Hello Conviction fans! Last week, we left off with Jackson finally forgiving Hayes. In regard to the case, the Conviction Integrity Unit learned that not only was their client guilty but his accomplice was the victim’s son.
This week, police killed a 15-year old black male. This prompted Hayes to look for a racially charged case. The case Frankie chooses brings the Black Lives Matter movement to the CIU (even if Conviction never uses the phrase).
The Case: "#StayWoke"
Six years ago, Porscha Williams was found guilty of killing Sgt. Kelsey Blake at a demonstration protesting police violence against the black community. The evidence against her? Multiple eyewitnesses placed her at the scene, and gunshot residue was found on Porscha’s hands. Also, Sgt. Blake was shot with a 9mm gun -- the same kind of gun that Porscha owned.
After Tess awkwardly over tips the guy at the coffee kiosk, she and Frankie look at all the images uploaded to social media from the protest. Frankie uses geotagging and time stamping to create a 360 degree view of the scene when Sgt. Blake was shot.
Meanwhile, Sam visits the DA on Porscha’s case to question why it was moved to Albany and why there was an all-white jury when there’s a higher percentage of black people in Albany than New York. The DA deflects his questions and exhibits her own biases against blacks when she says it’s not her fault “they” couldn’t bother to show up for jury duty.
Hayes and Maxine visit Porscha in jail, and she shocks them when she proclaims her guilt. However, Porscha’s clear that she’s guilty of trying to make a difference and not guilty of killing Sgt. Blake. Porscha tells them she got rid of her gun a year earlier in a gun buyback program when she got pregnant. Porscha insists she’s innocent and explains how her daughter is her motivation for every decision she makes.
Frankie is about to go get coffee when he notices a photograph of one of the eyewitnesses smashing a police car with a baseball bat within a minute of Sgt. Blake being shot a block away.
The eyewitness is not very forthcoming with Maxine and Sam until they threaten him with perjury. He finally reveals that he said he was a witness to the shooting to get the police to stop questioning him about the police car. He tries to defend himself by saying he was at the protest for Maxine’s cause' Maxine tells him he’s going down.
There are three more eyewitnesses who saw Porscha with a gun. All three have a slightly different take, but they all insist that they saw her with a weapon.
When news footage shows protesters outside of the courthouse, Hayes figures decides to update Wallace about her case. Hayes finds Wallace looking cozy with Naomi, their mutual ex. It’s hard to tell if Hayes is jealous of Naomi or Wallace. She invites Naomi out for a drink, and Wallace looks a little terrified (jealous?) at the thought of the two getting together.
Maxine speaks with Sgt. Blake’s husband, another police officer. He isn’t thrilled that the case is being reopened. He reveals that his wife died in his arms and was moved off patrol to be kept away from “those people.” When Maxine pushes him to explain, he says he’s referring to the people that killed his wife.
While going over the photographs, the team discovers that there was another woman who resembled Porscha at the scene. The lookalike had a clear shot to Sgt. Blake. After learning the woman’s identity, there’s a cringe-worthy yet painfully accurate scene about how much the two women resemble each other.
The lookalike had an unlicensed 9mm gun at the protest. Her license for the gun expired, and she carried it for safety reasons. Her alibi during the shooting is that she fell and broke her leg, which didn’t give her enough time to shoot Sgt. Blake.
Frankie proves that the amount of particles found on Porscha could’ve been obtained by lighting a match, so that evidence is invalid. While testing the particles, Tess opens up about her aunt’s murder. It turns out that she doesn’t have a crush on the coffee kiosk guy, but she feels guilty since she sent him to prison. Frankie calls her out about looking for forgiveness in her work and tells her to ask for it.
Apparently, Hayes dumped Naomi for Wallace. Naomi is well aware of the fact that something is going on between Hayes and Wallace, but insists that she’s a player in their game, not a pawn. Competitive as usual, Hayes wants to know who Naomi wants more, her or Wallace. The two ultimately agree they should’ve met up at Hayes’ place. But before things go further than flirting, Wallace calls and Naomi leaves.
Maxine is speaking with Porscha’s husband and daughter when Sgt. Blake’s drunken husband appears. He thinks Maxine is automatically siding with Porscha because “black trumps blue.”
