Episodes 3 and 4 were a REAL dicey ride; stop trying to make me care about other characters, and that includes thinking I'm gonna give two figs about the boring "love of your life" lady in prison when I could care about the possibly-sketch but VERY fetch skinny reporter guy. Like, these episodes were so bad I did not know if I would make it through (frankly I should not have with episode 4!!), and if episode 5 stayed that excruciating I was gonna seriously consider bailing and just reading the ending on Wikipedia.
But episode 5 put the solid focus back on Maddie and her family and personal foe and got us back on track, aside from an incredibly embarrassing apology to her friend for not understanding how bad racism hurts and how her white privilege to see the "greater good" made her insensitive -- seriously, I can't believe people actually want apologies this elaborate and believe that makes them more sincere when the buzzwords and structure are so formulaic that even I could fake one and be believed, which makes them sound very fake and simpering to me always.
And then "Cinder-Hella" happened and it was just SO WELL DONE. I was happy enough just with the prison outreach program -- I love the idea that Maddie just goes and does this!! I also love the fact that Maddie can Throw Down w/ her prison fight skillz at a moment's notice if provoked -- but then THIS PLOT. I've been patiently waiting and wondering when this show was going to address that innocence crusaders are no more infallible than the good prosecutors under the DA's office, but I did not expect it to be so soon!
Subconsciously I think it felt off from the beginning, but it wasn't until they were pitched "it could have been a random serial killer!!" and everyone just Went With It with no skepticism at all that I was like, "okay, that seems a little convenient." And when they broke format to invite her on the podcast, it was SUPER clear something was up, but I was still somehow surprised by the AHHHHH CREEPY WEIRD RELATIONSHIP OF JUSTICE SYSTEM MANIPULATION AND LIES!!
In other news: I am very glad that I have been allowed to swoon over the Less Sketch Than Originally Intended reporter friend, because His Face at his horrible boss, and His Face when trying to apologize to Madeline were very dreamy and dashing indeed. You are entirely forgiven, mostly because I feel like Madeline took all kinds of unnecessary risk by going to bed with you immediately so her forgiveness threshold should be lower.
Plus I am not that down with the face-punching-in. If I were him I would have to debate whether my self reproach and fact that I definitely deserved some level of personal attack outweighed the fact that she went overboard, in a way that could definitely get her arrested on assault charges, and there would be a fair few lawyers & judges happy to dole out punishment.
But since I am not THAT invested, I am just going to wait patiently and hope he comes back for Apologies (or Assistance) Round 2, because this definitely did not feel like the end of his involvement in her life. Also I lied, I am pretty invested in their pretty faces kissing again when all parties are being genuine and level. I'm really gunning for a "he does his investigative reporter thing, but as a force for good this time, and provides some crucial information about Rosemary's case to make up for his behavior before" scenario.
(also HOW GREAT was the opening scene that included petting the dog while talking to him before moving on to the making out?? Probably only my favorite of the series. I wish Tumblr would get off its ass and gif the parts relevant to my entertainment.)
Another thing I really liked as of episode 6/7 is getting a little bit more nuance on Bellows. I remain firm in my belief that's he more interesting if he's someone who is genuinely trying to put criminals away and fix problems in the city, not just get tail/money/power, and we got a few shades of that recently. I LOVE being able to see a bit of the "hold your nose and go with the short-term bad in hopes of long-term solutions" thing by working with the sleazy-but-wealthy businessman.
I still don't care for the podcast angle in general -- it's just always so smug? idk. it grates at me more each week -- and even as someone who is used to unrealistic paces on crime shows, it seems jarring how fast they can just swoop in and spring people from prison who were there for MURDER. Episode 7 giving Death Row guy a mere stay of execution is about the first time realistic timelines have been introduced. But these are very small complaints compared to my continually swelling love for The Real Story, a.k.a. Who Killed Rosemary and How Are Maddie and Levi Coping With Life Outside.
Lastly: watching Madeline swoop and in and DESTROY Heather on the stand with professional sarcasm and expertly placed lances made my heart soar with the eagle's nest. And I want to know SO MUCH MORE about what secrets Toby Kissel was guarding, and what Goth Girl was hiding at the funeral.