On episode 2 of American Crime, Anne faces more obstacles as she continues to find ways to help Taylor. Leslie Graham orchestrates a preemptive strike in the likelihood that Anne’s allegations become public and Terri, fueled by personal prejudices, continues to derail Kevin’s relationship with Val. And if that wasn’t enough, Eric has a secret.
Two uniformed police officers, a male and female, show up at Anne’s apartment in response to her 911 call. The police want to know when and where the rape occurred and the identity of the victim. When Anne reveals that the victim is her son, the male officer does a double take. Anne can’t provide the name of the assailant or assailants, stating Taylor can’t recall because he was drugged.
Taylor Refuses to Cooperate
Anne is told she needs to take Taylor to the hospital to get a rape kit done. The female officer wants to speak to Taylor since he is the victim, but Anne says her son refuses. The officer responds that if Taylor isn’t going to help them, then they can’t help him.
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Promote the Facts
The Leyland School has big expansion plans in the works, but at a city council meeting, local residents make it clear they are tired of the preferential treatment that the private school receives. Many view the school as elitist. One man calls the Leyland student body snotty rich kids and the school itself, a segregationist academy.
After the meeting, Leslie Graham and the Leyland school board have a meeting of their own. Several members refer to their opponents as “idiots.” Leslie also takes a hit as one member in particular, Rhys Bashir (Faran Tahir) criticizes her for not speaking up on behalf of the school. Leslie isn’t interested in antagonizing people just for voicing their opinions at a public forum. She wants to focus her attention on an upcoming fundraiser which baffles Bashir who admonishes her, for what he believes to be, her “curious” priorities. Leslie makes it clear that the upcoming event will raise 3 million dollars for Leyland, and yes, that’s her priority.
Before adjourning. Leslie tells the board that she needs to make them aware of something that may or not be an issue, but should be of concern. She doesn’t provide specifics, but lets them know it does involve members of the basketball team, and that the matter is being handled diligently. She will keep them informed as the situation develops. This appears to satisfy everyone but Bashir.
Leslie is an incredible spin doctor. She stresses that Leyland has to say and do the right thing when it comes to these allegations because even though the events in question happened off grounds and weren’t sanctioned by the school, there’s still a liability issue, and things could get ugly.
Leslie tells Bashir there’s a “fact procedure” and a “rumor procedure,” and right now, they are dealing with rumors. It’s important for everyone with ties to Leyland not to promote the rumor, but instead “provide proof to support promotion of the opposite.” Leslie sounds like a seasoned politician, not showing concern for the actual people involved as much as what it means for Leyland as an institution. It’s a gift to say so much and reveal so little.
Taylor and Anne Deal with the Aftermath of the Attack
Anne convinces Taylor to get checked out. He wants this all to go away, but Anne points out that it isn’t going to happen. She also makes a promise to her son that everything will get better, an outcome she can’t possible predict with any certainty.
A forensic nurse explains very clinically to Taylor exactly what will happen during the examination, and the cold reality sets in. The part that fills Taylor with the most dread is not the blood draw or the possibility of STDs. It’s that he’ll need to talk and try to recall the events of the night. He questions why this is necessary and the nurse explains it helps her guide the exam, and it will be relevant if the case goes to trial.
This is an uncomfortable and embarrassing process. Taylor is exposed not only physically but emotionally as well. As he lies on the table, tears stream down his face, and the pictures taken of him at the party flash through his mind. It’s as if he’s being victimized all over again. But viewers don’t hear Taylor’s account of the night’s events, so if there’s more to the story than what he’s told his mother, we still don’t know.
The nurse also pulls Anne aside and reinforces how important it is that she makes sure Taylor follows up with HIV testing. Beyond the emotional fallout, Anne hasn’t thought about the long-term physical ramifications of what Taylor has been through.
Anne is told to try and locate the outfit Taylor was wearing that night, and if it hasn’t been washed, bag it and take it to the police. Anne would prefer to bring the items to the nurse, but the woman explains any evidence has to be handled by the detective investigating the case. Anne questions how many people she’ll have to talk to. You get the idea she really had no idea the chain of events she set in motion when she reported the assault. This isn’t going to go away quickly. It’s barely gotten started.
How Well Connected is Terri?
On her way to work, Terri has a near collision with another driver. The man pulls over and as Terri drives by, he begins to yell and pound on her passenger side window. He calls her a “dumb bitch,” and Terri pulls out her phone and takes photos of the encounter.
Once she is in her office, Terri immediately calls a friend of hers on the force, Detective Williams. She explains that she got into an incident with another driver, and the man was aggressive. Williams asks if the man was white or black and Terri responds “White, of course.” Are we supposed to believe Terri has never had an altercation with a black man, or does she only find white men threatening? Or are white men more apt to become hostile when dealing with a black woman?
Terri got a photo of the man’s license plate, and she wants to know if the detective can do anything about it. This woman must have some pull or inspire fear because the cop says something will be done. Terri is very pleased to know the matter will be taken care of.
Graham Does Damage Control
A few brief scenes provide some insight into the characters of Eric Tanner and Dan Sullivan. Eric’s parents are divorced. During a visit, he plays hoops with his dad who comments that his son might want to take a bit more interest in his personal hygiene, perhaps shower, throw on some deodorant or use a body spray. Eric comments he has no interest in smelling like a little bitch. So in addition to the misogynistic locker room remarks, Eric is homophobic as well.
Dan Sullivan retreats to his basement where it is revealed his hobby is putting those boats into glass bottles. The patience and the eye for detail for this endeavor is key, and yet, this guy seems clueless as to what’s going on with the members of his own team.
