For Life: Season 1 Episode 2 “Promises” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

As Aaron takes his first shot at getting the records he’d need for release, he is forced to deal with the politics from within the prison and Jasmine’s situation.

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Aaron talking to the warden.

As Aaron takes his first shot at getting the records he’d need for release, he is forced to deal with the politics from within the prison and Jasmine’s situation.

Directed By Russell Fine
Written By Hank Steinberg
Aired (ABC) 2/18/2020
Introduced This Episode
Ronnie Toney Goins
Henry Roswell Timothy Busfield
Phil Will Tomi
Wild Bill Peter Greene
Joey Matt Deangelis

Episode Recap

The Boy Who Got Baby Girl Pregnant: Ronnie, Jasmine, Aaron

With Jasmine being one of the main drivers of getting out of jail, as you can imagine, learning his 17-year-old daughter is pregnant is jarring. But, with learning she is pregnant also comes the question of: By who? The answer is Ronnie, a guy her age, who we don’t learn much about beyond his parents not being fully aware of Aaron’s situation. But, beyond that, it seems he is down for Jasmine. Which for Aaron is all he wants, for he doesn’t want Jasmine holding the bag and having to put her life on hold because of his lack of support.

Now, Aaron saying this doesn’t necessarily hit a nerve but does lead to a clap back. One which reminds Aaron that in Jasmine traveling hours to see him, Aaron, amongst all else going on in her life, she has long begun to give up on dreams and aspirations. Which, upon hearing this, leads Aaron to recede a bit.

Looking For Answers: Aaron, Glen, Safiya, Anya, Henry

With a win under his belt, Aaron decides the next step is to get aggressive with the police to get his files so he can mount a case. However, the problem with this is he is trying to balance an alliance with Safiya, heed the advice of his sponsor, Henry, who we meet this episode, and is trying to battle Glen without having him make things difficult for his case or Anya’s election. Which is all difficult for Aaron since he needs Safiya as an ally to move as he needs, and to help with his cases. Yet, in antagonizing Glen comes Anya, Safiya’s wife, possibly getting involved with her wife assisting a convicted so-called kingpin.

Yet, in the long run, Aaron realizes Safiya’s plan of waiting until after the election doesn’t present him any guarantees. Glen needs Aaron to stay under to get elected, has an issue with Henry over something which happened in the past, and Anya is his opponent. So, waiting around isn’t going to work, and even if it means burning some bridges, Aaron is willing to do what it takes. Though, from what it seems, Safiya, upon seeing Jasmine reveal she is pregnant, she gets Aaron is going to do what he has to. She, seemingly, just hopes he won’t bite the hand that’s helping him.

Cover Your Ass: Phil, Will Bill, Joey, Aaron

This week’s case for Aaron deals with Joey, one of Neo-Nazi Wild Bill’s boys, who he wants out of solitary confinement. Now, as for why Joey ended up in solitary? Well, because he was having sexual relations with a man, Phil, who is Asian and due to him getting syphilis. This combination makes Joey have a hit on him and since he didn’t take being jumped as enough of a lesson, it seems Wild Bill aimed to kill him.

But, thanks to Aaron, Joey and Phil are protected from Wild Bill and his crew. However, at the cost of helping a neo-nazi, Aaron may have complicated his relationship with the Black people in the prison, and the many others who are in need of his services.

Review/ Commentary

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Life When A Loved One Is In Prison

One thing that “For Life” tries to do, is fill in the hour it has and keep everyone’s story on a fairly equal plain field. Yet, one area that got a chance to shine is Jasmine and Marie’s life without Aaron. This you have to appreciate for often the people outside the prison walls are featured, maybe reoccurring, but we don’t always get to see what they go through concurrently with their family member. So seeing Jasmine struggle, hear from Ronnie that she stayed on the east coast to be close to her dad, and that likely being one of the reasons she is pregnant, it helps you understand how those on the outside are affected.

Heck, even with Marie, as we’ll see in the next episode, while she may not think Aaron may get out, you can see a feign hope there. One which makes her current boyfriend a possible placeholder who may try to truly capture Marie’s heart and not just her attention.

Prison Politics

When it comes to other prison shows like “Oz,” and even “Prison Break,” while there is a sense that a person can’t always exclusively deal with their ethnic group, being that everyone is likely to want Aaron’s help, it creates a nice complication. One that will hopefully, unlike what we saw with Joey and Phil, lead to us really getting to understand why these men got convicted and humanizes them a bit. For after “Orange Is The New Black,” it does make you wish someone would do the same thing for men. Especially if they are like Aaron’s first client and were wrongfully imprisoned.

Granted, some may definitely deserve to be in prison, but the gist of this whole topic is that, as prison reform, and poverty, are topics in this election year, I fully expect “For Life” to touch upon why the prison system, and industry, is burgeoning.

Low Point

Aaron is Talking To Way Many People About That Forgery

I don’t know about you, but if I did something illegal to get my client out of jail, I wouldn’t be telling a bunch of people. For one, Aaron could lose his license and destroy his chances of getting out. Then, two, it creates a major liability! One that can make it so, beyond Wild Bill, so many others could force Aaron to defend them, or someone else, and if he loses, expose him.

On The Fence

Being Unsure How Much They Should Dig Into The Past

With there being so much going on in the present, and such massive plans for the future, so comes the question of how should the past be presented? Should it be short and sweet, like how Henry’s downfall was handled, or do we need more flashbacks, if not just one episode to reveal all that has happened? This thought is put in the “On The Fence” section since the momentum of the show is at that pace where looking back would feel like it is hitting the brakes, hard. So rather than stopping to look back, here is hoping, as Aaron discovers the truth, they figure a good way to address what happened without taking away from what Aaron is doing to fix what happened.

Being Unsure How Much They Should Dig Into The Past - 75%
Aaron is Talking To Way Many People About That Forgery - 65%
Prison Politics - 85%
Life When A Loved One Is In Prison - 84%


As “For Life” has Aaron challenge the NYPD, we’re reminded how difficult it is to take on the system, and how many road blocks are made so they never have to admit wrongdoing.

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