No one here is a villain – or an angel – and no one is excused. Instead The Red Line explores the differing realities with a great deal of intelligence and nuance. Daniel, the widowed husband, is doing his best to be a good dad but he’s struggling. He and his daughter, Jira, haven’t bonded over the tragedy. They’re both trapped in their own private hells.
Jira feels like she’s lost the parent she could really relate to. With the best will in the world her white dad cannot understand how different life is if you’re black.
The cop’s colleagues are supportive of him. They certainly don’t want him charged. But it’s also a toxic event that poisons anyone it touches.
His part of the story is also a compelling picture of the unconscious bias and racist assumptions this young guy brought to that moment in the convenience store that propelled it from chaotic to tragic – a point made quietly in the first episode, then underscored (equally quietly) later in the series.
The title refers to the train line that runs through the city, linking all these people but also separating them. Sometimes both the metaphor and the device are pushed a bit hard. There are a couple of Jane The Virgin-level coincidences and someone somewhere (one suspects a network exec) has not been shy about telling us Exactly. What. Is. Going. On.
But the treatment of the issues and the wonderful performances more than make up for those shortcomings.
Wyle, especially, puts in an absolute blinder as the grieving husband and father. And the young cop, Paul, played by Noel Fisher, pulls off the incredible balancing act of having us loathing him but also feeling for him, both at the same time.
And while this is certainly about the quest for justice –at the micro level for Daniel and Jira, and the more macro mission of the political hopeful, Tia, to clean up this town – in the end the outcome feels less important than the journeys of these individuals and what, if anything, they learn.
The Red Line is on SBS On Demand.