So it would appear to end not with a bang but a whimper. After inscribing herself so deeply into the weave of Modesto’s social fabric—leveling accusations of reverse racism before various law enforcement officials and howling for victim’s rights on the local news, taking a defiant stand against “those people” wherever her perceived challenges lay and enduring at least two horrible mini-mall hairdo makeovers—Barb’s bottomless reservoir of rage seems to have finally been drained, giving way to battered resignation.
“I’m done,” she says curtly to Russ toward the end of Episode 10. “I’m taking myself out of this.”
The catalyst for this most incendiary of characters change of heart: Barb has registered the news of Aubry’s paradigm-shifting psych ward confession. And even while the grieving mother remains convinced of Carter’s guilt, unable to process mounting evidence that Matt was an inveterate scumbag—an attempted rapist and wife beater in addition to being a cuckolded drug dealer and meth head—she understands that achieving the kind of justice she seeks within a system that is fundamentally “broken” remains neigh impossible. “The only people getting punished around here are us,” Barb says to Russ before handing over the snub nosed revolver she bought in Episode Nine and taking off.
American Crime’s penultimate installment is chock-a-block with institutional exits and bumpy transitions of one kind or another, although by next Thursday, almost anything could still happen to these characters. It’s the calm before the proverbial storm episode, a pre-denouement in between the race riot and justice being served.
For her part, Aubry aggressively dismisses her foster father’s attempts to overturn her confession and basically tells him to get lost. She does, however, demand a psychic evaluation to determine how admissible her testimony will be and her fitness to stand trial; there is some kind of strategy afoot but Aubry’s overall endgame is unclear.
In light of recent events, Aliyah all but beats on her chest in victory. Post-confession, she demands the deputy DA action Carter’s release lest her mosque group begin agitating a false imprisonment campaign. Moreover, she meets her brother behind bars one more time to debrief him about his impending freedom—no small task considering she’s also managing to keep him completely in the dark about how an admission of guilt by Carter’s One True Love™ is singularly responsible for his freedom.
And so Carter remains the show’s bewildered pawn: the tragic figure buffeted by society’s latent disdain for suicidal people and beaten down to a shadow of himself by the American criminal justice system while simply trying to remain true to his heart. Adding insult to what will almost inevitably turn into a devastating psychic injury, Aliyah asks for Carter’s “trust” in spite of his earlier misgivings about her sisterly love and political motives. “Don’t trust anything you are going to hear,” she warns him in what one imagines to be famous last words.
Meanwhile, Hector’s fate is changing swiftly. Awoken from jailhouse slumber by an aggressive prosecutor to be asked a battery of questions about Carter’s alleged murder weapon, Hector is finally and thoroughly discredited and deported back to Mexico; the American Crime has jumped the country’s southern border.
NEXT: And it doesn’t go well for Hector there either