American Crime Season 3 Episode 4 was one of the most heartbreaking hours of television I've seen in a while.
Luis' pain and anger over learning that Teo was dead was raw, and his conversations with his wife where he couldn't tell her what he'd found out about their son were difficult to watch.
And on top of that, Kimara struggled with her own grief over not being able to have a child while she assisted Shae with her attempts to get an abortion.
What an intense hour of television!
Luis has been a fascinating character from the beginning. He's not afraid to stand up for himself and his family, and there's a sensitivity in him that men on American television shows are rarely allowed to display.
On "3.04," his emotions were all over the place and I couldn't take my eyes off of him.
Cop: Tell us about Teo.
Luis: Teo is my son. He is 17. He likes to laugh. I used to worry that people wouldn't take him serious, that he would get into trouble for messing around too much. But he just likes to make people happy.
Cop: That isn't what I meant. I meant, does he have any scars, tattoos or distinguishing marks we can use to help identify his body?
The opening scene in which a cop wanted a description not of what Teo was like but what his body looked like was nothing short of heartbreaking. Luis' description of who his son was and the response he got underscored the point that undocumented workers like Luis and Teo aren't always seen as fully human.
Teo was nothing more than a body to the cops, and hed been cremated without any regard for his family's wishes.
And then after getting the horrifying news that his son was dead, Luis had to call his wife and pretend everything was normal.
I'm normally not a person who enjoys subtitled conversations, but my eyes were glued to the screen as Luis had a conversation with his wife entirely in Spanish. I could see the pain and longing to tell Anna the truth about their son, yet I understood why he didn't.
This isn't the kind of news you tell someone over the phone.
Coy: Take the pills.
Isaac: You were just a druggie wandering around the streets. I picked you up, gave you a job.
Coy: Take the pills.
Isaac: Hey, remember when you laughed at me about picking tomatoes?
Coy: Take the pills.
Luis' final confrontation with Isaac and its juxtaposition with Coy's suicide attempt was also interesting. I was surprised that quiet, sensitive Luis could shoot a man three times and then throw the gun into the river. But then again, Luis has shown time and time again that he is as tough as he is soft.
He didn't let the foreman get away with treating him as an indentured servant and taking all his money and he was determined to find out what happened to his son no matter what it took.
So it's really not a surprise that he avenged Teo's death in the only way he knew how.
Shae: I want an abortion.
Kimara: Okay. Have you ever had one before?
Shae: In DC.
Kimara: Okay. How far along are you?
Shae: I'm not really sure.
Kimara: Okay. I know someone at the courthouse. I can talk to her about getting you in.
Shae: Getting me in?
Kimara: The procedure needs to be approved.
Shae: You mean in court?
Kimara: You're underage. You need to get a waiver from a judge or permission from your parents. You wanna call them?
Shae: I didn't have to do all this in DC. I just went to Planned Parenthood.
Kimara: You're not in DC anymore. This is North Carolina.
Shae's storyline was a grim, effective reminder of the problem with abortion laws in the United States. These scenes could easily have become a preachy, annoying mess, but they didn't. This story was just as moving as Luis'.
Shae's determination to terminate her pregnancy and her lack of understanding of why she had to jump through so many hoops is a familiar story to many women, regardless of age.
Shae was impatient and annoyed with the process and the only explanation her social worker could give her was that this is the way it is, at least in the state she happened to be living in.
It was Kimara's pain that really made the last scene, though.
Shae was street smart enough to realize that the doctor was asking her to listen to the baby's heartbeat in order to try to manipulate her out of terminating the pregnancy. Kimara asked to hear it anyway just so that there'd be no problems when Shae asked for her abortion again.
But as soon as the heartbeat was audible, Kimara, who desperately wants a child and can't seem to conceive one, fell apart. It must have seemed so unfair to her that Shae had this life growing inside her she didn't want while she, who wants a baby of her own so badly, can't seem to create one.
Jeanette: Why didn't you tell me you put a stop on that check?
Carson: Giving those people that money wasn't the right thing to do.
Jeanette: Well why didn't you tell me?
Carson: You were doing something that made you feel good and I... I thought if I just didn't tell you, maybe it'd get you out of this mood you've been in.
Jeanette: It made me feel good? That's why you think I did it? To feel good?
Carson and Laurie-Anne really made me mad. Not only did they treat Jeanette with utter condescension, but they effectively stopped her from helping the workers and made it look like she set out to defraud them.
I wanted to punch them. I hope that Jeanette continues to grow in her assertiveness and puts them in their place!
I was disappointed that there was so little Jeannette. After a few scenes near the beginning of the hour, her storyline seemed to be abruptly usurped by Nicholas and Clair's.
If we've seen these people before, please remind me, because I don't remember them. I was confused by Gabrielle's entrance into the story because I had no idea what was going on.
Nicholas: I don't see the point of getting a nanny from Haiti who just speaks French.
Clair: Nicky wants to teach her English.
Nicholas: Your friend gets a nanny from Ghana -
Clair: She wants to teach Nicky French.
Nicholas: Nobody speaks French.
Clair: People in France speak French.
Nicholas: People in France are in France.
Clair: I speak French.
This story seems like it's going to be just as interesting as the rest, with a husband who is cold and angry that he doesn't have complete control over his wife. I hope Clair doesn't give in to him or worse, that he doesn't fire Gabrielle or hurt her somehow behind Clair's back.
What did you think of "3.04"? Where do you think the story will go next now that Luis killed Isaac and went home and Coy overdosed?
Weigh in below, and don't forget you can watch American Crime online if you missed anything.