Friday, September 13, 2019

REVIEW: 'Unbelievable' - A Case Being Investigated in Colorado Has Eery Similarities to Marie's Story in 'Episode 2'

Netflix's Unbelievable - Episode 1.02 "Episode 2"

Marie struggles with the fallout from her retraction. Three years later, in Colorado, Detective Karen Duvall investigates a strikingly similar attack.

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 next episode of Netflix's Unbelievable.

"Episode 2" was written by Susannah Grant and directed by Lisa Cholodenko

There are eery similarities between Marie and Amber's rapes. The show brutally calls attention to that fact by noting all of the details attached to these traumas. They both have memories that allow them to recall a strong level of detail. They both reported the crimes shortly after they happened. One was certainly more vicious and prolonged than the other. That mostly articulates how the rapist has learned how to improve his crime in the years since attacking Marie. Sure, it's a little awkward how Amber's story happens in 2011 and Marie's seems to continue in 2008. That probably needs a little more clarity. But it also highlights how the need to support these women can come in many different forms. The desire to help them with whatever they need is important but it can also be difficult to know exactly what they need in any given moment. Becca and Ty have a responsibility to all of their former foster kids. They need this program to be a success for all of them. They are willing to help Marie navigate why this happened and how to move forward. But everyone in her life is operating under the belief that she made it all up. As a result, the evidence has never been processed. Instead, it's simply a scandalous story on the news. One that further shames Marie. She has her doubts and she fears that she is the one being punished for this crime. That's absolutely horrifying. The audience should feel compassion for her because this is a rape that very likely occurred. It may have been the first for this serial criminal. Because Marie wasn't a good enough victim in the eyes of the police, she was dismissed and further abused by a cruel world. She continues to make the active choice to keep fighting and staying alive. But she is incredibly isolated as well. She has no support in her community, at work or the people she wants to call family. Instead, everyone wants to keep their distance so that their perception isn't also ruined by this apparent scandal. But again, this rape happened to her. Because of everything happening to her, the criminal learned how to better evade capture. That's sickening. More women are victimized as a result. It's an agonizing tale. One that still has a ton of respect and empathy for Amber and her willingness to come forward. There is the optimism that the same fate won't befall her. But it can't also be as easy as coming to that conclusion because a female detective is the one leading the case. Compassion and sympathy shouldn't just be the responsibility of one gender. Everyone who decides to be a member of the police force should have empathy for victims and do their best to support them no matter what they may need. It's all inherent in the questions Karen asks. She is very considerate. She outlines things as they are going to happen. She makes sure that Amber understands everything before asking for her consent. It's the way the process should work. Amber provides so many details. But it still seems like a daunting task to catch this criminal simply because he has left almost no evidence to process. It's easier to see this attack as something that happened. Items were removed from Amber's apartment to help him get away with rape. Marie was allowed to linger in doubt because others chose to rationalize it away as rebellious behavior. They didn't feel the urgency to dig deeper. They felt they had all the clarity they needed. Karen feels strongly with the evidence and story she has collected so far. And yet, this investigation may only amount to more victims and their stories being shared. It's such a personal and emotional experience. One where Karen is fighting to uncover the truth and get justice. She has the skills to embrace and support victims. That's not the way every female detective should be seen though. Detective Grace Rasmussen also makes her debut at the very end of this episode as someone who boldly confronts a suspicious individual in the woods at night. She is strong and vicious in that way. That's empowering while also showing how women have a wide array of personalities and emotions that allow them to have a vastly complicated set of reactions to the world around them. That's important because this story needs that complexity in order to land properly with the audience.