'For Life' Season 2 Episode 4 Review: Aaron Wallace confronts EVERYTHING keeping him from moving forward
Spoilers for 'For Life' Season 2 Episode 4 'Time to Move Forward'
It was always apparent that Aaron Wallace (Nicholas Pinnock) has a lot of emotional turmoil to deal with before he can move on with his life, but he's been keeping a lot of his feelings bottled up inside. One of the many problems with that is that life barrels on regardless, and sometimes everything you've been ignoring comes crashing in at once. In this episode, Aaron is forced to deal with everything that he's been putting off, and it's clearly too much for him to be able to handle.
The show – and the excellent performance of Nicholas Pinnock – manage to do very much with very little. Aaron Wallace is a closed-off man, one who compartmentalizes a lot of his emotions. While that may be a very realistic take on the character, it's not an easy thing to portray on screen. Our window into Aaron's mind comes in the form of Marie's (Joy Bryant) complaints to her friend as she tries to process Aaron's return, but it also comes in smaller moments.
It's in the way Aaron doesn't hug his mother back. The way he pulls his hand back from Marie a little too quickly. A look that lingers just a little too long, like there's something he wants to say but doesn't quite know how to start saying it. This episode in particular is filled with moments like those, which make it all the more hard-hitting when Aaron finally lets loose and lets his feelings come to the fore.
In this episode, Aaron deals with a case referred to him by Jamal Bishop (Dorian Crossmond Missick), in a witness tampering case. At the same time, he's also dealing with his parents coming home for Thanksgiving - an emotionally fraught situation, as his mother Barbara (Sharon Washington) never once saw or spoke to him over the nine years he was in prison. Through all of that, Aaron is finding it harder and harder to ignore the fact that his former best friend Darius Johnson (Brandon J. Dirden) slept with and lived with his wife while Aaron was away.
Though there's a lot of turmoil, the episode is one of the better-balanced ones of the season in terms of legal drama vs. personal drama. There are just enough subtle parallels between Aaron's client - a man who wants nothing to do with his criminal family - and Aaron's own situation to make both storylines hit that much harder. It's always satisfying to see Aaron score a court win; it softens the blow of everything that's happening at home for him.
Aaron's mother forces a confrontation in a very performative - but sincere - apology over Thanksgiving dinner, but even then, Aaron barely engages. It's enough to open up the floodgates for him, though, as he not only deals with the hurt his mother caused him but the pain of Darius' betrayal in an emotional scene between the two of them later in the episode. It all culminates in Aaron's confrontation with his wife. He clearly still loves Marie, but he's lost the trust, and there are some aspects to what she's done that he may never be able to forgive her for.
While it's great to see Aaron finally talk about his feelings, it's clearly too much for him to have to deal with all at once - something that the show itself points out through Henry Roswell (Timothy Busfield) - and Aaron is now living out of his office. There's a danger here of seeing Aaron shut down again, throwing himself into his work instead of finding a way to make things work with his family, and it's remarkable how a show can shift from being a prison drama to a family drama about a man suffering post-prison PTSD. 'For Life' excels at putting its characters first, and it's been paying off in a big way. 'For Life' continues to be a hidden television gem that more people should be watching, and it's only getting better.
The next episode of 'For Life' airs on December 16, on ABC.