On episode 4 of American Crime, Eric’s dad goes to Terri and Michael for help but gets rebuffed, Taylor returns to public school, Kevin makes a statement to the police and evidence surfaces that calls Taylor’s allegations into question.
Leslie Graham has been busy playing offense regarding the alleged assault against Taylor, but now that the case is being investigated as a rape, she’s got to change her tact. She sits down with Dan Sullivan and confronts him with the facts and informs him that either his whole team is deceiving him, or one person is deceiving the team.
Push Comes to Shove
Graham warns Sullivan that the police want DNA samples from the team, and if they can’t flush out the perpetrator, every one of the boys could be hauled down to the police station in handcuffs. Graham wants a name, but Sullivan wants to tread lightly, give the boys a chance to come clean. The Headmistress says they had that opportunity and it was squandered, and Sullivan has to stop trying to be the boys’ friend. Sullivan is emotionally invested, and Graham has to appeal to his sentimentality. She reinforces that she’s trying to protect these boys.
The time has come for Sullivan to explain to his team that if someone doesn’t come forward and cooperate, not only will the school not protect them, she’ll put them front and center. “If that’s what it takes to stop the bleeding, then that’s what it takes.”
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Dan calls a team meeting, and the first words out of his mouth are “You lied. You lied to me.” He’s much more distracted by his personal feelings than the reality that one of his players may have raped another student. He tells the boys the police found blood and semen, but that’s secondary to the fact that they made him look stupid.
This is their last chance. Sullivan says once the police start making arrests and taking samples, the school will cut them loose. He’s the only one who cares, and soon, he won’t be able to help.
One player speaks up and addresses his teammates, saying one of them better start talking because he’s got college next year, and he’s not going to let anything mess that up. This leads to an altercation with another player, and Sullivan has to squash the chaos. Sitting by through it all is Eric, who says nothing but simply looks terrified.
In the end, nobody offers up any new information, despite Sullivan’s prophesy that things are about to get very bad.
Eric Begins to Unravel
Eric goes to his dad’s office. His father, Curt (Brent Anderson), calls his mother who arrives to find her son looking fairly despondent. Curt tells her that Eric won’t say much, just something about the Captains’ party and the police. She questions why the police would want to speak to Eric, and Curt says they aren’t singling Eric out, it’s the whole team. They debate whether or not they should let their son meet with the police, and Curt decides he wants to talk to some other families and see how they plan to proceed.
Terri and Michael Choose a Course of Action
Terri and Michael are still trying to do what’s in Kevin’s best interest. They offer to let Kevin take a polygraph test or give a DNA sample, but their lawyer advises them not to volunteer evidence that could come back on him. The best course of action is for Kevin to cooperate; to corroborate any charges that are brought up against anyone else.
Michael doesn’t necessarily want to put Kevin in the position to be a snitch, but he’s not calling the shots. Terri makes it clear that Kevin will issue a statement and requests the lawyer set those wheels in motion.
Old Wounds are Opened
Anne meets with Dixon to discuss Taylor returning to Marshall. She says Taylor had some “challenges” at Leyland and tries to avoid directly mentioning the assault. But Dixon can tell Anne is holding back and says he can’t help Kevin if he doesn’t know the situation. Once Anne admits the assault, Dixon realizes Taylor is the victim from the newspaper article.
Dixon has 2,000 students attending Marshall-compared to the roughly 500 at Leyland-and doesn’t have the resources to meet Taylor’s needs if he’s not willing to express them. Anne wants a guarantee that her son will be safe, and Dixon can’t give her that.
Anne spends time with a woman who appears to be an old friend, Patty. Anne didn’t derive much comfort with her conversation with Dixon, and she feels guilty about her decision to have Taylor attend Leyland.
Her friend suggests they head to Chicago for a girls’ weekend, but Anne has reservations about leaving her son. Not only because of what he’s currently going through, but apparently she’s abandoned him in the past. Patty reassures Anne that Taylor will be fine, and he can spend some time with her husband, Nate. Anne likes the idea of Taylor being around Nate, of having a man in his life.
