We begin the season of American Crime with illegal immigrants from Mexico entering the country looking for work. Luis Salazar (Benito Martinez) meets with the guide who offers him a choice of Texas, Florida or California, but Luis is insistent he only wants to go to North Carolina. He has to pay a ton of money for the unpopular location but he makes it where he wants to go. At the outset of the episode, there was a 911 call where the caller reported (in Spanish) a dead body floating in the river. Luis sees a dead Mexican man on the side of the road surrounded by police as he rides by on the bus. Things are not starting out well for Luis. He is looking for someone in North Carolina, and it doesn’t appear to be a family member.
Next we meet Kimara Walters (Regina King) a social worker who is desperately trying to get her cable TV turned on after a long outage but she gets a call for a new intake and has to leave. The new intake is Ishmael, a young male prostitute. Kimara is there working for a victim’s assistance program. Ishmael says he is not a victim. He refuses to answer any questions. Kimara begs to get Ishmael into a shelter but nothing is available. She takes him to a diner. He tells her that his cousin Marquis is not a pimp. Kimara tries to point out that he is, in fact, pimping him out. He asks what happens if he leaves, he tells her she doesn’t care about him. Kimara says she is not the police, he’s free to go. He gets up and walks out. She’s lost him. At least for now.
Kimara is undergoing IVF. She was just told the last implantation didn’t take.
Hesby Farms is suffering because of competition from foreign farms who pay their workers a dollar or two a day. They can’t turn a profit because there are only five buyers for their fruits and vegetables and they can get the same thing elsewhere for a lot less. The farm is in danger of going bankrupt unless a solution can be found. Hesby Farms is now owned by Laurie Ann Hesby (Cherry Jones) the matriarch of the family who recently took over after the death of her father.
The decision is made to use undocumented workers or anyone who will work cheaper. One of the scouts looking for workers picks up Coy Henson (Connor Jessup) a homeless white kid with a drug problem. He buys him a six pack, gives him some cards to pass out to others who might need work, promises him $200 a day, beer, drugs and a place to live. Then he takes off and tells him to call him. Coy is seen getting picked up by the recruiter at the end of the episode.
Jeanette Hesby (Felicity Huffman), the wife of Laurie Ann’s son JD Hesby (Tim DeKay), goes to visit her sister’s family. She finds out that her sister’s husband has run away without saying a word leaving her to raise their two kids. When Jeanette gets home, she asks JD if they could talk to Laurie Ann about getting work. The sister, Raelyn, is a recovering drug addict. JD says she can’t work on the farm, she’s a thief. She stole from his father when he ran the farm. He tells Jeanette she can send her a check. Jeanette wants to get her a job.
Luis finally arrives at the migrant worker camp where he is met by the boss Matias who basically tells him he owns him until his debt is paid for transport and housing. The farm will pay Matias and he will pay Luis after taking out the deductions. Luis is pissed but complicit for now. Luis gets the shittiest room. It’s disgustingly filthy.
Onward with the introduction of the many, many characters in these John Ridley series, we find bored teenager Shae (Ana Mulvoy-Ten) getting a free makeover at a department store. Her pimp comes to hurry her up. She gives the concerned makeup artist a bogus cover story and her pimp takes her to her first client. He makes her take off all the makeup he told her to wear after telling her that it made her look 30. He gets off on watching her take it all off before they head to the bedroom. Later, Shae’s pimp makes her try to pick up a homeless girl on the street. The girl passes on her offer. The pimp takes Shae to a really bad spot to meet a client. He’s disgusting. Luckily, the cops bust in and arrest them. The episode ends with Kimara doing an intake with Shae.
I feel like this first recap has been a bit boring, like the book of Genesis, but in the same necessary way of populating the earth, or in this case the series with characters. John Ridley’s stories in these seasons all tend to have connections that develop over the course of the season. There are what appear to be good people and bad people, and then he goes on to show the fallacy in that concept. You may find yourself feeling sorry for a rapist (Season Two) or hating a mother whose son was murdered (Season One). First we learn a bit about he characters, and there will be a lot of them to keep up with if previous seasons are any indication. Then, we will see the strangers, who as of yet have no connection, becoming involved to greater and lesser degrees with each others lives through a central crime. For this season, I am assuming it will be the dead body that was found floating in the river, and how it got there. I suspect the body is either Matias himself, or someone Matias killed. But it’s way too early to say for sure.
American Crime is a very gritty show about stuff you don’t always want to look at. This season’s underbelly seems to be sex trafficking and illegal immigration. It’s not the Real Housewives of Alamance County, but it’s real life.
Will you watch with me?