Season four concluded with a gun-toting Teddy McDonald tracking Alton down to his new Cuban home intent on killing the man who effectively ruined his career at the CIA by revealing his secret identity and exposing the U.S. government to drug-dealing allegations. Teddy doesn’t utter a single word, and we never see him fire a shot to end Alton’s life.
But, the maniacally pragmatic spy is seen raising his gun before the episode cuts to the final scene of Franklin confronting Melody for the first time since she shot him and left him for dead near the end of the third season. In the new season, Franklin assumes Teddy murdered his father, but still agrees to work with Teddy because of him building a future for himself inextricable of the U.S. government’s assistance. However, episode three is when he finally questions Teddy about his involvement in his father’s disappearance, and Teddy drags his Black father’s name through the mud as the U.S. government routinely did for decades.
After claiming ignorance on the whereabouts of Franklin’s father, Teddy attempts to hide his involvement under the same mischaracterizations of Black men and former Black Panther members the federal government promoted for decades. He blames Alton exposing CIA secrets, his past as a Black Panther potentially attracting foreign intelligence agencies in Cuba, and the possibility of Franklin’s father being incarcerated in Cuba for Alton’s disappearance. Teddy even goes as far as to get Franklin to adopt his version of events by reminding him of how his father betrayed him after Franklin repaired his relationship with his once estranged dad. In 90 seconds, Teddy shattered the character of a Black father in front of his son and blamed his death on those broken pieces finally becoming undone beyond repair.
Teddy absolving himself of any wrongdoing through character assassination is the mentality that created the War on Drugs the U.S. government is financially exploiting in Snowfall to fund its attempt to keep communism from taking over South America. John Ehrlichman was the domestic policy chief during Ricard Nixon’s administration, and especially when the Republican commander-in-chief declared drug abuse “Public enemy number one” during a June 1971 press conference. In a 1996 interview with writer Dan Baum, unearthed 20 years later in 2016, Ehrlichman is quoted admitting Nixon’s war on drugs was racially motivated to attack and vilify Black people. Baum revealed quotes from one of Nixon’s top advisers blatantly stating the Nixon administration worked to associate Black people with heroin and criminalize the use of drugs as a way to “disrupt those communities” and place the blame of all of society’s ills on the U.S. government’s public mischaracterization of the Black people most affected by this manufactured war on drugs.
“We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did,” Ehrlichman is quoted saying.
Teddy removing a Black father from his son’s life, and then shattering any redeeming image the son may have left, are textbook destabilization tactics employed long before Teddy joined the CIA. This racist campaign against Black people only intensified under the administration of Ronald Reagan, the president in the Snowfall universe. Reagan staunchly opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He openly supported racial discrimination, compared Black people to “monkeys” in a conversation with Nixon, and once said “If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, it is his right to do so.” And this is the person ultimately pulling Teddy’s puppet strings and wreaking havoc on Black communities through disseminating cocaine into Black communities and then criminalizing those same people they’re selling to.
The U.S. government destroyed Black families in order to control them, and Teddy does the same with Franklin, and it appears to be working…for now.