Sarah is forced to own up to her mistakes in “The Criminals It Deserves”, as the question of what kind of leader she is becomes uncomfortable.
This recap of The Republic of Sarah season 1, episode 5, “The Criminals It Deserves”, contains spoilers.
Continuing an obvious theme from the previous episode, “The Criminals It Deserves” is also about Sarah learning to admit her mistakes and realize that she needs help. The word “dictator” might seem a little strong, but it’s the only one to apply to a leader who only does things on their terms and carries out special favors for those closest to them. This is one of the most compelling elements of The Republic of Sarah episode 5. Sarah’s problems – her inability to trust, her lingering resentment, her idealism – aren’t unique or even all that notable, but they become especially problematic given that she’s now the leader of a country. The show is a good cautionary tale about how great power comes with great responsibility.
The thing with Sarah is that she’s a brainy go-getter who likes to do things on her own terms – and you can’t run a country that way. A nation’s leaders aren’t supposed to make every decision concerning that nation on their own, using their own expertise. Because Sarah’s ad-hoc solutions to problems have historically worked out – that’s why Greylock sought independence in the first place – she’s inclined to believe she can deal with every issue in the same way. The rebelling Lydon workers prove otherwise. What’s different here in “The Criminals It Deserves” is that there’s a journalist shadowing her who has no compunctions about making her problems clear – and in print.
There’s a difference between this and Sarah selling the land under Grover’s home. In that instance she made the only available decision, even though it was hard – that’s good leadership. But denying the Lydon workforce amenities that would allow them to blow off steam when they weren’t working and instead signing an executive order to deport anyone who committed a crime during the first six months of their time in Greylock was a mistake – and thus bad leadership. It was a hasty decision made for petty reasons – she didn’t want the town to change to accommodate the workers – without considering the knock-on effects.
It was 15-year-old Maya who stood to face these consequences for an act of rebellion that risked her deportation in The Republic of Sarah season 1, episode 5. Sarah never quite considered that this executive order made intolerance and inequality central to Greylock’s identity. And despite her trying to finesse her way out of the issue by having Danny campaign against Sarah’s executive order – he could be seen to be defending Lydon, while she didn’t have to be seen going soft – the ploy didn’t work, and she eventually had to admit outright that she made a mistake. Her new order ensured that criminals would have to carry out community service instead, keeping everything within Greylock. It was a decent solution, just arrived at later than it needed to be.
But Maya helped to ground this subplot in human terms. Both her situation and Sarah’s were obviously complicated. The emotion was more interesting than the legal issues, as it always is. And Greylock’s residents and their problems continue to be more compelling than the logistics of an independent nation.