'American Rust' Episode 1: Del Harris hides evidence to protect Grace's son Billy

As the Chief of Police, it's Del Harris' duty to uncover the truth. However, he finds himself on the wrong side of the law


                            'American Rust' Episode 1: Del Harris hides evidence to protect Grace's son Billy
Jeff Daniels as Del Harris in 'American Rust' (Dennis Mong/SHOWTIME.)
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'American Rust', Showtime's series based on Philipp Meyer's novel of the same name. The series follows Del Harris, a former war veteran and the current police chief of Buell. When an unexpected murder of a former police officer takes place, Harris finds himself going against his duty. The series is not so much about what lies ahead for the town's people, but the secrets of their past.

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As per the synopsis of the show: "In an economically devastated Pennsylvania steel town, a complicated and compromised chief of police (Daniels) is forced to decide how far he's willing to go when the son of the woman he loves (Tierney) is accused of murder. A harrowing journey into the lives of a small town with big secrets, where people are driven by loyalty, love and desperation – and bad choices come far too easy." Here's a look at the events that took place in episode 1.

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Episode 1 introduces the audience to various characters, each dealing with their own fair share of issues. Harris, who has a substance abuse problem, finds himself romantically involved with Grace Poe, a seamstress. Grace's son, Billy, has always struggled to stay clear of trouble and now, he indeed doesn't seem to have much going on -- the love of his life, Lee, is married, and in New York, he has given up on pursuing his education, despite having earned a scholarship.

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His only friend is Issac, Lee's brother, who has his demons to deal with -- his mother's body was found years ago in the river with rocks in her pocket. His father suffered a near-fatal accident that left him dependant on his son, sealing both their fate in this town. However, things turn for the worse when Billy gets into a bar fight after being instigated. While the person fighting him shanks him, Billy ends up wielding a log of wood and nearly bashes his head in.

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Alex Neustaedter as Billy in 'American Rust' (Dennis Mong/SHOWTIME.)

The first on the scene is police officer Pete Novick, who has a track record of being reckless in these situations. When Harris gets wind of the problem, he is at Grace's house, and the two get intimate. He rushes over to the scene and is compelled to help Billy, and ends up firing Pete in the process. Harris goes through extraordinary lengths to ensure that Billy walks away with no jail time and just has to serve probation. However, when he returns to spend time with Grace, he finds her with her estranged husband, Virgil. Harris leaves but the tension between Grace and him is evident.

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Harris truly wonders why he protected her son, but it turns out the situation doesn't end there. When a murder is reported, Harris finds himself first on the scene, only to discover Novick's body and what appears to be a varsity jacket next to it, one that belongs to Billy. The jacket itself is damning evidence, however, Harris hides the jacket before the rest of his investigating team can arrive in an uncharacteristic move.

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Now, the question remains, why is Harris trying to protect him yet again? While it is easy to assume that it is because of Grace, Harris' intense monologue earlier in the episode where he recounts an incident during his time at the gulf war might prove to be key. As Harris tells it, he ended up firing at a man with a satchel. Even though he knew the person was long dead, it didn't stop him from continuing. The next day, not much of left of the body, but the satchel Harris saw had disappeared too. He compares it to a flight or fight response, stating that for young men, sometimes, even though the threat has long passed, the adrenaline to keep fighting doesn't wear off.

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What do you think is Harris' reason for hiding the evidence? Sound off in the comments below. 

'American Rust' airs Sundays at 10 pm ET/PT on Showtime.