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Mariam McLusky is the McLusky family matriarch who is a college professor that volunteers to teach at the Kingstown Women's Prison.

Biography[]

Early Life[]

Mariam is fully aware of the activities that her sons take part in and has a deep animosity towards Mike in particular.

Throughout the Series[]

Season 1[]

In The Mayor of Kingstown, while at a women's prison in town, Mariam is teaching a class on the civil war, and she tells the inmates who are also students that even today the textbooks will tell you that the civil war came about as a result of a disagreement on state’s rights. But it was much more than that. Mariam explains that it was a war for a state’s right to decide its position on slavery. Thus, this was a war fought for the freedom to choose slavery. She also states that this was the only time in recorded history that the oppressors fought each other over the rights of the oppressed. Mariam then goes on to say how this was the most formative event in this nation’s history, but that the catharsis of that union victory, and the freedom of the slaves was short lived. As Mariam narrates, only a decade later a new union of mostly imprisoned confederate soldiers and immigrants reignited the genocide begun by Columbus some four hundred years earlier. She is about to continue but the bell rings and instead she tells her class to read the next two chapters and that she will see them tomorrow. A female inmate hangs back after class and tries to get Mariam to talk to Mitch, who is referred to as the Mayor because she has a cousin coming in and needs some help. But an angry Mariam warns the inmate to never bring up her sons in front of her ever again. The inmate apologizes and scurries out of the classroom.

Eventually, Mike, Kyle and Mariam are informed about what happened to Mitch. Later, Mariam remarks how it’s the first time that Mike has come home before dawn. Mike then tells his mom how they don’t break the law; they bend it to make peace for everybody. Mariam reminds her son that she is very familiar with what her children do because her husband invented that. She chastises Mike and tells him how he should not delude himself into believing that all he does is for the greater good. She then reminds him that Mike works incredibly hard to accomplish absolutely nothing. But in the end, he just prolongs the inevitable.

In The End Begins, she and her two sons host a memorial service for Mitch.

In The Price, in front of a class of college students, Mariam lectures about early colonial travel to the western part of the U.S. After her class, Mike approaches his mom. It is while still on the campus that Mariam tells Mike that his brother's wife is pregnant after punching and slapping Mike for his ignorance about the situation, right in public and surrounded by students. She suggests that Mike help Kyle make the right choice and take a different job away from the family business; one that is less likely to leave his wife a widow.

In Every Feather, when Kyle arrives home, his mother confronts him about the shooting at the pizzeria. She's angry that he should be on administrative leave but is still wearing a gun and a badge. Kyle for his part, pushes back and threatens to move, and Mariam responds that he's obviously been with Mike, which is why he's talking that way. She implores Kyle to think about his unborn child and to eschew Mike's incredibly dangerous lifestyle.

In Along Came a Spider, while ushering inmates into their classroom, Sam makes eyes with some of them as they levy sexual comments his way. Mariam McLusky warns him that he'll get in trouble before launching into her class' lecture about viewing the human species as a whole rather than as a collection of tribes.

In The Lie of the Truth, Kyle tries to rush out of the house, ignoring his mother's request to join her and his wife for breakfast. Mariam gets angry at his refusal to participate in family moments and tries to offer advice. As it turns out, Kyle recently missed the ultrasound where his wife found out they were having a son, who is due on February 29. Kyle complains he has no good choices, but his mom points out that the ones he has made keep pulling him away from the things he loves. Later, Mariam takes a meeting about the woman who stabbed a guard recently. The cops think that she's lying about claiming self-defense and have asked Miriam to have a compassionate conversation with the inmate to see if she can identify any inconsistencies or get her to share any additional information. She initially hesitates, unwilling to doubt the woman's testimony or risk the relationship that she's established with the inmates, but eventually agrees. Mariam meets with the accused inmate, telling her upfront why she's there. The inmate tells her about her sordid history of abuse at the hands of her foster parents and how she's angry at who gets to determine what the truth is and who can tell it. Mariam asks her point blank if the guard committed a crime, giving her a chance to come clean without saying anything that would be recorded and used against her, but the inmate nevertheless sticks to her story. Mariam and the rest of the staff are evacuated from the women's prison as a result of the riot. As she stands outside looking onto the prison, an explosion rocks the building.

In This Piece of My Soul, Mariam eventually reunites with her two sons on the outside, Mike returns to Iris and his cabin.

Appearance[]

Trivia[]

  • On November 25, 2021, it was explained how throughout Season 1 Mariam teaches history to female prisoners, and some are grounded in grains of truth, and others were fabricated for the show.[1]
    • In The Mayor of Kingstown, Mariam discusses the Civil War. The book Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee is seen on the student’s desks. She tells her students that the Civil War is “the only time in history, the oppressors fought each other over the rights of the oppressed” and goes on to say that a decade after the Union victory, “a new union army made up of mostly imprisoned confederate soldiers and immigrants reignited the genocide begun by Columbus some 400 years earlier”. A student then approaches Mariam and says that she grew up on Pine Ridge. The student is referring to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota where the battle of Wounded Knee took place in 1890. Many believe the massacre at Wounded Knee was revenge for the lives lost at Little Bighorn, which ties the student’s statement into Mariam’s lesson as well as the book the class is studying.[1]
    • In Mariam’s second lesson on The End Begins, she talks about the Cherokee being moved further west to Oklahoma. She tells a heart-wrenching story of how the Cherokee were forced to abandon their dogs — who they see not as pets but as guides with the souls of their ancestors — when made to cross the Mississippi River. Mariam continues as several of the students are seen crying, telling them that the dogs howled and leaped into the river, and drowned while trying to reach their families. This story comes from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and is a first-person account of the tragic story; however, Tocqueville’s story involves the Choctaws instead of the Cherokee.[1]
    • In Simply Murder, Mariam teaches a class on the origin of slavery that is drawn from the historical account of Pope Nicolas V from Crónica dos feitos da Guiné by Gomes Eanes de Zurara. Eanes de Zurara tells the story of the young Portuguese ship captain, Antam Goncalvez, who kidnapped a small group of Berbers with the help of his crew and another. Mariam’s story is that of an African king who is abducted by Portuguese explorers and negotiates his freedom by offering to collect 10 more slaves for the explorer when he returns the next year and 100 the year after that. Mariam concludes her lesson by asking, “would slavery have existed without this bargain? Perhaps the better question should be ‘would the bargain have existed without the desire for a slave?” While a provocative question, this question is largely off-base since slavery’s origins can be traced back to Mesopotamia in 6800 B.C. as is pointed out by Free the Slaves (via freetheslaves.net).[1]

References[]

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