LAW & ORDER Post-Mortem: Mehcad Brooks Praises the 'Beautiful' Moment in 'On the Ledge' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

LAW & ORDER Post-Mortem: Mehcad Brooks Praises the ‘Beautiful’ Moment in ‘On the Ledge’

February 29, 2024 by  

Law and Order On the Ledge spoilers

LAW & ORDER — “On The Ledge” Episode 23006 — Pictured: (l-r) Mehcad Brooks as Det. Jalen Shaw, Chinaza Uche as Kenneth Cartwright– (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Thursday, February 29 episode of LAW & ORDER.]

Shaw’s (Mehcad Brooks) attempt to save a man in distress had unexpected consequences on the Thursday, February 29 episode of LAW & ORDER.

As Shaw was walking to work, he spotted Kenneth, a man who was distraught and contemplating suicide. After Shaw was able to talk the man off the ledge, the man said he would go home. 

Shaw arrived at work and relayed to Riley (Reid Scott) what occurred. But before the men could dig too deeply into what went down, they were called to an active shooting at a hospital…and their investigation led Shaw to realize Kenneth was the shooter.

Kenneth, they learned, had just lost his wife and unborn child the previous day due to undiagnosed preeclampsia. After Kenneth opted not to kill himself, he went to the hospital and tried to get revenge on the people who destroyed his family; an eye for an eye.

Initially, the ADAs tried to get Kenneth to take a plea deal, but he wouldn’t—unless he could get home confinement. When that’s impossible, he said he wanted to fight to show his son he attempted to stay free; but he and his lawyer also changed their plea to insanity, on the grounds of race-based traumatic stress. (In addition to living as a Black man in America, Kenneth was consistently racially profiled by the cops.)

Shaw struggled with knowing about the trauma Kenneth went through, even if he knew his actions were not defensible. “Imagine, your success, your safety, your security, your survival depends on the baggage somebody else projects on to you or how you make them feel about themselves,” Shaw told Riley. “That’s the part that weighs you down.”

Riley made it clear he supported his new partner, but they couldn’t lose sight of the fact an innocent man was killed. Shaw admitted he liked Riley, but it wasn’t as simple as that…Riley wouldn’t know the extent of what Shaw was going through and he was lucky he never would. 

“It’s something that I’ve rarely seen on network television, and I humbly am so honored that we created the room and the space and the script to go there and to create the room and the space on set to go there,” Brooks tells Give Me My Remote. “It’s a beautiful episode and a beautiful moment. And I think that people are going to be talking about it for a while, and I hope they do because we need to.”

Shaw ultimately testified, telling the truth about what he experienced, but declining to elaborate on possible intent; Kenneth was found guilty.

“There’s duality to his existence, and the fact that he has his job that he has, he has a career that he has, over all,” Brooks points out about Shaw’s struggle. “Shaw is dedicated to his job, and the reason that he got into his job is to help people who look like him who are innocent stay out of prison. He didn’t get into the job to try to negotiate people’s surrender who snapped.”

“I think there’s a duality in that he does understand where this comes from; he does understand how tough it is to be stamped at birth,” he continues. “He does understand the aspect of the phenomenon of American Blackness. He gets all that. But he also has a job to do.”

In an earlier version of the episode, “the last scene in the episode is Shaw doing his best to make amends with the now-convicted killer’s family and them dismissing him,” Brooks recalls. “And we see Shaw doing his best not to break.”

Brooks praises the collaboration he has had with the writers over his tenure on the show, as well, with it making him feel seen and heard. “We’ve had so many general conversations, whether it’s scheduled calls and talks or it’s getting to know each other on set, where questions have been asked and answered about my own experience with racial trauma,” he says. “[They’ve asked about] my own experience with racism and racial discrimination in America and what that was like and the fact that I’ve gone to therapy about it, and the fact that the most radical thing a person can do is to heal racial trauma in the midst of being engrossed in systemic oppression.”

“Most of us think of healing as, like, ‘I have to heal something that’s already happened to me and now it’s over and now it’s existing in my field,” he continues. “But, no, Black Americans have to heal something that’s happened to them, that’s continuing to happen to them. They got that. They got it right. And so I feel like we are in a moment in America, that is gaining momentum. I hope, and my prayer and my strong desire is, that this country takes that momentum and creates continuum. That we are able to have racial literacy amongst intersectionality and understand that our destinies are tied together. The more I understand you, the better this country is. The more you understand me, the better this country is. It’s our country, we got to take care of it. And so this is one of these episodes where it just kind of feels like it’s helping that momentum become a continuum.”

LAW & ORDER, Thursdays, 8/7c, NBC


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