TV Recap: All American – No Matter the Cost …

All American
“Back In The Day” (Episode 112)
February 6, 2019

Last week on All American, Spencer and Jordan went through a competitive recruiting event with players from South Crenshaw. Both of them had competition that made them question their own abilities, while Spencer also saw the seedy underbelly of College Boosters. Elsewhere, Olivia came to Asher’s aid and hooked him up with a living situation inside Layla giant, empty house.

Photo: Kevin Estrada/The CW

Now, on to tonight’s all new All AmericanBEWARE OF SPOILERS! 

Crenshaw. We open tonight’s episode with Layla and Spencer studying for a chemistry test tomorrow. That done, Spencer moves on to studying “chemistry” of a certain sort. But, before clothes can come off, Dillon and Mama James come home, causing the horny teenagers to “act cool.” Dillon sums it up perfectly.

“Busted!”

Beverly Hills. The next morning, Olivia comes downstairs to find the rest of her family engrossed in their own projects, football playoffs and political campaigns, leaving Olivia feeling a bit invisible. Spencer notices something is wrong, at least, but she tells him everything is good.

Spencer, I get that Layla is a very attractive woman but you have eyes, right? You see what Olivia is looking like right here? Hot damn. Bro, I don’t understand how you are capable of sleeping under the same roof with her? Yum yum yum.

Back in Crenshaw, Coop comes home (well, Shawn’s home) to find that Tyrone is there; turns out he’s got a key. They have a discussion about Ty’s position that everything Coop owns ACTUALLY belongs to Tyrone; it’s a very “feudal lord” system he’s running. This apartment may not be anyone’s for long, though, seems the landlord is fixing to throw Coop out. Money isn’t the issue, it’s Coop’s age. Seeing as she’s under 18, the landlord won’t let her formally take over Shawn’s lease. She mentions getting emancipated from her parents to make her legally viable for things like having a lease but Ty isn’t about that. If she’s emancipated, she’d be tried as an adult for her drug and gang work and that doesn’t work for Tyrone. He suggests that Coop go home and make up with her parents.

Beverly Hills. Back at the Baker house, Olivia is searching in her closet for something when she discovers an old clutch with a bottle of pills in it. She flashes back to her bedroom, one year ago, when she was still taking these pills and life seemed a lot more joyous. Some tunes to drown out her parent’s voices and girlfriend was flying around her room, not a care in the world.

Back in the present, Olivia stares at the pill bottle with conflict written all over her face. She looks like a woman who has run into an old flame she maybe isn’t quite over. Ruh Roh!

Title Card.

At school, JJ and Jordan tease Spencer about how many times he may or may not have re-watched the video of him making that impressive catch at the combine from last week’s episode. A cute girl walks by and notes Spencer’s impressive hands.  This leads to JJ and Jordan talking about the state of his relationship with Layla and the Asher factor. Spencer mentions he didn’t have much choice in the Asher moving in with Layla situation but no worries, he trusts Layla.

The football trio spy Asher and Layla at the other end of the hallway and Jordan and JJ throw some nasty looks as they walk away. Jordan tells Spencer to watch his back. Asher is having a sad about his friends still hating him but Layla assures him they’ll come around. He leaves Layla at Spencer’s locker. Spencer isn’t pleased at all to learn Layla and Asher drove to school together but he says they have to get to class.

Photo: Kevin Estrada/The CW

As they prepare for their chemistry test, Layla is worried that Spencer is being too quiet but he’s more worried about the fact that Olivia hasn’t shown up to school yet (her test booklet sits by itself at an empty desk).

Cut to Olivia waiting outside a closed up Tattoo parlor. She’s looking really anxious and when a woman, all piercings and punk chic, rolls up, Olivia tells her that she needs to talk.

Commercials.

We come back from break and whew, turns out this tattoo woman isn’t a dealer like I feared (you were worried too, admit it!) but rather, Olivia’s Sponsor. Olivia tells the Sponsor (her name is Leslie Ward (played by Friday Chamberlain) but we don’t know that yet) that she’s been fine. Felt fine. She’s been to parties with drugs and alcohol and had no cravings. But then, she finds a pill bottle this morning and all of a sudden, it’s all of the feelings from last year all over again.

