Tuesday, April 14, 2020

For Life 1x04 Review: "Marie" (A Time for Everything) [Contributor: Thomas]

Original Airdate: March 10, 2020

I love this this show isn’t just focusing on Aaron’s journey. This episode is all about Marie. She even has a voiceover speaking of how she felt blessed, safe, and secure. That she believed that there would be “time for everything.”

Marie is shown as being great at her job; she cares about her patients and goes above in beyond in both encouragement and action (like how we saw she gave her personal phone number to a patient she was admitting chemo to). She’s told by her supervisor Vanessa that she’s “too good not to apply” to nursing school.

It’s funny seeing Aaron’s gruff voice outside of the prisoner. He has a John Q, working man-type quality both inside and outside the cell. Marie supports Aaron when she sees how passionate he is about growing his club. After they sign the papers to a space almost double the size, she recommends he talk to possible investors at Jazz’s birthday party. One of my favorite scenes in this episode is the kitchen conversation between Aaron and Marie. Marie is not ready to bet on herself with this nursing school. She’s apprehensive to commit to a nanny and would prefer if Jasmine was with family, especially considering what happened to her mom (possibly elder neglect in a nursing home).

She doesn’t want to be pressured but feels Aaron is trying to fix a problem that’s not even real yet. I love that they come to an understanding and we see him apologize and back off. She stands her ground and says it’s her problem and that she’ll figure it out. It’s nice when there’s a conflict but the audience can see both sides of the argument. It’s a testament again to great writing from my new favorite drama. And I love seeing 50 Cent’s influence on this show. Aaron and Marie enter their club with a classic Fif record playing as they do. It reminded me of the song choices of the movie Hustlers and 50’s success with Starz’s show Power.

Shortly after they dance, Michael greets Aaron talking about e. The triumphant feeling of success is destroyed by the DEA storming the club. Michael Miller, Angelo Torres, and Aaron Wallace are all under arrest by the DEA for allegedly being drug dealers. Things move fast, and the next time we see Aaron it’s behind the glass. We learn they’ve denied him bail and Aaron meets the then-Assistant DA Maskins who seemed like he was “out for blood.” They were talking “Kingpin charges” and that they had undercover cops and surveillance on the club for months. Michael was a two-bit hustler masquerading as a drug dealer, and his foolishness leads to a girl overdosing in the club. Angelo was also dealing drugs and they both flipped, pinning Aaron as the mastermind of their operation.

I can’t imagine how jarring this entire situation was for Aaron — feeling like he was on top of the world one moment, then in a cell with no idea when he’d get out next.

But I really like that they show Marie and Jazz. It’s unfathomable how much pressure it is to have to explain to a seven year old why her dad isn’t home that day and that you don’t know when he’ll be back. Unfortunately dreams cost, and Aaron and Marie took out a second mortgage to cover the construction of the new club. Not only does that make them vulnerable financially, but Marie also has to think of how to pay for lawyer fees and commissary. We also find out that Aaron’s parents are working overtime trying to cover his legal expenses.

You can already see the cracks in Aaron and Marie's marriage — even after she promises that they’re not to let this situation tear them apart. It’s a nice change seeing her be the optimistic one as opposed to how we’ve grown accustom to his determination to get free. As the audience, I can see why her views changed, especially after almost a decade of  Aaron being in prison with a life sentence.

Meanehile, Darius is dirty-macking — playing both sides even though Darius and Aaron are described as being close as brothers. Marie admits her fears to him and he rushes over to hug her. This is juxtaposed with seeing the disconnect between Aaron and Marie. His co-defendants flipped so they could save themselves and this revelation is shocking to Aaron. Marie and Aaron are even shown no longer holding hands after he disagrees about agreeing to a plea deal.

It’s ridiculous that a non-violent offense, for what I assume a first-time offender, could even carry a life sentence. We get to see how the system is broken and how most cases don’t go to trial. Aaron's lawyer talks about him getting 20 years with a plea deal, and possibly getting out in 12 years for good behavior. The catch is that taking a plea deal is admitting guilt and since he’s innocent, he wants to clear his name. Marie, I believe, is more focused on getting Aaron home to Jazz and herself than admitting guilt. It makes sense now that she’s technically a single mother, with Jasmine even wishing for her father to come home during her birthday.

