Wednesday, February 17, 2021

REVIEW: 'For Life' - The Pressure Mounts as Aaron Doubts His Convictions and How Far He'll Go for Justice in 'The Blue Wall'

ABC's For Life - Episode 2.09 "The Blue Wall"

With Aaron and Marie facing threats from an increasingly hostile community, Aaron and his team double down by pursuing criminal charges against a high-ranking police officer they believe tried to cover up the shooting.

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.

"The Blue Wall" was written by T. Zhang & Jake Gillman and directed by Laura Belsey

The previous episode featured a lot of legal shenanigans that didn't enhance or complicate the Andy Josiah case in a compelling or interesting way. Some of that is present in this episode as well. It's not as glaring as it previously was though. It's still an issue. One that may oversimplify the stakes of holding police accountable when it comes to the shooting of unarmed Black people. However, the threats and pressure from the outside world on this case are striking and intensifying further. That creates a sense of just how dire and pivotal this entire conversation is. It's grueling on the lawyers involved. Aaron questions himself over whether Andy would even want him to go to the extent he is comfortable with in pursuing this legal strategy. The Attorney General goes to the lawyer for the cops talking about the importance of striking a deal. It would be beneficial for all sides. It would allow everyone to continue climbing the political ladders that everyone else cynically believes is the only motivation for what they are doing. The evidence is mounting. And yet, witnesses are being intimidated. Aaron believes he knows how to deliver justice. He is also further traumatizing Andy's family. He makes them experience his death over and over again. He hopes that it will benefit his case. That is never guaranteed though. In fact, it may only increase the pressure. The nightmares about this tragedy only continue. It's traumatic. It may not be worth it in the end. That is the cynical outlook as well. It's the second guessing that comes from the outside pressure and intimidation. The police on Staten Island are doing everything they can to protect one of their own from the people who are targeting him for political reasons that don't reflect the reality of doing the job. Of course, Aaron and his colleagues see the blatant abuse happening on the force. Bad individuals are protected. Their heinous actions are covered up over and over again. That's the decree from leadership. That's how they lord over the unit. It's an environment where this is acceptable behavior because no one will ever be held accountable. Aaron may have to make a deal with the officer who was in the car during the encounter just to ensure the killer who shot into Andy's back goes to jail for a long time. It's hard to even secure that. This case could fall apart at any moment. Aaron and Safiya even feel the pressure to send their families away in order to keep them safe. It's that dire and scary. Marie ultimately decides that she will never abandon Aaron again. She did that once and it was incredibly destructive to the bond they had. They have each worked to improve this family unit. They are fighters. They advocate for one another. And yet, mistakes are still made. Jazz believes she does the right thing in vocalizing the cruelty done to the family. But again, that then becomes the definition of who they are allowed to be in public. Aaron's story is compelling. Most people are aware of it and even play into the idea of his current actions no longer lining up with his morals. It's difficult. The fight was easier when he was on the inside. He was fighting for himself. He knew exactly what he had to do. He was certain in his beliefs. He was judging himself. That was the only accountable he had to handle. And now, he is fighting for someone else. That's a different arrangement all together. It's much more difficult to have that empathy for another individual. It's a willingness to embrace their pain and tragedy even when it can further compromise one's own well-being. Spencer acknowledges the pain he caused in the past by refusing to see Aaron's humanity. Aaron is fighting to do better in the world now. Spencer has become an ally. It's still a reluctant partnership because trust doesn't come naturally to Aaron. Roswell and Safiya are the loyal members of his team. He will rely on them no matter what. Of course, their struggles during this investigation do come across as second-hand compared to Aaron's story. Roswell questioning his sobriety doesn't truly have the weight to actually resonate. He doesn't drink. That's good. The pressure was never amply applied to pull it into question though. Safiya's bond with the bodega owner has the potential to offer more drama to the situation. Her reaction to what's happening to him is different than how Aaron wants to handle the situation. That can create tension. The finale will be where all of this explodes though. The protagonists stand united in this cause. They make mistakes. They hope they do better the next time. They are afraid for one another. That too is justified. Now, the audience just has to wait to see if all of this buildup will create an ending that is truly satisfying given the parallels to the systemic injustice that is often found in these cases.