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SpoilerTV - TV Spoilers


American Crime - Episode 3.01 - Advance Preview

American Crime returns for a third season on Sunday, March 12. If you haven’t been watching this show, it’s one of the few that you can simply jump right into because it re-invents itself brilliantly every season – much like Fargo or American Horror Story. And like American Horror Story, it offers the same stellar cast in new roles each season. American Crime is a stand out, however, even in such great company, because it also offers thought provoking storylines that force viewers to examine real world problems from multiple viewpoints.

Episode one was written by Oscar winner and creator John Ridley and was directed by So Yong Kim. Interestingly, Kim’s resume is short with only two other single episode television episodes: Transparent and Queen Sugar. Ridley’s faith in her is not misplaced, however, and while the pacing on this first episode may seem a bit slow, it lays the groundwork of a number of threads that will no doubt come together over the course of the 8 episode season.

The episode begins with a 911 call. The caller, speaking in Spanish, tells the clearly American operator that there is a dead body in the river. We see what appears to be a woman’s hand in the water, before we cut to migrant workers sneaking over the border. The first returning character we see is Benito Martinez as Luis Salazar. He doesn’t speak any English, but he insists he’ll pay in order to get to North Carolina. It’s a particularly interesting storyline to examine the lives of these workers given the current political climate. But Ridley doesn’t shy away from the hard stories.

Regina King is also back. She plays a completely different character with Kimara Walters than she played in either of the first two seasons. She plays a social worker who tries to help teenagers who have been lured into underage prostitution. Her own life is troubled, however. The episode is nicely structured around two of her cases. A really wonderful addition to the cast is Sandra Oh as Abby Tanaka, a shelter administrator.

In addition to the “sexier” storylines of illegal migrant workers and underage prostitution, the season also looks at the plight of farmers – another group that proved to be extremely influential in the election. This storyline welcomes the wonderful Cherry Jones as Laurie Ann Hesby the head of Hesby Farms. It’s the kind of farm that has profited from cheap, illegal workers and built itself up by squeezing out the smaller farms only to see itself now threatened by an even bigger corporate machine. Dallas Roberts joins the cast as her brother Carson, and Tim DeKay plays JD Hesby.

Laurie Ann makes sure that she distances herself from who exactly they’re hiring. She doesn’t give a direct order to hire illegals, and then the hiring goes another rung down the ladder. Richard Cabral returns as a regular this season playing Isaac Castillo, a recruiter for the farm. He picks up Coy Henson, played by Connor Jessup, a troubled, drug addicted young man.

Felicity Huffman plays Jeanette Hesby, Carson’s wife, and once again, she turns in a brilliant performance in a completely different role. She plays the obedient wife. Seen and not heard, but with a sister who has had a harder road. Janel Moloney plays Raelyn, and it seems pretty clear that Jeanette has moved up the social scale.

Ana Mulvoy-Ten plays Shae Reese, another under age prostitute. Both Timothy Hutton (Nicholas Coates) and Lili Taylor (Clair Coates) return but sadly only in recurring roles and neither appear in this first episode.

Here are a few dialogue teasers from the episode:

Get your ass up. Go do some work.
Times are tough.
It’s hot out! You want something to drink?
Wanna come and hang out with me and my guy?
Are you from around here? Did you travel here?
I can get you there, but it’s gonna cost.
I got a brother. He don’t want nothing to do with me.
I don’t know why, the borders are so out of control.
Nothing to talk about.
We’re not Wholefoods. Our customers demonstrate price sensitivity.
If you let me, I’ll do everything I can to help you.

Family is a clear link between these stories as all the characters are looking for connections – usually with family members who may be missing or estranged. Many of them are looking for surrogate families – a place to belong. It’s not clear how these threads will weave together – though some seem like obvious fits. I’m really looking forward to how this season plays out. Don’t miss the premiere this Sunday on ABC at 10/9c!