And the fallout begins.
American Crime left viewers stunned last week when episode seven ended with a moment we all hoped was never coming: Taylor (Connor Jessup), the young man at the center of the ABC drama's alleged male-on-male assault case, feeling helpless and alone, shot one of his tormentors, Wes (Michael Seitz), on school grounds. It was horrifying. It was heartbreaking. And it was one of the best episodes of TV to air in recent history.
For most shows, that would've been the season finale; for American Crime, it's just the beginning of the end, with three episodes left to show how this will impact each and every character on the show in surprising, intense and realistic ways.
"I think the next three episodes, obviously, are fundamentally different than the ones that came before," star Jessup tells E! News. "The cast and people's relationships take on a totally new dynamic, but it's not a different show. It's still the same issues, it just brings up more issues. The question of was he assaulted, was it Eric, to what degree was he responsible, it's still there, they just take on a significantly more morbid appearance. It's less about a new crime appearing than the most extreme result of the previous one."
Though the alleged assault of Taylor was the match that ignited the entire season, we've yet to see a scene between Jessup and Joey Pollari, who plays Eric, the basketball star Taylor alleges assaulted him at a party. It was a creative choice by creator John Ridley that's surprised fans, and initially even surprised Jessup and Pollari, who were roommates while filming in Austin.
"We lived together, so from the beginning of the show, we were like surely, at some point we're going to have a scene together and then we're going to have to come home from that and deal with it while living together," Jessup says. "But it never really happened."
But Jessup actually likes that the two young men didn't share a scene together, explaining, "I admire John's restraint because that's the clear path of melodrama. The path of least resistance to melodrama would be a confrontation between Eric and Taylor. But in many ways, they have been separated by a system and their families and going forward from seven, they're even more separated by an even more intense system. It's a commitment to realism that I really admire."
Still, Jessup views the second season as "a little bit of A Tale of Two Cities, with Eric and Taylor," noting that, despite their different circumstances and actions, "There's an enormous amount of parallels in their confusion, in how people treat them and how they're feeling and the things they have to confront and overcome," which will continue throughout the end of the season.
"They're really walking down parallel paths, and that has been the way since episode one and it continues to episode 10," he says. "John's commitment to that…it really wasn't until I read episode 10 that that dawned on me. And it really…the way the season ends really puts an accent on that."
American Crime airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.