Liz Friedman and Liz Friedlander reveal why they focus on a mosque bombing for the CIU's third case

By Shirley Li
October 17, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
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Hayes (Hayley Atwell) is about to cross a line. In the third episode of ABC’s legal drama Conviction, the rebellious lawyer investigates a bombing of a mosque that winds up pointing the crosshairs not at the racist bigot named Rodney Landon (Mike Doyle) who was convicted of the crime, but at the NYPD and Counter Terrorist Unit’s possibly fallible actions in convicting him in the first place.

Her prying ruffles feathers, specifically those of Wallace (Eddie Cahill), who, in this sneak peek, threatens Hayes. She tries to hold her ground, but even she has misgivings about the case, in which her team at the CIU must protect a hateful human being. “We were interested in the notion of what happens when a person who may have been wrongfully incarcerated is somebody that, frankly, no one likes,” executive producer Liz Friedman tells EW. “It’s very easy to want justice for people who we view as being underdogs, but what happens if you find out the law has been used improperly on a repugnant character like Landon?” 

For Hayes, that question is tough to tackle. Though she starts out as a “legal purist,” as executive producer and episode director Liz Friedlander puts it, Hayes will find that the case isn’t so black-and-white. The bombing, if Landon did carry it out, was a targeted attack against peaceful Muslims built on the extremist notion that anyone who practices Islam is against the United States. To direct the episode, therefore, Friedlander wanted to make sure she spent time portraying the victims before their deaths. “I didn’t approach [the bombing] as an act of terror against Islam; I approached it as an act of terror,” she says. “They’re victims, they’re young… I wanted to see the light in their eyes. They’re human beings.” 

Still, even if the CIU does exonerate Landon, technically doing their job, they’ll have to figure what to do with him. Is it morally correct to let a dangerous man out of prison just because he was wrongfully convicted? What’s going to stop him from actually pulling off a threat of his that prompted his the NYPD to convict him in the first place? The episode will follow that thread, and explore the tension between Hayes and Wallace, as seen in the exclusive clip above. “These characters have a long history together, some of which is romantic, so it’s an endless battle for control and power,” Friedman says. “Neither of them is particularly eager to give the other one a win.” Besides, adds Friedlander: “What you see in this scene in particular is passion. These guys are either love or hate. They’re different sides of the same coin.”

Watch the clip above. Conviction airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

Hayley Atwell stars as a former first daughter in this ABC legal drama.
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