Accused – Season 1 Episode 10 “Esme’s Story” Recap & Review

Esme’s Story

Episode 10 of Accused has a little twist to the strained history and contemporary fractures in racial relations in America. The subject matter is completely new and revolves around Esme (Abigail Bresnan), a routine white girl who becomes an unwilling participant in uncovering a blatant act of racism by a white supremacist group.

Esme and Aaliyah are partners. On a fine Sunday while in a flea market, they come across a protest by a white supremacist group advocating for “whitewashing America.” All of a sudden, a car rams into the people who retaliate against the protest. The couple’s friend, Jordan, is severely hurt and will spend the rest of his life in a body cast. Aaliyah is not prepared to let it go and poses as a white supremacist to dupe a genuine bigot.

On Esme’s behest, she agrees to stop. Their relationship is back on track. But when Esme learns Aaliyah is still in contact with “88” (his social media handle), she gets very upset. Shockingly, Aaliyah says that the man is standing outside their building. He has probably tracked her IP address (which he later confirms). The best thing she comes up with is sending Esme pretending to be “White Future” (the handle Aaliyah used). The man asks Esme for a drink and she goes to a bar.

Their conversation revolves around the supposed mutually shared hate for other races. Esme disturbingly discovers that Aaliyah has used all personal details of her life – like visiting the bigoted summer camp Holy Waters – to woo the man. Esme uses the experience of her father, who was also a supremacist, to go through the rest of the conversation. She comes home and informs the police. The cop who comes to their house asks Esme not to “play detective” and stay away.

Esme is shocked that the police aren’t taking it seriously. In the present day, we see that Esme is being spat on by another supremacist prisoner and learn that Esme has rejected the Prosecutor’s plea where she gets off by pleading guilty to second-degree murder. In the past, Esme has continued her conversation with 88, who has invited her to their group’s compound. Aaliyah is worried. Esme says she feels guilty for what her family stood for in her childhood. That had a traumatic impact on her. Now, she feels she can make a difference and this is her redemption.

A different man shows up in the car, probably the leader of the group. He interrogates Esme and makes it clear he is suspicious. Esme stands up for herself and salvages the situation. She gets in his car and leaves. 88 meets Esme there. Quite smartly and ironically, Esme uses all her experience growing up with and going through the racist hate around her in Tennessee to bond with 88’s peers. The supposed leader once again watches Esme through the window and realizes something. He calls 88 for some work, who says “we are planning something big.”

Esme explores the property. Below a Nazi flag, she finds the car from the rally day with a broken windshield. She is stunned and calls Aaliyah. The supposed leader walks in from behind and he takes her phone, asking her to put in the passcode.

The man sees a photo of Aaliyah and Esme together and slaps her. He ties Esme up and texts Aaliyah, pretending to be Esme and claiming that she is fine. The man says he recognized her from the rally, as he reveals that he was the driver of the car. 88 asks him to let Esme go as the police would be looking for “a white girl if she went missing.”

When the man won’t budge, 88 attacks him and Esme frees herself. She gets into the car and escapes the compound. Esme informs Aaliyah and asks her to call the police. Thankfully, when she reaches her house the police are already there. As the police inspect the car, they find a bomb placed in the boot. It explodes before anyone can distance themselves.

At the compound, the police do not find credible evidence, as it turns out the property belongs to an old man who had no idea people were squatting there. Esme has been clearly set up.

Esme finds her target sheet from when she fired a gun at the property. It reads “Equalizer Guns & Ammo.” She lies to Aaliyah about going to Equalizer but Aaliyah finds outand then Esme tells another lie. She sits outside Equalizer for more than two days. Aaliyah is extremely worried and is determined to be with Esme.

One night, Esme finally sees the man and 88 walk into the gun range. She reports it to Aaliyah. Esme says the police won’t do anything and she “cannot let them get away.” Aaliyah pleads with Esme to come back but she is determined.

She runs her car over the two men. At the trial, Aaliyah testifies against Esme. After the judge threatens to hold her in contempt, Aaliyah starts speaking but she does not say the truth. She expresses her heartbreak over what Esme did and how scared she is to lose Esme. We do not hear the decision of the jury but see Esme being taken away, presumably after being found guilty. She looks into the camera with tears in her eyes, silently staring into her longingness for your judgment.

The Episode Review

Episode 10 of Accused is a conundrum to comment upon. It was such a compelling mix of mediocrity and shades of brilliance that most of us will remain undecided. Its plotline definitely reminded us of the David Washington and Driver movie, BlacKkKlansman.  One thing that is quite clear by now is that Accused touches upon serious subjects but the elevating nuance is missing.

Without that element, mostly all episodes are at the risk of becoming cliched potboilers. Episode 10 does not make a definitive statement, even though it seemed like it was lining up to. And that is the frustrating part. The makers do not stay true to what they set out to achieve initially with their bold ideas.

One must commend the effort put in by Bresnan. She was quite phenomenal as Esme and perfectly fit the profile. Once again, Accused came close to cracking the code. It does leave behind some intriguing questions but does nothing to nudge us in a presumptive right direction, not because of choice but perhaps fear.

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2 thoughts on “Accused – Season 1 Episode 10 “Esme’s Story” Recap & Review”

  1. Andrew, the prosecutor said that something like “two people are dead, and two other people who were planning to spend their lives together never will,” referring to Esme and Aaliyah.

  2. At the end of the episode, the prosecutor says that she ended the lives of two people planning to build a life together. Is the show saying that the white supremists were gay?

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