One of the greatest shows currently on FX Networks depicts a visual timeline of the crack epidemic in the 80s. From start to finish, John Singleton left the world with an insightful work of art. Many angles can be taken from this series but one theme remains consistent every season: trauma.
Here’s a quick synopsis of the show’s initial plot from its first season: Franklin Saint is the main character (and future kingpin) who drops his college courses due to the institution’s financial error. Saint still needs to support himself and his mother. Then crack cocaine presents a high-earning opportunity. This is how the cycle begins.
Creators of the show made sure to include everyone’s role in it, even the U.S. government. Snowfall illustrates the destruction of community cannot be pinned to one or a few individuals. Rather a cycle must develop to build a system around it. Each individual is a victim and no one comes out unscathed. The bigger picture lets viewers see exactly how a structure (community) can erupt from integration of another (cocaine enterprise). In the details, viewers see windows of choices each character makes based on low resources, and consequently, morale. The show is truly riveting once you get past season two (sorry, John).
One of this season’s storylines follow the murder of a little girl which leads to a road of fatal violence. Her mother hunts down the killer to avenge her daughter’s death. As she goes down this path more people are killed, and ultimately she is too.
In an attempt to break the cycle of on-going murder, or jungle justice as some can see it, Leon takes responsibility. He tries to reason with the mother of the little girl he unintentionally kills. But Khadijah makes it clear forgiveness is off the table. Then she is killed. Greed and arrogance drives her brother, Man Boy, to blackmail Franklin’s lover for his distributor. He also faces death. The last surviving member of their family, Skully, decides to seek revenge after he finds Khadijah in the morgue. A shoot-out occurs and Skully gets injured. It’s not yet revealed whether he succumbs to the injury. But he is the last member of a dying family. An entire lineage gone.
Creators of the show were gracious enough to dissect complex social issues and create a fictional masterpiece. Much can be learned and interpreted to imagine new ways of living. So we listed potential ideas based on each character’s hamartia:
One of the characters, Teddy, plays the double-sided CIA Agent and cocaine plug to Franklin Saint. He is the main antagonist in the series because he will do anything at anyone’s expense to reach his objective. That is dangerous and sociopathic. If Drake’s “cutting all loose ends, I’ll be the barber for free” was a person, it would be Teddy. Even when a person is no longer a threat, he is there to take them out (let’s hope Alton is alive).
2.) Courage and accountability.
The ending of this season features Melody Wright, a previous love-interest to Franklin Saint. After they crossed paths in adulthood witnesses an entire demise to her family. In the final episode, she begs Franklin to admit he killed her father. Melody subconsciously knows the truth, but doesn’t have any proof. Now she seeks peace of mind. Franklin decides to leave her question unanswered. A cowardice move. It would require a great extent of consequences to receive accountability from Franklin, or he could have been courageous. If he told Melody the truth it would confirm her theory and provide closure to her father’s death.
There is a scene where Leon confronts the mother of the little girl he killed. He acknowledges his role in the murder and displays empathy, courage, and atonement for his actions. Leon seeks a resolution to the matter. Unfortunately and understandably so, Khadijah rejects his sentimental offer. Then Jerome kills her.
Forgiveness can vary in definition from person to person. But the result is always the same, let go. It’s to release the pain, suffering, or resentment of the wound inflicted from a person or group. Although it is arguably unfair to ask the mother of a deceased child to forgive the murderer. In the end, it could have saved many lives.
Snowfall demonstrates a collision of two systems that develop interconnected cycles of trauma, murder, addiction, and apathy. These unhealthy habits exemplify the ripple effect it creates amongst a community and within society. This season invites the idea of forgiveness as a way to end cyclical trauma and help replace a carceral state. Otherwise, mass destruction continues.