“The Fire This Time” begins with violence in Gate Station after weeks of rising tensions over the investigations into the deaths of Joey Campbell and Jesse Carr. The unrest in the town is so thick you can’t even consume in fact much of this episode felt the same way. As it begins a heavily militarized police force descends on Gate Station and the town is transformed into a domestic war zone very reminiscent of Ferguson. The community’s frustration is at an all time-high I’m still at a loss for understanding what exactly was the tipping point for the uprising.
Pastor Janae leads a rally she says what she mentioned to Governor Eamons but the problem is her audience is already hurting and willing to use her words to get what she wants. Unfortunately, she actually sees riots as a way to cleanse giving a voice to the disruption and tension that follows her rally. She even goes as far as encouraging the crowd to emulate the riots in Baltimore and Ferguson. In doing so, the episode suggests that Janae uncorked something she can’t contain. Soon, masked looters are firebombing the local soul food restaurant for no apparent reason — or it feels like no apparent reason because the episode never identifies a tipping point for the riot other than Pastor Janae’s speech. Ideally, the dramatization of a riot would help the audience understand how the community’s relatable anger turns into irrational violence, and this doesn’t quite hit the mark.
The importance of depicting Gate Station before, during, and after the riot is indeed important but without some sort of inciting incident for the riots I became a bit lost. I understand the need for surprises but this was something that I was expecting to come. SHOTS FIRED does a great job of showing the truth behind the curtain so I was more than a bit lost in to why they didn’t have some sort of moment that preceded the riot. The deaths of Joey and Jesse happened weeks ago and still no one has been charged but nothing actually happens to set the riots in motion. Riot are typically a reaction to some kind of event whether it’s police violence or the announcement of a verdict that fails to soothe the hearts and minds of the community impacted by the decision.
The only real theme throughout the episode is confrontation and fear since everything leading up to the riot is so unclear. Even though the riot is layered between a few major conversations it only shows us the involvement and missed opportunities to field the tension with actual results. In fact, when Jesse’s mom slips into the sheriff’s office to confront Officer Beck everyone else is occupied with a birthday party. Does this seem like something that would actually happen? Nope but this train is already moving so you have to jump on. In the confrontation she pleads with him to describe the final moments of her son’s life. Get the tissues because this scene is incredibly hard to watch. It’s so raw and honest. I can imagine the mothers of slain children begging and pleading with police to find out what happened to them on their last few minutes on earth.
Meanwhile, Preston and Ashe are convinced that there’s a could be a major cover up by Durkin’s suicide so they finally start to apply even more pressure in their investigations. Preston decides to go after Governor Eamons to let her know the volunteer deputy program she used to get money from donors actually resulted in a death opening the door to even more consequences. His bold play only makes Sarah even more angry after he admits to snooping on her laptop during one of their horizontal networking sessions. Governor Eamons asks Sheriff Platt to get his department in shape and cooperate with DOJ investigation he suspends Beck until the matter is resolved.
Ashe seeks out Arlen Cox, who says he was out of town when Joey was killed but admits to the auxilliary service. Ashe leaves Gate Station for a custody hearing as she fights for custody of her daughter. She even tries her hand at seducing Kai’s father and blackmailing him with proof of the affair. The reveal of premeditated opportunity to hopefully get her daughter back was wonderful to watch as she continues to shine on screen. In fact, I think Lathan is at her strongest when it comes to the personal issues in this series. I look forward to the rollercoaster of emotions that will likely ensue when she returns to Gate Station especially the reunion waiting for Ashe and Preston when she returns.
Season 1, Episode 6 (S01E06)
Shots Fired airs Wednesday at 8PM on FOX
Jerrica Long | Contributor