TV Recap: All American – Family Is What You Make It …

All American
“All We Got” (Episode 105)
November 14, 2018

Last week, Spencer helped Asher out of a jam and learned a truth about Ash no one else knows. Meanwhile, Olivia and Jordan learn a thing or to on their way to proving that Spencer may in face be their brother. Catch up with the full recap of last week here!

On to tonight’s episode … BEWARE OF SPOILERS!

It’s Spencer’s birthday y’all and the James house (plus Coop) wakes him up early for the Birthday wishes.  He’s having his annual fmaily only dinner that night in Crenshaw. And, because she’s awesome, Mama James somehow snuck a tupperware full of her special sweet corn muffins in his bag.  Down at breakfast with the Bakers, Spencer is asking Jordan why he and Olivia are looking at Spencer so weird. Their conversation is interrupted by Laura realizing its Spencer’s birthday. She goes into birthday celebration planning overdrive, even though Spencer makes it clear he doesn’t want or need a party of any type. Billy and Jordan advise him that it’s no use resisting her. Who would want to resist Laura?!? Yum.

At school, Layla catches up with Spencer to thank him for helping out Asher with the car sitch and she also tells him that Asher came clean about his family and money woes.  She also lets drop that Laura has already sent a mass e-vite for the “not a party” going on tomorrow. Spencer is amused how “that woman can’t take no for an answer.” Layla has a present to give him and wants to give it tonight after his family dinner. She too, can’t take no for an answer.

Jordan catches Olivia spying on Spencer and Layla and advises her to not feel jealousy about her brother’s love life. She continues to deny the brother thing. Jordan is incredulous given the evidence she herself uncovered about the bank deposits for 17 (really only 16.5) years. Olivia asks Jordan if he’s prepared to deal with the fallout if it is in fact true.

“And it’s a stone we can’t unturn.”

Jordan isn’t swayed. The truth must prevail!

At the James house, Mama James picks up a call from the Bakers. She assumes its Billy calling and starts the conversation by saying she was just about to call him. But, of course it’s Laura. Mama James covers that she was wanted to remind Billy that its Spencer’s birthday. This is why we should always say, “hello” when we pick up the phone. Avoid stepping into awkward conversations. Anyway, Laura was calling to invite Grace and Dylan to her ” not a party” for Spencer tomorrow. There is some banter about the gray area between “party” and “small gathering of friends” but Mama James agrees to go.

That night, Spencer (wearing a black dew rag we haven’t seen anyone wear since the early aughts) has his birthday dinner complete with cake. As he blows out the candles, it’s the happiest we have seen him on this show. Pure joy in his face.  Even later that night, Spencer thanks Coop for helping out with Asher’s call and concedes that maybe Shawn does have her back. But ..

“He ain’t me, alright? He always gonna want something.”

Spencer’s got that right but Coop doesn’t mention anything about what Shawn is exacting as payment. That night, Coop and Patience are making out and Patience asks why they never go out. Coop tries to be cute but Patience isn’t really playing around. Coop makes time for Shawn and Spencer but when is it her turn?  She thinks Coop must be embarrassed. Coop doesn’t really give any kind of good answer.  This isn’t a great development for these two. Gurl, have you seen Patience – take that woman out!

Photo: Eddy Chen/The CW

Layla’s Present. Layla’s father donated to the Rose Bowl locker rooms and so she has access to the field where the UCLA Bruins play their home games. It’s a pretty cool present but especially for a guy who plans to be playing on this field one day – either for or against UCLA doesn’t really matter … as long as he’s their. Layla cheers him on, says she’s sure he’ll make it here.  But, that’s not his present. Layla’s real present is two VIP tickets to tomorrow night’s home game (another perk of the locker donation). Spencer is jazzed but becomes introspective when he sees UCLA is playing Eastern Nevada.  That’s the team Spencer’s dad left them all to go coach for. He tells Layla he hasn’t seen his dad in 6 years and she advises that maybe it’s time.

Title Card and Commercials.

The next day, Billy finds Spencer working out hard in the weight room. He catches on that something is wrong and Spencer tells him that Eastern Nevada is in town. Billy understands what this means and Spencer continues. Spencer’s dad used to tell him that he’d make it out on to the big field one day and now, that Spencer is getting close, his dad isn’t around to see it. So, he’s going to take his field passes for the game tonight and use the opportunity to tell his father just how far he’s come without his father’s help.

“I’m doing it all now without his help.”

