The thrilling noir scrutinization of the criminal justice system has so far swept audiences into its grasps with its first two episodes. This streak continues with the third episode this week. Previously on the show, Naz had been in the precinct jail, but now he is on to a bigger and badder location, Riker’s Island. What will be in store as he finds himself truly locked up with the bad guys? We are about to find out, but first a quick recap:
And now our thoughts on –
Part III: A Dark Crate
As word of his notoriety spreads across Rikers, Naz quickly learns that the key to his survival–or perhaps his demise–may rest with a hardened inmate and former boxing champion named Freddy, who has many of the guards under his thumb. After meeting with Stone about his fee for Naz’s defense, Salim and Safar get a tempting counteroffer from A-list attorney Alison Crowe, who brings to their meeting a young associate with Indian roots, Chandra Kapoor. Meanwhile, Salim faces a dilemma in his efforts to retrieve the impounded taxi he co-owns with his partners, Yusuf and Tariq.
At first, Naz was scared at the world he was suddenly thrown into and didn’t understand. The complexities of the criminal justice system are in depth and twisted and not everyone plays by the same rules. Naz gets transferred to Riker’s Island once criminal charges get filed against him. This is when a new level of complication of the system gets mixed into the story. Much like his lawyer Stone said he doesn’t care to know if he did it or not, the men in prison don’t either. Perception is everything inside. Whether the truth is perceived or not, it matters little. What matters is power.
“Half blind in the dark, waiting to die…”
We are soon introduced to Freddy, played by Michael Kenneth Williams, previously seen on the Wire, Boardwalk Empire and HBO Films: Bessie. Freddy has the workings of the prison down solid. He is having intimate relations with one of the female security guards, while he is apparently paying for her rent. He helps out a male security guard who is trying to throw a party for his daughter and doesn’t want any neighborhood thugs disrupting. Freddy isn’t waiting half blind, he has eyes and ears. He makes the point to Naz that the guards and the prisoners come from the same hood, maybe even grew up together, and that family is everything. In life and especially in prison, family doesn’t always mean blood. It means who you stand behind and who stands behind you. And right now, no one besides Freddy wants to stand behind Naz.
The separate judicial system of prisons is all about perception. Naz can scream until his lungs collapse about how he didn’t do it. But to everyone inside, it is about what he is perceived to have done: rape and murder. This is what they see. But something leads me to believe Freddy sees something more. The quick caption of the clips on the wall induces me to wonder if Freddy wasn’t another victim to injustice…well assuming Naz is innocent.
The situation so far has briefly shown the damage of the criminal justice system, but in this episode we get even more of glimpse at the damages. Naz has to be scared for his safety on the inside, but even his mother is victimized coming to visit him. In the interest of security, visitors have to be thoroughly patted down and searched. I think cupping a woman’s breast is a little bit over the top. We see children coming into visit their parents in the joint. Even Naz’s father and his business partners are stymied as their car remains in lockdown. To free it faster, they could file charges against Naz for stealing it and using it in the commission of a crime since he did not have free leave to use the vehicle. Naz’s father insists he won’t do this, but the officer passes a lawyer’s card to the business partners suggesting it is still an option for them. And who should that card belong to…
Besides being in the right place at the right time, we hadn’t seen much of Stone yet. This episode gives another glimpse into the character, who is portrayed by the brilliant John Turturro. It becomes clear in this episode that Stone is somewhat of a joke in the legal community. Whether this comes from past experience or lack of getting a notable case has not been revealed, but it is obvious that he relies on luck for finding his cases. Or right place, right time mentality. Stone is either asked how he managed to snag the case or how his feet are doing. He is no one’s shiniest star.
Stone approaches Naz’s parents explaining his fees and how a case like this can cost a fortune but he is willing to do less. As the parents continue waffling, he continues lowering his prices. A lawyer isn’t cheap, and he’s right when he says legal aid won’t cut it. He may be a joke, but he tries. However, it isn’t long until a competitor is swooping in to get involved. Alison Crowe, played by Glenne Headly, takes no prisoners. Except her aide who she ropes into the case as a race ploy.
When Crowe speaks with Naz’s parents, she tells them what they want to hear. She will take the case for free, and that Stone can’t be trusted. Crowe feeds them every little word they wanted to hear, but that doesn’t mean she has Naz’s best interest at heart. The media is already grabbing onto the story, whether print or TV. This case will be big in the media, which I believe will be an interesting facet of the story moving forward. Stone is doing it for the money, as the jabs at his wardrobe make clear. He doesn’t care about the media. He will use it, but so far it appears he has the kid in best interest as he stops by the jail to drop off clothes for him. As Naz informs Stone that he no longer is his lawyer, the sadness in Stone’s eyes is palpable. Even Naz senses this, as he objects to getting a new lawyer as well. Were these two the last shot at each other’s redemption?
Bits of Stone get revealed in this episode, especially in dealing with his eczema. He wraps Crisco and saran wrap around his feet in attempt to help. He looks longingly at a beautiful pair of leather shoes that he clearly is denying himself, either due to money or his eczema. Stone attends a support group, where he jabs lightheartedly. Perhaps he maintains his spirit, but is his skin possibly an outward expression of his inner turmoil? Will we learn more moving forward? I believe so.
TWO CLUES – Stone goes to Andrea’s brownstone to look around and finds her cat outside the gate and lets it in. Later when he walks by again, the cat is outside. He jokes to the cat about being allergic and unable to take it home, but we see him later taking the cat to a shelter. The cat is called ugly and the shelter attendant admits that people want pretty pets and the likelihood of the cat being adopted is slim. Stone asks how long until the animals are put down, and the attendant says 10 days. What chances are there that the cat might have evidence from the assailant or crime scene in its furry little paws? And what are the chances that the evidence will slip away forever?
Earlier in the episode, Detective Box is critiquing the report writing of the two officers who first apprehended Naz. He gestures over to two men sitting in lock-up, suggesting that the emptiness of their eyes gives them away. That any jury would find them guilty based on that. But when Naz goes in front of jury they will see his big, brown, and sad eyes staring back. However, when Naz is in the shower, wearing the shoes Freddy passed along for “traction,” we have a brief moment where Naz looks almost alien. No life flickering in his eyes. Is he really innocent? Or is he just very good at playing the system?
Next week’s episode seems to at least address one thing: that being in the criminal justice system is a good way to become a criminal.
What do you think? We welcome your opinions and theories.