Patricia wonders if Anne regrets not trying harder to make it work with Taylor’s dad. This leads to some revelations that give viewers a bit more background on Anne and how she wound up in her current situation. She dated Taylor’s dad for a month when he talked her into having sex with him without a condom. Not even a month later, she found out she was pregnant, and the guy kept telling her to get rid of “it.” Anne hasn’t come across as particularly religious up to this point, but she’s pro-life. Abortion was never an option for her. All Anne would have done differently is choose someone who was ready to be a man.
Patty makes it clear that whenever Taylor is ready, she and Nate would love to be more involved in his life.
Eric’s Dad Wants to Present a United Front
Curtis goes to Terri and Michael proposing whatever action they decide to take, they present a united front, since both Eric and Kevin threw the party. Terri points out that it is Kevin who is being slandered, not Eric. Curtis says Eric was suspended from the team and that both kids have suffered. Getting benched hardly compares to being tried in the court of public opinion. Terri has plans for Kevin’s future, unlike Eric, Kevin doesn’t need basketball. He’s got a high GPA. Her concern is how representatives from colleges can go online and see how her son, not Eric, is involved with a sexual assault.
Curtis begins to explain to Terri and Michael that he’s going through a divorce and can’t afford an attorney, but Terri receives a business call and abruptly gets up and walks away. In her mind, the conversation was over anyway. Michael says he can give Curtis the names of some attorneys, but that’s about it.
The Walls Close In on Eric
At dinner that night, Curtis announces he’s going to make an appointment for he and Eric to speak to the police, but Eric is resistant. Curtis doesn’t understand Eric’s attitude and lets his son know that if he’s trying to protect somebody else on the team, he shouldn’t bother. Everyone is looking out for themselves. Kevin’s got his parents, his story, his lawyer, but all Eric has is his family. Curtis is just another parent desperate to make things right for his kid, but he’s not working with all the facts. None of the adults in American Crime really know their children.
Graham’s Personal and Professional Lives Collide
Leslie Graham enjoys a night out with love interest, Charles (Christopher Stanley). I incorrectly cited Charles as Graham’s husband in a previous recap, but this episode reveals the two aren’t married.
Charles continues to his crusade to get Graham to quit her job. He thinks Leyland is a mess, and truthfully, that Graham can’t fix it. But she defends Leyland, saying that the school isn’t full of entitled kids who tease a boy or girl until they have a breakdown. Charles’ disdain for Leyland stems from the fact that his own daughter was bullied by some kids at her private school.
Charles regrets not speaking up then, for being oblivious to what was going on, and he’s not going to make the same mistake. Graham argues it isn’t the same, but he seems convinced it is and doesn’t want to stand by and watch her get torn up.
Race Relations are Tense at Marshall
It’s Taylor’s first day back at Marshall, and he has a meeting with a guidance counselor. It’s very similar to the meeting he had at Leyland in the pilot. He’s not very communicative or optimistic about his future, but now, he’s even more defeated. All Taylor wants to do is get through the semester. Hell, even just the day.
Evy is accosted by a black student, Tre, and her friend, Mateo, is eager to come to her defense, but Evy tells him to leave it alone. But Dixon later breaks up a fight between the two boys, and in the heat of the moment, Mateo calls Tre a “nigger.”
In Dixon’s office, Mateo tries to justify his actions by saying he was trying to help out Evy who Tre has been harassing since she got pulled out of class to talk to the police. Mateo accuses Tre of calling him and his friend “spics” and talking trash.
Dixon says what he saw was a group of boys, led by Mateo, beating on one other kid. Dixon says if Mateo has a problem with another student, he has to take it to a teacher or Dixon to which Mateo responds “Yeah, right.” Whether Dixon is genuinely trying to look out for all of his students or is unknowingly showing bias is hard to deduce at this point.
What Does Kevin Really Know?
