Huge apologies for this review being a week late; I was inundated with multiple family emergencies and got completely distracted. My write up for yesterday’s episode will also be up within a day or two, so please bear with me. In the meantime, let’s get into the review!
Personal stakes and histories abound in season two episode six of Burden of Truth as the process of Luna’s trial barrels on despite mounting obstacles. It’s honestly a marvel that our characters have hung on this long without some kind of emotional breakdown, but it comes to a head this episode.
Manic Street Preacher opens with Owen practicing his testimony for trial with the Crown’s defence, whose name I should really remember but I really do not. We learn with excruciating reluctance on Owen’s part how the facts of the case are stacked against Luna – we also learn how deeply his and Gerrilyn’s history ran; they dated for nearly five years. It’s no wonder he cares for Luna as much as he does. Meegwun Fairbrother’s portrayal of Owen is one of the standouts for me this season. He does an amazing job of showcasing Owen’s struggle as both a police officer in a white town and an Indigenous man trying to protect his community.
This episode also marks the return of our hacktivist friends, Noah and Mara. They want advice from Joanna, or perhaps just permission to ignore a supposed government summons that they’re convinced actually came from Lovand. When she explains she can’t help them in the midst of Luna’s case, I was deeply annoyed that both Noah and Mara were completely unsympathetic and seemed upset at Joanna’s refusal. Similarly, her boss Teddie seems incapable of reading any kind of social energy and drags Joanna to the spa, also roping her into an investor meeting that would see Stedman and Lavery go international. Why Teddie is so eager to get Joanna back to work after her father died (no matter what Joanna said about returning) is frankly beyond me. The problem with this dinner, however, is that Joanna should be back in Millwood, helping Billy and Diana research the potential set of jurors for Luna’s trial. Billy and Joanna’s incredible chemistry is even apparent over the phone, when she calls in the middle of dinner to assure him the gang would be back together soon.
My heart swelled when Joanna clearly needed a little emotional support, and Billy could immediately hear something not quite right in her voice. I could have happily watched them gently flirt for the next thirty minutes, but there was work to be done. I was not interested in the result Joanna’s business dinner, only that it held her up so much that it’s practically dawn by the time she’s able to hit the road. A breaking point is imminent.
Jury selection occurs at the local high school, but instead of a reasonably mixed representation of Millwood’s population, as Gerrilyn aptly points out:
My favourite quiet moment occurs in Luna’s first scene, where Joanna offers her a change of clothes, some advice, and a small bag of sacred tobacco. Luna’s Indigeneity becomes a central factor in this episode, as Joanna and Billy have to work to determine whether any potential jurors could be unduly prejudice against her. Shot after shot of older white men who go unchallenged by the Crown does not look good for Luna, and the only Indigenous man Dianna is able to track down is dismissed. The problem, they’ve discovered, is that most of the people of colour did not receive their court summons. But when Joanna tries to point this out to the judge, he denies their request to stop and investigate. She’s deeply concerned how this could turn the tide of the trial, and lays out the truth for Billy.
Elsewhere, Gerrilyn rails against Owen for not visiting Luna and being generally cold to their suffering, while Shane gets so drunk at a local bar that Joanna and Billy have to pick him up. Luna’s time at Brockstone is going no better; she is now blatantly indifferent to her new, frightened cellmate, almost to the point of true unkindness. A glimmer of hope surfaces when Joanna and Billy realize there was another person staying at the motel – another woman that the police missed, assuming Shane had seen Taylor when he actually saw someone else entirely. Despite the revelation, Joanna’s stress and lack of sleep catch up to her when she snaps at Billy and breaks down. Beyond her worry for her sister, Joanna’s deepest fear is that she’s just like her father, but both Billy and the audience know that’s not true at all.
I could probably talk about the kiss for an entire review, but suffice it to say I screamed a little. Beyond it being way overdue, there was something painfully tender and sweet in the way Billy was there for Joanna, pulling her in instead of pushing her away and literally holding her until they both fell asleep.
Be still, my heart.
The next morning, Team Luna has a chance to verify Shane’s statement. Their hunch is correct: another woman had been staying at the motel, who crossed paths with Shane in the hall. But when Owen appears to speak to them about missing hair from the crime scene, Shane bolts. He’s convinced that he was the original target of David’s murder due to a hotel room mix up, but he very quickly starts making even less sense.
Billy can tell something else is wrong, so he makes up an excuse to go with Shane while Joanna brings their finding to the Crown. But of course it’s not that simple: Shane’s motel room looks like a police investigation on steroids: paper and photos connected by string cover every wall, lit by bright lamps and clearly not the work of a man in full control of his thoughts. It’s entirely possible he made up the story about the second woman at the motel the night of the murder. Billy has to break the news to Joanna, who then has to bear the brunt of the Crown’s fury at having his time wasted. He effectively threatens Joanna with disbarment; their grip on the case is starting to unravel at the worst possible time.
I know I already waxed poetic about both Star Slade and Meegwun Fairbrother this season, but the penultimate scene of this episode was like a punch to the gut as Owen finally visits a visibly angry Luna at Brockstone. His voice is thick with emotion as he apologizes for not coming sooner and offered a book: Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance by First Nations activist Leonard Peletier, which chronicles his life-sentence served for murder in 1977 that he maintains he did not commit.
Luna is silent and unmoved throughout the entire scene, even initially refusing the gift. But at Owen’s obvious disappointment when he gets up to leave, Luna goes back for it. We can only hope that this will begin the turning point from her dark spiral and that Shane, despite all his obvious problems, was telling the truth. Otherwise, at the end of the hour we’re running out of time: figuratively and literally. With only two episodes remaining, I’m dying to know how this wild story ends.
Burden of Truth airs Sundays at 8/7c on the CW.