“Four or five years ago, I was listening to the podcast of Jerri Williams, a former FBI who interviews other retired agents. I found them all so interesting, beyond the files they revisited for the occasion, says Tom Rob Smith in a virtual interview. I then looked for a way to tell their stories rather than just the crimes they worked on. I’ve always loved graduation photos. We look at them and then we wonder, “what happened to these people and what are they doing now?” So, I combined those two things to create the series. So we follow a promotion of agents at different points in their career, from their initial aspirations to where it will take them. »
Verb tense is important here as Class of ’09 moves back and forth between past, present and future. While 2009 does more to introduce the characters and then how their different personalities and experiences will affect their journey in the FBI, 2023 and 2034 explore the inner workings of the American police department while following various investigations. We are also witnessing the creation of a program bringing together a vast amount of data analyzed by artificial intelligence, then the impact of its use in 2034. “The first version of the scenario went further into the future, but we realized that this way of using artificial intelligence is coming soon in real life, says Tom Rob Smith. We wonder if we can reinvent the justice system, but we already have the tool to do so. »
Tom Rob Smith, also behind the American Crime Story and London Spy series, believes, however, that we must be careful with artificial intelligence. “The real danger is that it’s too good,” he said. Kate Mara’s character, Ashley Poet, first reads all the files and then asks for help from artificial intelligence next. In the future, will agents become completely dependent on it? Other issues addressed in Class of ’09 include systemic racism, which Tayo Michaels, played by Brian Tyree Henry, experiences in different ways. “As an African-American in the United States, the racism you face will partly influence what you will become,” says Joe Robert Cole, who co-produces the series in addition to having directed three episodes. Tayo’s experience motivates him to want to change the system from within, for better and for worse. »
La Presse was able to view four of the eight episodes of Class of ’09. Hopefully the second half will shed some light on the many storylines unfolding across the three eras, because right now the story arc is pretty cluttered. The idealism of recruits slowly crushed by the weight of the structure of the FBI is a strong aspect of the series. The characters respond to it differently and make us want to know the consequences of their decisions on their careers. Unfortunately, the majority of these have little depth. Hour, played by Sepideh Moafi, may be the exception. The abundance of dialogue serves mainly to explain what is happening, because the camera shows little and the action is rare. Nevertheless, a certain suspense is maintained. Or is it all the questions we ask ourselves that keep us on our toes?