Sunday, April 17, 2022

REVIEW: '61st Street' - The Police Prevent Franklin, Norma and Joshua From Helping Moses in 'The Hunter and the Hunted'

AMC's 61st Street - Episode 1.02 "The Hunter and the Hunted"

While on a collision course with the Chicago Police Department, Moses makes contact with the one person who could save him. Martha chases political aspirations.

"The Hunter and the Hunted" was written by Olu Odebunmi & Tolu Awosika and directed by Marta Cunningham

The police have lost control of the narrative. At least, that's what Lt. Tardelli firmly believes. His officers now have to apologize simply for being cops. They are no longer trusted as the noble men and women protecting the streets and serving the community. Of course, the organization has never lived up to those ideals. It's always been a collection of people gifted with power who get to decide which lives to protect and serve. The enforcement has never been equitable. That's true in every layer of the criminal justice system. Communities of color are policed more frequently by officers who don't come from the community or seek to maintain the landmarks of interest or value. Meanwhile, the courts penalize people of color more severely because of the inherent bias against them and the time necessary for any perceived rehabilitation. And finally, the prisons profit off keeping as many people inside for as long as possible. It's a vicious cycle meant to offer no hope or escape for communities those in power refuse to let prosper. In this particular story, Moses doesn't have the luxury of turning himself in. Franklin can't negotiate with the police regarding his new client's surrender. The police are on a rampage. They terrorize the entire community. It doesn't matter if they know Moses or not. They demand answers and arrest anyone who criticizes their methods. The officers justify that fierce response because they are dealing with the raw emotions of losing one of their own. Michael Rossi was killed. The man responsible is still on the loose. Until he is captured, no one can experience peace. Fear and terror loom over the entire city. It makes it a precarious time for Martha to be campaigning to defund the police. That moment comes across more as using a buzzword to incite drama instead of showcasing a willingness to engage in a meaningful conversation about the state of policing in this country. It presents with all the ugliness of what that phrase has become. Police forces have become emboldened to react with more toxicity in the wake of those who wish to push them out of existence. The true concept is accountability. The police are funded by the citizen's tax dollars. That money shouldn't be wasted. The police have long been able to set the narrative of what they need. Only now are enough people willing to question that perspective. It's still not enough to make much of a difference. The police can't be above criticism and accountability. That doesn't have to be seen as an existential threat. So many want to take things to that extreme. That only amplifies the emotions on both sides even more.

Moses can't run forever. He has friends and allies willing to help him. When Joshua and Norma are being questioned, they genuinely have no idea where he is. They could certainly speculate on where he would have gone. They can't offer any clarity. If they speak up and their lead is wrong, they will then suffer the wraith of police who believe they were unfairly deceived. They have the resources to bug the Johnson home. They can surveil the members of Moses' family in the hopes they will eventually lead them to his hiding place. That's ultimately what happens. Franklin believes he can coordinate things carefully. He knows to be looking out for anyone potentially following him. Joshua doesn't operate with that paranoia. He fears for his brother's life. The police don't know when they break into a house that Moses is the basement. They assume simply because it's where Joshua went when given his freedom. They monitor him and take advantage of that access. They prey on these relationships in the hopes of bringing this manhunt to a close. To them, Moses is a member of a gang destroying the streets of Chicago by selling drugs. His animosity towards cops led to him killing one of them. He isn't deserving of a nice photo being broadcast to the world. It plays into such racist tropes though. Moses is a vicious animal and nothing more. Tardelli wants the opportunity to shoot him dead. He sees that as the only fitting justice for this. He refused to promote Rossi. His death suddenly animates him. It inspires him to take back control of a world that needs police. These threats have only amplified in recent years. The public needs to calm down and honor those who put their lives on the line. Too many criminals are out there doing dangerous things that impact the livelihoods of so many. The police need the latitude to do whatever they want to stop it. Franklin has to literally declare himself as Moses' lawyer in order to avoid the worst possible outcome. That's a disruption to the world Tardelli would like to embody. It's just him holding Moses at gunpoint. He should run so he can bring this all to a conclusion and be celebrated as a hero. He isn't deserving of that worship. He continues to wield power. Moses and his family will still have to face impossible odds in order to keep on surviving. They have that chance. It's not Moses who makes the choice. Instead, it's all driven by circumstances. So few people are given the opportunity to decide what direction their lives will go in. So much happens to Moses. He now has to respond to it as his dreams of a more prosperous future have gone away.