“Marie” provides additional context for Aaron’s arrest, using flashbacks to examine how his family coped without him.
This recap of For Life Season 1, Episode 4, “Marie”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
For Life Episode 4, aptly-titled “Marie”, leaves Aaron Wallace (Nicholas Pinnock) locked up and instead delves into the circumstances of his arrest from the perspective of his wife, Marie (Joy Bryant), laying some important character groundwork for the rest of the season.
First visiting a year before the arrest, we see a happy status-quo, with Aaron and his business partners, Michael (Jordan Mahome) and Angelo (Joaquín Maceo Rosa), purchasing a new, bigger club, and Marie debating whether she should go to nursing school. A young Jasmine (Tyla Harris) ages, raised happily by both parents. Aaron and Marie’s marriage is secure; they’re successful and happy. When the police raid the club, it comes as a surprise to everyone.
Through the glass of the visitation room on Rikers Island, Aaron lays out his predicament. He didn’t get bail. His prosecutors are trying their level best to pin everything on him. He reveals that months prior he had found out that Michael was dealing on a small nickel-and-dime level, which had resulted in the overdose of a club patron that he helped cover up. Things aren’t looking good.
For Life Episode 4 then fast-forwards to eight months later; it’s Jasmine’s birthday again, and she wishes for her father to come home in a grim mirror of the last anniversary we saw. Darius (Brandon J. Dirden) is around the family consistently, and “Marie” does a good job of characterizing him as a loyal friend who found himself falling for someone he perhaps shouldn’t have. The burgeoning relationship between Darius and Marie is, I think, the strongest throughline of the episode; it seems to occur naturally over a period of several years, helping Darius not to feel like someone who took advantage of the situation.
We’re also able to better understand why Marie would have gravitated towards the stability that Darius offered, especially after Aaron crucially refused to take a plea deal despite knowing he was looking at many years inside. His stubbornness is his defining character trait, but we see it backfire against what is quite clearly a coordinated takedown in court, with various apparent friends and witnesses lying on the stand. Aaron’s knowledge of Michael’s prior dealing is the nail in a coffin that was already looking to be closed tightly.
During the early years of Aaron’s incarceration, For Life Episode 4 shows Marie raising Jasmine alone, studying in-between visits, and eventually succeeding in becoming a nurse despite the circumstances. At another of Jasmine’s birthday parties three years after Aaron’s sentencing, Marie is warned by her father that she has to move on and that regardless of whether he’s innocent or not, Aaron’s reckless behavior has jeopardized his family.
Aaron believes that his plan to become a lawyer is going to set Marie’s mind at ease, but it doesn’t, and neither does his acquiring of a burner phone to contact her and Jasmine. Years pass as he presumably resigns himself to a campaign on the inside. Eventually, Marie asks him for a divorce, ready to move on with her life without him.
It isn’t until Jasmine has hit dating age that anything happens between Marie and Darius. This additional context is, I think, the point of For Life Season 1, Episode 4 – it isn’t just giving us backstory for Marie, but the shape of the outside world that is also affected by Aaron’s crusade on the inside. The particulars of his obviously manipulated case leave plenty of things to unpack in the present-day storyline, but the show expanding its focus was a useful tactic this early in the season, helping “Marie” to not feel like the filler episode that some may mistake it for.
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