Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 4 Review: The Shame Game

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One of the things I love most about Proven Innocent is that it's not afraid to tackle hot button issues.

Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 4 took on abortion and Islamaphobia. The story couldn't come at ea better time, considering the controversy in Congress over Representative Ilhan Omar's comments about Israel and the anti-Muslim attacks against her that were not similarly decried, all right before this episode aired.

This show took a stand without sacrificing entertainment. Fantastic!

(TALL) Murder of a Newborn - Proven Innocent

The case caused a conflict between Easy and Madeline that added another dimension to the already compelling story.

I love how complex Easy is. His subplots always raise questions that aren't easy to answer, and he's fully three-dimensional while embracing positions that don't match the rest of the team's.

Related: Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 3 Review

The pro-life vs. pro-choice debate has gotten depicted on lots of shows over the years, but not quite like this. There's usually a tendency to demonize pro-life characters written by people who hold pro-choice views.

But not here. 

Easy made it clear from the beginning that he strongly believed that abortion was a sin and that his religious faith shaped his belief. His opinions were just as strong as Madeline's, yet he didn't demand that she agree with him, sabotage the case, or do anything else that was ethically questionable.

A Difficult Conversation - Proven Innocent

Instead, Easy wrestled with the big questions of how to fight for justice for a woman who was being punished unfairly even though he was uncomfortable with the possibility that she had an abortion.

It was an important message for viewers on both sides of the abortion debate.

A side effect of the polarization in the US political climate in 2019 is this tendency to label everyone who is on the other side of the political spectrum as evil and corrupt. But Easy was an example of a conservative who is neither of those things.

He wasn't ever going to give up his pro-life views, and Maddie accepted that even though she didn't like it. But his conversation with his pastor provided a strong example of how compassionate conservatism works.

I'm really torn up about this case. I hate the facts of it. But then the hearings are so unfair. The judge can't look past his own bias.

Easy

Easy's conversation with his pastor was one of my favorite parts of "The Shame Game." I loved how he was able to reconcile his faith-based morality with his job and find compassion for a woman with values with which he fundamentally disagreed.

And it was icing on the cake that he was then able to use his faith as an area of common ground with Sarah to help her see that she deserved to be set free.

Easy: We are both people of faith. Maybe God isn't punishing you. Maybe He wants you to represent your religion to a country that hates you. Maybe He wants you to be a symbol of freedom.
Sarah: You really think so?
Easy: In my religion, we have a saying, Lord works in mysterious ways.
Sarah: We say Allahu A'alam That means Allah knoweth.

Only Easy could have got through to her, proving that there is not only room for, but a need for, diverse points of view on the legal team.

Meeting With Another Culture - Proven Innocent

The case itself was fascinating because it was very complex.

Maddie saw it as a clear case of racial bias in the legal system, and she was likely right, but that was far from the only issue involved in Sarah's conviction.

Related: Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 2 Review

The cultural and religious expectations Sarah was grappling with and her desire to protect her ex-boyfriend from further harm strongly influenced her choices, both during her pregnancy and after her arrest, and she was so convinced that helping her would ruin Ben's life that she tried to fire her legal team.

What's Bellows Up To? - Proven Innocent

And then there were the political considerations.

The plea bargain Maddie suggested was the fairest solution to the problem, but the Deputy Prosecutor wouldn't do it until she had no other choice.

Unlike Bellows, this prosecutor wasn't looking to score points with wrongful convictions, but she didn't want the judge to make her life miserable next time she stood before him.

And the judge was so wrapped up in his own beliefs about abortion that he couldn't see past them to rule justly.

He claimed that his only concern was the letter of the law, yet he ruled against a new trial because he believed abortion was wrong and should be illegal even though the procedure isn't against the law.

If the Deputy Prosecutor hadn't finally decided to put justice ahead of her career, the Proven Innocent team would have lost for the first time.

I do not doubt that Maddie would have taken it up to the Supreme Court, though whether she would have won there is anyone's guess, considering the make-up of the real-life Supreme Court when it comes to abortion issues.

Anyway, I'm glad it didn't come to that and victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat!

Burning a Photo - Proven Innocent

Bellows' story was interesting. I almost felt sorry for him even though he and Isabel had just done something horrible to that senator who didn't want to support the bill.

Isabel: Rosemary Lynch is never going to go away.
Bellows: All I ever wanted to do was get justice for that poor girl and her parents. Now she's going to haunt me for the rest of my days.

His belief that he wanted to get justice for the Lynches and failed is genuine, and that's what makes him so scary. He's convinced he's right and will do anything, no matter how dirty, to serve what he thinks is a noble end.

I'm not sure what was up with him burning that photo. Was he trying to rid himself of Rosemary's ghost or destroy evidence that would exonerate Maddie? Or both?

Taking a Pill Bottle - Proven Innocent

There wasn't much movement on the Rosemary mystery story, but at least no new reasons to suspect Levi popped up.

Heather and Brian continue to be as suspicious as they are obnoxious. I'm not sure what the Adderall has to do with Rosemary's death. It could be a giant red herring, or it could mean something that'll make sense later. I can't wait to find out!

As a gentleman I won't ask, but as a pervert I gotta know everything.

Bodie

The one thing I could have done without was the Bodie/Castro sideline.

I'm not invested in this relationship.

So far, Castro's got her way about it being nothing but booty calls 90% of the time. Bodie's sadness about that does nothing for me because I have no idea who Castro is other than a cop who likes to get kinky with him and no real reason to care about her.

Related: Get True Crime Files by ID via Prime Video Channels for Over 1,000 Real-life Mystery & Suspense Shows!

Besides, her diatribe about how Bodie was probably putting rapists and murderers out on the street irritated me.

Opponents of criminal justice reform always jump to rape and murder even though people convicted of those types of crimes comprise a small minority of the prison population.

It's irritating and derails the debate, and Castro pulling that card was annoying.

Are Things Going Bellows' Way? - Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 4

And her pulling Bodie over so she could have another quickie made her look wishy-washy as well as suggest she's just using him for sex -- and he's letting her go along with it.

So how about this relationship ends as quickly as it began?

Speaking of relationships, what was up with that kiss at the end?

My limited understanding is that jail visiting rooms get monitored and physical contact of that nature is forbidden, but that doesn't matter. I want to know more about this woman and her connection to Maddie.

I'd rather see more of that and less of this reporter who is probably playing her -- unless, of course, he falls for her for real and screws his boss over instead.

You can watch Proven Innocent online and then please weigh in with your thoughts, below!!

The Shame Game Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (7 Votes)

Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 4 Quotes

Hey, I know you're pro-life, but this is a religious bias case. A white woman never would have been charged with this. Fetuses are found in trash cans a lot, sadly, but the women are always charged with improper disposal of a fetus. Never murder. Never!

Maddie

Madeline: To this day, I can't believe the judge made her sit in court like that.
Man: The judge did everything he could to show his disdain for her.
Easy: Why do you want us to take over her appeal for you?
Man: The only reason they tried her for both murder and feticide is because she's Muslim.