Previously on Shots Fired, “Hour Three: Somebody’s Son”
This is the education episode. Like The Wire, this show is determined to hit every major issue affecting the Black community but unlike The Wire where each of these issues was explored in-depth over the course of a season, Shots Fired is hitting every issue square in the face like America Chavez punching a Nazi. While Preston and Ashe continue to investigate the murders of Jesse and Joey, looking for parallels between the two cases, Gov. Eamons (Helen Hunt) has decided to pin her re-election on education reform.
Governor Eamons comes across like a slightly more informed, liberal version of Betsy DeVos. She is “moved” by Joey’s mother’s story of their poor neighborhood schools and working with Pastor Janae, she takes on education reform as her primary issue in the election. She wants to fix Shawn’s, Joey’s brother, school and in the interim, bus a bunch of Black kids to the white school. Of course, this idea leads to some very angry statements about installing metal detectors from the white parents. One constituent even asks Gov. Eamons to put her money where her mouth is and enroll her daughter in the Black school if she truly believes in public schools. We all know that’s not going to happen. Eamon’s numbers go up with Blacks and college-educated whites after her education announcement, while her popularity with the white working class is waning. But while the governor is championing public schools, it turns out her financer for the school project is the same developer of the prison project, Arlen Cox (Richard Dreyfuss). This show isn’t even subtle. Cox is clearly a stand in for conservative, money men the Koch Brothers and having him be the financier behind a school and a prison is a bold statement. School to prison pipeline, indeed.
The Truth Will Set You Free
Ashe and Preston finally meet up with Cory and he tells them what he’s been holding back. He saw two cops hold Joey Campbell down while another shot him. Preston, naturally, is righteously angry and wants to reopen the case officially. When he’s shot down by his boss, Ashe reaffirms their partnership and asks him to trust her to get enough evidence to get Joey’s case officially opened. The growing friendship and mutual respect these characters are gaining for each other is great development. Although the show is juggling a lot of balls, keeping these two at the center of the story is helping it stay grounded.
Looking into Jesse Carr’s case, proves what Ashe has been saying, Beck is basically a good cop caught in a wildly corrupt precinct. And because he’s a Black officer who killed a white teen, all the downside is falling on him. His house is being vandalized and his family threatened and when that isn’t happening there are press on his lawn. To complicate matters, the one person who has been loyal to Beck is Officer Breeland/Vampire Bill (I’m sorry I really can’t think of him as any other character when he keeps doing that Southern accent). Despite his loyalty to his fellow officer, Breeland was the first on the scene for both Joey and Jesse’s deaths and he’s also investigating Ashe’s past to discredit her. If anyone is trying to cover up what happened in these shootings, it would be him. By episode’s end, Ashe and Preston discover that Jesse and Joey also had the same type of drugs on them. Given their circles, it’s unlikely they would both have the same exact drugs on them … unless they were planted. It’s at least enough to get Joey’s case reopened.
The pace of this week’s episode picked up again but I’m still wary of the amount of story this show is juggling. It’s hard to tell if it’s meandering because of complicated nature of these issues or because the show is trying to put too much into one show. Ashe and Preston’s budding personal and professional relationship helps root the story but this week they weren’t included in any of the education debate which was a significant portion of the show. The stand outs were DeWanda Wise and Kylen Davis who play Shameeka and Shawn Campbell. Wise’s performance as the grieving mother and Davis’ performance as a student who feels unwelcome in this White school he’s been bussed to are subtle and wonderfully acted. Stephen Moyer is also giving a strong performance. Although I have no sympathy for Officer Breeland, Moyer is convincing. I truly believe that Breeland believes that he’s doing the best he can with the community he is policing.