‘Hour Two’ of ‘Shots Fired’ Unfocused and Uninteresting

After a pilot that showed a lot of potential, the second episode of “Shots Fired,” titled “Hour Two: Betrayal of Trust,” is a pretty big disappointment. While the first episode showed signs of a season that would dive deep into socially and politically relevant topics, this episode instead has more of the bad elements from “Hour One” and less of the good. More uninteresting subplots and cluttering themes are crammed in, and the overall storyline fails to move forward.

One of the highlights of the first episode was the questions it posed about racism, white supremacy, and police brutality. Even if those questions contradicted themselves at times, they still raised interesting points of discussion. In this episode, however, fewer questions are raised in favor of a much simpler and more uninteresting storyline. Terry and Akino see a leaked video of Officer Beck saying that he hunts down whites, so they have to find out whether or not the video, featuring a drunk Beck, can be used as evidence in Beck’s case. Not only does this story remain unresolved by the end of the episode, but it also muddles the themes of the show. Its message contradicts the very premise of anti-racism that other characters of the show represent: While people in the church are preaching about unity between races, investigators and police are doing anything but putting racism aside, instead arguing over which characters are the most racist.

Numerous new storylines and ideas are introduced, but they merely add clutter—not substance—to the series. Even though the pilot’s subplot dealing with Ashe Akino’s struggle to keep custody of her daughter didn’t really pack any emotional punch, this episode introduces another subplot about family, this time about Preston Terry, the special prosecutor, trying to prove his worth to his brother and his father. This is clearly meant to humanize the character of Terry, but it ends up not actually doing much to reveal his humanity, as all Terry does is argue with his family. In addition to the broad topic of racism, this episode also tries to introduce the idea of religion and the role it plays in the Black Lives Matter movement. While this is certainly a worthwhile subject to touch upon, it ends up feeling detached from the journey of the protagonists, who have virtually zero encounters with religion. Ultimately, it doesn’t help move the main story of the series forward.

Thankfully, Sanaa Lathan’s performance as Akino once again shines in this episode. In addition, Aisha Hinds, who was first introduced in the pilot episode, is given room to grow and stand out in this episode as Pastor Janae James—a prayer that she gives is a highlight of the episode, filled with emotion and drive. The rest of the performances are nothing special, but serve their purposes.

Overall, “Hour Two” is a step back from the previous episode. The pilot, although pretty messy, showed a lot of potential for an interesting discussion of racism and the current political climate of America. However, these interesting topics mostly take a backseat in this episode with the arrival of more subplots, characters, and ideas that end up just cluttering the series’ story and themes. The series looks to be more about the characters’ lives, judging from the increased emphasis on their families, rather than their journeys in this investigative case. Because there was never much reason to care for the characters themselves in the first place, this makes the series, and this episode in particular, ultimately uninteresting.

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