Wednesday, February 3, 2021

REVIEW: 'For Life' - Fighting for Justice Goes Hand-in-Hand with a Recognition of Each Other's Humanity in 'Say His Name'

ABC's For Life - Episode 2.07 "Say His Name"

Aaron takes on the case of an unarmed man shot by a police officer. Safiya represents Ronnie after he's arrested and roughed up by law enforcement. The family struggles with whether to have Aaron Jr. baptized.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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 ABC's For Life.

"Say His Name" was written by Sonay Hoffman and directed by Eif Rivera

Aaron has led the fight against injustice. He has exposed corruption throughout the system. He has channeled his anger and vitriol against it. And yet, tragedies still occur throughout the world. Police are still killing Black people. Their skin color is all it takes for them to be perceived as a threat. From a young age, Black people are conditioned to feel different because of the racism that is overwhelmingly apparent. People march to make a difference. Everyone feels the urgency to take action to improve the system to ensure nothing deadly like this ever happens again. The system is still corrupt though. At the end of the day, it's unclear if justice will actually be found. It's even unknown what exactly justice should be for the family left behind as survivors of this viciousness. Prosecutors work hand-in-hand with the police. They are even cozy with the judges who dictate the terms of this system. A level of familiarity has to exist in order for the system to function as smoothly as it can. Right now, everything is a mess because of the pandemic. Everything is moving slowly. Tragedies still occur. There are several ways to fight as well. It's necessary to be angry. It's important to make one's voice heard. That can be channeled in different ways. It still requires an awareness of the danger and the willingness to carry those risks in stride. Jazz goes out to protest every single day. She brings Ronnie with her. She sees the necessity of her generation standing up and speaking out to ensure the future looks brighter and safer for the next. She is informed by being a mother. She has to do right by AJ. She closes herself off from her loved ones though. This action is empowering to her. It can't come at the expense of her personal relationships though. No one is to blame except the cops when Ronnie is arrested at a protest. Aaron has the right resources to help him as well. That is a luxury. It's all in service of protecting this family. It has grown over the course of the series. They all love each other. They are all terrified for each other as well. Marie is cut off from the family because she is working in the hospital. She is serving as a nurse for COVID-19 patients. She is a hero. It's a reality this family has endured before with a parent being absent. Aaron and Jazz can only speak to her through glass. It's hauntingly familiar and painful. It's a personal sacrifice. One for the greater good that makes a difference. And yet, it's also just as important to address one's mental health. Marie is drained because of this work. She has to stop. That allows her to be with her family. She has to accept that. It's not at the expense of people who are needlessly dying because of the spread of this disease. It's her ensuring that she can continue to provide all that she is capable of being for as many people as she wants in her life. It's been a traumatic experience. It helps to have people who understand and are willing to carry the burden as well. Aaron has learned so much. He feels energized to provide comfort and stability for those struggling. He wants to give a level of humanity back to Andy after it was cruelly taken away by the police. He fails in that endeavor. Andy ultimately dies as well. It's a stunning tragedy. It also sets up the basic story structure of what's to come this season. Aaron advocates on behalf of this family. He is then given the responsibility of looking into the circumstances of this shooting and whether the officer involved should be charged. Powerful people may be setting him up to fail. Aaron and Spencer can relate to one another over fearing for their daughters' safety. They have that connection. They can build on that. Aaron's profile will be raised because Attorney General Burke is in a political minefield with this case. It's easier to put the burden on someone else. It may all be for optics. The system may not be changed. Aaron boldly goes into this world fighting for justice. It may not be found in every case. He can only provide comfort to Andy and his family here. That's enough for him to build trust and compassion with them. That acknowledgement is powerful. It's a recognition of humanity that is all too often missing from these circumstances. Hatred and bigotry is incredibly present in this world. It can be crushing at times. Aaron's family faces that here. Freedom comes from being able to experience the entire array of emotions. People want to confine them. It's a way of telling them who to be and how to act. It's limiting and dehumanization. Aaron fights to get that back for the people who believe in him and his story. That's enough for him to get through the door. Now, he has to face the system head-on to see if these long-embedded procedures and the people within them can truly be changed and held accountable for their heinous behavior.