Ingredients: one white rookie narcotics officer, one 15-year-old black boy on a bicycle, three dirty New Jersey narcs and one alcoholic, apathetic assistant prosecutor.
Place ingredients in a dark setting, sprinkle liberally with anxiety and tension then simmer for about an hour.
Finally add a dash of snow and let sit until aromatic with injustice. Voila! Enjoy the pilot of Netflix’s new original series “Seven Seconds” created by Veena Sud.
Racial tensions are already high between white police and the black and brown communities in New Jersey. Hip-hop music bumps in the projects, drugs are sold on the streets, and graffiti on the side of a building with the words “fuck the police” is all part of the short tour of the Jersey streets at the start of the episode.
This tension permeates throughout the pilot of this real-life crime drama.
The opening is beautiful and serene, covered in snow and surrounded by bare trees and brush. In comes the speeding off-duty police officer, Pete Jablonski (Beau Knapp), frantically attempting to reach his pregnant wife, dialing number after number on his cell while racing to the hospital.
During the opening credits sporadic shots show a young black boy, Brenton Butler, peddling furiously through a snowy Liberty State Park. Within the first five minutes tragedy strikes when these two collide in a manner that leaves the audience in the dark.
The accident is vague. The only evidence shown is a small spattering of blood on the undercarriage of Jablonski’s personal car and a crumpled BMX bike, wheels still spinning.
Both pieces of evidence are quickly tampered with by three narcotics officers in Jablonski’s unit. The officers act in such a way that the general public would expect stereotypical dirty cops to act in order to avoid crucifixion.
Through the rest of the show the audience is left in wonder, asking questions and receiving no answers. This parallels perfectly with the situation the victim’s family faces.
Latrice (Regina King) and Isaiah Butler (Russell Hornsby) have no idea what happened to their son. No one answers their questions. Drunken assistant prosecutor, KJ Harper (Clare-Hope Ashitey), does not even ask questions.
Perhaps that’s the reason she is chosen by the narcotics officers to strong arm into filing away this injustice.
The entire episode evokes question upon question. It is gut wrenching and wreaks of utter hopelessness. Jablonski is riddled with guilt and anger. The Butler’s are heart broken and flabbergasted. Miss Harper is on an alcoholic downward spiral.
“Seven Seconds” utilizes dark lighting, literal silence and mundane snow flocked geography of New Jersey to its advantage to heighten intensity and draw the audience in.
It is thick with anger, injustice and ambiguity in situations that call for answers. The viewer is put in an identical situation to the victim’s family. Netflix again snags its bingers hook, line and sinker.
Just as it seems all hope is lost, Miss Harper has a moment of clarity. Reality hits hard when she visits the blood bathed snow at the crime scene with lady liberty symbolically framed in the background.
“Seven Seconds” is a worthwhile, emotionally stirring and thought provoking must-see. Unfortunately, this show speaks to the reality of current American society.