But Paige finds humor in almost everything and has used this skill to “overcome,” as other characters regularly remind her. She’s a successful therapist who recognizes her weak spots, even or especially when she’s not able to fix them. She buys and makes her own beautiful home. And she loves her circle fiercely—as perhaps only a person who’s been continuously abandoned can.
“UnPrisoned” focuses on the adult Paige, but, being a show rooted in therapy, her childhood self (Jordyn McIntosh) also appears. As the two Paiges converse, we learn that their father, Edwin (Lindo), was in and out of prison, and her mother was a sex worker and an alcoholic who abandoned her shortly after birth. Paige spent her childhood bouncing between foster homes and her dad’s main girlfriend (Brenda Strong), with whom Paige remains decidedly angry for failing to give consistent age-appropriate care.
Enter Lindo as the wayward and charming father Edwin. His presence may seem poised to blow up Paige’s life—becoming a negative influence on her son and causing all her old trust issues to surface, but it doesn’t. Instead, Edwin helps Finn out of his social shell. And Paige’s trust issues appear to be ever-present for her, whether Edwin’s around or not.
The man is not a hardened criminal. He wants to straighten out his life, but every way he turns, the system makes it nearly impossible for him. The job he gets as a chef is revoked before he can even start, thanks to his ex-con status. The next one he gets that’s specifically for ex-cons is exploitative and dehumanizing. He can’t get a driver’s license because he doesn’t have his birth certificate. And he can’t get a copy of his birth certificate because he doesn’t have a driver’s license.
But Edwin is charming, quickly winning over his grandson Finn and his eventual ice cream shop customers. And he’s wise, dropping truth bombs on Paige at a somewhat alarming frequency. This dynamic gives both seasoned lead actors a chance to stretch their performance muscles. Washington toggles between playful and wounded, her eyes an ever-changing canvas, while Lindo excels as a charming man, full of swagger, vulnerability, and wisdom. The combination is intoxicating, even if the script sometimes leans into overly pat moments of revelation.