Photo: ABC

I continue to be of two minds about American Crime so far this season. I was really high on the premiere and one of the reasons is because of the large-scale problem the season is exploring.

However, for two episodes now it has felt like we’re watching two separate TV shows and that’s wearing a little thin. I would like to see a little more cohesion soon, but for now, let’s first talk about what worked.

The great

The Luis storyline was easily the one that best held my attention this episode. Benito Martinez is pitch-perfect in conveying his character’s desperate clinging to hope while also his sinking despair at finding out more details about what became of his son. It feels more and more likely that Teo is the body in the river, which I hope means the show is going to zig where we think it will zag and it’ll turn out not to be him. But for now, I have a bad feeling about all that.

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Luis’ search for his son is what leads us to learn more about Diego Castillo, who I think may be Isaac’s brother (they have the same last name). Either way, Isaac obviously got all the heart in the family, while Diego is a rapist and possibly a murderer. At the very least, he’s one of the last people to have seen Teo and based on what we know of Diego, that can’t be good.

Luis hasn’t approached Diego yet, however, because Diego is busy punishing Coy for being a sub-par field worker—though really it’s because he thinks Coy is going to rat him out as a rapist. Interestingly, when Coy tells Isaac off for not standing up to Diego, of finally working out some of his issues with Diego, Isaac beats the stuffing out of Coy instead.

It lends a little credence to the theory that Isaac has more than friendly feelings toward Coy—it is definitely a phenomenon that you hurt the one you care for, especially if you feel they embarrassed you. Plus, what do you think the odds are Isaac can admit to himself he has romantic feelings for a man?

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Overall, everything going on with these two storylines—which nicely intertwine this episode—was really intriguing.

The good

The Hesby family is still keeping my interest, especially the dynamic between Jeanette and her husband and Jeanette and her brother-in-law.

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Carson feeds Jeanette some cock-and-bull story about JD and Laurie Ann looking into their farm and its sub-contractors’ business practices and she jumps on it as something she can do to help (assuage her privileged guilt). Of course, JD has heard nothing of this, but the two of them may have started the ball rolling anyway, because they’re the only two who give a damn.

I’m curious to see how Laurie Ann reacts to this, because I’m not convinced she didn’t cover the fire up—that explains the lack of media coverage and also JD’s assertion that things like this have been happening all the time since he was a kid.

The Hesbys didn’t feel like the focus this episode and that’s OK. Their storyline still crept forward while giving some other plots room to breathe.

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The not-so-good

I’m sorry, but I’m kind of over the whole Kimara baby thing and I’m only marginally interested in Shay at this point.

That is to take nothing away from Regina King and Ana Mulvoy-Ten. They are killing it. King’s speech about wanting to feel that unconditional love from a child was a gut-punch, especially contrasted with Mulvoy-Ten’s monologue in group therapy about her parents and Billy.

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But performances aside, I just don’t care that much. I think part of the problem is that so far they feel like they’re off on their own show, and the other part is that their storylines feel over to me. Shay was taken out of her prostitution situation right away on the show, while Kimara’s quest for her brother-in-law to be her sperm donor has come to an end—but hey, Shay just happens to be pregnant, so where could that possibly be leading?

American Crime might surprise me and I shall heap praise on this storyline if it does (unless it’s a dumb surprise, like the father of Shay’s baby is Teo or something totally random like that), but so far I just don’t love what they’re doing over here with Kimara and Shay.

The premiere was a bit disjointed as well, but that’s to be expected of a large ensemble show where maybe the writers don’t want to tip their hand right away as to how everyone interconnects. But now we’re almost halfway done, because Season 3 is only eight episodes. So my hope is waning that Kimara and Shay will tie into the other half of the show in any meaningful way and that’s a shame.

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Stray observations

  • As I mentioned, Ana Mulvoy-Ten killed Shay’s monologue, but I must single out the line she ended on, saying so sadly that “a little family would be good.” After revealing her dad’s girlfriend made her get an abortion (and implying her dad was the father? Am I wrong there?), it’s astounding that Shay still envisions a happy little family for herself. She’s so broken and it’s so heartrending. I was full on crying by the time she uttered that line.
  • “Those people are our responsibility.”
    “They weren’t on our property.”
    “But you knew how they were living and you know how they died. Trapped in those, in those…”
    Jeanette and Carson’s marriage is so fascinating. I wonder if they’ll be together by season’s end?
  • Speaking of Jeanette’s relationships, I’m still not sure I read it right when I thought JD might have some feelings for Jeanette. But I must say that Tim DeKay and Felicity Huffman have wonderful chemistry together and the show is putting it to good use. Maybe that’s all I’m seeing on screen. Jury’s still out.
  • Felicity Huffman’s costumes, hair and makeup are flawless. She is the epitome of a wealthy Southern housewife and Huffman is playing up the doe-eyed look masterfully, without overdoing it.
  • The directing is as stellar as always, but I particularly liked the way they chose to shoot Isaac’s confrontation with Coy. It took place so far away, slightly off center and out of focus, which was a really interesting choice. It gave it such a feeling of loneliness and isolation.

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