“This is the part where you gotta dig deep. Figure out what demons got stirred up for you today and why.”

Olivia rolls up to school but, before she gets out, has a flashback to the year prior. At school, we see Party Olivia telling her bro that the parents are away so it’s party time! Jordan thinks it’s a bad idea but Olivia instructs JJ to spread the word. She grabs Layla, who is with Asher, and says it’s time to find some trouble.

Back in the present, Olivia’s memory is interrupted by Spencer who knocks on her car window. He gets in and says he’s left her 3 messages already today. She admits to being tempted by the pills she found but says she tossed them and met with her Sponsor. He asks how he can help and she begs to talk about something else. He’s reluctant to move on from the pills topic so she does the heavy lifting, apologizing for maybe causing major problems between Spencer and Layla with the whole Asher thing.

“I just don’t want it to end before it’s gotten started.”

Olivia’s advice is for Spencer to not let it become a thing. He looks at her like he never thought of that.

Flashback Time! This Flashback belongs to Spencer. We’re in Crenshaw, one year ago. Spencer and some of his football boys are walking down the hall. We see Kia at the other end of the hallway and one Spencer’s boys makes an innuendo that he’s been with Kia behind Spencer’s back. Spencer, being less enlightened than he is today, punches the kid in the face and it’s fight fight fight. Teachers and security guards break up the fight but Spencer’s real problems are just starting. Spencer tries defending starting the fight but Kia scolds him, saying he is supposed to trust her. She tells him that something is going on with Spencer, that what she just saw was crazy person behavior. She tells him if he walks away right now, they’re done. He walks away (to be fair, the security guard was ushering him away to the principal’s office).

The Keating House. Spencer and Layla are alone. He apologizes for being distant but then asks about Asher’s plan to move out. Layla is all, you said you were cool with him staying?!? Spencer tells Layla that he wants to make sure they have the space and time to focus on them and their relationship. He tells her he’s going to take her out on a date, just give him a few hours to come up with special plan. As they go to seal the deal with a kiss, Asher comes home (at least he has the decency to look sheepish about clearly interrupting them). Spencer pulls away, all eyes rolls and blue balls.

The Baker House. Olivia comes home and tries to get her mom’s attention so they can talk. Laura is preoccupied with getting ready for a surprise date with Billy and again, ignores her daughter. Billy isn’t any better. He comes in like a hurricane, just learning about their surprise date and then leaves just as fast to get ready.  Also, both of them let slip they’ve got packed schedules coming up. Olivia leaves the room, telling her mom that she didn’t really need to talk after all.  Olivia is hurting, man.

Crenshaw.  Coop is giving Spencer major shit about letting Layla live with Asher and not doing anything about it. She informs Spencer that Layla and Asher are eating breakfast cereal together in the mornings. Spencer defends himself, saying he’s trying to be the bigger man but Coop isn’t convinced. She’s even less sold when Spencer reveals his big, special date plan is tickets to Hello Dolly. Coop is all, “the actual fuck?!?” (that may be a paraphrase of what she says). She reminds Spencer that he is neither white nor 60 years old so what is he doing going to Hello Dolly?!? He tells her that Layla loves musicals so he hooked it up.

Photo: Tyler Golden/The CW

Coop can’t believe she’s looking for a place to live and Spencer is going all “Keith Nelson” (which made me laugh out loud). Spencer doesn’t get the reference but nevermind, Coop tells Spencer that Layla doesn’t need the Hollywood Bowl; a better date would be something that was special to the both of them. Their conversation is interrupted by someone calling Coop’s name. Spencer and Coop’s faces light up, it’s her dad! Coop runs to him and he gives her a big hug! Awww!

Commercials.

We come back from break and Coop and her dad are talking in her apartment. Daddy Cooper tells Coop they want her to come home. Coop is incredulous, asking Daddy Coop if he’s ever actually met his wife. Daddy Coop says Mama Coop has had a chance of heart, they are ready to accept Coop – all of her. They hug and father and daughter both look unsure of whether this is actually true.

