American Crime recap: Episode 9
In this Indianapolis community, nobody wins.
It doesn’t matter if you play by the rules or if you use underhanded means to come out on top — everyone involved in Taylor Blaine’s case is finding themselves perpetually screwed.
Except for Leslie Graham. She is the only one who still seems to be successfully manipulating the system around her — although she just got really lucky this week. If Sebastian De La Torre hadn’t hacked the Leyland School’s servers and exposed all of the board members’ emails and internal memos, which were rife with derogatory comments about gay people, Leslie would probably be on a plane to New York right about now, having tendered her resignation.
But since the Leyland headmaster has always been diligent about not leaving a paper or digital trail of incriminating evidence (or, to use her words, “I simply wasn’t stupid”), she is the only one left unscathed from Sebastian’s cyberattack. In a wild turn of events, tonight’s episode instead ends with Leslie dissolving the Leyland board of directors, staying on as the sole consistent member as she takes the necessary steps to rescue the school from the “catastrophic” PR disaster caused by Sebastian.
So, while Leslie, as always, remains in a safe spot, the same can’t be said about the rest of the major players in this story.
Taylor’s situation remains precarious, despite Sebastian’s encouraging online vigilantism (tonight’s episode is probably the first one on record where Anne Blaine actually smiles, and it’s only in response to the leaked documents). The teen is still in prison, where he is visited by his therapist, and later on, by Evy Dominguez. The first meeting shows Taylor seemingly giving up, as he encourages his therapist to tell Anne to “move on.” He’s come to this decision because he does not feel any guilt over killing Wes Baxter, but he doesn’t want his mother to experience any more pain either. “My whole life’s been nothing but a problem for her,” Taylor tells the therapist. He also claims to have a better understanding of why Anne gave him up for eight months: “When you care about someone, you don’t want to drag them down with you.”
It’s a noble stance, but Taylor needs the love and support of his mother now more than ever, especially because Sebastian’s cyberattack wound up doing nothing to help his criminal case. Anne’s lawyer informs her that the exposed documents have no bearing on the fact that Taylor stole a gun and killed a Leyland student. Anne’s argument that “the school forced Taylor into a bad emotional space” will not hold up in court, so the best they can hope for is an involuntary manslaughter charge. So Anne calls Sebastian in a panic and begs him to uncover more dirt on the school. He reassures her “that’s just how it starts,” but Sebastian’s promise has a dark side that comes out in a more distinctive manner this episode.
WANT MORE? Keep up with all the latest from last night’s television by subscribing to our newsletter. Head here for more details.
But Taylor still may hold the key to avoiding spending the next 25-30 years in prison. When Evy, making her first appearance since episode 5, shows up for her visit, she implores her ex-boyfriend to start talking, which suggests that one more piece of this convoluted puzzle remains. We learn that she and her family did take the Leyland settlement, so since she can’t continue her one-woman testimony on this case anymore (the deal meant a gag order), she begs Taylor to “tell the truth” about what happened the night of the party. Because she can’t be there for Taylor anymore.
He’s hurt her too much, and besides, as she tells him, “I’m taking care of me.” She’s tired of defending Taylor after he treated her so terribly. Plus, as we also see in tonight’s episode, she’s too busy dealing with her own problems, like the fact that she was sexually harassed by a fellow Marshall student (Tre) — and that this incident caused the fallout between the Hispanic community and Principal Chris Dixon.
Taylor still sticks to the story that Eric raped him. Even though he’s lied about a lot of things, he says that part of the story is the truth, but no one believes him. We don’t know if he’ll be able to find someone who will listen to his story, but Evy leaves him with one parting thought: Believe in yourself.
NEXT: Will believing in himself be enough?
Will Taylor believing in himself be enough? Because at this point, even the people helping him seem to be doing more harm than good. Sebastian steadily grows more creepy as the episode progresses, first by shooting off his mouth about all the good he’s been doing with his cyberhacking while meeting up with a female friend at a bar. (It’s also worth mentioning that he does this by leaving his two young daughters alone in a seedy motel room, keeping an eye on them via a webcam on his phone.) Sebastian continues his screed by explaining how he’s seeking revenge on people who do others wrong and that people like him are “the ones that protect you.” All this bloviating does is make him come off like a stalker — needless to say, his gal pal bails.
