Someone’s eye is watching this show. It just isn’t mine.
Most of the time, the right thing to do is not the easy thing to do. It’s a lesson everyone has to learn at some point in their lives. And for Special Agent Will Trent, that time is right about now.
Based on Karin Slaughter’s series of bestselling novels, ABC’s new crime drama Will Trent follows the titular detective as he solves cases with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Will may have a remarkable ability to read a crime scene, but he isn’t exactly popular; he recently used his skills to investigate corruption within the police force, exposing several crooked officers and earning him a reputation as a rat.
Not that his brand-new notoriety is much of a deterrent to Will. Between his rough upbringing in a group home for orphans, a complicated new case involving a murdered teenager (and her missing friend) and a pesky dog he somehow ended up adopting, he’s got quite enough on his plate to begin with.
Much like Will Trent’s namesake, the crime genre has a bit of a shady reputation. Usually, when engaging with the latest gritty detective drama, audiences can expect graphic content at every turn, from violence to sexuality and everything in between. Will Trent is a bit tamer due to the restrictions of broadcast TV, but it’s obvious that the minds behind the series are intent on pushing their TV-14 rating as far as it’ll go.
Viewers are treated to fairly colorful depictions of crime scenes. Though clever editing hides the gory details, we see and hear enough that little is left to the imagination. Blood flows with abandon, and other mature issues such as sexual assault, child abuse and pedophilia form key plot elements as well.
Instances of sexuality and drug use also crop up in the series. Again, because we’re in the realm of network television, you won’t find anything excessively explicit here. But references and scenes of intimacy are still present. The result? It feels as though the creators are attempting to get away with as much as they possibly can. When compared to the genre as a whole, Will Trent seems like a milder alternative for fans of riveting crime drama—and compared to premium streaming service series, that may be the case. But viewers ought to be aware that while the content issues here may not be on the level of some of the show’s counterparts, they still very much exist … and it doesn’t take a detective as skilled as Will Trent to find them.
In the opening scene of Will Trent’s pilot episode, suburban mother Abigail comes home to find that someone has broken into her house. We see a bloody footprint on the stairs; and when she goes up to investigate, we’re shown the body of a teenage girl on the carpet with her shirt covered in blood. A young man emerges with a bloody knife in hand, and he and Abigail wrestle before falling down the stairs, streaking blood across the wall. Abigail then chokes the attacker to death with the handle of her tennis racket. We later see brief flashbacks to this event, including a new perspective of the initial murder in which we hear the sounds of a struggle while the victim is stabbed offscreen.
An instance of suicide takes place as well. A young man holds a gun to his head as Will protests; while the actual event does not occur onscreen, we hear the firing of a gun and see a splatter of blood.
Angie, a detective working undercover, buys drugs from a dealer as part of her operative. While Angie’s in recovery for an addiction herself, the dealer gives her a “free sample,” and she sticks the patch onto her chest in order to take the drug transdermally. We see the dealers placing small packages of narcotics into DVD cases to sell them. References are also made to marijuana and Adderall addiction. A young man intentionally overdoses on prescription drugs with the intention of ending his own life, though he shoots himself in the head before they can take effect.
Abigail discovers that her husband, Paul, has been “banging the personal trainer,” whom we later learn is in her early 20s (but looks even younger). Will accuses him of sleeping with Kayla, the murdered teenage girl, claiming her autopsy revealed that she had consensual sex on the morning she was killed. He makes the accusation purely to get a reaction out of Paul, and it works; Paul slaps him in the face and the two men wrestle and punch each other before being pulled apart.
Will finds out that Kayla was sleeping with a grown man named Adam, though the relationship was kept secret due to Kayla being underage. He also reveals that there were rumors of Paul being sexually abused by a foster parent when he was a child. Will and Angie kiss passionately on his couch; she sits on his lap and takes off her shirt before the scene cuts away.
“D–n” is heard four times, twice in song lyrics. “H—” is used three times, while “b–ch,” “a–,” “d–k,” “b–ch” and a misuse of God’s name each appear once.
Lauren Cook is serving as a 2021 summer intern for the Parenting and Youth department at Focus on the Family. She is studying film and screenwriting at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. You can get her talking for hours about anything from Star Wars to her family to how Inception was the best movie of the 2010s. But more than anything, she’s passionate about showing how every form of art in some way reflects the Gospel. Coffee is a close second.
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