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'The Divide' recap: Picking up the pieces after Bankowski's execution

Season 1 | Episode 3 | “Facts Are the Enemy” | Aired July 23, 2014

The last we saw of The Divide‘s three principals—Innocence Initiative caseworker-by-day/barmaid-by-night Christina Rosa, her boss Clark Rylance and Philadelphia District Attorney Adam Page—they were huddled together, contemplating the likely fallout following the execution of an innocent man.

After taking on the case of Jared Bankowski, sentenced to death for massacring the Butler family, Rosa and Rylance were able to obtain Bankowski’s DNA for a retest, hoping it would exonerate him. Viewers waiting for an eleventh-hour reveal that the test came back negative were shocked to see Bankowski’s execution play out—and for the test to come back negative after the fact.

Episode 3 begins with the Cervantes quote “Facts are the enemy of truth” and picks up immediately after the threesome’s decision to work in tandem—Rosa and Rylance focus on interviewing Bankowski’s accomplice, Terry Kucik, while D.A. Page turns his attention back to Jenny Butler, the only surviving member of crime and a sort of surrogate daughter to Page and his wife, Billie.

The interview with Kucik goes just as planned, which is to say that Kucik, jittery and a tad paranoid after surviving an attempt on his life, refuses to talk. “They got people in here. They got people everywhere,” he says, before scribbling a name on a notepad: Eric Zale.

We learn a tad more about Jenny as well: She has repressed most of her memory from that horrific day and has been seeing someone with hopes of unlocking some of what was lost.

After Rosa and Rylance get back to the office, Rylance pretty much orders his underling to go home and not focus her attention on the Zale family. Apparently, Eric Zale’s father is a bigwig in Philly, “the richest conservative in the state.” In what is the episode’s signature line, Rylance explains: “Do you know what happens when people like us go after men like him without legal protection or proof? We wind up covered in lye, with no teeth and no fingerprints. Or worse, they just shut us down and take away our funds.” The banter here between Rosa and Rylance is supreme, and let’s hope it becomes a show signature.

Of course, Rosa being Rosa, she won’t accept any of this. So instead of studying for her bar exam, she goes to visit Kucik’s mother (Vickie Papavs) and father (Aiden Devine), who seem to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum as to how they take Rosa’s announcement that her organization is working to free their son (the mother is ecstatic; the father, not so much).

Krucik, meanwhile, gets reproached by the Aryan Brotherhood member who lent a hand while he was recuperating from his attack and offers protection. Kucik, convinced he’ll be out soon, keeps him at bay, but his situation worsens when—in this episode’s sole shock moment—his protector has his throat slit in plain sight.

Page and his wife accompany Jenny to therapy, where some of her memories are cleared up. She comes to the conclusion that Bankowski was in fact not there to hurt her, but to warn and help her.  Earlier, Page put in a request to get all of the DNA retested with hopes that it would clear more of the confusion.

Scripted by co-creator Richard LaGravenese (from a story by Bethesda Brown and Get-Excited-Divide-210x140LaGravenese) and directed by feature filmmaker Allison Anders (the Sundance fave Gas Food Lodging), this episode beautifully capitalizes on all that was set up by the preceding two. There was nary a dull moment here; the action moves swiftly from one thread to the next as the Bankowski case is slowly unraveled.

What makes The Divide stand apart from other stories of this ilk is how it begins where most others end: With Bankowski becoming the “first man to be executed in Pennsylvania in the 21st century,” The Divide now must work backward to clear his name post-execution and exonerate his accomplice. It’s this angle—one that WE tv coyly kept hidden in their promos—that makes this show unique and filled with potential.

Aside from the “A” plot, it was the little things that made this episode so great. First off, we learned a little bit more about Billie (which means we got to see more of Nia Long—always a good thing) by seeing her in action in the courtroom, not to mention having to deal with a little domestic issue involving her brother. When we meet Bobby, a ne’er-do-well who skipped his court appearance, I was ecstatic to see him played by Reg E. Cathay from House of Cards. Yet another great addition to an already rich cast.

Other highlights of this episode: a great scene between Page and his father, down with the flu, that is more telling in terms of Bankowski’s case than one would originally think; Jenny coming to terms with Bankowski’s innocence—and the added burden she now carries (Britne Oldford is superb in this episode—with the majority of her acting coming through her eyes); and a cute scene between Jenny and the Page’s son, which may hint at something more.

Bookended with sequences involving crosscutting the Rosa-Rylance-Kucik/Page-Jenny interrogations, episode 3 ends with a nicely played bombshell delivered by Page, realizing he probably never brought the actual killer to trial (I swear, Damon Gupton just might have the best scowl on television): “I have to tell you something and … it’s gonna change things between us.”

Bring on episode 4.

The Divide airs Wednesdays at 9/8C on WE tv.

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