On All Rise Season 3 Episode 18, “Pretty Ugly,” we handle a less-discussed form of privilege: the advantages of being conventionally attractive and the circumstances that can be faced by someone who isn’t.
Emily is representing Darlene, who took a tire iron to her boss’s car and then his head, injuring but not killing him in an act of retaliation. He’s a famed plastic surgeon with a beautiful wife—and he allegedly raped Darlene.
By her own admission, Darlene doesn’t have movie star beauty, and she’s convinced this was a key factor in the verdict. If her retelling of the horrible insults Dr. Vasquez told her during the act is true, we can probably take her at her word.
When physical beauty is brought up as a form of privilege, it’s often only mentioned tangentially. Handling it directly, seeing how it can impact justice and who is and isn’t seen as a victim, makes everyone involved face their own first judgements.
We must at least recognize what happened to Dr. Vasquez, if only because Sara is now forced to be his victim advocate. There’s no denying that the attack was brutal, leaving him with permanent scars and injuries that affect his job.
Yet we’re left with the cold realities of an attack gone unpunished and revenge that might be disproportionally judged. Does Darlene deserve the split verdict that leaves her with some prison time, but not life? Maybe. It’s still hard to sit with.
Just in case we’re not ill at ease enough already, Mark spends the episode getting involved with the mob and eventually dropping a charge against a celebrity accused of DUI to get money from them to protect his father.
While there are worse cases for Mark to throw and his father’s involvement is a major motivation, there’s no way these actions won’t have serious consequences if they’re discovered. His new job title is the least of what could be on the line.
He spends most of the hour being absent or tense with almost everyone around him, including Amy and Lola. The specifics of his actions take place behind closed doors, but when more threats come through a Russian nesting doll, we know what they imply.
Vic himself knows what Mark is getting into, bringing up another tough question. Given the relationship Mark has had with his father, why would he put his career and very life on the line for the man? As we speed towards a series finale, I dread the fallout.
The stakes are a little less severe with Sherri’s newest bout of parental drama, though I am still worried about the implications of her father’s health scares. The good news is that he’s listening to at least some of her advice, albeit with reluctance.
At different points, her parents’ free-spirited ways have been a source of either general frustration or genuine angst depending on their impact in her life. She spends much of this episode acting as a counselor in both their marriage and individual lives.
The results are largely comic but give a lot of insight into these characters. Sherri’s parents are good people, but they’ve been trapped in destructive patterns so long they have trouble recognizing they need to escape.
Lola spends most of the episode managing the political and emotional impacts of Darlene’s case and is left exhausted by advocating for what justice she can. I’m grateful we’re also given scenes with Robin and Marge for her to talk with and lean on.
Will the implication that Marge’s return could be permanent stick? I’d sure like the worrying signs we’ve been given to be much ado about nothing. A happy ending with everyone celebrating together at Mark and Amy’s wedding shouldn’t be too much to ask.
What did you think of this episode of All Rise? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
All Rise airs Saturdays at 9/8c on OWN.
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