Forgive Us Our Trespass
Episode 3 of American Rust Season 1 starts with Pete Novick’s body being examined. As the autopsy gets underway, bags of evidence are collected as we await our answers. One thing’s for sure, the cause of death is definitely a homicide. But who’s responsible?
When Del shows up, he learns that Novick died from blunt force trauma to the back of the head. It’s doubtful that he fell and it would appear like he was struck in the head. Novick was punched first though and the rust particles in his skull could well hint at something rusty. His toxicology report is a mess too, reinforcing that he was a long-term drug user.
With Novick released from his duties six months prior to this attack, fingers point at Del Harris for keeping Novick on his team. He’s not exactly happy with Herlitz, eventually heads off to bring Novick’s belongings back to his family.
Drugs have very clearly ravaged their family and when Del shows up to give Pam his things, she scoffs at him keeping their ring. This trip also has an ulterior motive cor Del, intent on finding out who the bearded man hanging out with Novick was. In order to do that, he wants to check Pete’s phone. Pam is not exactly compliant though and she mentions bitterly just how badly Pete spiraled out of control after being fired.
Del eventually questions Carl, learning that the man with Pete is called Bobby and he’s actually a dealer. He also frequents a club in town too. When Del shows up, a chase ensues as Bobby skips out the backroom and hurries down an alley. Unfortunately the two officers lose him. This single act is enough for our bearded dealer to shave completely and try to hide his appearance.
Meanwhile, Isaac skips town and hops aboard a moving train to parts unknown. While he does, Lee opens an envelope he’s left behind, paying Henry back for the money he’s taken. Upstairs, Lee phones Ale. With Isaac on the run and Henry in a rough way, Ale is understanding and encourages her to stay for the time being and use his credit card if she needs it.
Lee eventually rings Billy, telling him the kiss was a mistake and to avoid her. After hanging up, Henry collapses in the bathroom. With Lee busy, Billy gets mixed up in the humdrum of everyday life, working and eking out a living. Of course, that’s not exactly easy to do when he’s reminded of his promising career in football. Eventually he makes a big decision and decides to apply for a coaching role.
That evening, under the dancing flames of a campfire, Del and Grace talk about the former’s choice to come to Buell. A big case Del was working out actually happened to be the catalyst for his decision to skip out and shack up in this small town.
Del was in charge of a particularly nasty case involving an 8 year old with hickeys up and down his body – 14 in total. The DA charged his English teacher with assault but when the boy arrived in court to testify, he froze. It turns out this guy brought his wife in to turn on the waterworks. Her tears were enough for him to freeze up. And seeing the teacher touch his wife made him urinate in fear.
With no verbal statement, the trial closed and justice was not served. The English teacher got away scot-free, able to continue abusing. Del’s fellow officers took matters into their own hands and ended up killing him. The “bad one who got away”. Del could have refused to join them but he didn’t, and this forms the crux of the guilt that’s been consuming him.
This also explains why Del is so invested in this case too, given it includes several boys who are just as helpless. Obviously it doesn’t excuse him for hiding evidence but it seems he’s trying to make amends for what’s happened in the past.
At the police station, Bobby rings and tells the officers he has information regarding Pete Novick. He saw a 21 year old get involved in a heated argument and there was definite yelling too. Whoever this kid was, he smacked Pete in the face but also knocked out Bobby too, driving him to thee ground. And that kid? Billy Poe. According to Bobby, it wasn’t Isaac after all.
As Bobby hangs up, driving across the border and tossing his SIM, we cut across to Billy who answers the door to Lee. The pair succumb to their urges and end up making love.
The Episode Review
After several slow chapters, American Rust actually starts to dive into more of our ensemble without any wedding distractions to obfuscate this murder mystery. And it works beautiful..
From start to finish this chapter does an excellent job developing the case, with it now clear that Pete Novick was attacked from behind, his associate Bobby also knocked out and Billy allegedly the one responsible. But could Bobby be lying? We’ll have to wait before finding out the true story but this chapter does well to actually flesh out more of the details surrounding the Mill murder.
In terms of character depth though, nowhere else is that clearer than with Del Harris. He’s obviously going through a pretty helacious ordeal, with his own values and oath to the police system called into question. However, it’s very clear that this case that consumed his past is a regretful one, and given it includes a child too, makes it that much tougher to stomach.
With Isaac now gone and all eyes on Billy, it would seem like time is running out for the Poe family. Can Del figure out what really happened before it’s too late?