Aaron is forced to do the wrong thing for the right reasons in “Witness”, as Safiya continues to investigate how drugs are coming into the prison.
This recap of For Life Season 1, Episode 5, “Witness”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Back to its usual case-of-the-week structure, For Life Episode 5 sees Aaron (Nicholas Pinnock) take on the case of a guilty prisoner who was nonetheless convicted on the strength of an unethical police line-up, while also developing other subplots, such as Marie (Joy Bryant) and Jasmine (Tyla Harris) attempting to live their lives now that Aaron’s crusade is developing momentum, and Safiya (Indira Varma) trying to get to the bottom of which prison guard is helping Wild Bill (Peter Greene) peddle drugs within the prison.
There’s a lot going on in “Witness”, then, but the most essential point it makes is in how Aaron is willing to bend the law and go against his principles for the betterment of himself. We’ve seen this already, but it’s more explicit here, with him agreeing to defend a decidedly unpleasant inmate who he knows is guilty. There’s also the question of whether a guilty man’s conviction should still stand if the means used to convict him were unethical and flawed; on that level, Aaron’s goal of exposing a pattern of malpractice in the DA’s office makes long-term sense.
For Life Episode 5 also finds Dez O’Reilly (Erik Jensen) on the ropes; him offering Aaron a cash settlement was a moment of weakness we haven’t seen from his character yet and helps to create the impression that Aaron is establishing himself as a legitimate threat to Maskins (Boris McGiver). The DA’s office still feels like a warren of cartoon villains, and that still seems a little on the simplistic side, but it’s also better than the judge of the week just ridiculing Aaron and throwing up arbitrary roadblocks to make an obvious point about the justice system. As Aaron earns more respect in the legal world, the cases he involves himself with are also becoming more interesting.
While Marie and Jasmine continue to be more involved in what Aaron’s doing than I think credibility allows for, the additional context of the previous episode, and the moral fluidity of “Witness”, helps to create a fuller picture. The prison’s internal politics continue to be an on-going thread that the relaxation of Safiya’s investigation probably won’t untangle, either, so there’s plenty for the show to work with going forwards.
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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.