Beverly Hills. Layla finds Olivia at the restaurant they all hang out at (though we haven’t seen Spencer working there for a bit, now). She gives Olivia a Wonder Woman pin, to celebrate her courage and her one year anniversary of being sober. As Layla heaps praise on her friend, Olivia produces the pill bottle.  Olivia tells Layla that she hasn’t taken any … yet, and then says that she takes every day one day a time, an active choice to remain sober.

“And today, it’s … it’s just not working.”

Layla reminds Olivia that she doesn’t have to go through this alone but Olivia disagrees. Her whole family forgot about her anniversary, she says, though Layla thinks that’s probably not true. Olivia says she understands, they’re all busy with their lives – especially this time of year with playoffs and campaign season.  Layla tells Olivia that she HAS to tell her folks, they can’t help if they don’t know and “you can’t heal unless you’re honest with them.”

“No more struggling in silence.”

Outside the restaurant, Layla calls Spencer to let him know that she’s really sorry but … Spencer cuts her off and assumes she is choosing to do something with Asher over him. But, he’s wrong. Layla explains that it’s Olivia and she’s having a hard time and Layla is going to stay with her. The “Asshole” is not said but it’s implied. Spencer tries to apologize but Layla has already hung up. Those Hello Dolly tickets are going to go to waste, looks like. Spencer has a sad face.

Flashback Time! Spencer, all bruised and school suspended, tries to sneak in the house but Mama James is waiting for him. She reads him the riot act about getting into fights at school and how he’s always blaming someone else. She tells him that no one gets to control what he does except him. This is the same Mama James we know today but a much harder edge due to a more troubled teen. Spencer blows up saying that he doesn’t like feeling angry all the time but, how else can he feel given his father leaving him. Leaving them. He storms out of the house, telling his mother that he gives up.

Cut to Mama James calling Billy, who is sitting in a restaurant. She tells Billy that she needs his help.

Commercials.

We come back from break with Spencer finding Asher standing with Layla at The Restaurant (that’s what I’m calling it for now on). he comes in, all hot under the collar, saying that Asher doesn’t look like Olivia. Layla hands Asher keys and he leaves, complimenting Spencer’s lack of tact. She wheels on him about jumping to conclusions and accusing her of lying. Spencer is all, “what did you expect” with moving your ex into your house?

Almost quoting Kia word for word, Layla tells Spencer that she expected him to trust her. Spencer says he does but Layla points out that clearly, he doesn’t. She tells him that he may want to believe those words about trust but he doesn’t and what’s worse, she’s never given him a reason not to. She leaves.

Flashback Time! Billy is at the James House and Mama James is telling him about Spencer’s increased fighting at school. She hatches the Beverly plan, saying that a change of scenery could be exactly what Spencer needs. Going to a school that doesn’t remind him of his absentee father (though she says “Corey” NOT “his father”) could make all the difference for Spencer. Billy balks, stammering about rules that he is not in a position to bend.  Mama James tells Billy that she knows he’s got his own family and his own problems.

“But we owe Spencer this shot.”

Beverly Hills. Olivia is home and she’s tense. She’s still battling the demons here.

Flashback Time! The party that Olivia wanted (but Jordan didn’t) is in full effect. The Baker House is packed with kids and there drugs and pills and booze being consumed everywhere.  Olivia is dancing on a table, bottle in hand, the entire crowd surrounding her like she was dancing on a stage in a club. She’s really hot in this scene but also, totally high and drunk. We notice Asher noticing her.

Jordan comes home and the focus of the ENTIRE party shifts to him. QB1 is here, y’all. Olivia, now alone, climbs down from the table and joins Asher at the bar. She can’t believe that Jordan didn’t even want to have people over but still winds up the belle of the ball. Asher tells her that he doesn’t feel a need to “kiss the ring.” Olivia notices his shitty mood and asks what’s up? Asher tells her he’s got some family stuff going on but she mocks him, saying he’s not alone in that department. Asher drains his drink and gets up to leave.

She stops him, apologizing for making fun. She agrees that family sucks. Then they toast to family’s sucking. Asher asks if she should be mixing alcohol “with whatever else you’re on” but she’s touched that he cares. They’re holding hands. They kiss. They kiss again. They head down a hallway and kiss up against a wall. She takes him into a room as the party continues on without them. We cut away but this was the infamous night they fucked.

