American Crime Episode 10 featured a number of role reversals among characters, from some leaving jail and others going (back) in, to Barb and Russ almost switching places, in a way.
The episode began with Hector (Richard Cabral) back in jail and being awakened in his cell, clearly at some wee hour of the night/morning. Not even able to get fully dressed, a tired Hector is brought before a detective who had taken his statement about Carter and what happened the night of Matt and Gwen’s attack. The detective keeps coming back to the gun that Hector assured him was the one Carter had, and Hector affirms that statement, but Hector is eventually informed that this was not the gun used to kill Matt. Considering that Hector has lied about this, the rest of his testimony is inadmissible, and the deal he made with the authorities is off. He will be sent back to Mexico to face the pending charges he has there.
Hector is panicky. When we later see him meeting with his lawyer, he says if he goes back to Mexico they will put him in a hole. “Your credibility is blown,” the attorney tells Hector, also explaining there’s not much he can do. “Did you lie about the gun?” Hector does not respond. The lawyer tells Hector that he will be extradited immediately; they want this over with. Hector begins tearing up as he tells the man about his girlfriend and their daughter, and how he hasn’t been allowed to contact them. The lawyer asks for her number, and says he’ll see what he can do about putting them in touch with each other.
This works, as Hector later gets a visit from his girlfriend, who is again angry and disappointed in the father of her daughter. “What happened this time?” she sneers at him. Hector tells her they said he lied. “Do the say you lied, or did you lie?” the woman asks, echoing the question from Hector’s lawyer earlier. As in that encounter, Hector doesn’t say anything, but again looks for an easy way out, making excuses about how they kept bringing up the gun, and wanted to hear something about the gun, and questioned him when he was tired early in the morning, etc. She again brings up his other excuses and grandiose notions that he once told her. “All that crap about getting a technology job,” she says, “and moving to the mountains. Why don’t you do it? Why don’t you do what you gotta do? You hustle, you cheat, you lie.” Hector can’t say anything, just looks sheepish. He asks her to say a goodbye to their daughter, but before he can finish this request she cuts him off. She won’t say anything to the little girl who barely knows her father, and will have to face losing him again after their brief reunion.
Speaking heartfully, she tells him that despite all of this, she would like to just hold Hector, and hug him, but can’t because of the glass separating them (she may even be unwittingly referencing to everything else in Hector’s behavior that metaphorically is keeping them apart). After finding out that Hector will be extradited immediately, and will be back in Mexico before she is, she tells him that she will get back there, and be in court with him. She then leaves.
During their conversation, we see scenes interspersed of Hector being processed and put in to a van to be driven across the border, in shackles. Later, in a Mexican jail, Hector meets his court-appointed lawyer, and they have a conversation in Spanish (one of the few times in the series that subtitles have been used). Hector will be going before a judge in two days. Hector is surprised at how quickly it is taking place; how will they find a jury in that time? The lawyer tells him that things work differently than in America. There is no jury; a judge will decide. As they are talking, we see shots of guards in dark masks watching over the prison courtyard where the prisoners are meeting their representation, and we can get the feeling that as bad as the U.S. legal system can be, as we’ve seen on this show, Hector would probably gladly go back there versus the unknowns of where he is currently at. Hector’s lawyer gets up and leaves, telling him he will be back the next day to discuss strategy, and Hector is alone.
Also alone is Barb (Felicity Huffman), and we find out just how much. We first catch up with her as she and Russ (Timothy Hutton) are waiting for an appointment with the DA. Mark (David Hoflin) is supposed to be there is well, but he is not showing, and Russ is getting angry, griping about how Mark “has all the time in the world for Tom and Eve.” In an interesting reversal, Barb actually tries to calm him. In earlier episodes, she would have been the one getting agitated at the way things are going, but it seems like in the wake of her realization of her own bigotry and loneliness, there is a sense of resignation about her. In that light, it makes Nancy’s concerns about the gun Barb bought more valid. Is Barb’s resignation a sign that she has given up?
Or perhaps Barb’s new quietness (for her) is a result of the conversation she and Russ had at the end of last week’s episode, where they had a chance to remember older, somewhat better, times. Did whatever connection that once must have existed between her and Russ get renewed, even slightly? Or maybe Barb just realized that without Russ, she is completely alone in the current crisis, and realizes that he is better than nothing. It sounds like Mark is giving both of his parents the cold shoulder, as neither can reach him and he is not returning their messages. At one point, we see a scene of Barb leaving a voicemail for Mark interspersed with Mark and Richelle meeting with Gwen in the hospital and helping to lift her spirits. Barb sounds mournful and, again, resigned, as she leaves the message for Mark, at this point — and especially in light of their previous head-butting over Mark’s fiancee — seeming to realize that Mark doesn’t want her in his life.