So if she won’t listen, he’ll find someone else who does, like, say, local reporter Cammy Ross. But all this face-to-face results in is Sebastian admitting that what he does is “technically” criminal (“hacking for justice”). More and more, Sebastian doesn’t seem as interested in helping others as he does in creating publicity for himself. He says his first hack “was just a warning… Things are going to get serious.” Then things get even scarier as he hints at “further devastation for the Leyland School. Exposing individuals for who they are and what they did. Justice for Taylor Blaine.” Still, for all his talk of “justice,” what really sticks out about this scene is his cautionary tone to Cammy, insisting that she “pay attention. You’re gonna know me.”
- For all of Dan and Steph Sullivan’s desperate attempts to cover up their daughter Becca’s involvement in the Leyland shooting, there is now a very good chance the teenager will be implicated in Taylor’s case. Steph visits Anne to beg her not to tell the police about Becca, but since Anne had no clue Taylor got the drugs from her anyway, this turns out to be a pretty dumb move on the photographer’s part — especially when she mentions Becca got the stash from her own medicine cabinet. But then again, perhaps this was part of Steph’s plan all along. Because just when it looks like Anne is going to retaliate with this new information, Steph turns around and threatens to have Becca testify that she sold drugs to Taylor the night of the party, which would prove Taylor lied to the police about being drugged by one of the players. “I don’t know what’s true,” warns Steph. “But I know what I’ll say.”
- Thankfully, the Lilah-kidnapping-Peter subplot is swiftly resolved tonight because Peter realized that his mother is a selfish psycho, and he called Eric and Curt to rescue him. Whatever “getaway” Lilah was planning fizzled out quickly, along with that huge wad of cash. When Eric and Curt pick up Peter, Eric has a brief confrontation with Lilah, but all it does is continue to prove what a terrible mother she is. She pulls the “You don’t know how hard it is for me” routine, but Eric calls her on it: “Having a gay son? Having all the people at church whispering about me? Must be so hard.” Considering she thinks he raped Taylor and only cares about how horrible her life is (“I just wanted one of my kids — I don’t even have that,” she whines before leaving), we can only hope that wherever she goes next, it’s out of the lives of the Tanner kids forever.
- Kevin LaCroix’s messy involvement in the Taylor Blaine scandal continues to get worse this week now that he’s voluntarily implicated himself in the crime. The basketball co-captain knows that his antagonistic words provoked Wes and three other players to beat up Taylor, so he admits his role to his parents. Terri LaCroix encourages her son to give yet another statement to the police about what one of the players, LeSean, told him: Taylor was attacked because Kevin verbally went off on the teen. Kevin cops to saying Taylor needed to be put in his place, but he insists he never said Taylor should be assaulted (which is true). The trouble is, when Michael LaCroix asks the family’s detective friend, Ken Williams, what else they can do, the response is not what he wants to hear: The detective warns that Kevin implicating himself, in any way, is just bad all around.
- Also having a crummy day is Chris Dixon, who goes before a school-board review for his poor handling of the incident between three Hispanic students and one African-American student at Marshall High School. Before the review, Chris learns from his colleague, Monica Salazar, the whole story behind the brawl: Evy was inappropriately touched by Tre, and Mateo retaliated in her honor. In a brief scene at the start of the episode, Monica — who does outreach work with Hispanic students — talks with Evy about what happened to her, and the entire conversation is conducted in Spanish, without subtitles. It doesn’t take more than that, or even a knowledge of Spanish, to understand that Evy did not feel comfortable seeking assistance from Chris. Now armed with the facts and encouraged to admit culpability — Monica suggests Mateo’s use of the N-word colored Chris’s judgment of the incident — Chris presents a mea culpa to the multiracial board, admitting he was wrong in how he dealt with these students, especially how he let racial bias influence his thinking. But Chris is in a no-win situation here: True, he didn’t try to get the whole story, but at the same time, as he keeps repeating in an endless refrain, he is responsible for 2,000 students. The reason he puts the onus on the student to seek counseling is because his budget has been slashed to shreds and he has a single counselor on staff. So the last thing he needs now is for the board to suggest that it was his lack of attentiveness that caused Taylor to shoot and kill a Leyland student.