I didn't think the Proven Innocent team would ever lose a case.
But they did, and Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 9 turned out to be the most heartbreaking story the show has given us yet.
The only question is which was sadder: Devon's unfair execution or Easy's realization that his old mentor had dementia.
The Judge Fry subplot was one of my favorites on any show, ever.
Memory loss and dementia have been done to death on TV, but this was one of the most realistic -- and most moving -- depictions I've ever seen.
This guy was Easy's mentor and a well-respected judge, but his memory difficulties were turning him into part of the problem. It showed that even the most well-intentioned people can contribute to injustice, sometimes for reasons beyond their control.
For Easy, the enemy here wasn't a heartless judge or a system stacked against his client. It was a judge who could no longer make rational decisions about the issues before him and was denying an innocent man freedom because of it.
The final scene between Easy and Judge Fry was emotional. It had to be so painful for Easy, who had loved and respected this man for such a long time, to confront him with these memory issues and convince him to step down from the bench.
Easy: Judge Fry is one of the best legal minds in the country and is highly respected. He's been overruled exactly twice in 32 years on the bench.
Daniel: But he's wrong this time.
Easy: I know. We just need to prove it.
Both actors played this perfectly.
Russell Hornsby Jr's barely restrained tears as Easy gently and lovingly guided the judge to see that his memory wasn't what it used to be made the scene all the more powerful.
And guest star Stephen Mckinley Henderson gave Fry the sense of dignity and personal honor he needed to make the right decision and end his career on a high note.
Judge Fry's decision to step down was supposed to be a victory, and for Daniel Hernandez it certainly was. He finally got the dismissal of his case and the freedom he deserved, while the real murderer went to jail.
But it was a bittersweet victory indeed because it meant that Judge Fry had to accept the loss of his cognitive abilities and step down. The speech he made when he decided to do so allowed him to leave the bench with as much honor as Fry had when he first became a judge, but it was sad nevertheless.
The Judge Fry storyline was more interesting than the case Easy was defending!
If the judge had been fully competent, this would have been a simple case, so it's not surprising that the case wasn't the most exciting one this show has featured.
I don't know about anyone else, but I figured out that Bob Calloway was the bad guy as soon as he showed up and started ushering Easy and Bodie out of the room.
At least both Fry and the defendant he was unfairly keeping in jail both survived this ordeal. Devon Watkins, on the other hand, did not, and I can't decide if I'm more sad or angry about that.
Davon Watkins is going to die in four days for a crime your boss committed. You used to be a DEA agent. You were one of the good guys. What the hell happened?Maddie
Getting the stay of execution was supposed to give Maddie and her team more time to finish proving Devon's innocence.
It sucks that he ended up dying not only because the witness who could clear him got murdered but because of the selfish actions of a state government that didn't want to waste money on unused lethal drugs.
Maddie: We failed him.
Bodie: The system failed him.
Easy: We are the system.
Devon was at peace with his death, but the team wasn't, and as a viewer, I certainly wasn't.
The judge wouldn't even hear Maddie's arguments before he shot them down, effectively signing Devon's death warrant by denying his final appeal.
It didn't matter what evidence Maddie had. It didn't matter how many witnesses she might have produced to help clear Devon's name.
Judge: Do you have any other witnesses?
Maddie: No, because they're all being murdered!
The judge had already decided he was tired of hearing death penalty appeals and he was going to deny them as fast as he could.
A man's life was at stake, a man whose legal team had more than enough evidence to reopen his case, and all the judge cared about was ending the appeal and going home.
And this is supposed to be justice?
When I was a child, my parents told me everything happens for a reason. It isn't right that our family teaches us that the world is good and right and fair. I'm trying but I just can't see the reason in an innocent man being put to death.Violet
Violet's tearful speech to her podcast viewers summed up my feelings perfectly. I was hurt, angry, and shocked. When I heard Devon, last seen on Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 7, was coming back, I expected his case to drag out over the rest of the season.
I certainly didn't expect him to die before the team could do anything for him!
Meanwhile, Bellows debated whether being pro-death penalty was good or bad for him politically.
I'm sure he believed that BS he said about most death penalty defendants being sociopaths who had no conscience and that he only supported the use of the penalty for truly guilty people.
But he's wrong about that. He still thinks Maddie is 100% guilty of a murder she didn't commit and she also is proving him wrong about other defendants he convicted week after week after week.
You know, I used to think life in prison is worse than death because you have to sit there every day, struggling with your guilty conscience over what you'd done. But then I realized most of the people who were there don't have any conscience.Bellows
Get over yourself, Bellows!
He's a great villain because he believes so strongly that he is RIGHT when he is not, and usually, I love to hate him.
But when he is literally playing with prisoners' lives -- the vast majority of which, as Bodie pointed out, are black men's lives -- I can't help but hate him. He chose to support the state-sanctioned murder of people who may or may not be innocent because he thinks it will play well to his voter base.
Regardless of what anyone feels about the death penalty, matters of life and death should never be used just to score political points, and that is exactly what he did.
Your turn, Proven Innocent Fanatics!
How many tissues did YOU go through during the hour?
Were you surprised Devon Watkins ended up dead?
And how emotional were Easy's scenes with his old mentor?
Watch Proven Innocent online and then give us your verdict in the comment box!
Proven Innocent continues to air on FOX on Fridays at 9 PM EST/PST.