Mark doesn’t show for the meeting with the DA, but Russ and Barb meet with the man, who tells them that they should expect to hear fresh allegations about Matt, based on Aubry’s (Caitlin Gerard) last week. Attempted rape, domestic violence, on top of what has already been revealed about Matt’s drug-dealing. Russ is furious, but again, Barb attempts to calm him down and quietly listen to the DA. The man tells them that Aubry knows things about the case that weren’t commonly known to the public. “Thank you,” Barb says quietly, before getting up to leave, leaving Russ behind to get a few last shouts in at the prosecutor. It’s a position Barb would have been in earlier, but no longer. She is tired.
We find out just how tired in a later scene, when Barb visits Russ at Matt and Gwen’s house, which Russ is still fixing up. Barb can’t bring herself to enter the scene of her son’s murder, even though Russ has made good progress on cleaning it up, so they talk outside. “I don’t have many people to talk to,” she admits to Russ. The two seem to have switched places; whereas in the beginning, Barb was the energetic force trying to seek answers and Russ was basically a quiet, tired-looking sad sack tentatively getting himself back into his family’s picture, now Russ is newly reinvigorated, and determined to be the man his family needed when he first walked out on them, while Barb is the one sapped of the energy that, to her, proved futile.
Barb tells Russ she’s done; she’s taking herself out of this. She accepts that Aubry, if convicted, won’t get much time, and Carter (whom Barb still thinks did it) might very well be released.
“I’ve given up,” Barb continues, “that’s why I need you to keep this away.” She hands Russ the box containing her gun. She is sick of looking at it.
“I have no business with that right now,” she says. Russ and Nancy’s suspicions seems to have been true, as it sounds like Barb found the idea of a gun during such a down time to be too great a temptation to have around. Barb walks away, emotionally, and later Russ, who stares a bit long at the box himself, puts it in a nightstand near his bed.
In the wake of this, Russ finally tracks down Mark and visits him in person. This time Russ does not let himself get pushed around; he speaks firmly, as father to son. “You don’t know the damage you’re doing,” Russ tells Mark, about ignoring Barb. “You want to be me, or you want to be better than me? If you want to be better than me you need to stay in things.”
After brief silence, Russ asks Mark: “Did you know your mother bought a gun?”
We can’t see Mark based on the camera setup, but we can feel his stunned silence. “Sit down,” his father tells him, before repeating, firmly: “SIT DOWN” and pointing to a chair. Mark sits.
Mark wonders what Barb would want with a gun. “I took care of it,” Russ says. “It says something when I’m the one taking care of things.”
“I hope you have a good future,” Russ continues to his son. “Your mother held onto things for a reason, and now she’s got nothing. So just try to give her something.”
Mark doesn’t seem to know what to say, and sits quietly as Russ leaves.
Later, Mark at least gives his mother a visit. “Just live your life,” he tells her. “I don’t know what that is right now,” she responds. “I’d like to be in your life,” she adds.
“I don’t know how to get there,” Mark admits. “I’m ready to let go. I’ll always respect what you tried to do for us, and even admire it in some way.”
“But no love?” his mother asks. Silence. “Not love,” she says, mostly to herself. “I’m making sure it’s not there.” Barb is weary, and Mark doesn’t say anything as we leave them.
As the Skokies are realizing that perhaps some families cannot be brought back together, the Gutierrez clan got closer to rediscovering lost love and togetherness. Alonzo (Benito Martinez), after selling his shop, is meeting, with Tony (Johnny Oritz), with a lawyer (presumably one of the advocacy lawyers Alonzo’s brother-in-law mentioned last week). The woman tells them she has moved Tony’s case to Family Court, where the judge is usually more lenient.
“The judge is looking for reasons to put Tony back in your hands,” she tells Alonzo. “You need to give him one.”
The lawyer also tells Tony that he needs to be open about why he did what he did to Joaquin, and show remorse. Tony says he will say he’s sorry, but still refuses to open up about why he did it, and doesn’t want to tell the judge anything.
“You need top drop that hard act,” his father tells him.
Character witnesses for Tony will also be needed, the lawyer tells them, and she informs Alonzo, ironically, that the fact he has owned his own business for over 20 years is a plus in convincing the judge to remand Tony back to his custody.
Alonzo has to quietly admit that he sold his shop. “Why?” Tony asks, in surprise.
“I want to get you back home,” his father quietly says.
