Thursday, February 25, 2021

REVIEW: 'For Life' - Aaron, Safiya and Roswell Present Their Case Against the Officer Who Killed Andy Josiah in 'Andy Josiah'

ABC's For Life - Episode 2.10 "Andy Josiah"

Aaron and his legal team face their toughest trial yet as they prosecute the police officer responsible for the killing of an innocent, unarmed Black man.

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 season finale of ABC's For Life.

"Andy Josiah" was written by Hank Steinberg & Sonay Hoffman and directed by Russell Fine

This was a slightly oddly paced season of television. It wasn't all together bad. It had some significant high points in the middle run of episodes. However, the conclusion of the season was centered intensely on Aaron trying to find justice for Andy Josiah. It was a singular mission that gave him a renewed sense of drive and purpose. At the start of the season, it felt like Jamal's case would provide that for him. He would be giving back to his friends still at Bellmore. He still absolutely did that. The finale starts with a montage of people speaking on his behalf for the impact he had in their lives. It highlighted the humanity of the inmates and the full lives they are capable of living. They don't need to be defined as that one thing. Jamal is still in prison though. In fact, the season was seemingly telling a story in the background about him growing a bit more corrupt now that Aaron is no longer there. It didn't entirely work. It ends with Aaron saying he's worried about Jamal because he organized an assault on the police lieutenant who tried to cover up the abusive actions of another officer. Aaron needed him as a witness. This could have ruined everything he has strived for in his outside life. The two remain friends though. Aaron is still devoted to Jamal's case. It was simply placed on the back burner. It was no longer a priority. That's strange considering how the season started. Moreover, it feels like the finale is compelled to be as dramatic as possible. As such, the creative team throws in a bunch of escalating moments meant to increase the tension. Not every development is necessary though. It's meant to exemplify just how national and divisive this trial has become as well as the tensions in the community. Everyone involved needs protection. Roswell is still shot though. He steps in front of the bullet to save Aaron's life. It's an action done out of love. It doesn't add a whole lot to the overall story though. It doesn't provide a reasonable delay for the trial. Nor is there any serious concern that Roswell could die from these injuries. It helps put things back into perspective after a moment wherein Aaron, Safiya and Roswell are arguing based on the trial not going well at that point. They should be allowed to disagree without the suggestion that their partnership could completely implode if they aren't on the same page. That makes the overall sentimentality of the story feel forced. It creates an ending where it's a sweet thought to imagine the three of them going into business together. That always felt like the plan. As such, it didn't need this massive moment of escalation to purposefully put things into better perspective. Again, it's just odd. That's the best way to describe it. Because the finale has so much happening, the overall message can get lost as well. These police shooting cases are hard to prosecute. The show went out of its way to explain that Aaron and his team got the case moved to a preferred location. That seemingly just suggests that the system will be fair and balanced. When they face setbacks in their case, it then suddenly feels like they could lose. When the defense cross-examines a witness, it suggests that her argument is much more persuasive. It highlights that the team isn't seasoned litigators. They make mistakes that may ruin everything. That's the stakes of this story. Their determination to get a conviction is what is needed in order to suggest that some progress is being made with this massive sociological issue. Even then, the jury decides to convict only on the lesser charge. It's still a story full of drama. It's very moving when Elaine gives her statement to the judge about what the system should render as punishment for the officer. It provides a conclusion to this case. It can be celebrated. People can still question just how much it will change in the world. Again, this show probably can't be used as an example for how the legal system actually works. It feels the importance to tackle these topical issues. As such, it ends in a way that allows the characters to feel resolved with all that they have done. It's just also clear that this case took priority over the entire show. Everyone was in service to it. That is still noble. It perhaps didn't make the concluding arc of the season as dynamic for the characters and the journeys they are on in this life. That's a significant difference from what had previously happened. It doesn't make the show bad. It simply presents as a different way to tell stories after what had already been established.