'The Red Line' season 1 episode 1 tackles racism and justice with absolute grace
The CBS show is set in Chicago and follows three families that are directly affected by the wrongful shooting of an African American doctor by a Caucasian police officer
It is cold in Chicago, but it is colder in the lives of Daniel Calder, a high school teacher, and his teenage daughter Jira in 'The Red Line'.
The CBS show follows three families directly affected by the tragic death of Harrison Brennan (played by Corey Reynolds), an African American doctor, who is shot by a Caucasian police officer.
The atmosphere in Chicago following the shooting is tense — people need answers, they want prompt action, they will not bear the injustice anymore.
What makes ‘The Red Line’ truly unique is that it tells the story through each perspective.
Audiences see the agony that is inflicted on the Calder-Brennan family and feel the pain that they are put through in the six months that follow Harrison's death. When no charges are brought against Paul Evans, the police officer played by Noel Fisher, it is not a surprise. But everything from there only results in chaos for the characters on 'The Red Line'.
'The Red Line' highlights the different perspectives and privileges that exist in America. "There are two Americas living side by side and many different privileges and justices exist depending on the side," co-creator Caitlin Parrish had said about the show.
Daniel and Jira's mourning is fueled by 17-year-old Jira's search for her birth mother. A young African American girl, Jira was adopted by Calder and Brennan. She is desperately looking for her birth mother, going to the adoption agency fully prepared with an introductory note, ID and more. When asked why she needs to meet her mother and if she has come without her parents' permission, Jira simply says, "I need more family."
Jira wants to talk to someone who knows and understands what she, as a black woman, is going through. When her mourning father tells her that he is equally, if not more, sorry for the demise of Brennan and how he wishes it was him at the convenience store, she says, "It wouldn't have happened to you."
At this point, her mother Tia Young, played by the indomitable Emayatzy Corinealdi, is watching Jira from the bushes — she wants to go help but is she the right person to? As Young, Emayatzy Corinealdi plays an African-American risk management analyst and budding politician who aspires to run for alderman on a more anti-establishment platform.
A performance to look forward to is Vinny Chhibber as Liam Bhatt, Jira's literature teacher and Daniel's colleague. Chhibber's Bhatt is concerned for Calder, but he knows what to ask, when to ask and how to ask. When Calder asks him to pretend like he is fine, Bhatt abides. There is also a friendship between Jira and Bhatt — the kind that is reminiscent of that one teacher from high school who didn't necessarily have to understand everything you go through, but just know that you are going through something.
Noah Wyle's torn character Daniel Calder doesn't want your sympathy, but you cannot help but feel that for him. As Jira, Aliyah Royale delivers a strong performance as a teenager broken by her father's wrongful shooting but is looking for answers. Noel Fisher's slimy performance as Paul Evans is impressive as his character opens up in layers only to reiterate that one doesn't have to necessarily shout slogans to be racist — ingrained racism is the most dangerous of all.