Back in the present, Olivia is pacing in front of her family. She gathers her courage and begins her speech.  She tells her family that it hurts her to have to use 911 texts to get them in front of her to talk. She says she feels invisible in the family and that she turned to drugs and became a party girl so she felt less alone and isolated. Olivia talks to her family about how even then, they threw money at her problem and when she got out of rehab, they all acted like she was fine and good. But she’s not, you guys. Olivia tells her family that only Spencer ever asked her if she was really okay. Billy and Laura try some feeble attempts at defending themselves but she shuts them down.

“I don’t want us to keep making the same mistake.”

As to prove her point, she says that Jordan just smoked weed and there were no consequences for him, just a question of whether he was ready to play football.  Laura is all, “?!?!”

Oopsies.

Seems that Billy and Jordan never told Mama Baker about the marijuana episode. Olivia says she just assumed her mom knew.  You got some explaining to do, Billy.

Commercials.

Crenshaw. Spencer has gone to the Cooper House to lend moral support to his bestie as she reunites with her parents. Coop and Spencer set up for food outside while Coop tells Spencer he’s a damn fool. He’s doing the same thing with Layla that blew up his relationship with Kia.  Lack of Trust. Coop tells Spencer that because his dad left him, he expects that anyone who loves him will leave him too … so he pushes them away first. Spencer says that he loves Coop but never tried to push her away. Coop is all, pssh, you tried all of fourth grade, I just didn’t budge. The best friends tell each other they love each other.

Get Yourself a Friendship Like What Coop and Spencer Have. For Real!

Beverly Hills. Jordan finds Olivia in her room. She apologizes to him for ratting him out the night before but he’s the one who has come to apologize. Jordan apologizes to Olivia for not ratting her out a year ago. he knew how much she was using but didn’t say anything. And when he found her passed out after that crazy party, he was scared that he tried to forget anything ever happened. Jordan congratulates his sister on making it one year sober and tells her that he’s got no plans tonight except to be with her.

Crenshaw. The Coopers and Spencer are reminiscing but Mama Coop isn’t really feeling it. When Patience calls Coop’s cell, her demeanor changes completely. Coop walks away to take the call and Spencer lays into Mama Coop. Coop is Coop and has always been this way so what’s the problem, he asks? Coop comes back to see that her mom really hasn’t changed and Mama Cooper stops denying it. She tells all assembled that she believes what she believes and nothing Daddy Cooper or Tyrone say can change that.

Wait, hold up. Tyrone? The hell?

Seems that Tyrone has a hook up at Daddy Cooper’s job and threatened to have Daddy Cooper fired if he didn’t bring Coop home. Coop wheels on her father and says he is WORSE than her homophobic mother.

“You let me hope things would be different. You know what? I’m dope as hell and y’all gonna realize that one day. The messed up part. It’s probably gonna be too late.”

Beverly Hills. Asher finds Spencer in the gym finishing a work out. He tells Spencer that he was a friend to Asher when he had no reason to be so he wants to return the favor. He tells Spencer that he can trust Layla. Spencer agrees, he says that the person he wasn’t trusting was himself. Spencer tells Asher that they are not all that different a person and he thinks he can help Asher get back in with the team. He suggests that they work on the new playbook, bring something useful back to the team. Asher is all in and the boys shake hands.

Photo: Tyler Golden/The CW

Crenshaw. Coops finds her dad waiting for her outside her apartment. He tells her that his plan was to always bring Coop back home, just that her mom needed more time. He tells his daughter that Tyrone’s threat just made it easier to force Mama Coop’s hand.  Coop is all, that’s a convenient story. As proof of his sincerity, Daddy Cooper tells his daughter that he quit his job that morning.

“I’d rather lose a job than lose my daughter.”

Daddy Cooper hands over emancipation papers, signed by both her parents. He tells Coop that she’s still his daughter and he won’t stop fighting until he reunites his family.

Commercials.

The Keating House. Spencer and Layla walk out to her pool as Spencer begins his well earned apology. He tells Layla that Asher moving in acted as a triggering event (Coop Therapy For the Win!) for Spencer. And, instead of telling her his feelings and worries and concerns, he blamed other things and pushed her away. Layla tells him this is lingering effects from his father but makes it clear to Spencer that he and his father are as different people as can be.

