Conviction is very obviously a case-of-the-week procedural and a shameless attempt at replicating the success of another ABC property currently on hiatus: Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal. Both shows center on strong, intelligent, beautiful, take-no-prisoners female leads who are eventually revealed to be somewhat morally ambiguous women with scandalous (pardon the pun) pasts. The truth, though, is their pasts just so happen to be infinitely more interesting than that of their clients, at least usually.
Listen, I dig the idea of setting wrongfully convicted prisoners free just as much as anyone, but Conviction’s latest installment cemented my previously nagging belief that the show’s potential largely lies in the backgrounds of the CIU’s major players (i.e. Hayes and her team). And luckily, we got a few brief glimpses at said backstories in tonight’s “The 1 Percent Solution.” Let’s dive in, shall we?
Case No. 5: Will Jarrett
Following last week’s reveal that Hayes’ brother, Jackson, kicked her out after her disastrous attempt at damage control on national TV, we quickly learn Hayes has been crashing in her office. She’s woken by a janitor cleaning the floors and trudges to the bathroom to clean herself up for work. After she emerges, we hear the first of several voicemails she leaves for Jackson, which sound increasingly desperate as the episode wears on. In a nutshell: Hayes is sorry, she misses Jackson, and she wants him to call her back. I, for one, hope he does, and rather quickly — I’m a huge fan of his portrayer, Daniel Franzese, and I love the chemistry between the brother-and-sister duo.
The CIU’s team members make their usual pitches for case of the week, but it’s Sam (a so-far underused Shawn Ashmore) who comes through with the “winning” convict: Will Jarrett, who is serving a 40-year sentence for murder after being passed around by six court-appointed attorneys. His victim? Debra Porter, a wealthy wife and mother found stabbed to death in her mansion. Will met the Porter family through a charity for disenfranchised youth, one of several in which Debra was active prior to her demise. Debra’s son, Sean, was away at boarding school and discovered his mother upon his return home, lying in a pool of her own blood after being stabbed seven times and having her throat slashed.
It has all the hallmarks of what Hayes was looking for — a young man from the wrong side of the tracks, accused of killing the matriarch of a “perfect family” who took him in and treated him as one of their own. At least, that’s what we’re led to believe…
Hayes and Sam visit Will in prison, where he (of course) maintains his innocence: “Of course I didn’t kill Mrs. Porter,” he says. “The Porters were the closest thing to family I ever had, ever will have. I never would have done anything to hurt her.” Except that doesn’t really explain how his skin ended up underneath her fingernails, Sam points out. Apparently, Debra was changing a light bulb when she tripped and Will caught her. (The way he looks up as he tells the story is a clear indication he’s lying, right?) When Sam presses him on why he told the cops he hadn’t seen her that day, Will says he simply got the days mixed up — the most paper-thin excuse I’ve ever heard. Could the CIU have picked a case in which the convicted actually turns out to be guilty?
When Maxine visits Debra’s surviving husband (David) and son (Sean), they’re understandably less-than-thrilled at the idea of her case being reopened. As far as they’re concerned, the guilty party is right where he belongs. David says he and his wife treated Will like a son and Sean treated him like a brother. (Anyone else’s spidey sense immediately start tingling re: the son? Maybe Sean was jealous of the attention his parents paid to Will.)
NEXT: This week’s whodunit takes on a new twist