Billy tells Spencer that he too hasn’t seen his father in years and has learned that it’s best to look for what you need in those that are there for you, not those that aren’t.  “Some wells, they just run dry,” offers Coach Baker.

Keating House. Asher and Layla are hanging out in the pool and Ash would very much like to skip Spencer’s “not a party” and just get it on alone all weekend with his woman.  Layla is a no go for that because one, her dad returns tomorrow and will want to cram being a super dad into his sure to be short visit and two, Spencer just helped Asher with his car – Ash really shouldn’t blow him off that way.  Asher admits that it’s going to be weird seeing Spencer knowing that Spencer knows his truth. And, he admits it is kind of weird with Layla for the same reason.She tells Asher that he needs to be honest with himself, she’s there for him money or no but Asher has to be okay with himself if this relationship is going to work.

Olivia shows up at Spencer’s job to apologize about acting like a weirdo earlier but now he’s acting strange. He tells her about the tickets and Eastern Nevada and his dad and how he’s not going to go.  She’s not sure that’s the right call but Spencer mentions her dad being right, that Spencer needs to focus on those that are there for him. He walks away from Olivia who looks troubled by her dad’s advice.

Cut to the baker house where Olivia shows up with an address that’s attached to the wire transfers Billy has been making.  It’s not Spencer’s address, though, so let’s go get some answers, she says. The Baker kids roll up to the Crenshaw address and find two old men on the porch talking about the Basketball GOAT. Learning the owner’s name, Olivia asks how long Willie (Brent Jennings) has lived here and he says, “since your daddy was born.” Jordan? Olivia? Meet your grandfather! WHAT?!?!?!?!

Commercials.

We come back and find Willie has been keeping track of Jordan’s career and has all sorts of photos of the kids … from when they were young.  Olivia tells him that Billy told them Willie had moved to Arizona – why don’t the two men speak anymore?  Willie says that money changed Billy and that, although he made it into the NFL because of Willie’s pushing him hard, Billy left home and never looked back.  He’s pretty fucking bitter about it, to be honest. Jordan calls him on accepting the money from his father every month. Willie doesn’t deny it though, he says the money is the least Billy can do for his old man.   Olivia posits that maybe Billy never came home because he didn’t feel welcome. This makes Willie think hard. Jordan says its time to go and Olivia drops they have a birthday party to go to at their house; she tells Willie they’d like to see him again (Jordan doesn’t seem as on board about that idea). Olivia actally invites Willie to the party but he has the sense to decline as being a fucking horrible bad idea.

Beverly Hills. Mama James, Dylan and Coop show up at the Bakers and none of them can really believe the lavish life being exhibited here.  Spencer reassures his mom that he’d take his bed in Crenshaw any day and also, she agreed to this “not a party” which B T Dubs, is a major party.  There is a Mac n Cheese Food Truck for goodness sakes!

Photo: Robert Voets/The CW

Inside, Coop is trying to get the butler lady to sit when Olivia finds him.  They catch up quickly about her “sick crib” (Coop isn’t wrong) but are interrupted by Jordan who wants to talk about “GW.” “Grandpa Willie,” he has to elaborate for Olivia. I like  a good nickname boss but Olivia is right — too soon for abbreviations. Olivia says that GW living at the address disproves Jordan’s entire theory but Jordan isn’t convinced and either way, their dad is still lying about his history with Grace and they need to know why.

Outside, JJ and Jordan are riding Asher about him freaking out over the Porsche and also, knowing someone that could fix said car in one day. Asher resorts to his old self and claims that money talks. He makes up a story about throwing his dad’s Black Card around to get the car fixed pronto and Layla walks away fairly disgusted. The look on Asher’s face says he knows he messed up.

Inside, Spencer is asking Coop why she didn’t bring Patience. Coop doesn’t really answer but Spencer doesn’t let it drop. He tells Coop that they both need to stop worrying about the parents who rejected them.  Coop counters that this is really about Spencer’s dad being in town. Spencer gives her a look like, “how’d you know.”

“You ain’t the only one that knows some things, okay?”

Spencer tells her about the tickets he has but says that he’s not going to go to the game. He repeats Billy’s line about choosing to be with the ones who have been there for you. “Accept you for you.”