“You’re a good person Spencer. And incredibly easy to love. Trust that.”

Photo: Kevin Estrada/The CW

Elsewhere, Jordan and Olivia are at an addiction meeting. He takes his sister’s hand. This is how you celebrate one year sober when you’re an addict; it’s important.

Flashback Time! We cut to the morning after the party. Jordan comes downstairs to find the house a wreck, empty bottles and trach everywhere. He sees Olivia on the couch. She’s not asleep. Clearly not asleep. Olivia is passed out, maybe dead. He carries his sister to the floor and tries to revive her. Laura and Billy come home and find Jordan over his maybe dead sister and they run to her side. Billy carries her to the shower and the Bakers rally around trying to revive their daughter.

Photo: Kevin Estrada/The CW

Back in the present, Jordan is wrestled from his memory to people applauding. Olivia’s Sponsor stands up and congratulates her on making her one year sobriety. Olivia received her token for one year and smiles wide as the crowd applauds her achievement. In the back of the room, Olivia sees her parents clapping for her.  She thought they had plans? They tell her someone more important came up. The family hugs. This is what healing looks like.

Photo: Kevin Estrada/The CW

Later that night, Billy finds Laura out by their pool. He apologizes for not telling her about Jordan and the weed. She’s upset because they went through this with Olivia and handled it poorly. Billy tries to say this isn’t the same thing but she’s making a larger point, they are supposed to be together. Together on these things. Billy agrees and says they need to be honest with each other, “no matter the cost.”

“No matter the cost.” He repeats this and tells Laura there is a bit more to the story she needs to know. He tells her about swapping out the urine sample. She’s shocked but takes his hand.

“We’ll figure this out together.”

What the Baker Parents don’t know, however, is that Jordan is standing just inside the house, eavesdropping. He seems fairly shocked himself as the episode ends.

Really, Jordan. What did you think happened there son?

Thoughts.

Another great episode from All American, handling difficult themes and issues with a delicate yet well honed and pointed touch. Since the Pilot episode, we have known about Olivia’s past addiction. We knew about her night with Asher. And the show has done a great job of often showing us feeling left out and invisible in her family. Tonight, All American tied all of it together and brought an important story arc to a close. Or, if not a close, at least a plateau from where we can go in a new direction. Using the discovery of the pill bottle on the eve of her one year sober anniversary was a genius choice and a really organic way to fill in all of the Olivia blanks we didn’t have before. It’s easy to appreciate that someone would spend a lot of time reflecting on their past as they reached a milestone like one year clean.

All American has gone out of its way to use flashbacks sparingly. Other than some Spencer as a young man in Crenshaw flashbacks and during the time he was dealing with Shawn’s death, the show has relied on dialogue to fill in our characters’ pasts. The effect of this, is that when the show does use flashbacks, they mean more. They hit home harder and really bring us into the experiences of these characters. Watching Olivia be high and the life of the party followed by the harrowing final flashback of when she was passed out … it was emotional, it made me feel something. Kudos to Samantha Logan who, while already one of the best performances on this show, took her acting to another level tonight. The contrast between the outcast, yet sober, Olivia we know in the present against the high, party girl, was striking and well defined. But, it never felt over done, over dramatic or even lampooned. Olivia’s experiences felt real and human and we could all easily see in Olivia, someone we probably know (or ourselves).

The other flashback narrative tonight was in Spencer’s story. We have seen several times this season, the effect that Corey leaving his family had on Spencer. Tonight, we really got to dive deep into the damage done to Spencer. His inability to trust and to allow someone to love him sank his relationship with Kia in the past and then, almost repeated itself verbatim with Layla in the present. It was a nice use of flashback to show us how we so often repeat patterns, especially dangerous and detrimental ones.

Last, Coop’s story. The rejection of Coop’s parents was deeply felt earlier on in the season but we haven’t heard much about it lately, especially given the gang arc that she’s been going through. Tying her father’s return with Tyrone was a smart way to bring both of Coop’s storylines together and give light to the need for a child to feel acceptance from their parents. Daddy Coop seems sincere, time will tell how hard he really tries to fight to reunite his family.

Until next week, thank you for reading and watching along with us!