Snowfall is back with a bang, literally and figuratively. The death count kept going up as the two-part premiere continued and the Snowfall landscape has truly changed as we enter the year 1986.
The first of the two episodes opened with the death of a college student who we soon realize is Len Bias. He collapses in his dorm room just days after being drafted by the Boston Celtics.
Bias' death is a huge moment in the War on Drugs, which means it was a big moment to be included in the fifth season of the show, especially as Franklin Saint (Idris) is also at a big moment in time.
“The Len Bias death started this kind of firestorm,” said showrunner Dave Andron to members of the media, including Shadow and Act, at FX’s Television Critics Association tour press day. “It became the reason why all of a sudden everybody was up in arms. Even though his death was not rock-related, ultimately it led to Congress passing this really draconian sentencing law, which essentially made the guidelines 100-1 harsher for rock possession versus cocaine possession.
Bias’ death was also the moment when a lot of lawmakers began to believe something needed to be done…but as history shows us, it made things worse.
“All of that came out of the talks in Congress based on the Len Bias death,” Andron continued. “It is clear this was becoming more and more of a problem. All of a sudden it was on the radar of people it hadn’t been before, and yet the government completely bungled the response. You might even go so far as to say used this as an excuse to lock up a generation of Black people.
Andron points to Ava DuVernay's '13th' as a perfect example of how things actually played out during this era.
“There should have been no difference between sentencing for powder cocaine or rock cocaine,” he said. “You get as a result of that law you have this documentary, [13th] that lays it out pretty well. It really was responsible for this era of mass incarceration that we are in today and still feeling the effects of its massive fulcrum point in the last 40 years.”
The end of this week’s episode sees Teddy (Carter Hudson) pull out all the stops to reassert his control as the stakes are higher than ever for the Saints.
Snowfall airs Wednesday nights on FX.