by Joshua Alston | via Vulture
In its eighth episode, Shots Fired takes a moment to pause and focus on the characters and their relationships, which have been weathered, if not imperiled, by the dual murder investigation and the local unrest associated with it. On one hand, it seems like an odd time for a quieter, character-based episode, since the last installment ended with the shocking arrest of Pastor Janae for the murder of Joey Campbell. But “Rock Bottom” is surprisingly compelling, even though it mostly just checks in on the people of Gate Station to take their temperature before a final act that will likely change the town forever.
That’s not to say “Rock Bottom” doesn’t deal enough with the aftermath of Janae’s arrest, which acts as the catalyst for most of what takes place. Preston and Ashe arrive to question Janae, who denies any involvement in Joey Campbell’s death. What she does admit, in so many words, is that she ordered “the Hands” — holy henchmen somewhat similar to the Guardian Angels — to rough Joey up so he’d stop selling weed around the Houses. Janae also mentions a burglary at the church, which she suspects was actually committed to cover up the planting of the gun. That news sparks interest from Ashe, who just thwarted a burglary by fighting off a mysterious intruder trying to steal Jesse Carr’s cell phone from her hotel room.
Preston and Ashe’s latest break in the case is the murder weapon, which they promptly take away from the sheriff’s department, lest it conveniently go missing. The gun’s serial number is filed down, but Ashe believes she can have someone pull the serial numbers from deeper layers of the steel a file can’t penetrate. But to accomplish that, she has to reach out to her ex, Javier, who is still understandably upset with her for seducing him as a means of blackmailing him into dropping his custody dispute. Their video chat is interesting, revealing that Javier is also law enforcement and their shared passion for “getting the bad guys” is likely what brought them together in the first place.
That scene is one of several standouts for Sanaa Lathan, whose work has really grown on me as the season has progressed. Lathan is undoubtedly a fine actress, but when Ashe is talking tough — which is most of the time — there’s a certain cop-show hamminess to her performance. But Lathan shines when Ashe’s vulnerable side emerges, as in the scene when she records an encouraging video message for her daughter in case her work in Gate Station impacts the custody hearing. That seems likely following another epic scene from “Rock Bottom,” when Ashe takes her revenge on Lieutenant Breeland. A tense verbal confrontation boils over into physical violence when Breeland attacks Ashe, then finds himself outfoxed when Ashe manages to handcuff Breeland to a chain-link fence. She can’t control her rage, and she’s furious at herself about it. Had Preston not come along to intervene when he had, Ashe doesn’t know if Breeland would have left that alley alive.
To read the rest of the recap, “Hour Eight: Rock Bottom,” click HERE!!!
Hour Seven: Content of Their Character (S1 E7) | Hour Nine: Come to Jesus (S1 E9)