Dan presents one of his creations to Leslie Graham as a thank you for all the kind words she said about him at the recent school fundraiser. And while she appreciates the gift, she doesn’t linger on the sentimentality of the gesture. Graham informs Sullivan that he has to discipline one of his team members for the captain’s party incident. Something she told Anne she’d done already.
Sullivan insists his boys did nothing wrong. His proof? They told him so. Graham argues that something went down. There was obviously drinking, and pictures circulating throughout the school prove there is some accountability to be had.
Dan wants Graham to discipline the kids circulating the pics, not take it out on the team. Graham explains Anne used the word rape to describe what happened to her son. Sullivan dismisses the claim as insane, and Graham says they have to look thoughtful and responsible in comparison. People already view the school as a breeding ground for entitlement, and they have to promote the opposite. There’s that word again, promote.
Dan fights the good fight, but Graham’s mind is made up. One player benched for one game. The question is who? There are actually two team captains, Eric and Kevin. Graham makes an off-the-cuff remark that she doesn’t want to tangle with Terri, so it’s Eric who will be disciplined. Eric is punished because his mother isn’t as diligent, some might even argue as militant, as Teri. It’s obvious Graham doesn’t want to deal with the possibility of accusations of racism on top of rape.
More to the Story Than Meets the Eye
Sullivan delivers the news to Eric who questions why he’s being singled out. Sullivan offers up a vague excuse about each player being dealt with individually. Eric storms out, and Kevin finds his friend outside. Eric suspects his suspension has to do with Taylor running his mouth, but Kevin warns Eric to chill out and let it go. He promises he’s got Eric’s back, and that nobody will speak of it again. Something tells me Kevin won’t have anyone’s back once Terri gets wind of what’s going on.
Another Storm is Brewing
The focus temporarily shifts from the storm brewing at Leyland to problems plaguing the public schools in the system. The entire school district appears to be comprised of minority kids from low-income families. A group of administrators from several schools meet, and there’s a heated debate about meal programs. When a Hispanic woman declares it’s a civil rights issue, a man named Chris Dixon (Elvis Nolasco), the principal of another school who also happens to be black, scoffs at the comparison. She accuses him of being insensitive to the needs of students with brown skin.
After an unproductive meeting, the school superintendent has a few words with Dixon. She wants to be the proponent for some real change and calls on Dixon for his support. Dixon doesn’t see the point in stirring the pot. Too many teachers are apathetic. It’s all about the unions and legislators. But whether Dixon wants to or not, the superintendent basically unwillingly drafts him into a battle he doesn’t think they can win. It will be interesting to see how this intersects with what’s going on at Leyland.
Terri Exerts Pressure on Kevin
Kevin arrives home to find out he’s in big trouble with Terri. She saw his credit card statement as he purchased a very expensive bracelet for Val. Terri wants to know what Val promised Kevin in exchange for such an exorbitant gift. Kevin explains the bracelet was a peace offering after the two’s recent fight.
Kevin insists Val’s a nice girl, but Terri warns her son that’s he’s a target. He’s got good looks, skills and money. Girls are going to try to be his “baby mama” just so they can get paid. Terri is convinced that the only way Kevin can be sure that a girl has good intentions is if her family’s got money. All the rest are just hoes, better left to the “WTs (white trash).” In other words, poor people are immoral.
Terri insists that Kevin needs to get the bracelet back. He tries to argue, but Terri says if Kevin doesn’t, she’ll go over to Val’s with the police, because as far as she’s concerned, Val stole it.
A sheepish Kevin retrieves the bracelet, but it’s obvious things are probably over with Val.
A Champion for the Privileged
After an infuriating meeting with a potential donor, Graham vents to her husband, a developer. He’s short on sympathy and doesn’t understand or respect Graham’s commitment to her job.
Graham’s not an educator, she’s a bureaucrat. Graham’s commitment to Leyland is also questionable. Once this expansion is underway, her legacy will have been built and she’ll be ready to move on. She’s oddly equal parts ambivalent about the students themselves and defensive when they are clumped together and criticized by outsiders.
A Peek Into Anne’s Past
Anne’s frustrations continue to build, and these frustrations are bound to become relevant later this season. She goes to see a therapist/psychiatrist and they try to ease Anne’s anxiety, stating that maybe Taylor just isn’t ready to talk yet. He urges her to consider that her crusade is having a positive effect on her son.
Eric has a Secret
Eric meets up with a guy. He appears older, and the two take off in his car. They park, and things get physical, but as the guy gets more aggressive, Eric backs down, saying he just wants to kiss.
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Anne Makes Another Bold Move
Anne meets with the detective on the case who informs her the school has already been in contact with the department and has provided a summary of the events and pictures. Once again, Anne finds herself defending Taylor’s actions, claiming he wasn’t drunk, but drugged.
The detective questions why someone would drug Taylor, and when Anne replies it’s because kids don’t like him, the cop states he thinks this is a lot of effort to go through just because you don’t like someone. When it comes to motive, Anne makes it clear that that is the detective’s job to sort out. Anne is once more on the receiving end of a lecture on why she should back off. The case isn’t a strong one, there are minors involved, the school should handle it, kids will be kids. Anne finds herself facing another roadblock, being dismissed and deterred.
Anne seeks out one last ally, the press. She meets with a local reporter and explains what’s been going on. She thinks people don’t believe these types of things happen to boys, even though she’s done her share of research and discovered this type of sexual abuse is far more common than people think. Anne is tired of begging people to care about her son.
The female reporter agrees to look into it, and Anne asks the woman to promise her one thing; that Taylor’s name won’t be printed in the paper. The woman agrees but warns Anne that once the article comes out, people will figure it out, and she questions Anne if she really wants to go public. Anne barely hesitates before saying “yes.”
American Crime airs Wednesdays at 10 pm on ABC.
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