The season finale of AMERICAN CRIME’s third season brought its major story arcs to a close that some may find frustrating and other may find very fitting for this show. As I predicted, there weren’t any TRUE happy endings. There were those that were kinda sorta leaning towards a positive note I GUESS. But overall it held true to its bleak and dismal look at American society and the human struggle many of us choose to ignore each and every day.
We open on poor Gabrielle, still drugged up and being held for the kidnapping of the Coates family’s son, Nicky. She tried to escape with him last week after she had just had enough of what was going on in that insanely tense household. The issue last week was that nobody spoke French, and so Gabrielle couldn’t even truly explain herself or her situation. In a surprise twist, this story doesn’t end with Clair and Nicholas (mostly Clair, but Nicholas was surely complicit) getting away with all they’ve put this poor immigrant woman through. Remember a couple episodes ago Gabrielle wrote a letter to her estranged son Yves? Well guess who shows up with those letter detailing exactly what was happening in the Coates house, down to the gritty details of Clair’s physical abuse. I think this was supposed to be a reveal but we all knew that Gabrielle wasn’t REALLY hurting herself, right?
Clair is in big trouble. It’s clear that she was physically abusing Gabrielle in a kind of trickle-down rage. Nicholas was so emotionally and verbally abusive to her, no wonder she wanted to pour scalding hot water on somebody (okay, so, not all of us would do that, but the point is anger like that has roots). Clair calls Nicholas out for this but there is no resolution between the two. The one admirable thing Clair does perhaps the entire season is that when Nicholas arranges for Clair to be able to settle out of court, she insists on going in front of a judge. She knows she’s done wrong and wants her comeuppance.
However, that leaves Nicholas in a predicament. He’s now forced to care for the boy he’s resented since he was born because he’s not his biological son. Is little Nicky better off without his mother? Almost certainly not. But in a short hopeful moment we do see Nicholas attempting to bond with his son.
Jeanette has the ending that is probably hardest to swallow. Faced with having to take care of her drug-addict sister Raelyn’s two young girls on her own, she has no other choice but to come crawling back to her husband Carson. Raelyn is serving eighteen months in jail and Jeanette sees this as an opportunity for her to pursue permanent legal guardianship of her nieces and give them some semblance of a stable upbringing. Carson agrees. But guess who has the final say, considering this is more of a “business arrangement” than anything else?
Lori Anne. Ugh. She gives poor Jeanette a stern talking to like a scolding mother for all she’s put the family through. We know right away that she’s not walking away from this unpunished. The penalty? She must go in front of the Hesby farm workers and personally assure them that the Hesby family cares about their well-being and are dedicated to their safety and thriving on the farm. It’s a crock of horse poop and it’s a tough pill to swallow. But Jeanette has those two girls to look out for now, so she’s got to drop her ideals and her quest for a new life to put them first.
Speaking of dropping ideals and putting people first: Kimara has an interesting conclusion to her arc. Last we left her we were wondering if Dustin was going to tell her about Shae’s murder in the cam girl house. He does. It’s tragic watching Kimara realize that Shae is the murdered girl Dustin is telling her about. So what does this all lead to? Dustin, who was trying to do the right thing, being tried in court as an accessory to murder (Kimara is there to advocate for him but you get the sense he is screwed). The people who actually killed Shae are nowhere to be seen.
This is the last straw for Kimara. She’s completely lost all her ideals about being able to help people. She now has to look out for herself. It’s the only thing she has some sort of control over. She goes to her friend Abby who offered her the job at her shelter last week and says she’ll take it–as long as she gets double the salary she’s been working with. Knowing that asking for this takes away from valuable resources for helping homeless kids, Kimara goes ahead with it anyway. In a scene mirror the first scene we ever met her in, she is now in front of a doctor discussing a new round of IVF treatment so she can have a baby–and this time she’s not worried about the price tag on that.
In the end we see a montage of Dustin, Raelyn, and Clair going to their hearings. In the back we see the true victims: Teo, Shae, and Isaac standing there eerily. Looking for justice, but none truly being served, at least for them. We, as a society, failed them. And there’s no justice for all those faceless workers who died in the Hesby farm trailer fire either. It’s a sad but poignant conclusion that begs we all take a closer look at what evils Americans are turning a blind eye to. It’s an important show I hope will stay on for a fourth season.
Season 3, Episode 8 (S03E08)
American Crime airs Sunday at 10PM on ABC
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Paul Gulyas | Contributor