Sgt. Blake’s husband isn’t the only person making assumptions about Maxine’s allegiances due to race. Porscha assumes that because Maxine is black, she’s her ally. But Maxine makes it clear that she aligns herself with the police officers and that not all are corrupt. Porscha and Maxine argue, and Maxine leaves when Porscha mentions Maxine’s son. Hayes remains and learns that the medical examiner’s van was on the scene for two hours.
Maxine shares a heartfelt moment with her dad when she questions how to keep her son safe. Her dad tells her to keep raising him right, but Maxine’s afraid it’s not enough.
Why does it matter that the medical examiner’s van was on the scene for hours? The temperature of the van could’ve affected the body's decomposition. Frankie learns that the van went in for maintenance the next day due to an AC leak. There’s a possibility that Sgt. Blake wasn’t shot by a 9mm gun and that the exit wound was actually the entrance wound. If her shooter were behind her, not in front of her, then it couldn’t have been Porscha.
Could it have been her husband? Is his drinking not due to grief but guilt over accidentally shooting his wife?
The next day, the medical examiner states that whoever killed Porscha was standing behind her. Hayes shares this with Wallace and Naomi, who is conveniently with Wallace at the time. Naomi points out that releasing Porscha before the real killer is found will make them look incompetent.
Frankie and Tess recreate the timeline. Frankie searches for the bullet and figures it’s still around since the police were looking on the wrong side of the street. Frankie quickly (conveniently) finds a spot where a wall is patched and digs out a bullet.
The ballistics report clears Sgt. Blake’s husband and the other officers standing with him. However, the team realizes that one of the eyewitnesses might be the shooter when a photograph places him on the side of the street where Sgt. Blake was shot.
Maxine and Sam go to ask him a few questions, and he bolts almost instantaneously. He pulls a gun on them, and Maxine tries to talk him down while Sam just stands there. He doesn’t want to go to jail, and he finally lowers the gun, but he’s convinced everyone will be after him in prison and takes his own life.
Tess heads to the coffee kiosk and starts a conversation with the guy but quickly loses her nerve and leaves.
Hayes accurately refers to Maxine as a badass and brings a bottle of scotch to celebrate. Maxine declines because she’s a drug addict and reveals that she got hooked on pain pills after being shot. Hayes takes the revelation in stride and drinks the drink she poured her. The two awkwardly share a fist bump before Maxine leaves.
Hayes is wandering around the building with a bottle of scotch. She’s on her way to Wallace’s office, but she’s leaving Naomi a voicemail. She wants to pick things up where they left off the other night. However, Hayes witnesses Naomi and Wallace in an embrace. They don’t see her, but she’s clearly upset.
Final Thoughts on "#StayWoke"
By far, this was the most intense episode of Conviction. I love that this was a Maxine-centric episode and that we learned a little more about her addiction and family life. Due to her multiple identities, she had to deal with everyone making assumptions about her motivations when one of the first things she stated in this episode was that she was on the side of the truth. Her fears about raising a black son echo the fears of so many black parents today. And, on top of all that, someone shot himself in front of her?
Kudos to Conviction for not shying away from the nuances surrounding racial bias. Every person Maxine encountered this week had something to say about how they thought she would side based on how they perceived her.
As always, I like seeing the growing friendship with Tess and Frankie. I’d like to see those two hang out a little more. I’m still not sure why Frankie was in prison, but I feel like, if he tells anyone, it’ll be Tess.
When are we going to learn anything about Sam's past? Conviction writers, where are you?
Let's talk about the romantic mess of Hayes, Wallace and Naomi. One of my biggest problems with triangles is that they’re often lopsided, and there’s not often a side to root for one side over the other. This triangle legitimately has not two but three sides. As intrigued as I’ve been about Hayes and Wallace, I can’t ignore the chemistry between Hayes and Naomi. I’m still a little unclear about what happened in Chicago, but I’m guessing that Naomi and Wallace got together after Hayes left town. Is there any chance that Frankie can recreate a timeline for this triangle? It’s hard to remember who got together when since most of it was pre-Conviction.
Next week on Conviction, a fire killed one man and injured another. The man in jail for this has an IQ of 73. For some reason, there’s a camera crew following around the CIU and threatening to expose hidden truths.