Wednesday, March 29, 2017

REVIEW: 'Shots Fired' - Ashe and Preston Investigate Who Leaked the Video in 'Hour Two: Betrayal of Trust'

FOX's Shots Fired - Episode 1.02 "Hour Two: Betrayal of Trust"

When a controversial video of Deputy Beck leaks, Ashe and Preston face a new challenge to find the source. The police force and the community begin to look at Beck differently. Suspicion rises around Pastor Janae after it's revealed she had a public run-in with Joey Campbell before his death. Ashe and Preston debate whether or not they're ready to take on both cases, and then discover that a witness in Joey's murder may have gone missing.

Ashe and Preston are both headstrong people. They have a certain view of the world and don't want to change even though they are in this new environment together. They are both committed to the job. They just have different ways of investigating. It's a partnership that has led to many clashes so far. Those disagreements have been compelling in these first two episodes. And yet, it's simply not sustainable for an entire season. They need to work together if they are going to learn the truth about the two murders and the possibly corrupt police force in this town. It's not until the end of this episode that they actually come to that resolution though. So, "Hour Two: Betrayal of Trust" is still largely about the two of them carrying out separate investigations and not really telling the other what they are doing. And thus, this hour lags a bit more than the premiere did. Not a whole lot of new information actually comes to light. But hopefully, the work done in this episode signals a better partnership between the investigators moving forward.

This episode also shines more light on Preston's backstory. The premiere established that he had a famous football player brother who lives close by. Now, it's determined that he's only 45 minutes away from this town. More importantly, his father also shows up this week. His father is played by Dennis Haysbert who immediately brings gravitas to the role. And yet, it's a fairly familiar story of the parent preferring one child over the other and just not understand the path Preston chose for his life. The dynamic seems easy when dad and brother are together. It seems more tense and formal when Preston is around. It's unclear why exactly dad comes to town. It's not like he can be all that helpful to the investigation. It's largely just because he's in the area that he shows up in Preston's life. Plus, it provides more details about his past. He was a skilled baseball player in high school but decided to go to Yale instead of pursuing a life in professional sports. He could have been successful like his brother but that wasn't the life he wanted. Dad just hasn't accepted that yet. That's important information to have. It's just uncertain if it's something the audience should really care about moving forward.

Meanwhile, the show has told the audience that it should be invested in Ashe's custody battle. That story has nothing to do with the mystery in the North Carolina town. It too is just a complication in Ashe's personal life that could affect her on the job. It may be painting her as emotionally unstable because of what happened in her past. She can't accept that her ex-husband is suing for sole custody of their daughter. He has the necessary information to support such a claim. She did throw a vase at his new girlfriend. It doesn't matter that she wasn't actually trying to hit her. It's just important how things will be perceived. That's a major component on this show. Perception is key because it can radically change the situation. Ashe doesn't see herself as a bad parent. She looks at a video of the secret handshake with her daughter and smiles. But her actions could be perceived as bad. She's not afraid to twist a few arms on the job. She's not one to pine after someone following a one-night stand. She believes she has her life together. But this claim could slowly unravel her - which could seriously complicate this investigation.

Perception is also key to the Governor. She knows how important the visuals of this case can be. She knows because she is the first female governor of this state. This case has received so much media attention already. So, she needs to remain a visible part of the story. But that only introduces a whole new conversation on race. The Governor shows up for the funeral of a white boy killed by the police but not the black boy similarly killed a few weeks ago. Joey's murder didn't even get much attention until Ashe and Preston came to town. This new shooting has forced a lot of issues to the surface in this town. It's given Pastor Janae more of a voice in her community. She's standing up and calling for justice in both of these cases. She understands the power of the media just as well as the Governor does. In fact, she may be playing things for the camera better than anyone else. That may be because she passionately cares about this community and the people. They have been abused for too long. She knows the struggle. She also knows that she needs to stand up. It would be so easy for her to be silenced. That's what the other pastor does when he hijacks her protest. And yet, she does not back down. That's a fantastic moment that shows she isn't someone to mess with.

Of course, there is then the final reveal that Pastor Janae had a run-in with Joey Campbell before his murder. She apparently had people beat him up because he was selling drugs. That would seemingly confirm the police department's claims that he was a drug dealer. Shameeka doesn't want to believe that. But it could show that the police aren't as corrupt as Ashe and Preston initially feared. Meanwhile, Janae's motivations could be pure as well. She just wants to get drugs out of her community. Using physical force is wrong but it could be her only option to send a message. It just gives her new importance in the story. It's something that Ashe and Preston will have to further investigate. Just like they need to find Cory, who is now missing. He's the witness who told them about Joey's murder. He's the one running from unknown people at the end of the first episode. So, he clearly knows more but didn't tell Preston. Preston only discovers he's missing because he becomes friends with the local diner owner. These connections are going to be important if Ashe and Preston are going to get to the bottom of what's going on in this town. They need to figure out who's truly to blame for these two deaths. Right now, it plays as a mystery show. But it would still be wise if the show finds a little more complexity in this situation and the actions of many people that lead to this moment.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Hour Two: Betrayal of Trust" was written by Mick Betancourt and directed by Millicent Shelton.
  • Richard Dreyfuss shows up as a real estate developer who unveils his plans for a new state-of-the-art prison. That's an interesting detail to pop up in the middle of this episode. His casting basically ensures he's going to be more important in the story somehow. I'm curious to see how though. Right now, his only connection is with the Governor.
  • The show is still just teasing Stephen Moyer's character, Lieutenant Breeland, too. He's seen a bit more this week. He has a daughter who he coaches in football. The mystery is established with whether or not he is a racist. But he's still skillfully dodging most of Ashe's questions.
  • Preston doesn't realize he's being used as a prop at the Governor's party until he's already there. The Governor simply wants to show her friends - who are largely white - that she has a black lawyer from the Department of Justice who supports her plans. So, he should probably be more wary of her and her intentions.
  • Ashe and Preston try to discover who leaked the video of Deputy Beck making a racist statement. The video was taken by his cousin. But the phone it was on wound up in police custody. Plus, everything has now been deleted from it. So, Preston and Ashe aren't any closer to the truth than they were before.
  • Deputy Beck is best friends with another officer, Brooks, who is white. He's using that as his main defense against accusations of racism in his policing. But both seem pretty intimidating together when they go to harass Beck's cousin about the video.
  • Sheriff Platt also informs Beck that the police union will no longer be covering him. That means any legal expenses will need to come out of his own pocket. It's a devastating moment for him. It also likely indicates that he'll be facing more legal trouble this season.
  • Beck's wife is obsessively watching news coverage of this story. That can't be healthy for her. It makes her fear for her husband because she sees how bad it's getting.