Sunday, April 28, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Red Line' - A Tragedy Ripples Through a Chicago Neighborhood and Three Families in 'We Must All Care'

CBS' The Red Line - Episode 1.01 "We Must All Care"

Three very different Chicago families journey toward hope and healing after a tragedy causes them all to consider how race and racial biases affect their lives.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of CBS' The Red Line.

"We Must All Care" was written by Caitlin Parrish & Erica Weiss and directed by Victoria Mahoney

The Red Line is unlike anything else on CBS' schedule. That probably made it very difficult to schedule - which possibly explains why it's airing in two hour blocks during the final four Sundays of the broadcast season. And yet, it's the rare broadcast show that is actually about something. It explores how a tragedy affects three very distinct and separate families in Chicago. There is the sense of collective pain that comes from the death of Dr. Harrison Brennan. But there is also the injustice that extends from no criminal charges being filed against the police officer who shot him. Everyone is holding their collective breaths waiting for whether or not Officer Paul Evans will face criminal liability. Harrison's husband, Daniel, doesn't want to worry their daughter, Jira, with what-ifs until that time actually comes. But her fears were completely justified because no charges are filed against him. He is cleared six months after the shooting. Those six months were agonizing for all involved. But now, the collective story may be done with this tragic shooting just fading into the background of all the other tragedies that have happened throughout the country. Harrison may be nothing more than a statistic. He's the latest black man shot and killed by the police who mistook him for someone else. It's devastating while painting a bleak portrait of what real-life is like for so many families throughout this country. Of course, the show has a unique balancing act because it aspires for that realism while also trying to tell a mystery-based story. As such, there is the reveal that Paul's partner, Vic, actually tampered with the evidence to ensure that everything worked out for him. For six months, she encouraged him with the belief that nothing criminally was going to happen to him. And now, she shares that she had concerns in the moment and worked to correct the situation. She understands that it was illegal and corrupt. She just did what she saw as best in order to protect her friend on the force. The justifications are already being made that people don't know how they would respond in that situation because they aren't serving in this job every single day. But it does follow a pattern of too many tragedies happening with no accountability whatsoever. The show is telling that personal story because the loved ones will never forget Dr. Harrison Brennan. The officer won't either because he now knows the truth that even his most trusted friend didn't see it as a clean shooting. The narrative may be completely focused on how to move on after the worst has happened. Daniel and Jira have to decide if they want to file a civil case. That seems expected but the show still makes it seem like a question. Jira and Tia feel the urge to connect as biological mother and daughter. But their family members are encouraging them not to because it may just be a selfish impulse in order to project what they are feeling about this tragedy somewhere else. Tia is trying to do more for her community. She is running for office knowing that police corruption is so rampant in this city. She knows that change needs to occur. Her being caught up in this story may change the narrative of her campaign. But it's ultimately up to the central people involved to continue dealing with these tough emotions while making choices with lasting implications. Jira wants to act impulsively. She strives for a connection to a community that understands. Daniel may not be able to provide that for her. But he's also the parent on the train platform searching for her all night long. That is love even though he too is selfish for refusing to tell her about her birth mother.