This week’s episode of ABC’s For The People strays away from last week’s method of highlighting characters but features a new round of cases. We get to see new matchups and peek even further into the backgrounds of some of the other characters. This episode also continues several of the ongoing themes and stories from the first two installments, especially Leonard’s efforts at redemption.
This episode’s focus is on the matchup between Sandra Bell and Kate Littlejohn, both major powerhouses in their perspective “groups.” The beginning of the episode provides context to both Sandra and Kate’s daily routines, from leaving their homes to arriving at the office. Both seem to have similar tendencies, as they’re both first to arrive at the office and tend to have their own established routines. The case involves a veteran and a National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower, Dani, who is arrested after releasing documents that disclosed how the NSA was using hospital records to deport immigrants. After being assigned to the case, both women seek to learn more information about the other, even spending time researching each other’s backgrounds. Kate is working to ensure that this whistleblower is punished without attracting media attention or a trial. Sandra is also seeking to avoid a trial since it could be Dani’s best shot at a minimal prison sentence. Sandra immediately speaks out to the press about Dani to pressure Kate into making a good deal for her client as a way to avoid negative public scrutiny. Viewers learn that this doesn’t work. Instead of negotiating a good deal, Dani sees the public’s passionate reaction and refuses to take a deal, she wants to be brave and remembered as a hero.
The first meeting between Sandra and Kate does not go well at all. Sandra is unprepared, while Kate is angry with learning that Sandra has no intention of making a deal. Their second meeting in court goes about as well as their first meeting. Sandra demands access to the classified information in order to build a proper defense, and to get Kate to drop the charges rather than release classified information. On the other hand, Kate is very volatile. After some prompting from the judge, both women sit down and work out a deal that satisfies both parties. During this third meeting, we get some insight into why Kate wanted to become an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA). When a rule breaker in her seventh-grade class forced her teacher to cancel a trip to the U.S. Capitol–a trip she was looking forward to since she was in kindergarten–she became passionate about punishing rule breakers that ruin things for everybody. That’s when she first set her path to becoming a prosecutor.
We also get insight into Allison’s family and the dysfunction that reigns. Allison is working on a sentencing with a boy who pleads guilty when he’s caught with a gun. We learn that her client is very sympathetic and trying to do better by his family, but was faced with a series of unfortunate events. Upon learning that the judge will be using a computer program to determine her client’s sentence, Allison spends most of the episode gathering information to sway the judge away from using the program. When she discovers that the program’s likely outcome for her client is the maximum sentence–since the program cannot understand the intricacies and extenuating circumstances in his life like a person could–Allison visits her older brother (a mathematician) to look into the program’s code. Most of Allison’s family is highly educated in math and science-related fields, and they’re not fond of Allison’s choice to be a public defender. When Allison and her brother meet, it’s immediately obvious that they are not on friendly terms. We learn that her brother is resentful of the way their parents treat Allison, which she does not see as preferential, and he subsequently blames her for it. She identifies him as “a machine,” unfeeling and cold-hearted. After some bonding over their favorite sandwich, Allison’s brother helps her understand that she can’t fight a machine and win, but if she fights the judge she could win. And she does just that. At the end of the episode, Allison invites her brother over to spend the evening with her and Sandra and viewers get to see them bond.
Another big part of the episode involves Leonard and his continued efforts at becoming the favored AUSA. At the beginning of the episode, we get a peek into Leonard’s dating life. He has been dating a prosecutor from a different district who seems like the female version of himself. After learning about the case she is working on, he works to steal the case and redeem himself. This is his big chance at gaining favor, especially after last episode’s failed attempt when he brought his mother to the office as a method to redeem himself. With some help from Seth and his background in meteorology, Leonard is able to predict where the ship will land after the storm and is able to get the case successfully redistricted. Despite all of his underhanded tactics, however, it appears that all is not lost with his relationship since the prosecutor reaches back out at the end of the episode.
The first three episodes have provided some background and interactions between the characters. With all of this information and context, we will hopefully see some friendships and relationships begin to bloom or re-bloom in the coming weeks.