The Hero’s Journey in “For Life”

The story of an innocent black man being imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit is a troubling tale that’s all too common in the United States. What happens when that same innocent man becomes a lawyer and fights to overturn a corrupt decision? Step forward ABC’s latest crime drama For Life. Loosely based on the true story of Isaac Wright Jr., For Life is a 13 episode drama that interweaves prison politics with one man’s crusade to fight injustice, one case at a time in the court-room.

With a combination of flashbacks, stand-alone bottle episodes and a consistent narrative that pushes forward to an exciting few chapters to close things out with, For Life is a consistently well written series. At the heart of this story lies Aaron Wallace, a man imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Deciding to become a lawyer and fight for justice on behalf of other inmates, the first half of the series follows Wallace as he builds up a portfolio of corrupt cases to use against Glen Maskins and his administration.

The midway point of the show shifts tactics slightly as wildcard Cassius Dawkins arrives at Belmont prison, bringing with him a whole world of trouble. From here, the series then ramps up the tension and delivers an exciting run toward the end of the first season with plenty of unanswered questions and the possibility of a second season to follow. 

As we get to know more of the prisoners and Wallace starts to represent them in court, one of For Life’s strengths comes from the way it accurately paints a picture of a fractured America; shining light on a corrupt justice system that becomes a central focus of this series.

There’s a lot of interesting themes explored right the way through the show and this, combined with some excellent acting from Nicholas Pinnock, make For Life a really enjoyable show. The characters are well written and there’s certainly some unexpected twists and turns along the way too that make this such an enthralling watch. On the same subject though, the ending does leave a lot of plot threads unanswered and the fate of some of the prisoners – including the aforementioned Cassius Dawkins – remains unknown.

For Life is a very solid watch though and there’s a consistency to the pacing that certainly rewards your patience with some decent episodes along the way. With lots of scope for a second season and plenty to enjoy during these 13 episodes, For Life is another enjoyable network offering.