For The People: S02.E08. “Moral Suasion”

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Poster for the ABC courtroom drama "For The People" (An IMDb graphic).



What did you think of tonight’s episode? Do you think, based on the content thus far, the series will see the drawn of the third season? If the series continues producing episodes such as the Valerie Weiss directed “Moral Suasion,” it is highly likely there will be more seasons.

Poster for the ABC courtroom drama “For The People” (An IMDb graphic).

Brief Episode Synopsis

FPD (Federal Public Defender) Allison Adams (Jasmin Savoy Brown), in defending a man, Rodney Jenkins (Mike Wade), charged with the selling illegal cigarettes, is adamant he should be released without bail.

Screen Capture: Mike Wade as  Rodney Jenkins in the Valerie Weiss directed For The People episode “Moral Suasion.”
Screen Capture: Mike Wade as Rodney Jenkins in the Valerie Weiss directed For The People episode “Moral Suasion.”

Elsewhere, Judge Nicholas Byrne (Vondie Curtis-Hall) gets the opportunity to see how the justice system works from the perspective of the jury box when he is called to serve.

Screen Capture: Britt Robertson as  Sandra Bell in the Valerie Weiss directed For The People episode “Moral Suasion.”
Screen Capture: Britt Robertson as Sandra Bell in the Valerie Weiss directed For The People episode “Moral Suasion.”

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of sending her client to prison for murder, FPD Sandra Bell (Britt Robertson) is still recovering from the emotional fallout.

SPOILERS ALERT: If you have yet to watch this episode, please feel free to stop reading at this point in the article. Continue reading after you watch the episode.

We are now eight episodes into the series’ second season. For The People is an exceptional drama with real characters. The talent we see on screen personify the characters perfectly. Now that we have grown accustom to their faces, no one else can be these characters.

An aspect of good drama that never gets old is how teleplay writers revolve story lines around social commentary rather than making it the entire narrative. It is this social commentary that many viewers look for in such productions. By shining a light on certain issues through the lens of a fictional narrative, a “moral suasion” is possible.

Since 2016, the decline of morality in these United States has become increasingly apparent. The episode title, “Moral Suasion,” is a direct appeal to morality to influence behaviour. Of course, there are other contextual meanings for the terminology. In economics, for instance. In economics the definition is “the attempt to coerce private economic activity via governmental exhortation in directions not already defined or dictated by existing statute law.”[i]

First-Time Offender

Screen Capture: Larry Cedar as  Judge Glenn Burr in the Valerie Weiss directed For The People episode “Moral Suasion.”
Screen Capture: Larry Cedar as Judge Glenn Burr in the Valerie Weiss directed For The People episode “Moral Suasion.”

Allison Adams is defending a man, Rodney Jenkins, charged with the selling of illegal cigarettes. These cigarettes were apparently brought into these United States from China. Since this is Jenkins’ first offence, Allison and Leonard Knox (Regé-Jean Page) agree Jenkins should be released on his own recognisance without bail. The judge in this case, since Byrne is occupied with jury duty, is Glenn Burr. Burr is not Byrne. Burr has a different view to the public defender and the prosecutor.

Allison goes above and beyond the call of duty to secure Jenkins’ release but nothing she does works. The public defender even goes to her own parents but the flatly refuse to help her. There is still animosity between the because of her chosen career path.

Does the Criminal Justice System work?

Screen Capture: Vondie Curtis-Hall as  Judge Nicholas Byrne in the Valerie Weiss directed For The People episode “Moral Suasion.”
Screen Capture: Vondie Curtis-Hall as Judge Nicholas Byrne in the Valerie Weiss directed For The People episode “Moral Suasion.”

In “Moral Suasion,” Byrne is seen in the jury box rather than his usual position. This is a significant change of pace for the senior judge. Byrne is looking at jury duty as an opportunity to see how the system works from a different perspective. He has never been on jury service. Byrne’s expectations and reality clash. From Byrne’s reaction, the judge does not like what he sees and hears. The people in that court room have no respect for his years of experience. As a result, Byrne’s frustration is showing.

Screen Capture: Vondie Curtis-Hall and Ben Rappaport as Judge Nicholas Byrne and ADA Seth Oliver, respectively, in the Valerie Weiss directed For The People episode “Moral Suasion.”
Screen Capture: Vondie Curtis-Hall and Ben Rappaport as Judge Nicholas Byrne and ADA Seth Oliver, respectively, in the Valerie Weiss directed For The People episode “Moral Suasion.”

But after a brief conversation with ADA Seth Oliver (Ben Rappaport), Byrne realises the last place he should be applying his judicial experience is the jury room.

Screen Capture: Tracy Vilar and Vondie Curtis-Hall as Lydia Perez and  Judge Nicholas Byrne, respectively, in the Valerie Weiss directed For The People episode “Moral Suasion.”
Screen Capture: Tracy Vilar and Vondie Curtis-Hall as Lydia Perez and Judge Nicholas Byrne, respectively, in the Valerie Weiss directed For The People episode “Moral Suasion.”

Can you see how one could draw comparisons of a jury subway scenes? The jury is comprised of people in the same way a subway train is frequently filled with people. There is no special status required for jury duty. A jury, at least in these United States, is twelve individuals of the defendant’s peers. It is not a panel of legal experts.

Byrne has his fellow jurors to explain why he should change his verdict. Because the Byrne puts aside his judicial experience in favour of a more personable approach, he is able to convince the jury the should be not guilty.

Unexpected Ending

Screen Capture: Mike Wade as  Rodney Jenkins in the Valerie Weiss directed For The People episode “Moral Suasion.”
Screen Capture: Mike Wade as Rodney Jenkins in the Valerie Weiss directed For The People episode “Moral Suasion.”

The ending of the episode was right out of left field. I cannot say I saw that coming. The unfortunate reality is that this scenario plays out across these United States more often than one would think. The use of the G Flip performed song “Bring Me Home” was appropriate for how the episode ended.

All good dramas misdirect viewers at some point in an episode. We think the narrative will go in one direction but it veers in a completely unexpected direction. It’s a sad moment when we realise Jenkins is not going home. What did he lose his life for? Why does his daughter no longer have a father?

IS there a trailer?

Final Thoughts

From For The People to The Twilight Zone, social commentary plays a massive roles in the entertainment I choose to spend my time watching and reviewing. it is because of this social commentary that makes me return to these shows week in week out. Without social commentary, productions such as For The people, Law & Order: SVU and Chicago PD would not be the shows they are.

What is it about the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York that is so appealing to television producers? This is a popular United States District Court for drama.

If you have been paying a modicum of attention to the Showtime series “Billions,” there is a good chance you’ll know Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) is currently the District Attorney for the Southern District of New York in the  Brian KoppelmanDavid Levien and Andrew Ross Sorkin co-created series. It was previously Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti). He is now the Attorney General of New York.

Endnotes

[i] Romans, J.T. (December 1996). “Moral Suasion as an Instrument of Economic Policy”. The American Economic Review. 56 (5): 1220–1226.