Aaron takes on an unlikely client in “Promises”, and meets his daughter’s baby-daddy for the first time.
This recap of For Life Season 1, Episode 2, “Promises”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
For Life Episode 2 cements the show’s position as a relatively unique blend of courtroom procedural and prison drama, even if the overwrought opening and closing narration is still a bit ungainly. “Promises” is in large part about Aaron (Nicholas Pinnock) navigating prison politics by agreeing to represent white-supremacist Joey Knox in exchange for being able to sue the police over withholding his files. It’s a means to an end, then, but you try telling that to the black community when you’re cozying up to someone who has a swastika tattooed on his face.
Knox’s case seems open-and-shut – he attacked a CO, apparently without provocation, landing himself in solitary. But you know how these things are and more details will emerge throughout the episode. In the meanwhile, various other subplots and relationships continue to percolate in the background; Aaron’s deal with Safiya (Indira Varma) continues to have upsides and downsides for the pair of them, we meet Aaron’s state sponsor Henry Roswell (Timothy Busfield), who advises him against taking the police to court, and Aaron’s ex-wife Marie (Joy Bryant) sends their daughter’s baby-daddy Ronnie to meet Aaron in prison.
The Knox case takes some intriguing enough turns in For Life Episode 2. His former cellmate, Phil, raises a new lead – Knox was scared and asked for help from one of the officers, eventually landing on the idea of intentionally putting himself in solitary confinement for protection from Nazi kingpin Wild Bill. They required protection because they were romantically involved and Knox had contracted syphilis – Nazis aren’t exactly known for their open-minded tolerance, so you can see how this might have been something of an issue. The case is eventually thrown out thanks to clear negligence on behalf of the guards, who were less inclined to sympathize with Knox due to his political proclivities, though the idea that he doesn’t really subscribe to Nazi ideology and only threw in with them for protection doesn’t hold much water, especially for Aaron.
Ronnie makes a good impression on Aaron in “Promises”, and he’s quick to tell Jasmine (Tyla Harris) as much when she attends his day in court against the police force. Naturally his attempts to access his file are thwarted by more bureaucratic roadblocks, meaning he’ll have to find some other way to prove his innocence. Jasmine is devastated, which is only more ammunition for Ronnie, who later speaks with Aaron on the phone and tells him that he doesn’t want Jasmine coming to visit him all the time anymore. She has sacrificed enough of her time and dreams to be close to him, and now that the health of the baby is at stake, something has to give. Aaron respects Ronnie’s honesty.
For Life Episode 2, despite these setbacks, still ends with both Safiya and Roswell doubling down on their support for Aaron – the former privately and the latter publicly, via a media circus. This raises plenty of possibilities going forward, and with the continued development of Aaron’s personal life, along with the intriguing new character of Ronnie, there’s plenty of dramatic potential. The sheer preponderance of legal roadblocks in Aaron’s court cases, while probably true to life, don’t always make for the most riveting procedural, but I respect that the show seems willing to give its individual cases surprising turns and resolutions.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.