Shots Fired is one of the few Fox series still officially in limbo as next year’s broadcast schedule comes together, though the tea leaves don’t bode well for a second season. At least “Come to Jesus” suggests Preston and Ashe will get a proper conclusion in the likely event this is their first and last case together. After eight episodes of false starts, red herrings, and dead ends, the murderers of Jesse Carr and Joey Campbell are finally being held accountable. Pacing has been an issue with this show all season, and “Come to Jesus” is no exception, as both cases come to a head seemingly out of the blue. But the episode also ends with another murder, so Preston and Ashe aren’t finished in Gate Station just yet.
Last week’s cliffhanger was a bit unclear, showing Preston doing something mysterious and momentous with the video of Jesse Carr’s fatal encounter with Officer Beck. As it turns out, Preston was leaking the video to the press to put added pressure on Beck and the rest of the Gate County Sheriff’s Department, which is still holding Pastor Janae in custody and shielding Jesse Carr’s murderer. The move is enough to force Beck’s hand, so he tries to make an immunity deal by offering Preston a trove of evidence against Sheriff Platt and his rogue auxiliary deputy program. Preston says he has everything he needs already, but Beck says the records seized by the DOJ were falsified. The authentic records, which Beck has been sitting on just in case, prove the auxiliary deputies were woefully undertrained and openly flouted protocols during their tours of the Houses.
With the walls slowly closing in, Lieutenant Breeland decides to play ball hoping he too can negotiate a deal, using the crucial information he holds as the ranking officer on the scene of Joey Campbell’s murder as well as the person who planted weed on Jesse Carr. But that outcome doesn’t sit well with Ashe, who still wants Breeland to suffer for his attempts to intimidate her and use her custody battle as leverage. Ashe figures if she can get someone else to step up with the same information Breeland can provide, she can take away Breeland’s only bargaining chip. Ever the enterprising investigator, Ashe goes directly to Arlen Cox and convinces him to confess to the crime he committed. In a surprise press conference, Cox admits to shooting Joey after accidentally reaching for his gun instead of his stun gun, the precise defense invoked by Robert Bates, the former Oklahoma deputy convicted last year of second-degree manslaughter.
Presumably Ashe is the one who gives Cox the idea to cop to the crime while pushing the heaviest share of the blame onto Breeland, who covered up the whole sordid affair like the good soldier he is. Breeland is understandably pissed at Sheriff Platt, assuming Platt signed off on Cox’s new narrative in which Breeland is the real villain. Breeland hasn’t exactly been a sympathetic character throughout the season, but he’s had moments of integrity and compassion and seems like a decent person who was corrupted by the power of a department with little oversight and few hard rules outside of “Do whatever it takes to come home alive.” It’s hard not to sympathize with Breeland when he has a frank conversation with his teenage daughter and must confess to her that he’s not the symbol of bravery seen on the news, protecting protesters from officers wielding fire hoses. He’s also at the root of the unrest that gave rise to the riots.
Shots Fired has largely been about what happens when well-intentioned public servants come up against the harsh realities of the world they’re trying to change. Governor Eamons is one of those well-intentioned public servants, and “Come to Jesus” also shows her fall from grace as she goes into self-preservation mode. The auxiliary deputy program she put her fingerprints on has officially been implicated in a young man’s death, and now she’s abandoning the education program she spent so much time championing. As much as she believes in it, she has to redirect Cox’s money into helping to rebuild Gate Station after the riot. That explanation isn’t good enough for Sarah, who remembers looking Shameeka and Shawn Campbell in the eye and convincing them the new busing program would be a good thing for their community. Sarah curtly quits her job and walks out on Eamons.
With Cox agreeing to turn himself in and Beck on the ropes, Preston and Ashe have redeemed themselves in the eyes of the DOJ, who had just dispatched replacements to take over the investigation. Thanks to Ashe’s brilliant play to go for Cox directly, confidence within the agency is restored and Preston and Ashe get to retain control of the case. So now they’ll be able to look into the latest twist: the ignominious demise of Lieutenant Breeland, who is shot dead in front of his home. There are no shortage of suspects, since everybody in the Houses knows the depths of his misdeeds and his weak apology to the Campbells wasn’t enough to reverse his pariah status. Suspicion will undoubtedly splash back on Ashe, who was pissed off about Breeland’s meddling in her losing custody battle. Will Ashe and Preston’s newly romantic relationship survive what comes next?