Netflix’s original series, Seven Seconds, is a gem in the stream of original content they’ve been releasing lately. The show depicts the story of a hit-and-run in Jersey City that leaves Brenton Butler, a 15-year-old African-American child, near death, his family in pieces trying to find the culprit, and white police officer Jablonski (Beau Knapp), the man who runs Brenton over, desperately trying to cover up the crime and move on.
Brenton’s parents, Latrice and Isaiah Butler, played by Regina King and Russell Hornsby, team up with assistant prosecutor KJ Harper and Detective Fish Rinaldi, played by Clare-Hope Ashitey and Michael Mosley, to take on a corrupt police department while they deal with their own demons brought up by the crime.
The unlikely hero, Fish Rinaldi, has won my heart after initially hating him. He goes from a tactless, big mouth who accuses a dying Brenton of being a gang member in front of the Butlers’ tear-stained faces to the one person who steadfastly tries to get justice for the teen.
In the beginning episodes, it’s completely confusing how this dog-lover could be so heartless until it becomes clear he’s not heartless, just brutally honest… and that makes me love him all the more.
Between Isaiah Butler, who refuses to provide more than money for his family, the drunken KJ, who lands in a drink at the most inopportune moments, the morally flip-flopping cop, Jablonski, and his dirty captain, Mike DiAngelo (David Lyons), Fish Rinaldi is the only person who steadfastly kept me sane through the first half of the series.
He and Latrice, actually, were the rocks of the season until the fifth episode, “Of Gods and Men,” where Latrice lies about knowing the man who hit her child and prevents the cops from getting any evidence to implicate him.
I waited–patiently, I might add–for an explanation as to why she didn’t want the cops to catch her child’s killer and yet nothing surfaced. Although, if I’m being honest, an explanation wouldn’t help the anger that rose after my confusion faded.
She has a come-to-Jesus moment, as she tries to better connect with her child’s memory, that causes her to realize she needs more than financial support from her husband. How does that realization lead to her not wanting justice for her child? That moment completely goes against her prior dogged need to bring her child’s killer to justice and doesn’t sit right with me. Her unwillingness to defend Brenton completely contrasts Jablonski’s wife, who is clearly willing to watch the world burn if it means keeping her family together, and that’s even more frustrating.
I wish Latrice had a confidant in any of her relationships, so we could understand her reasoning, but she doesn’t. Her husband has a fear of opening himself up to people and that restricts him from empathizing at all. Her relationship with God is on the rocks right now, because she believes he chose to ignore her prayers, and her brother-in-law is sliding back into the drug-dealing trap black men in low-income areas often find themselves.
It’s heartbreaking to know she has no one to help her through this turmoil, but even more heartbreaking to know she’s not willing to take down the man who caused her and her son all of this pain.
To top it off, her inaction occurs right before another character I respected officially became a full-fledged villain. The fifth episode ends with DiAngelo crossing a moral line he once had when he intimidates, and maybe even kills, the teenage witness, Nadine. Although I can’t hate a villain for being a villain, I can hate that a once nuanced antagonist may have lost the facets of his character that made him interesting.
Without question, Netflix has done it again with the start of another amazing series. I can’t wait to see what happens next….
All ten episodes of season one are now available on Netflix. What did you guys think of the first five episodes of Netflix’s Seven Seconds? Any characters or stories you love so far? Are there any you hate? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and don’t forget to come back for my analysis of the remaining episodes and season as a whole.