Photo: ABC

A weird thing happened to me with this episode of American Crime and I want to run it by you, A.V. Club readers, to see if you experienced the same thing.

After last week’s episode, I was operating under the assumption that Diego was the one who killed Teo, the reason being because when Luis talked to Itzel, the last thing he said to her was what was the boss’ name and then the show cut to Diego—she did not answer Luis.

But then in the “previously on American Crime” recap to start Sunday’s (April 2) episode, it showed her answering Luis with the name “Isaac,” which left me feeling very confused and like I had obviously missed something.

Now, I went back and rewatched that scene both on the screener I have access to and the broadcast version that’s available on ABC.com, because I was curious if maybe they were different and that’s where the problem arose from. They were not different.

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So now I’m wondering if it was a mistake on the part of the show, or if they saw that too many people online mistakenly thought Diego was Teo’s killer and put the Itzel line into the previouslies to clear up any viewer confusion?

Either way, it threw me for quite a loop. Upon rewatching that scene, I did notice that when it cut from Luis/Itzel to Diego, the first thing Diego says is “Isaac,” so obviously that us where we’re all supposed to figure out Isaac is who Itzel was talking about. But I think because I was already predisposed to hate Diego—he was being rough on Coy, he was raping a girl in the field—that I went with the visual that confirmed my feelings rather than the audio.

Anyway, I’m curious if that happened to anyone else and if that left you a little confused this week when Luis started targeting Isaac or when Luis killed him? Because that was easily the most compelling storyline this week for me, so confusion aside, it still really drew my focus.

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I’m disappointed Teo turned out to be the body in the river. I was kind of clinging to hope that maybe he and Luis would get some kind of happy ending, though I do realize both in reality and on this TV show that that is a long shot.

But what really bothered me was how quickly it seems that storyline was dispensed with. First, Luis appears to have gotten away with killing Isaac, so that’s not going to be something we explore—an undocumented worker in the U.S. criminal justice system.

Secondly, in Isaac’s flashbacks to Teo’s death while Luis was confronting him, it felt more like a crime of passion to me, which jibes with his insistence that Teo did it to himself. I don’t wonder if Isaac had feelings for Teo and it actually had nothing to do with the girl Isaac was going to punish for laughing at Teo’s jokes. Maybe it was a jealousy thing, not a rape thing. That would also explain why we’ve been getting vibes of Isaac being interested in Coy and why he beat Coy up last week.

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But now that Isaac’s dead and Coy is gone from the farm, it seems like all of that will go unexplored and that’s a shame.

Which leads me into my least favorite storyline of this week—the introduction of Timothy Hutton and Lili Taylor’s characters. Look, I have loved Hutton and Taylor since Ordinary People and Mystic Pizza, respectively. They’re great. But this show already felt overstuffed at times, so if the writers dispensed with Isaac/Coy/Teo/Luis to make room for a new storyline halfway into the season, I’m disappointed. I would rather see more of the Isaac/Luis stuff than start over with some people.

Speaking of overstuffing, I also liked what we saw of the Hesbys this week, though I wish there had been more content there as well. Laurie Ann might just be the most evil person in this piece, which makes her storyline compelling and something I want to see more of.

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What we did get was pretty great, though. If I were Jeanette and my sister-in-law spoke that way to me, I’d smack that superior attitude right off her face. Then Carson would be next for putting a stop on the check I wrote to the workers’ group.

It’s probably a lot to ask that JD cleans himself up and he and Jeanette ride off into the sunset to be social justice warriors together by season’s end, but damn if they aren’t at least trying to be good people, while Carson and Laurie Ann are pretty much the worst.

Finally, the Shay/Kimara stuff continues to wear on my nerves just in terms of feeling so disconnected from everything else (which I know is not a problem for some viewers). But I will say they did a great job depicting the unnecessary and unrelenting red tape of trying to have an abortion in parts of this country, and it made me so mad I could have written an entire essay solely about that.

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Now, I think Shay should be free to choose what it is she does with her body regardless of being 17 instead of 18 and I think abortion is the best choice for her and her situation. But I would be lying if I said I’d be unhappy with Kimara raising her baby, only because it’s nice when somebody on a show like American Crime gets a win, you know? As cliched and as “saw it coming a mile away” as it is, it would still be kind of nice.

Overall, this week was not the show’s strongest episode. The potential was there with the Luis/Isaac plot and the Laurie Ann plot, but neither had enough room to really go anywhere. Here’s hoping the show can kind of figure itself out for the back half of the season.

Stray observations

  • “You think I’m just trying to make myself feel good?”
    I want to clarify a comment I made last week about Jeanette assuaging her privileged guilt. I don’t think that’s the only reason she is concerned about the fire. I do think her intentions are pure in wanting to help people. But I do think some of that stems from guilt. It’s part of what is going on with Jeanette.
  • “I screwed guys in alleys. I screwed guys in alleys because that was better than what I came from. I don’t know if I’d be in danger, but I shouldn’t have to ask the person who made me wanna screw guys in alleys if I can have an abortion.”
    Once again, gotta give it up to Ana Mulvoy-Ten. She is absolutely killing Shay’s storyline.
  • Ditto for Benito Martinez. He has been wrecking me these last couple episodes. It was really hard to hear him on the phone with his wife.

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