Recap: American Crime S3 E2: It Didn’t Happen on Our Property
In the second episode of American Crime Season 3 (3-19-2017), we got more details about some of the characters and met a few new ones.
Kimara Walters is asked to put whatever extra focus she can on the uncooperative teenage hooker, Shae Reese, to help convict her pimp, Billy Qualls, of trafficking a minor, a class D felony. Shae insists Billy didn’t do anything but give her a place to stay. She was not as innocent as the driven snow before she met Billy, and it doesn’t bother her that he was “running” 5 other kids. But she agrees to go to a shelter, where they have strict rules like no drugs; she has to study for her GED because she didn’t graduate high school; and she can’t come and go as she pleases. Shae isn’t grateful to have a place now that Billy is locked up. In fact, she feels it’s a step down to have to share a room with 7 girls, when it was only 5 with Billy. In her health checkup, we learn that Shae has done drugs like weed and oxy, and drinks– whatever, as she put it. She says she is almost 4 weeks pregnant, and it’s not her first pregnancy, refusing to give any details about how the pregnancy ended the other time (we’re assuming it was once).
Kimara isn’t all fired up about helping Shae. She is just weary of trying to help people who don’t want to be helped. She explains this to Abby Tanaka with this analogy: she feels like she is on a lifeboat that only holds 10 people, and there was a time where she didn’t care that it would only hold 10. She would try to get 100 on it. Now she just accepts that she’ll be lucky to get 10. It’s really not a good analogy, if you ask us. Out at sea, people know they are going to drown and they will knock you off the lifeboat if that’s what it takes to get a spot. But let’s not nitpick. She is not only discouraged about her job but also about her thus far unsuccessful fertility treatments. On top of that, it bothers Kimara that the sperm donor is anonymous, so she goes to see an old flame named Reggie and asks him to be her sperm donor. Reggie has a kid who’s getting ready to go to college. He cops to having thought that if he stayed with Kimara, she would be Jason’s mother. (Not really, Reggie). Before he can give her an answer, Reggie has to find out how his wife feels about it. Jason called Kimara “Auntie” when she first arrived and she couldn’t believe that he was taller than her. This suggests that she hasn’t seen him in a while and is a “courtesy” aunt. In other words, we don’t think Reggie’s wife, Denise, is her sister but we’ll see.
One of the farm captains gives Isaac Castillo a hard time, saying that he’s coddling Coy, the little junkie white boy Isaac brought on board. The captain says Isaac is getting soft, when he tries to explain that Coy is sick, as in going through withdrawal. The captain says Coy isn’t his girlfriend or even his dog and all Isaac has to do is make him work. Isaac goes to the bunkhouse and tells Coy that he’s making him look bad. Coy tells him that he’s going to try hard because he likes having a job. He called his brother and told his brother he has a job and doesn’t need any money. It was surprising to us that Isaac gave Coy drugs. We got the impression that Isaac really has a soft spot for Coy. Otherwise, we think he would drive him cold turkey.
Luis confides in another worker that his real purpose in coming to North Carolina is to find his son. Teo had been working on a farm and sending money back every week, then suddenly it stopped. The worker cautions Luis to be careful who he talks to about it. Later, Luis is brought to a man named Da’uud who can give him some info about Teo for $20. Da’uud tells Luis enough to convince him that he’s not being conned. Luis pays him and the go-between gets $10. He learns that Teo was told to leave the farm because he wasn’t a good worker. He was always telling stories and when confronted about his lack of industriousness, he would not be intimidated. Da’uud says Teo was lucky that he was just told to move on (as opposed to being murdered, one infers). He says Teo didn’t get the money that was owed to him so he must be working on a neighboring farm. Teo will be easy to find because people like the boy and remember him. Luis packs up his belongings and hits the road. One of the bosses orders him to stop but Luis will not be intimidated either. He dares the man– in English– to call the police and tell them how they’ve got 20 people living in trailers and how 15 of them just died when a fire broke out in one.
This tragedy actually occurred in the beginning of the episode and Carson Hesby was the first of the farm owners to be notified about it while he was out shopping for a hand-crafted hazel pecan dining room table with his wife, Jeanette. Carson directed the caller to his sister, Laurie Ann, and blew Jeanette off when she wanted to know what happened. Later, the Hesbys gathered for a fancy soiree. Jeanette noticed that her brother-in-law, J.D., was distraught and intuited that it was about the fire. She tried to pump him for information but he bailed in an Uber. Before leaving with Carson, she asked Laurie Ann about the fire and what they could do to help. Laurie Ann told her that sometimes helping is construed as an admission of wrongdoing. The victims, she said, are in their prayers.
The next day, Jeanette scoured the headlines for a news report on the fire to no avail. Carson got pissed off that she wouldn’t let it go because she had already been told more than once that the fire didn’t happen on their property. He told her to go visit her junkie sister, Raelyn, if she needed to help someone. Jeanette went instead to the scene of the fire where she learned that the victims were trapped inside the trailer when the fire broke out because they had put chicken wire on the windows to prevent the theft of their meager belongings when they were out working in the fields.
This isn’t exactly the greatest comparison but that “it didn’t happen on our property” bit brought to mind the policy we have often heard when school bullies attack other students off school grounds. Also, the guy who was showing Jeanette the burnt out trailer made a point of saying that they tell the workers not to put the chicken wire over the windows but they don’t listen.