In episode six of season two, American Crime deals with a lot of issues. In essence, however, it really is turning into a tale of two schools. Each of the educational institutes has issues, one with race, the other with sexuality. While Leyland is at the forefront, with the rape causing ripples that are turning into tsunamis, Thurgood Marshall and its beleaguered principle are fighting to keep things from getting worse.
The title of this episode could be called confrontation as that is the key theme throughout. The Hispanic students are confronting the entire school system at Thurgood Marshall, Taylor is confronting his issues, Terri LaCroix (Regina King) confronts Anne Blaine, Taylor’s mother and Michael LaCroix wants his cop buddy to confront Anne as well.
Meanwhile, Eric is feeling the brunt of Leslie Graham’s theme of misdirection, meant to protect the school, and Coach Sullivan is forced to confront, there is that word again, his own feelings about what Leslie is trying to do, which is avoid the truth.
In some instances, the whole Eric debacle proves that in high school sports and the minefield that is teen America, homophobia is alive and well. While Kevin LaCroix is willing to accept Eric’s gayness, his teammates are not so ready to live with his coming out. Granted they all agree to attack Taylor, for being a little “b*tch” but that feels very similar to Leslie Graham’s ploy of misdirection.
After watching the basketball game, it is clear that if not for Coach Sullivan’s guidance the players would have little problem beating the hell out of Eric. Although it may well be that all this hostility has more to do with Eric’s total lack of personality than his sexuality.
Anne Blaine (Lili Taylor) has shifted her direction and wearing her angry mother-bear hat wants the school and Graham to suffer publicly for their handling of her son’s attack. As Leslie herself admits, Blaine wants the school to bleed. It is easy to side with Anne, after all, Graham went from marginally supportive at the beginning to threatening when Blaine refused to drop it.
Terri LaCroix has proven that money cannot buy everything, although it did keep her from getting arrested when she confronted Anne Blaine at her workplace and called her underage son a “whore.” LaCroix, who seems to be unable to understand that her 18 year-old adult son is no longer a child, would never allow this type of behavior from the mother of another child.
Over at Thurgood Marshall, Dixon has to confront angry parents who question his own motives for having their protesting children declared truant. To give the principal credit, he is attempting to address the problem unlike Graham over at Leyland.
Watching the headmaster’s behavior, disregarding the woman’s compulsive hand washing after each meeting where she continues her misdirection attack of the Blaine/Tanner issue, it is pretty clear that this manipulative woman is heading for a meltdown.
What is also apparent is that she may take Dan Sullivan (Timothy Hutton) down with her. As all the adults struggle to deal with the issues at hand; rape, sexual identity, questions of responsibility, racism and refusal to address the real problem, the kids are also having trouble dealing with events.
Taylor (Connor Jessup) seems to be vacillating between “telling the truth” (whatever that really is) and confronting his own personal demons. The boy appears to be saying that he was not assaulted by Eric (Joey Pollari) and that the whole thing is about his mother and what she is going through. Like Leslie Graham’s line of defense, however, this avenue feels like Taylor is using misdirection as well.
At the end of the episode, Taylor is being chased by Eric’s teammates through the recreation center car park and Michael LaCroix appears more than ready to cross a line. Anne Blaine, who may not be without sin herself, is now a target as she changes her attack from one of justice to revenge.
One gets the feeling that Taylor’s mother does indeed want a public letting of blood, but not from the school. Anne is going after Leslie Graham, but she had better hurry as it does look like the headmaster is heading for a fall all on her own.
Graham’s plan to put the focus on Eric’s “coming out” has disastrously backfired with even Tanner reacting badly. The interview with the writer where Eric uses the word “fa**ot” in front of the openly gay man questioning him, causes Graham to panic.
Earlier in the episode Leslie tells the legal rep in front of her that Blaine does not want to settle and that she will, herself, not consider it. After the basketball game where Eric and his teammates have gay slurs shouted at them, and the interview, Graham rings up the lawyer and instructs him to settle.
American Crime‘s sixth episode ends with the feeling that both Taylor and his mother are in danger. Out of the two schools and their problems, Leyland may well end up with an attempted murder charge to follow the first one of rape and Principal Dixon may solve his problems despite wanting to avoid confrontation.
The actors in this drama all acquit themselves impeccably. The young performers all convince and Pollari comes across as genuinely unlikable. Hutton’s character looks to be as doomed as Graham, mainly through that “guilt by association” drill that captures so many in its net.
In terms of doomed characters, it also seems that the Blaine family are not going to get out of this unscathed full stop.
This second series of an award winning series airs Wednesdays on ABC. Tune in and catch the escalating events in American Crime as they unfold.