Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Cross to Bear

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Criminal defense attorneys often take the stand that even personally repulsive clients deserve adequate representation. The idea is that either rights are for everybody or they're for nobody.

But what happens if that client shows signs of hating you and all the people like you?

Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 5 explored how messy the fight for justice can get when the client in question is not a marginalized person who was convicted because of prejudice but is instead someone who has fanned the flames of hate for years -- all without getting preachy or letting an agenda drive the story.

(TALL) An Uncomfortable Case - Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 5

There was so much compelling story here that it's hard to know where to begin!

Easy once again found himself caught between his value system and his chosen obligation to defend the innocent, but even his dilemma wasn't as interesting as Violet's reaction.

Violet is far more than just the podcast host. She's a valued member of the team and a friend. And like many people of color, she, unfortunately, has an ugly story or two in her past that her friends never knew.

You know what happened to the guys who gave us the nooses? Absolutely nothing. So if you're going to tell me to drop the attitude, the least you could do is understand why I have one.

Violet [on podcast]

Violet clearly is not defined by that story. She is a strong woman who says what she thinks in front of the whole world on her podcast. But that doesn't mean her story isn't part of her, and what happened to her was horrible.

She was right to be angry -- nobody was listening to her and Maddie was so focused on getting a crooked cop off the streets that she didn't care that Ronnie's behavior had hurt millions of people even if he hadn't been the one who set a fatal bomb in a synagogue.

Related: Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 4 Review

She didn't hold that against Maddie. In the end, she realized Maddie couldn't know the kind of pain Violet lived with every day and was willing to share her story with her in the hopes of spreading understanding.

If we listen to our enemies' point of view, we can learn something about each other. So please, guys, don't stop having these conversations, even if it's difficult.


That's a point that so often gets lost when discussing race relations or other serious issues.

While members of marginalized communities don't have any obligation to educate more privileged people about their difficulties, sometimes well-intentioned people aren't going to get it on their own.

Violet understood that and was willing and able to engage with Maddie so that she could get her to understand. Giving her a private podcast was a brilliant way for her to get her point across. 

It was a medium that Violet knows well and is comfortable with, and Maddie got the message.

Violet is Skeptical - Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 5

Violet's anger also made sense when it came to Easy.

I liked that she didn't focus on him as a fellow person of color, but instead on the fact that he found it harder to defend a woman accused of an illegal abortion than to defend a white supremacist.

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't touch this case. It's the wrongfully convicted part that gets me.


That underscored the sense of betrayal she felt without her making it explicitly about how black people "should" behave. 

That stopped this conflict from going into well-worn territory about people of color getting stuck between their loyalty to their community and their loyalty to their jobs. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Chicago PD,)

Easy: Being a hothead doesn't change the world.
Violet: He calls us the N word and burns crosses on people's lawns, but I'm the hothead?

There's nothing wrong with those kinds of stories, but when it's all any black man who works within the legal system deals with on TV, it can make it seem like that's all there is to his character.

Kudos to Proven Innocent for making Easy more complicated than that!

Can Easy Stomach This Case? - Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 5

Easy's latest argument with his son was the best scene of the hour for this reason.

Fourteen-year-olds are excellent at zeroing in on their parents' perceived hypocrisies, and Michael was no exception. He saw his misbehavior as justified, as being a way to fight against a system that his father seemed to be trying to keep in place.

I liked that Easy stayed calm and didn't get into a heated argument with Michael, which would have done no one any good. I also enjoyed the parallels between this scene and his goodbye scene with Ronnie.

Easy didn't only keep fighting for Ronnie out of a sense of justice. He also wanted to put the principle of "love your enemies" into practice, in the hopes that it would make Ronnie question his prejudices.

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

Was Easy's approach right? I don't know. But it fit both his religious beliefs and his character for him to try.

Another Press Conference - Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 5

Maddie made a huge sacrifice to get Bellows to play ball and get Falcone off the streets.

The only way to win was to play dirty. Falcone was so corrupt that he had a witness arrested on the courthouse steps -- a tactic Bellows surely approved of no matter what he said about wanting to get rid of Falcone.

Maddie started her crusade to get people's convictions overturned to stop Bellows' ascension of power, but now she's given him a possible victory at the ballot box. I can't wait to see how this is going to play out as the season progresses!

Related: Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 1 Review

Bodie using Castro to get the info he needed to put Falcone away was somewhat sleazy. But if it ends this relationship on top of ending Falcone's reign of terror, it's worth it!

Castro never wanted to commit to him anyway and continuously tells him it's over, only to hook up with him again for sex.

I find nothing about her likable, and her efforts to use his interest in her to try to manipulate him out of working for Maddie need to go. Let's hope this is the last we've seen of her!

Figuring Out Her Theory - Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 5

Similarly, could Maddie see through this sleazy reporter she's dating already?

I'm not sure she doesn't since she keeps having hook-ups with her ex in prison. But then she fell for his baloney about how he lied about how into her he is, leaving me confused.

I'm going to need him to get caught up in the soap opera trope of falling hard for someone you're trying to play for info, and soon.

I can't stand strong, passionate Maddie getting taken advantage of by some unscrupulous reporter whose name I haven't been able to catch in five episodes!

Trying to Intimidate - Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 5

Proven Innocent's been doing a great job of making Bellows a three-dimensional villain. 

He believes in what he's doing, so much so that he almost threw away the chance to screw over Miller in the campaign so that he wouldn't have to put a white supremacist back on the street.

Part of that was political calculation, I'm sure, but there was a certain courage of his conviction there that was attractive.

Bellows does wholly wrong and disgusting things out of principle, which makes him more compelling a character than the villains occupying screens elsewhere who are just bad for the sake of being bad.

The Team Talks to Someone - Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 5

Finally, some movement on the Rosemary investigation!

I knew Levi wasn't guilty,  but the way he came at Toby was never going to yield answers.

And now we'll never get any -- not from Toby, anyway. He's dead.

Does anyone have any idea what he was hiding? I'm sure he wasn't the murderer. It's far too early in the story for that.

What did you think, Proven Innocent fanatics?

Did Maddie just hand Bellows the election on a silver platter, and was it the right choice?

Was Easy right to take the case at all?

And what do you think Toby was hiding that drove him to suicide?

Watch Proven Innocent online and then hit the comments to share your thoughts!

Proven Innocent continues to air on FOX Fridays at 9 EST/PST.

Cross to Bear Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (6 Votes)

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.

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Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 5 Quotes

Easy: You want to start a war?
Maddie: We're already fighting a war. Let's win it.

Maddie: You know, I'll deny I ever said it, but a part of me -- a very small part of me -- relaxes in here.
Easy: Yeah, it's like Tahiti, only without the everything.
Maddie: The iron bars, the rules and regulations... it's familiar.