Kevin prepares to give his statement to the police, but he expresses concern to his mom about not wanting to get Eric into trouble. Terri stresses to Kevin that Eric will always get the benefit of the doubt because he’s white. Kevin tells his mother she’s always reinforcing how he needs to be a man and do the right thing, and Terri asks her son if he’s one hundred percent certain that nobody on the team touched Eric. When he doesn’t answer, Terri makes it clear the best thing Kevin can do is look out for himself, a recurring theme throughout the episode.
Kevin gives his statement offering his full cooperation but also reinforcing that he did not witness the assault or have any knowledge of it taking place.
Realizing that his dad is set on having him come forward, Eric takes drastic action. He locks himself in a bathroom and downs some prescription pills with a few beers. Eric survives his suicide attempt, only because his little brother finds him in time.
Curt calls Sullivan who comes to the hospital. Eric’s dad is desperate for answers and asks the coach if Eric has done something he should know about.
Sullivan enters Eric’s room without us knowing if he voiced any suspicions he might be having to Curt about Eric. But he lets Eric know that if something was bothering him, Eric could go to his dad or to him. Eric reminds Sullivan that he suspended him from the team, something we already know Sullivan didn’t want to do and is probably riddled with guilt about.
Eric recollects the recent game when he made the shot that won the game and how good it felt to have everyone cheering for him, but then admits he messed up. Eric admits to having sex with Taylor but insists that “he wanted it.” Eric has proof. He and Taylor had been texting and emailing each other, planning to meet up the night of the party.
Sullivan questions why Eric didn’t come forward, and Eric admits the obvious. Because it would come out he was gay, and that would mean he would be done at school, done with basketball, done with everything.
Anne Confronts Taylor
Events snowball from there. Eric confesses to the police that he had sex with Taylor. They tell Anne, but she’s also confronted with copies of a series of texts that make Taylor look very much like he would have been a willing participant in a sexual encounter. She refuses to believe it and insists they have to be fake, but one of the investigators assures her they have been given permission by Eric’s parents to access their internet and cellular providers. They’ll be able to confirm the authenticity of the exchanges soon enough.
Anne arrives home to find Evy and Taylor hanging out. She demands that Evy leave, but before she can get out the door, Anne asks Taylor if he went to the party to have sex with Eric. Evy is blindsided, but she barely has time to process what she’s hearing because Anne turns on her. She accuses Evy of helping cover for Eric, and in turn, making Anne look like an idiot.
Anne pulls out the copies and begins reading the texts, one of which has a brutality about it, talking about erotic asphyxiation, a form of sexual pleasure with a brutal component.
Taylor doesn’t confirm anything, only stating he didn’t go to the party with the intention of getting attacked. Evy rushes out, and you can see Anne emotionally deflate before your eyes.
Taylor can’t understand his mother’s actions, and Anne just wants to know why Taylor wouldn’t tell her. Did he think she wouldn’t love him anymore? Tyler brings up a time when Anne did leave, and she defends herself, saying she wasn’t good and needed help. Anne left Taylor with Patty and Nate, so she wouldn’t lose him. Taylor knows how hard it was for his mom and didn’t want to see her go off the rails again.
Graham Prepares Prepares for Battle
Graham and the board meet with the school’s attorney. They aren’t out of the woods yet. If Taylor at anytime withdrew consent, the sex would be considered rape. The attorney points out the party was promoted with flyers on school grounds. He also talks about how the “Making the Team” ritual was basically an orgy, and if the school was aware that it was an unsafe environment and did nothing about it, that’s a problem.
Graham reiterates that as of now, this is about two boys having consensual sex, and the only way to disprove that is if someone makes a statement claiming otherwise. It’s their job to make sure no such statement exists.
She’s also not about to sit back and hope things go Leyland’s way. One student already tried to take his life because Taylor refused to admit what he was involved in. Those emails/texts between Eric and Taylor were a “blueprint for a rough encounter,” and that’s the truth that people need to believe. So in order to protect Leyland, Graham is ready to decimate the lives of one former and one current student, but I’m predicting the collateral damage will be far greater.
American Crime airs Wednesdays at 10pm on ABC.
(Photo courtesy of ABC)