Tracking down people who will speak on behalf of Tony proves difficult for Alonzo. At one point, he asks Tony’s teacher/guidance counselor if he could speak, but the man admits that Joaquin is also a student of his, and they are holding a fundraiser for the two surgeries Joaquin needs in addition to the one he’s already had in the wake of Tony’s attack.
Alonzo visits Jenny (Gleendylis Inoa) at her aunt and uncle, with whom she is still staying. They hug, and he tells her he sold the garage, and that he’s looking for a job at another garage. Jenny is surprised that he will be working for someone else after all this time, but he says he’s doing what he needs to.
Alonzo then speaks with his brother-in-law Oscar (Jesse Borrego), telling him about the Family Court, and explaining how Tony is being stubborn, not wanting to open up about why he did it. He also relates his Catch-22 situation about how owning the shop would reflect well on him in the judge’s eyes, but that he needed to sell it to get a lawyer. The two men share a weary little laugh about this over their beers. Oscar says he’ll speak as a witness, as will Jenny. Alonzo admits Jenny looks happy staying with her relatives.
“Having her here was a good experiment,” Alonzo’s brother-in-law says, “but I think she’s getting tired.”
Eventually, Tony’s day in Family Court arrives, with himself, Alonzo, Jenny and his aunt and uncle, as well as Tony’s lawyer, seated at a semi-circular table before the judge. Alonzo leads off as a witness, and, frankly, it’s kind of weak. He has not much to offer much beyond how tough Tony had it after his mom dies, and how “He’s a good boy” and “He helped me out at home and work,” before returning to “He’s a good boy.” Alonzo seems understandably nervous.
The uncle is next, and he relates how Tony always checked in on his aunt. He assures the judge that, “We’re all going to watch over him,” to make sure he doesn’t get in any more trouble.
But the most powerful testimony, and the words that may save the Gutierrez family, come from Jenny. “This isn’t just on Tony,” she begins her statement quietly, tears somewhat forming in her eyes. “I was the one messing up, drinking, having guys over. Tony was always looking out for me. He just wants everybody to be happy.
“I didn’t know I was making tony feel like he had to protect me all the time,” Jenny continues. She finally admits how Joaquin attacked her, something only she and Tony had own and which he was keeping quiet for his sister. “He was protecting me. I should have told my dad. I should have told the police, but I saw what they did to Tony.” (On this point about the police, perhaps Jenny also remembered her own frightening encounter with the cops at the party in an earlier episode).
“I kept it hid, and Tony did what he did to protect me. Put some of the blame on me and Joaquin.”
By now, both Jenny, and Tony, are really tearing up. Tony looks over at his sister as she finishes her statement.
Next, we see the family gathered in the hall outside the courtroom. Suddenly, Tony and his lawyer are seen coming over; he is free. Tony walks quickly toward his father, and gives him a big, tearful hug, a hug that clearly means the world to Alonzo, something he has been desperately craving from his son for a while. This is vastly different to how Tony greeted Alonzo the first time he was released from juvie, when he basically walked past his father, somewhat emotionlessly. Has Tony learned his lesson, after getting a second (or third) chance? Given this reaction, it seems like he might.
Alonzo is later seen inquiring for work at at Hispanic-owned garage. The conversation is in unsubtitled Spanish, but we non-speakers can get the gist that the man is asking Alonzo about his experience. As he talks, Alonzo is looking around the garage somewhat nervously; the mechanics are young and have tattoos, so perhaps Alonzo’s old concerns about “illegals” are resurfacing. Alonzo probably should have by now learned to swallow his pride a bit on such things, as it was his brother-in-law who helped procure the advocacy lawyer, and who offered calming words in Alonzo’s time of need. Like Barb, it may take some time, if ever, to completely forget about his old ways, but asking at this garage might be a start. Besides, Alonzo definitely needs a job now, not only to support his kids, but who knows if a civil suit by Joaquin’s family might come against them ? (although, if Joaquin could be proven to have attacked Jenny, maybe not).
So Tony is out, but what about Carter (Elvis Nolasco), following Aubry’s bombshell confession last week? Aliyah (Regina King) meets with the deputy DA (“I don’t like being dumped off the B team,” she tells him, as the DA himself doesn’t seem to want to face them in the light of many things on the case being botched). Aliyah demands that Carter be released since Aubry confessed, and Timothy (Cedric Duplechain) says their office can expect civil litigation.
“You have a confession,” Aliyah firmly tells the man. “From here on out [Carter is] being falsely imprisoned.”
Visiting Carter later, Aliyah tells her brother that they have new information, and that the police and prosecution have been proven liars. But she cautions him that whatever petty little things they can hang on Carter, they will, just to save face.
