The Conviction Integrity Unit is "the fox guarding the henhouse," according to Hayes Morrison, the protagonist of “Conviction.” The CIU reevaluates legal cases for those that are incarcerated yet claim to be innocent to see if a wrongful conviction was made. The show, created by Liz Friedlander and Liz Friedman, has an intriguing plot, protagonist, and structure; yet it is bizarrely unsuccessful at using music to create scenes with emotional atmospheres.
The structure of the episode and the twist and turns the cast take to uncover the truth about these wrongful convictions are attention-grabbing. The fact that the team switches their minds back and forth between whether they believe the incarcerated man, Odell Dwyer (Maurice Williams), is innocent or not is successfully unpredictable and interesting. Additionally, several conflicts were introduced in the episode, not all of which had to do with the case the CIU was working on. These conflicts of family drama, romantic interests, and reputation combine to create a noteworthy, multifaceted structure and plot.
Hayley Atwell convincingly portrays the character of Hayes Morrison, a former president’s daughter and the black sheep of her family. Hayes is arrested for cocaine possession, and then blackmailed to lead the CIU. Her character is scandalously frank, as evidenced by comedic snippets. She tells an adversary to leave her in her cell, saying she wants to “suck up the ‘Orange is the New Black’ vibe, maybe have a little ménage a moi.” Her go-to strategy in getting a box of information from a man is to suggest that he can touch her breasts if he hands over the box. When she learns Odell Dwyer’s reason for buying a gun, she tells him outright, “That’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard.” Atwell plays Hayes Morrison as amusing, uncensored, and cool.
Cinematographically, the show is largely unambitious. One scene, however, is particularly well edited and parallels characters Tess Larson (Emily Kinney) and Frankie Cruz (Manny Montana) and the murder victim as they run through the forest. The rapid succession from one sprint to the other and then back successfully deepens the intrigue over the case and the victim. This frenzied scene adds thrill to an otherwise inactive, dialogue-rich episode.
The music for the show, however, is tone-deaf to the atmosphere of the scenes in which it appears. It is difficult to take Hayes’s emotional moment with her mother about the direction that Hayes’s life has taken seriously because the music is too loud and overwhelming. In a theoretically moving scene that the CIU has with Dwyer, the music is too fast-paced and is better suited for an action movie. The music fails to reflect the tension that the show is trying to achieve.
“Conviction” has a compelling, complicated plot and structure. The music does not successfully create an emotional atmosphere, but the protagonist makes up for it. Overall, the show entertains, so it is worth watching the next episode to find out what Hayes meant by saying, “Why be the fox in the henhouse, when I can be the wolf that mauls the fox and anyone else that gets in our way.”
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