For Life S1E6 Review: Burner

This is the half way point of the first season of For Life.
We’re following Aaron Wallace as he’s been currently incarcerated for the past nine years.
He recently has received a breakthrough with him now being in possession of his confidential police file.

Aaron begins searching through his police file and finds a gem, he learns the cops had a confidential informant outside of his assumed friends.
Whoever this person was their identity wasn’t shared with Wallace of his lawyer which gives hope of proving corruption of the police department. 
Wallace shares the breakthrough with Marie on his cell but can’t talk because guards are near.

From this episode’s title I assumed that this episode would be centered around Aaron’s cell phone. His lifeline that he’s used to speak to Marie has always been a risk because as prison rep he’s supposed to be approve reproach.
If caught this could seriously hinder his chance to make a case for his release as the phone is contraband smuggled in and illegally held.

We, the audience, learns more about Captain Foster and sees more of his motivation and operation in the drug smuggling of Bellmore.
In a meeting with the supplier he fronts like he really doesn’t need this hustle.
His house is paid off and he even has a boat but he’s risking his livelihood which he believes means he should get more of the money.
The supplier has done his homework though and knows Foster can’t back out because Foster’s father has a bad heart and the medical bills can easily pile up.

He’s able to transport the drugs through containers were he brings sirloins into the prison for “Steak Day”. This is evidence of Bellmore’s way of doing things being different from other prisons.
Foster is grateful that this “time honored tradition” is one thing she hasn’t messed up with her reforms.

There’s conflict of her reforms and plans which unexpectedly lead to tension between Masry and her wife Anya Harrison.
Harrison is running against Maskins for Attorney General of New York and Masry’s progressive views are causing potential endorsers like the CO’s union to withdraw their support for her.
Masry is looking to reduce prisons as they reduce the crime in the prison population.

Masry’s reforms are written in a comprehensive proposal given to the prison board.
Maskins gets his hands on it through a board member who shares a plan to put her plans to the state by transferring level four inmates to Bellmore including a particularly difficult inmate played by 50 Cent. 

I love that 50 Cent has made a career of positioning himself with respected stars of the film industry.
Because of his production companies, G-Unit Film & Television and Cheetah Films he’s been able to act alongside Academy Awards like Robert DeNiro and box office star Bruce Willis.
This opportunity to play Cassius Dawkins is no different.
He brings a realism to the role that is needed in this series.
He’s known as a nuisance and his previous wardens were glad to not deal with him anymore. 

Immediately he is shown to carry not only a presence and a swagger with him but he also is heavily connected.
Through Bobby, played by Hassan Johnson, we see he’s all about business.
He’s already setting up a nefarious plan, priming Bobby for his needed players in this game while Aaron and Jamal look discouraged.
The freedoms Bellmore gives may be ruined by Cassius’ upheaval.

I can’t believe Aaron is already in front of a judge pleading his case against the D.A.
O’Reilly is his opposition and plans to invalidate the new evidence by asking how Wallace got hold of a confidential police file.
Wallace restates that it was from an anonymous whistle blower who was afraid of reprisal so Aaron destroyed the envelop it came in.
He tells the judge that a career confidential informant was used to gain a warrant for the club he owned but this wasn’t revealed during the trial.
He wants to know his name, why he wasn’t able to cross examine him or know if they held a Darden hearing.
The judge backs him up asking if they did in fact have a Darden hearing.

The next scene we see is Maskins not happy and is threatening that the NYPD needs to find the leak who gave Wallace the confidential police file.
They trying to make it about how he got the file and not about what’s in it.
This leads to drama between Hassan and Aaron after O’Reilly calls Hassan’s brother Officer Newcombe to the stand.
Under threat of perjury Newcombe lies for Wallace which is exactly the type of drama Newcombe and Hassan sought to avoid when getting involved with Aaron.

Outside of prison we see Earl, Marie’s dad surprise the family by coming over.
After pleasantries slowly Earl begins to make his intentions known as to why he came by.
As shown in previous episodes he has never liked Aaron and felt that he was holding her back.
This is further shown when encourages Darius to pop the question going as fas gifting him the ring Marie’s mother had.
Through this exchange the audience learns Aaron never actually signed the divorce papers Marie presented him with so they’re still technically married.
And that leaves Darius on the outside dating a woman who loves him but is still in love with her husband.

Back on the yard Aaron is in a bind because he trusted the wrong people.
Cassius learns from Bobby that Aaron has a burner phone and intimidates him into letting him make a phone call.
This immediately backfire because Wallace is witness to Cassius Dawkins sending people to threaten Captain Foster.
Because of the strife between Hassan Aaron is advised to use Cassius as a buffer for protection.
Dawkins explicitly states that Wallace’s burner now belongs to him and there’s nothing Aaron can do about it.  

I like learning more about Brooklyn’s D.A. Anya Harrison.
She’s shown as caring, inquiring about why 4 max inmates are coming into Bellmore.
Masry and Harrison worry about the prison board possibly putting her “soft” approach to the test.
Anya and Safiya have a confrontation on Masry’s position and reforms.
The COs are worried that they’ll have less jobs because of Masry’s assertion that there needs to be less prisons, not more.
In my opinion this shows the complicated relationship of those who are trying to reform prisons versus those who want to abolish prisons.
Anya promises that when she’s elected she can go beyond the reforms Masry has implemented but encourages Safiya to soften her way so that she can become Attorney General. 

In the judge’s chamber O’Reilly and Wallace are each making their case on whether or not the department effectively did their job.
It’s revealed that the department cut corners and the judge admits they “played fast and loose” but they had ample evidence to have a warrant issued without the knowledge from the confidential informant. 
Angelo Torres was a confidential informant paid by the NYPD. He was the manager of the club, a key witness in Wallace’s trail and “he was on their payroll the whole time”
Wallace wants the opportunity to cross-examine him and wants extensive records on his time as a C.I.
Apparently there’s the prospect that though Wallace didn’t get the search warrant thrown out that the department may be the hook for possibly a Brady violation.

Later in the episode after Earl has a tense conversation with his daughter about her future he leaves goes to the prison where he’s face to face with Aaron.
What starts as an earnest plea for Wallace to let Marie go and live her life free from his ties of marriage turns into a confrontation where Earl rails on Aaron as being selfish and he storms out.
I could see James McDaniel being nominated for an Emmy for an Outstanding Guest Actor. His performance was breathtaking and his emotion was fully conveyed through the screen.

The last scene in the episode is two armed men dressed in black next to Officer Foster’s family.
As the captain tries to plead they silence him raising their guns and telling him that Cassius Dawkins has a proposition for him.

Quotes/Favorite Moments

“If you test us and mistake our humanity for weakness you will be dealt with” – Masry to Dawkins

“One thing I know, one thing I always knew was that he was devoted to me and Jazz. So I’m not gonna turn my back on him. Even if it makes my life harder, even if it brings me pain I will never turn my back on him. So I’m sorry, but that’s how you raised me” – Marie to Earl, her dad 

”I believe in everything you’re doing. I do. And if I’m elected I’m gonna tack left and I’m gonna push for all of these kinds of reforms in a more comprehensive way than what you can do right now from there. But to do that I got to get elected first.” – Anya Harrison to Masry on easing her reforms and get the CO Union endorsement back.

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