The stories on American Crime are making more sense and gelling better now that we're two episodes in.
On American Crime Season 3 Episode 2, Kimara still continues to be central to the season. She's dealing with personal and professional crises that make for compelling television.
Meanwhile, the undocumented worker story is really taking off and Jeannette is showing that she may be protagonist material with her determination to find out what really happened during that fire.
One of the things that impresses me most about these stories is that the characters each actor plays are so different from the ones they played last season. It's a testimony to all of the actors, especially Regina King and Felicity Huffman, that the transition is flawless and that their new characters are completely believable.
Although Kimara continues to be my favorite because of the social worker angle, I found myself becoming very interested in Jeannette.
Jeannette: Is there anything we can do?
Lori-Anne: Well, I think we all feel badly.
Jeannette: Yes, but is there anything we can do? Is there anything I should be doing?
Lori-Anne: People often confuse doing something good with having done something wrong.
Carson and JD's treatment of her was obnoxious. Carson was especially annoying. He dismissed Jeanette's concerns as misplaced upset about her sister's condition, yelled at her that she couldn't make him care about strangers, and then kissed her goodbye as if nothing had ever happened.
I was glad Jeannette didn't take any of that lying down. Instead of playing the role of the good little Southern woman, she immediately went to the site of the fire to find out what the story was.
She seemed genuinely shocked and upset by the conditions she found there, and I wonder how that's going to play out. Luis also mentioned that the farm owner was forcing 15 or more people into one small space, and I can't help thinking that these two storylines will soon be connected.
Jeannette was likely oblivious as to the conditions on the farms before nobody would discuss the fire with her.
I hope that over the course of the season, she will evolve to understand more about those conditions and that her desire to help will translate into a desire to fight against the injustices of the forced labor system that undocumented workers are subject to.
Abby: You feel like you're burning out?
Kimara: Abby, I feel like I'm on a lifeboat that only holds 10 people. And there was a time when I'd try to get 100 people on that boat, but now... now I can only get 10, maybe not even 10.
Abby: Don't accept it. Keep fighting the fight.
Kimara was also sorts of interesting. I'd predicted that she wasn't balancing her personal and professional lives very well, and her discussion of burnout with Abby more or less proved it.
Kimara is getting worn down by the way the system seems to reward human trafficking victims staying with their abusers and her inability to get them to see any other options for themselves.
Woman: You know I like that we call it a crisis. When it was crack in the inner cities it was a -
Woman: Epidemic. Right. Like it was the Black Plague or something. But now that it's heroin and the suburbs it's a crisis, just something bad that happens to good people.
I also very much appreciated the way Abby and Kimara were able to shift the discussion to the way privilege shows up when it comes to things like drug problems.
The not-so-subtle message that drug policies often send is that people of color should be criminalized for having substance use issues while white folks should receive medical treatment for it, and American Crime wasn't afraid to call it what it was.
The conversation felt natural, and that made it much more powerful. It wasn't a forced public service announcement; it was just an observation two women invested in people's futures happened to make.
Kimara: I've been getting IVF treatments and so far it's not taking. And these treatments... they're expensive.
Man: How expensive?
Kimara: Like, $12,000 a cycle.
Man: You need money?
Kimara: What I need... the doctor, they send you to the next person and help you fill out the paperwork and that's it. The sperm donors are anonymous and the rooms are cold. And it's lonely. It shouldn't be so lonely, trying to start a family.
Kimara's dedication to her job seems to be matched by her desire to have a child. But when Kimara was talking about her dream of becoming a mother, I had to wonder when she's going to have time to raise one, given the constraints on her time.
She's already burned out at work, yet doesn't seem to be slowing down any; will she be able to give a child the amount of attention he or she will need?
Doctor: Do you use drugs?
Doctor: What drugs do you use?
Shay: Weed. Oxy when I can get it. And I drink.
Doctor: When was the last time you used?
Doctor: Are you addicted?
Shay: I don't know.
Doctor: Any gastrointenstinal pain, nausea or vomiting?
Doctor: Any other health concerns?
Shay: No. Yes. I'm pregnant.
Doctor: How far along?
Shay: Four weeks.
Doctor: Have you ever been pregnant before?
Doctor: How did that pregnancy end?
Shay: It ended.
Shae's storyline was absolutely chilling this week. The program she was referred to while she's waiting to testify against Billy at trial din't seem to treat clients as individuals at all, and this was made really clear in the scene between her and the doctor.
The doctor was robotically reading questions off a computer screen and didn't seem very interested in the answers. I'm not surprised that Shay almost didn't tell her about her pregnancy.
I wondered, too, if Shay agreed to go to this program for nine months because she wanted a safe place to have her baby and/or prenatal care rather than because she really wants to testify against Billy.
She was clearly reluctant to do so, yet agreed to go into a program with very strict rules that she is probably going to have a hard time following.
I'm curious as to how long it'll take before she drops out or is expelled from the program.
Finally, how surprising was it that Luis speaks English? Since his introduction, he's spoken only Spanish and needed a translator when interviewing the African gentleman about his son. I loved seeing Luis stand up for himself and I thought that must be where Teo gets it from.
I'm excited to see where this storyline goes now that we know more about Luis and that he's desperate to find his son and unwilling to just put up with abuse. I doubt his relationship with this man who thinks he owns him is anywhere near over, but I have no idea what's going to happen next.
What's your favorite storyline on American Crime so far? Do you think Shay will go through with the program, and will Kimara get to have a baby?
Weigh in below, and don't forget you can always watch American Crime online if you missed anything.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.