“Please trust me just one last time,” Aliyah says. Throughout the conversation, she has been careful to avoid any mention of Aubry to Carter, even as he asks what all the “new information” is. He puts his trust in his sister, as she asks.
As we first see what Aubry is up to, she is tuning out her stepdad while still in the psych ward, probably lost in her fantasy world again. When she does pay attention to how he is saying he is getting her a lawyer, she tells him she wants a public defender. Exasperated, her father leaves, but stepmom remains.
“You’re going to hurt a lot of people trying to get back at me,” Ruth tells Aubry. “I realized when you were 11 that one day you’d be dead or in jail. I’ll make it through this because I was ready for it long ago. Your father? This will ruin him. At least humor him until he can accept it like I have.” Ouch.
Eventually, Aubry is wheeled out of the hospital, and promptly arrested for Matt’s murder. When she later meets with her public defender, Aubry tells him to get her a competency hearing. The lawyer warns her not to screw around — she could be facing the death penalty.
When Aubry does meet with a psychiatrist, we, along with the doctor, gain some insight into her mental state. Aubry brings up abuse in foster care, which is when her drug use apparently started. “Did you abuse yourself?” the doctor asks, but gets no answer. After years of faking it to other doctors, perhaps Aubry has found one as tough-minded as she is. The doctor wonders if Aubry’s self-abuse continued when she went to live with the Taylors. Aubry says she wanted to control things in her life. “I wanted to be with who I wanted,” she says, “I want life to be the way I wanted.” That’s pretty obvious to those of us who have watched her up till now.
“Do you willfully bend truth to fit your perspective?” the doctor presses.
“That’s what liars do,” Aubry responds, cooly. “I see things the way I see them, and everybody else needs to get with that.”
“Is it your intention to protect Carter with this confession?” the doctor asks.
“My intention is to own up,” Aubry answers.
For us, it’s probably hard to tell whether Aubry is lying, telling the truth, or some of both, but maybe the psychiatrist has some insight? Perhaps not. Later on, the lawyer tells Aubry and her family that while the psychiatrist said Aubry is competent enough to make a confession, the doctor also wouldn’t make a judgement on if she is competent enough to be held accountable for her actions without further diagnosis. After Aubry’s arraignment, she is to be put under observation.
“All the therapists you’ve messed with,” Aubry’s stepdad says, exasperatedly, “who you made think you’re crazy. Why didn’t you this time?”
Aubry gazes at her stepfather with little expression and says, “Did you ever think I did it?”
He is floored as she says that, and a lightbulb seems to go off that even he now realizes his little girl could be lost.
Aubry tells her stepdad that she’s giving him an “out.” “I’m not your fault,” she says. “Go home.”
Near the end of the episode, we see Carter released into the bright daylight, where his sister is awaiting him. They hug, and she drives him away.
In the car, Carter asks Aliyah, “Can you tell me what’s happening? It’s over? I’m out for good?”
Aliyah looks over with a subtle glance. You can tell she’s still hesitant to get into the details, as to avoid a chance of Aubry’s name coming up. If Carter finds out what Aubry has done, who knows how he would react?
“How?” he asks, still trying to process what is going on.
“Don’t ask questions,” Aliyah finally says. “Just give praise.”
Carter looks pensive as the two drive along.
Lastly, Aubry’s arraignment takes place. Russ is the only one of the Skokies to show up, with Barb and Mark having “taken themselves out of it” for their own reasons. Russ, as he promised, is seeing things through. He glances around the courtroom and sees a new face in the crowd — Aubry’s stepdad, looking like a nervous wreck. When he sees Russ, a sense of recognition hits him, probably from watching the news in recent weeks, knowing this is the father of the man his daughter confessed to killing. He turns back with an even sicker expression of worry.
Aubry is marched into the courtroom with other prisoners, shackled. When it is her turn to plea, the judge informs her of the charge she is facing — first-degree murder with a firearm, enhanced by special circumstances. She is also told that her confession has been found admissible as evidence.
“How do you plead?” the judge asks.
After a moment, Aubry softly replies, “Guilty.
She looks dazed, as does her stepdad. It’s now his turn to go through the nightmare that others like Aliyah have gone through, as their loved one enters the system. Russ looks less afraid. He’s, sadly, become an old pro at these hearings.
NEXT WEEK: ABC is currently keeping the finale of American Crime under wraps, but it should be intriguing. Even though the season almost could have ended with Episode 10 in terms of at least the Gutierrez storyline, it will be interesting to see what happens further to the characters. And who knows if some bombshells may drop, especially once Carter finds out about Aubry? Is Aubry’s confession completely truthful? And what happens to Hector in Mexico? Hopefully we’ll delve into these and other answers next week.