AMERICAN CRIME Review: “Season Three: Episode Three”


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Man, is one emotional roller coaster. Specifically the kind of roller-coaster that’s just all drops and no climbs. Don’t get me wrong, the show is quite good, putting human faces on some of today’s biggest, yet often ignored, social issues. But it is a pretty big downer to kick off your week with. What it’s saying is important, though, so it’s worth it. The show almost feels like it should be required viewing for all Americans (just under two million tuned in last week, though, so the vast majority of us aren’t getting the message).

Speaking of the show being a downer, case in point: we open on a woman being raped in a field. This is one of the Hesby’s fields on their farm in North Carolina many of the storylines revolve around, and the man walking out of the field buckling his pants is Diego, the boss. Coy (Conor Jessup) has apparently reported to work early and started picking, and has the misfortune of seeing Diego leaving the scene. Diego doesn’t like that he was spotted, and probably likes even less that he was being judged by this white kid. Diego spends the rest of the episode attacking Coy, trying to get him to either fight him or leave the farm.

Shae isn’t having an easy time either, living in the shelter Kimara dropped her in. She’s struggling with chapel every morning, and we first see her listening to some sort of sermon with other bored looking teenage girls. “If you leave the world without laying a good foundation, your children will curse you,” the woman says ominously. In a group session later, Shae confessed her father’s girlfriend made her have an abortion because she thought Shae had gotten pregnant just for attention. She then goes on to confess she still longs to be with her pimp Billy, “the only one that ever gave me anything.” Shae then tells everyone she’s pregnant again, and that she’s not going to keep it, since it’s not Billy’s. But if it were, she imagines how she, Billy, and their child could live together and be happy as a family. YEAH, okay. This sort of delusion is so tragic.

Speaking of tragic, remember when fifteen undocumented workers died in a fire last week on the Hesby’s farm? Jeanette is still bent on making some changes with the way her in-laws treat these people and handle these things when they happen. She shows her husband Carson pictures of the burned out trailer the people died in and asks him what he’s going to do about it? “Why do you do this to yourself?” he asks her, not understanding why she’d take this to heart when his family has been ignoring it for years. She eventually convinces him to let her help JD and Laurie Ann with a policy review they’re doing. Should be effective! (sarcasm).

Elsewhere, Luis is finally gaining some traction down his missing seventeen year-old son Teo. He’s on another farm now where Teo had reportedly been working, but the people there tell him that they haven’t seen him in at least a month. One guy tips him off to talk to a man named Jorge, he’s in the labor camp usually after dark, and he houses all the single men who come to the farm. He should know where Teo is. When Luis comes around asking about Teo, Jorge is skeptical. He asks Luis why he doesn’t want to work and Luis tells him he’s an accountant. Suddenly, he’s attacked from behind! It turns out that Teo owes Jorge and his people money. They demand to know why Luis is looking for him and he spits out through raw emotion “Es mi hijo!” He’s my son. Benito Martinez kills this scene. Eventually they tell him they heard he had trouble with a girl, and where Luis can find said girl.

It’s also bad news for Kimara this week as her old flame, now brother-in-law, Reggie denies her request to be the sperm donor for her pregnancy. Kimara is distraught. But Reggie tells her he can’t have a baby with someone he cares about and not be involved. Kimara tells him he CAN be involved, he can be involved however much or little he wants, they can make a contract… But Reggie isn’t having it. He already has children. And to be honest, he’s concerned about Kimara’s eligibility for motherhood at all when she is constantly working–it’s what broke up their relationship, he reminds her. We already know that Kimara has a hard time switching off. In a short but pointed scene mid-episode, Kimara witnesses a young girl being threatened by presumably her pimp in a convenience store and purposefully bumps into her to hand her her card. Later, Kimara provides a camera for Shae so she will be content enough to stay put in the shelter, after she is upset her phone was taken away (they have a no electronics policy). In a way Kimara is a mother, but to so many kids she’s already spread thing. Reggie has a point.

Jeanette meets with JD over the policy review to find that “Laurie Ann already looked into things, there’s not much to it.” In other words, NOTHING is being done, and I’m sure she didn’t even bother to look into things. JD tells her that these fires have happened before, a LOT have died, but since he was a boy, it’s always been business as usual. Jeanette appeals to JD, knowing that he wishes he was in charge of the farm, being the oldest sibling. Jeanette puts forward that JD gets himself cleaned up so that Laurie Ann can trust him more. “I know about addiction, I can help,” she tells him. Will he take her up on her offer?

Luis goes to where the girl, Itzl, is staying. She apparently had a relationship with Teo. He tells her that if something happened to Teo, he needs to know. Itzl goes on to explain that the boss of the farm saw that Teo was able to make her smile, and that the boss didn’t like that.  He pulled her into the fields, which they call “The Green Motel” and had his way with her. The bosses do whatever they want with the women around the farm. This sound familiar? When Teo tried to defend her, he was dragged off, and she doesn’t know what happened to him then. Luis implores, this boss “What was his name?” I’m guessing it’s DIEGO.

And speaking of Diego, he gets on Isaac’s case about how slow Coy is working. “Abuelitas pick faster,” he says. Isaac at first defends Coy. He obviously likes him and thinks of him as a friend (possibly more?). But Diego had Coy pegged the moment he saw him when he walked out of The Green Motel. Diego knocks over Coy’s bushel of picked tomatoes, then continuously kicks them over as he tries to gather them. Finally Coy says he’s done and starts to walk away. He Isaac out for not being able to stand up for himself, just letting Diego walk all over everyone. Isaac proceeds to beat the hell out of Coy, leaving him bloody on the ground. All this while Luis watches, of course wondering if this is what happened to his son.

Not the show to watch to lift your spirits, but still a compelling ensemble drama that has a lot of important themes. I’m rooting for Luis, I’m rooting for Jeanette, Kimara, and Shae. I’m just afraid that a show so dismal in its plot could never have a happy ending for any of its characters.


Season 3, Episode 3 (S03E03)
American Crime airs Sunday at 10PM on ABC

Read all of our reviews of American Crime here. 
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Paul co-created and writes for SHOWoff, a game that lets players predict what happens next on their favorite shows, earn points for what they get right, and see where they stack up against friends and the world (free in the iOS App store).
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