the characters, and the journey they’ve taken over the course of the season.
First up seeking redemption is Taylor (Connor Jessup). From prison, he consults his lawyer, trying to get him to tell his mother to drop any further action she might take to protect him. Taylor sees himself as a burden on his mother. However, Anne (Lili Taylor) isn’t ready to give up. She insists that “Taylor’s not just a shooter. People need to know that.” Throughout the episode, she consults her lawyer, who insists that there is very little that could possibly protest Taylor and prevent him from serving time.
However, Sebastian (Richard Cabral) is ready to help Anne. He hacks Leyland’s server and leaks their emails, many of which include board members attempting to cover up or otherwise ignore Taylor and his alleged rape. The emails are homophobic and negligent and immediately set the internet abuzz.
Elsewhere, Kevin confronts a member of the basketball team, demanding to know whether they attacked Taylor. When the player admits to the fight, Kevin panics. According to him, he never intended on setting the team on Taylor, and Kevin concludes that the attack resulted in Wes’s death. The disagreement escalates into a fight during practice, with Eric angrily quitting the team.
Panicked, Kevin turns to his mother, who urges him to tell the truth. Kevin and his parents consult their lawyer, and Kevin adamantly insists that he had no part in Taylor’s attack. However, Kevin’s father quietly insists that his coming forward was good enough, and no others need to know of the conversation. However, this points to the central theme of the show. Kevin attempted to do good and redeem himself—however, the basketball team’s attack still would not protect Taylor from any criminal charges.
While Taylor is a lost cause, Steph (Hope Davis), Coach Sullivan’s wife, visits Anne in an attempt at protecting her own child. She asks Anne to tell Taylor not to mention that Becca sold him drugs. The meeting begins as cordial, but once Steph voices her request, Anne angrily asks her to leave, offended by the proposal. Ultimately, Steph threatens Taylor, explaining that should he admit Becca sold him drugs, Becca would testify as saying that she sold him drugs at the party and that he was self–meditated, rather than drugged by the basketball team.
The episode also focuses on Principal Dixon and the hearing regarding his expulsion of Hispanic students after their attack on a black student. Dixon meets up with his colleague Monica, who urges him to enter the hearing and admit his bias against the Hispanic students. She tells him that Evy was being sexually and verbally harassed by the black student, which in turn caused the fight. However, Mateo (one of the suspended students) uses the N-word during the fight, and Monica insists that this slur blinded Dixon to the reality of the fight. The principal begrudgingly admits his bias at the hearing, but the board is far more focused on Taylor. Dixon insists that he is too busy to look into all of his students; however, the hearing notes that Taylor got special attention. Is it, they wonder, because he was white and not Hispanic? Things don’t bode well for Dixon, whose career at Marshall seems to be reaching its end. This is a case of a character seeking redemption, only to be punished. While Dixon was blinded by Mateo’s racist slur, he is probably the only truly good, moral character in the show. It’s a shame to see him punished.
It seems that the only character not punished in this episode is Headmaster Graham. Having not been named in the email leak, Headmaster Graham turns out to be the saving grace of the school. Rather than being forced out, she dissolves the board and regains full control of the school.
Sebastian, having spoken to a reporter about his leaks, promised more damning evidence coming from Leyland’s data base, something we can expect in next week’s episode.
Although they went about it clumsily, the characters of American Crime are finally seeking redemption. Having them find it, however, is another matter entirely.