'Snowfall' season 2 portrays Franklin as a boy who is all about power and the ideal drug lord of the West
After portraying Saint as the boy next door in Season 1, Damson Idris seems to have pushed himself further to bring out Saint's inner demons.
Franklin Saint has always been a person who is on a quest for power. Probably, Damson Idris' child-like face was an excellent mask for the character. However, it was quite evident from the very beginning that Saint wanted something more than just a comfortable lifestyle but, he wasn't looking for any kind of authority. Authority is something somebody else hands over to you, somebody "allows" you to authorize. Power, on the other hand, is a nurtured passion.
After all, a character called "Franklin Saint" can only be expected to do the unexpected. In contrary to what his name suggests (Franklin means freeman from the Mid. Eng. word "frankelin") Franklin was born to a generation within a community which was free but was bound by chains everywhere else. The African-American families, during the 80s, faced tremendous structural challenges in a way that they were pushed to the margins of city areas. This hypersegregation of the community into the crowded, dilapidated neighborhoods, that had no law and order, was a chief reason behind the massive inflow of crack-cocaine.
'Snowfall' tracks the story of crack-cocaine, and Saint is in the center of it all. A bright boy who would have had a promising future ahead dropped out of school to support his family by selling drugs, and yet never consume them. Franklin knew all the big players in the game, he knew exactly how to speak with people in order to make them trust him. In spite of working just as a middleman for the longest period, he always knew whom to keep and whom to discard. He would become the drug lord's most trusted hand as he would go around supplying the drugs in the neighborhood. Since the beginning, Franklin didn't have his eye on the prize, he was aiming for the throne.
This particular aspect of his gains prominence in the second season of FX's 'Snowfall'. Director John Singleton has made it clear that Franklin Saint was not a living man but a fictional character who was built up from the 'Boyz n The Hood' director's own childhood memory. Growing up in South Central LA, Singleton had the first-hand experience of the drastic transformation that took place during the summers of the early years of the 80s. Neighborhoods were still quiet, people maintained themselves as well as they could. There was a crisis, but at the same time, there was a will to move forward. But for some, that will was probably a little more than obsession.
Franklin was one of them. He soon realized that the actual money lay in crack, a free base form of cocaine which can be smoked, and was quick to divert all his attention to that direction. But why was he doing it? Was it simply because he wanted/needed more money? Probably not. Aunt Louie had already stated in the finale episode of Season 1 "You’re juggling a lot of shit right now." Idris gave an excellent performance when for the first time Franklin was left in a dilemma about killing a man. While he kept forcing Ray Ray to shoot Lenny, you could easily make out that the school-going boy of the neighborhood who lived with his mom was gone.
By 'The Rubicon', Franklin had already grown with a shining golden skin stating to everyone else that he is the actual boss in the drug paradise. Season 2 sees him with a whole different face as he begins to strip down his contacts, keeping only the ones who are important to him for the drug trade. As soon as he learns that all the money lies in crack, he immediately adapts the skill of cooking crack and takes in all those who could cook crack. He also begins to expand his alliance, in which his sheer ignorance in recognizing people is reflected. Franklin seems to take up anyone powerful who comes his way.
All he wanted was to climb up the ladder so high, that he is almost unreachable. In the process, he befriends the disguised CIA agent Teddy who himself is a part of a greater scandal. As reporter Gary Webb had exposed CIA's involvement in the Contra cocaine trafficking during the 80s, it was discovered that a cocaine ring close to San Francisco Bay was helping Nicaragua's Contra rebels. However, according to one of the convicts of trafficking, Julio Zavala, all that money was given to the Contra revolution in order to keep away the Communists. Apparently, Zavala confessed that he supplied $500,000 to two Costa Rican-based Contra groups and that the majority of it came from cocaine trafficking in the San Francisco Bay area, Miami, and New Orleans.
Teddy's role plays a significant part in bringing out the conspiracy since in the show it was his idea to help out the guerilla warriors. Unintentionally, when Franklin offers to do business with a disguised Teddy who has his own plans to profit from the deal, he himself gets involved in the larger scandal involving an entire revolution. Franklin probably appears most transparent when his character is placed against Teddy's. Both characters follow a common graph where ambition drove the two men to get their hands into things way out of their leagues, and yet when they stand against each other, each individual is just as cruel.
Both Franklin and Teddy are people who have a good intention in mind but are treading on the wrong paths. While Franklin's deeds might cost him his life in the end, Teddy's hasty decision will certainly cost an entire nation. Franklin Saint's character is at that point in the show where he will either have a massive fall or will rise higher up only to fall harder. But he will definitely fall. Franklin has subtly put on the coat of the tragic hero, who since the beginning has established himself as a conflicting character; such that, sometimes even the audience/viewer wonders if they should feel sorry or angry with the character.
Franklin Saint is on his way to becoming a freeman in Season 2, but it is only a matter of time before his wings will be chained down again.