Episode 8 of American Rust begins with Grace talking to the warehouse employees. The union vote is coming up and she implores all of them to vote in favour of this. With fundamental workers’ rights on the table, Grace gives an impassioned speech about taking control of their lives and voting for their own livelihood.
Meanwhile, Billy finds himself invited to head over and use the weights in the yard by a shady guy called Jerry. He also meets his associate Milo, who just so happens to sport a swastika tattoo on his wrist. Unfortunately Billy is getting mixed up with the wrong crowd and with little choice, finds himself the pawn for these Neo-Nazis. They even give him an assassination target, along with a weapon too.
When Grace heads in to see Billy during visitation, she’s shocked to find her son a bruised, broken mess. Billy brushes off the idea of seeing a doctor and lies, claiming it was just a little fight and he’s okay. However, Grace’s concerns stretch across to his lawyer, Rachel. Billy has been defiant in not seeing her but now, face to face with his mother, she makes him promise to see her.
Back at the office, Harris hits out at Steve Park for busting a guy who was dealing to a couple of construction workers over on Swan Boulevard. They’re getting close, overseen by Deluca of course, and Harris is worried. With the baggies not even sent over for testing, Harris tries desperately to speak his case but it’s an uphill battle.
Compounding to his stress, the drugs in Trent Tisdell’s toxicology screen were a direct match with the couple who ODed, Melanie and Tom, which only strengthens the case. That’s good right? Well, not for Harris. Of course, if this guy testifies then it’s likely that Billy’s name will come up and that will be game over for the Poe family. Harris begins to doubt himself and eventually skips out midway through meeting Grace in the morning.
Back in prison, Billy snitches on the inmates (known as the Aryans) and messes with their plan. When he’s thrown into isolation, one of the security guards, Robinson, warns that Billy has got a massive bullseye painted on his back after what he’s pulled. This fighting also doesn’t look good for Billy’s prospects of getting out of jail.
With two fights to his name, Billy’s meeting with Rachel only reinforces these fears. Realizing he’s facing the barrel of a gun, and he could be looking at life imprisonment, tears begin running down his cheeks. With Lee watching from the corner of the room, Billy makes his choice and decides to continue protecting Isaac, walking away and back into jail.
Isaac finds himself in Nebraska, with no backpack, all of his belongings gone and hitching out with a guy called Nate, who picked him up last episode. The two get along well – really well in fact. They wind up sleeping together and wake up in the same bed. When they do, Isaac talks about his broken family home, and how Henry is a “bitter old man.”
Meanwhile, the Union vote comes back and they’re left with less than 30% voting in favour of unionizing. Grace is livid when she finds out (just after learning about Billy snubbing Rachel no less) and decides she’s no longer going to be playing by the rules.
That evening, she lights the house on fire and makes it out that it was an arson attack. In the wake of this, Grace moves in with Harris and the pair cling to one another, forced into this situation as Grace throws herself at the officer and promises she’ll do anything for him…if he’ll do anything for her. As they embrace, Harris admits that he knows where Bobby Jesus is.
If you’ll remember, earlier in the episode Harris spooked out Jackson at the pharmacy, claiming it’s only a matter of time before they link the drugs back to the dealer – that being Jackson. Afraid, he heads off to speak to Bobby, who tried to calm him down.
Now, for most of this second-half run of American Rust, Isaac has felt like a spare part. He’s still haunted by his past and checking the news brings it all back. With Billy facing life in prison, he breaks down into tears. As he sits with Nate, Isaac reveals all. Isaac was the one who killed the officer, not Billy. So now Isaac is left with a big decision – does he own up to the murder and face life in prison, or does he leave Billy to his fate?
The Episode Review
The penultimate episode of American Rust tightens the screw as everything looks set to blow up in the season finale. This chapter rounds out some of the subplots we’ve been dealing with across the show too, including Isaac running away from his problems and Grace’s unionization.
The latter ends up short so she forces her hand to stay with Harris. Given she’s coerced Harris into playing dirty, it would appear as if she’s given the officer the greenlight to kill Bobby in order to cover for Billy. But will Isaac come through in the end?
This whole incident with Nate essentially works to show how far he’s come – and how much the past is still weighing heavily over him. Despite running, he can’t outrun the shadows of the past and right now he’s faced with the prospect of his best friend taking the fall for him. Will Isaac be able to live with Billy spending his life behind bars for something he hasn’t done? I’m not convinced.
It would seem like we’re gearing up for Billy being let out of prison in place of Isaac admitting everything but we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out. For now, the episode comes to a close with an ominous sign that everything is going to blow up in a big way. Next week’s finale is going to be an unmissable episode!