Photo: Eddy Chen/The CW

We hear the doorbell and, to no one’s surprise, Grandpa Willie is at the door. Billy’s face falls when he hears that the kids invited his dad.  He finds Jordan and Olivia and asks them why they would do that?!? Olivia can’t believe that Billy is the one that’s mad since he’s been hiding a grandfather from them that only lives an hour away. Billy says he made a family decision to cut Willie out and it was the fight decision. Jordan tells his dad that he knows Billy’s keeping secrets from them but Laura arrives in their pantry before the conversation goes any further. Billy waves her in and continues the hush tone explaining about the kids inviting Willie.  Olivia and Jordan turn on each other about who’s fault it was that they are where they are.

Jordan accuses Olivia of having the “hots for Spencer”  (Taye Digg’s “whoa, what? Hold up” here is classic) and Olivia retorts that this all started because of Jordan’s “messed up daddy issues.” Laura interrupts their squabbling.  “Could someone please tell me what the hell is going on here?” That’s the perfect question, Laura. Olivia looks at Jordan and tells him, if you want to know, you’ve got to ask. The moment of truth.

“Is Spencer our brother?”

Commercials.

We return with Billy restating the question but not actually answering. Olivia says it was Jordan’s theory and Laura would like to know how he came up with it.  Jordan’s evidence goes thusly:

1. You moved Spencer into our house. Billy replies that Jordan made that a necessity when he tried to block Spencer’s transfer to Beverly Hills.

2. I learned at the barbershop you had a history with Spencer’s mom. Laura replies that she is aware Billy and Grace dated in high school.

3. Olivia chimes in about the 17 years of payments they thought was for child support but that the address led them to GW. Laura is shaking her head knowingly in the background as Billy reminds them all that Willie is now in their living room.

Billy and Laura accuse their kids of being the worst detectives ever and Olivia admits the “investigation was flawed.” At Jordan’s prompting, Billy affirmatively denies being Spencer’s dad.  Jordan suggests they all put this “misunderstanding” behind them and go have some cake. Laura assures the kids that an appropriate punishment will be meted out but for now, they have guests to tend to so everybody, smile!

In the living room, Grandpa Willie has found Spencer.  He tells Spencer he knows all about him from the talk in the neighborhood.  GW says he’s one of “Billy’s boys, now” and Spencer is all, “yep.” He tells GW this party is for him in fact; it’s his birthday and also, he lives here now. Spencer catches the look on Willie’s face at this news and he asks the old man’s name.  “Willie. Willie Baker. I’m Billy’s dad.”

This is interesting news to Spencer since he understood the two didn’t speak.  GW says they don’t or haven’t, rather, since Billy married Laura.  GW goes on to say that he wishes Billy could have held on Grace and Spencer has just learned some new info. his face falls as he hears Willie talking about how close Billy and Grace were – GW was sure they’d end up together.

“I’ve never seen two kids so much in love.”

Elsewhere, Asher asks Layla if they can bounce but she says she’s not sure if everyone at the party has heard Ash talk about his “Daddy’s Black Cards.” She tells him that when he lies and she knows he ‘s lying, she’s complicit in the lie and that’s not how she wants her life. Also, it’s embarrassing to watch.  Of course, Asher takes this as a personal assault on his life situation which is not what Layla was saying at all.

Willie finds Laura and compliments how big the house is.  The old one must have been too small for her, he says. Can’t wait to see the next one, he continues. Billy joins and Willie has some shade for him too.

“You really living the OJ life now, aren’t you son?”

As Willie falls into a heap of laughter, Billy goes to throw his ass hat of dad out. But, Willie won’t go quietly and starts yelling about family not being welcome. Spencer steps in front of Billy and asks why he’s throwing his dad out? When his father is there making an effort but Billy shuts Spencer down saying that he doesn’t know anything about Billy and Willie’s history.  Hmmm, Spencer says, is it that history or the history with my mom I don’t know about.

Awww shit. This party just got awesome. And awkward as fuck!

Grace chimes in that it was a long time ago and Spencer rounds on her, asking why she didn’t tell him about the relationship?!? Grace defends herself saying that she didn’t want him to know transferring to Beverly was her idea but it’s all coming together for Spencer. He turns to Billy and says that he advised him to not see his dad at the game because Papa James would have mentioned the history of Billy and Grace. Seeing the look on Olivia’s face, Spencer realizes he was the only one in the room to not know. He bounces hard, he’s got a football game to go to.

“Dad may have left. But at least he never lied to me like this.”

Commercials.

The Rose Bowl. After the game, Spencer finds Eastern Nevada piling into their bus.  He asks after Corey James but then we see the bus pull away. As Billy shows up, Spencer starts in that he can’t stop Spencer from talking to his dad. Also, Corey James doesn’t work for Eastern Nevada anymore. In fact, he moved back to LA so, still doesn’t want to speak to his son anymore. All the feelings here for Spencer. Billy tells him that he’s sorry to hear that but Spencer walks away.  He doesn’t want to hear anything from Billy right now.

