I don't mean to suggest that the TV serial American Crime follows the path of legal procedurals like Law and Order. It doesn't. Instead, American Crime relies heavily on audience psychological and emotional reactions to portray a homophobic, hypocritical society in which its troubled anti-hero Taylor Blaine has just shot and killed Wes Baxter, a member of the Leyland private school basketball team.
I'm really interested in seeing where creator/director John Ridley is going with the legal aspects he's depicting here. I have to say, the legal drama interests me as much as the psychological torment of the victims, the moral dilemmas of the enablers, and the apologists who try to reconcile all of it.
Real life doesn't come with labels like 'liberal' or 'conservative' -- people apply those later, and the labels are only occasionally accurate. Yet, the shooting in Episode 7 of Wes Baxter and the violent response of Eric Tanner to his attacker puts the self-defense arguments to the forefront. And it is here where liberal and conservative views collide. Will the self-defense issue be taken on or will it be set by the wayside?
Wes accosted the disturbed, battered, and confused Taylor outside the school and threatened to kill him. Taylor happened to have with him the revolver he’d stolen. Was the threat posed by Wes sufficient to sustain a claim of self-defense? I’m guessing this will be one of the claims made in the new episode.
Undermining any claim of self-defense, however, is the scene where Taylor finally uses that notepad he’s been carrying around and jots down some names. Among that list of names is that of Wes Baxter. It is some kind of hit list? Premeditated murder is a far different matter than involuntary manslaughter or self-defense.
Who are the good guys? Who are the bad? By the same token, is Eric Tanner? a victim or perpetrator of violence as he’s attacked by an enraged sex partner in a desolate location. Eric fights back and survives the attack. We don’t know about the other guy, his attacker, last seen writhing in pain in his car.