Silence can be a powerful thing.
On American Crime Season 3 Episode 7 it was used liberally to demonstrate the depth of injustice that most of the characters faced. Throughout the hour, it became more and more clear that everyone was facing impossible circumstances, and all the things they didn't say were just as important as what they did.
The series wrapped up a season that followed the stories of people being abused, made powerless, and sometimes even killed because of circumstances beyond their control with a series of unhappy endings for everybody.
Yet it wasn't at all depressing. In fact, it was incredibly satisfying.
Jeanette's story broke my heart. I knew it was coming. From the moment she walked into that jobs center and discovered she had no marketable skills, I knew that sooner or later she was going to have to return to Carson.
Jeanette: Can I come see you?
Carson: For what?
Jeanette: I want to come talk to you. Can I do that?
Carson: We can talk.
Jeanette: Raelynn's in jail. She failed a drug test. She keeps saying it's a mistake, sometimes they make mistakes.
Carson: What's gonna happen to her?
Jeanette: It's a parole violation. In the meantime, I need to keep myself going.
Carson: You need money.
Jeanette: I need to come home.
Carson: And all this stuff about you trying to find yourself or taking a stand for the workers... it all goes away?
I just wish, for her sake, that it hadn't been so damn demeaning.
I wanted to see Jeanette be able to emerge out of this with her head held high, finding some way to make it on her own. Of course, that was unrealistic given her circumstances. The cards were just stacked way too high against her and there was no other way this could end besides her begging for Carson to take her back.
Carson said he wanted a housewife who didn't care about the workers' plight and wasn't unhappy, and the pain in Jeanette's eyes when she agreed to that was palpable.
I'd like to think that Carson learned something and realized that keeping Jeanette meant respecting her passion for workers' rights and letting her have her own point of view, but I doubt it. He might have stood up for their marriage to Laurie Anne, but behind closed doors I'm sure he tried to rein Jeanette in.
Jeanette: I am sorry for any bother I caused.
Lori Anne: It was more than a bother. People have got hurt. They have suffered.
Jeanette: The workers on that farm suffered, and not just from the fire. There were murders on that farm, more than one. Women were assaulted -
Lori Anne: She doesn't know when to call it a day, does she?
Jeanette seemed to find some sense of purpose in taking care of her two young nieces, but again, that is probably not enough. She's had to sacrifice her ideals, making speeches on behalf of the family that she knows screwed the workers over, and she must feel like her attempt at independence went absolutely nowhere.
Raelynn accused her of wanting to run back to Carson from the beginning and that was so incredibly offbase that it hurt. Raelynn saw Jeanette as more privileged than her because her husband has money, but she didn't realize that for Jeanette, that was just a different sort of prison than Raelynn's poverty was for her.
Jeanette was not as privileged as it seemed.
She's had to suppress her thoughts and feelings her whole adult life in order to not upset the system that keeps her tied to her wealthy husband.
Now that she is more aware of the truth of conditions on the farm, it's going to be harder for her to continue to keep her head down and do what she's told, yet with no marketable skills and two children to take care of, she has no choice.
And that is a tragedy.
Dustin: It was an accident.
Man: What happened?
Dustin: Tracy stabbed this other girl. Cassi. Everette got rid of the body.
Man: Did Cassi have any famliy?
Dustin: No. She had a boyfriend. He was a pimp. Cassi wasn't her real name. It was her screen name. Her real name was Shae.
Kimara: Tell me about this Shae. What did she look like?
Dustin: She looked regular. Blonde.
Kimara: Was she pregnant?
Kimara: Tell me about the house where this happened. Where is it?
I had been looking forward to Kimara finding out what happened to Shae since she crossed paths with Dustin, and these scenes did not disappoint.
Kimara barely kept it professional in the interview with Dustin. She wanted justice for Shae as soon as she heard her name, and demanded to know where the house was that she had died in and what had happened to her.
The most emotional scene, though, was when Kimara looked at Shae's bloated body and asked to be able to bury it, only to be turned down by the cops.
Shae's body being evidence was so symbolic of everything she'd gone through since being caught prostituting for Billy. Even death didn't make her human to anyone but Kimara. She was just a piece of evidence in the end.
Woman: Dustin was an accessory after the fact. He went days without telling anyone about the murder.
Kimara: Shae is dead. Her pimp is out of jail. There's a houseful of kids. And you're gonna put Dustin in jail?
Woman: He'll go in front of the judge and he'll get maybe a year. What were you gonna do? Put him in a shelter?
Kimara: F - you!
Woman: We will find those kids and -
Kimara: Seriously, F - you!
I wasn't surprised that Kimara became a little more cynical after all this. Her efforts to help hadn't stopped Shae from dying or Dustin from going to jail when he was as much a victim as Shae was.
Kimara has been burning out from her attempts to help all these human trafficking victims, so in a way her increased cynicism was a sign of positive growth. She's finally setting boundaries and taking care of herself, even if she does seem a little more cold and selfish in the process.
Look, we didn't do anything wrong. We treated her decent. Is this what it's come to, that the police believe people like them, not us?Nicholas
The Gabrielle story was disturbing on so many levels.
I didn't blame Gabrielle for wanting to stay and look after Nicky. With Clair in jail, Nicky is stuck with an unloving, cold, bigoted businessman father who will take care of his physical and financial needs but not his emotional ones.
No one has asked Nicky how he feels about Gabrielle's arrest while he was with her or about his mom's situation now. The child is not important enough to anyone for his feelings to be recognized, and that's not going to lead to a mentally healthy situation for him no matter what happens now.
Nicholas' casual bigotry was also upsetting. In his mind, Gabrielle is so far beneath human that he thinks it's right and proper that his wife be exonerated for abusing her, and he resents the fact that the cops would actually listen to anyone like Gabrielle and her son.
Clair's blaming Nicholas for her own behavior towards Gabrielle wasn't really fair, but at the same time it did seem like she snapped as a result of the way her husband treated her for years.
The final scene was one of the most powerful moments of television I've seen in a long time.
American Crime tends not to wrap things up neatly and to leave viewers to make their own decisions about what actually happened to the characters. Sometimes that can be annoying, but this time it was effective.
The montage of dead characters standing in the back of the courtroom made the point that there really is no justice when so many people are in impossible situations that just lead to death one way or another.
And viewers were left with the question of what is justice and what should happen to these characters.
What did you think of the season finale of American Crime? What do you think should happen in each of the court cases that began as the credits rolled?
Weigh in below, ,and don't forget you can always watch American Crime online if you missed anything.