Crenshaw. Coop comes home to Patience. She tells patience she wasn’t at work but rather, at a birthday party in Beverly Hills.  She apologizes for lying and says that she’s not ashamed of Patience but of herself.  Citing being put out by her mom, Coop thinks something may be wrong with her. But, Patience has been there for her and Coop doesn’t want to lose Patience so soon after finding her. Also, she doesn’t want to hide their relationship  anymore. Patience is on board. They kiss.

The Rose Bowl. Spencer is sitting with Coach Baker. He tells Billy that he came because he wanted to move on from his dad.  Tell him all he’s accomplished … on his own. Billy assures him Spencer is his own man and a “damn fine one.”

“But, you can’t always do it on your own.  You need a team. A family. And I’m hoping that you choose to be a part of mine. Because I’ve already chosen you.”

Photo: Eddy Chen/The CW

Commercials.

Photo: Robert Voets/The CW 

Baker House.  Olivia finds Jordan out by the pool.  He apologizes to her about the whole Spencer/brother thing but she says this all really starts with her. She talks to him about pulling away. From him. From everyone. Olivia confesses to Jordan about being wasted the year before and sleeping with Asher. Jordan goes to go beat the shit out of Ash but Olivia pulls him down. She begs him to not say anything, claiming it’s her fault but more importantly, Layla doesn’t know and Olivia can’t bear her finding out. Jordan promises to keep the secret and lets his sister cry on him a bit.

Crenshaw. Coop and patience walk down the street. Hand in hand. Coop kisses her hand. At the James house, Spencer sees his mom.  She tells Spencer she never meant to hurt him and he understands. He says he’s ready to let his father go.

“I’ve got everything I need right here.”

Beverly Hills.  We finally meet Mr. Keating (Elvis Nolasco), Layla’s father. She hugs her father and he apologizes if he oke her up. “They” got in early. Oh, we, Layla says? Meet Mr. Keating’s new woman (Niatia ‘Lil Mama’ Kirkland), a bombshell that doesn’t look to be much older than Layla herself – certainly younger than her father. Layla’s face is pure ice.

Crenshaw. Billy shows up to his father’s house. Billy wants to know why Willie showed up at the house yesterday. Willie says he thought maybe there was some hope when Jordan and Olivia popped in. Billy says there can’t be any hope if Willie still can’t accept Laura, his wife and mother of his children. Willie isn’t about that so they agree, no hope. As Billy is making to leave, Willie asks how Spencer is doing in the aftermath of the news from last night.  Billy says he’ll be fine after the shock wears off but Willie isn’t done. He mentions how “your friend” Corey James stopped by Willie’s before splitting town all those years ago. Billy changes direction and comes back in the house. Willie has a question for Billy.

“And if that was Spencer’s reaction to you dating Gracie in High School, how you think he’s going to react when he finds out what really happened?”

Billy takes this in and has a flashback to a scene we’ve seen before> We relive the scene when Pop Warner-aged Spencer ran away from his mother, that saw that Billy was watching his game from a distance.

And scene.

Thoughts.

The problem with lying is that the truth eventually comes out. And, it’s always bad news. Not the news itself, necessarily, but the feeling it leaves inside you when you realize you’ve been lied to. That’s what Spencer is dealing with tonight. He knew his life had been filled with the desertion of his father but finding out this shared lie between Grace and Billy … and that he was literally the only one to not know about it? It was sucker punch in his gut.

But, in the end, I think his real issue was his continued anger at his father for leaving – for setting Spencer up with this dream and then never being around to see Spencer’s work towards fulfilling it. Which takes us to our major theme tonight.  Billy was 100% right in the weight room … put your energy in the ones who have been there for you.

Said another way, family isn’t what you’re born into. Family is what you make of it. And who you choose to be in it. That’s the lesson Spencer learns by the end of tonight. And Olivia and Jordan too, in their own way. And Layla and Asher as well. It’s a lesson as adults we all wish we understood when we are younger.  It would make the pain of blood line family much less painful if you realized, in the end – you can choose to be with the ones you love and who love you. Family, its pleasure and pain wrapped in a big, messy blanket.

But forget all that — what’s this last secret that Billy (and Grace?) are still holding on to?!?   Until next week, my friends!

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