Aaron’s really got a raw deal: he has to face the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison for something he didn’t do, or serve the consequences for more than a decade for something he didn’t do. It doesn’t help that even if he did take a plea deal he’d have the name "felon" branded on him, and couldn’t go back to building his businesses because I highly doubt in New York they’d insurance or give a liquor license to a club for a person who just got out of prison. He rejects the plea deal and is determined to clear his name.

I love that we get to see the original trial where his supposed best friends testify against him. Michael Miller can’t even really look at them while testifying meanwhile Angelo is looking slick and cocky while on the stand. Darius steps up, even hitting Michael after Miller testified. We know the lawyer and Darius believes Wallace testifying is a bad idea but he wants to clear his name. Maskins is seen as an effective lawyer. He catches Aaron in a lie. He tees him up for the reveal that Aaron actually did know Miller was a drug dealer. By the shock on everyone’s face, I don’t think the lawyer knew about Aaron knowing about the girl who overdosed at the club.

Again I’m reminded the casting director is on point. The casting of Marie and Aaron’s daughter Jasmine is great. In every iteration, the actors playing this role is bringing her best conveying hope that he father will return home but also being frustrated it has been so long.

The next scenes are a montage after Marie promises that she’ll take care of them. I don’t really remember many montages in television; usually I’m more familiar with them in film, but this one was very effective. We, as the audience, see her journey studying, working, being an attentive mother, and it paying off as she’s getting A’s in her classes and eventually achieves her goal of becoming a nurse.

One of the most intriguing parts of this show is how none of the main characters are all the way corrupt or just evil. Maskins, who I don’t like and was responsible for incarcerating an innocent man, is shown to be a brilliant lawyer who is surgical in the way he dissects Wallace’s testimony. I see why he truly believes that he got the right person who was responsible for operating a drug empire.

Similarly Darius, who is dating Marie while she’s still married to Aaron, is shown as a very supportive friend. He visited Aaron almost every week early on. We learn he encouraged Aaron to protect himself and his investments by suggesting surveillance for the club; but Aaron insisted it was too expensive. Unfortunately regardless of if his heart is genuinely in the right place, we know that Marie and Darius are eventually going to start dating behind Aaron’s back.

I feel bad for Maisha, who doesn’t have lines and is just shown beside Darius being silent. She is a good actor though because after Darius gives Marie a custom stethoscope, we see his disdain as she probably realizes that his heart is not with her but is focused on Marie.

Earl, Marie’s father, has a hard conversation with Marie and speaks about how he was apprehensive about Aaron. He says Aaron’s belief in himself led to reckless spending. Very soberly he says that regardless of if Aaron is innocent, Earl won’t ever forgive him for putting Jasmine and Marie through this terrible process. This show truly is brilliant. The second half of this episode has probably my favorite scenes in this series so far. A focus on Marie gives us, the audience, so many answers I know I had questions about.

It’s revealed that after Aaron has been in prison for eight years, Marie has filed for a divorce. They have this heart-wrenching conversation filled: Aaron is delighted at the prospect of him finally figuring out a plan for getting back to his family, but it’s understandable that Marie doesn’t share his enthusiasm. She wants somebody that can be there, physically. Turns out that person is Darius. I’m glad they showed she actually got divorced from Aaron. Assuming she kept the last name, it makes sense why she’s still referred to as Mrs. Wallace. But it’s a welcomed change that instead of an illicit affair, she advocates for herself and makes the hard decision to pursue a mutual friend who has been through highs and lows; it’s just tough that the person she falls for has such a strong connection with her ex-husband.

Ria Mae’s "Don’t Let You Go" was a phenomenal choice to end this episode. It reminds me of when Scrubs was airing, the musical supervisor made brilliant choices and now this show seems to be carrying on that legacy. This song works both for the scene of Marie and Darius being together and for the uncertainty that this episode leaves us on.

Quotes/Favorite Moments:

  • “I’ve won cases with people dead-guilty and I’ve lost cases with totally innocent people. I don’t have to remind how the system is stacked against you.”
  • “In the meantime it’s you and me. I’m gonna take care of us. Mama’s got us.”
  • The montage of Marie’s hustle; she has to be supermom while balancing nursing school and taking care of herself.
  • “You found yourself. All those years of you wanting to be a nurse, somehow I was holding you back.”
  • “I used to think I was blessed. And then for the longest time I was sure I was cursed. And now from one moment to the next, I realized I don’t know what I think. Now I’m not sure about anything.”


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