TV Recap: American Soul – Sitting On A Goldmine …

American Soul
What Are You Looking At? (Episode 1066)
March 5, 2019

Last week on American Soul, an earthquake which halted production of Soul Train was the backdrop for the episode. Don slipped further into his alter ego of “Don Cornelius, ruthless TV mogul” and he consummated his affair with Ilsa. The dancers went on strike for lack of pay and Don responded by assaulting their representative … twice. Tessa had a change of heart on her future plans and the Clarke family had an unexpected visitor from Sgt. Clarke’s past. You can catch up on all of last week’s action with our deep dive recap and review here.

Now, continue reading to see what’s in store for all the hounds and honeys on this week’s all new American Soul … BEWARE OF SPOILERS!!

Still of Wayne Brady as Little Richard from BET’s “American Soul” episode 106. (Photo: Annette Brown/BET)

Don is reviewing a commercial for an Afro hair care product. The commercial uses Frederick Douglass, famous abolitionist, social reformer, and escaped slave, to endorse its product and this turns Don off; he feels it’s shameful after 108 years of emancipation. Don is sparring with George Johnson (Javon Johnson), (who appeared first last week as a helper as Jerry was having a heart attack and now appears to be an established part of the management team. Not sure how that happened).

This is an important moment for Don. It demonstrates the span of his arc already in accumulation of power.  It wasn’t too long ago that he needed Brooks to court sponsors for national syndication and now, he’s having a  say in which commercials he will and will not support.

As Don walks onto the set, Tessa is stressing that Little Richard hasn’t shown up for his taping. The duo head to Don’s office but he’s intercepted before going in by Jean Jones (Chrystee Pharris) from Right On! (a real teen magazine which focused on African-American celebrities). Jean needs to finish an interview with Don for the cover of the magazine. You go, Don! Don walks into his office and Ilsa is there with contracts for the bus tour and a whole lotta flirty banter between them. This is gonna get messy, for sure.

Club 100 Proof. My favorite wise-cracking, smooth-talking, strangler gangsta, Gerald, is setting up the club for a Muhammad Ali fight. An investigator, Marlo Taylor (Jason Turner), asks Gerald a few questions about Michael Lewis (aka Mikey, the wiry guy who fell short on his repayment plan to Gerald two episodes ago who ran out of air after Gerald choked him with a chain). Taylor tells Gerald that one of his associates, Herschel, a known thug, was a prime suspect because of how much Mikey owed him. Gerald cuts the meeting short; Herschel is his boss.

Clarke residence. Simone is getting ready for the day and her mom comes in with a tiara for her. It’s Simone’s birthday! Happy Birthday, Simone! Cut to Kendall and Brianne singing her happy birthday on the couch. Brianne gives her a music box labeled from her Dad. She opens the music box and it’s Smokey Robinson’s “Tracks of My Tears,” but it’s a recording of her Dad singing. They’re very emotional, as you could imagine.

Still of Katlyn Nichol as Simone Clarke and Kelly Price as Brianne Clarke from BET’s “American Soul” episode 106. (Photo: BET)

Don and Jean are continuing his interview. It’s fast paced, her asking questions rapid-fire and him deflecting from answering too in-depth questions about why Delores was so instrumental in the production of Soul Train in Chicago and why she hadn’t made the move to LA. Don is saved from any more uneasiness because just then, Little Richard (Wayne Brady) calls.

Little Richard tells Don he has an emergency and says he’s staying at a ‘friend’s house.’ Said friend is kicking Richard out and wants $500 in exchange for his stuff. Little Richard wants  Don to handle it personally as Richard’s friend is throwing pillows at him. I need more of this in my life right now. Pure comedic genius.

Side note: I saw Wayne Brady on Broadway last year in Kinky Boots in the role of Lola. I feel like that was primer for this role. In the 30 seconds he was just on camera, he nailed Little Richard’s frenetic, over-the-top persona. I want more.

The Soul Train gang are on the studio lot having what looks like their own version of auditions, charging $5 for each dancer to try out. One of the hopefuls is a large, voluptuous woman named Violet Simms (Raven Goodwin). Flo immediately starts to fat shame her saying the area can’t take another earthquake. Tessa finds them and breaks up the scene, sending the dancers back inside.  Tessa is talking to Violet about Flo getting on her last damn nerve. In a surprise move, however, Violet sticks up for the fat shaming bitch.

“She got mad  moves like James Brown and Josephine Baker had a baby. A cute old, mean ass baby.”

Still of Raven Goodwin as Violet Ohkio and Iantha Richardson as Tessa Lorraine from BET’s “American Soul” episode 106. (Photo: BET)

Tessa invites Violet to be her assistant for the day. Violet is thrilled, she’s got this bubbly personality that you can’t help but like her from the outset. And Tessa, you are just an all around sweetheart. I heart you, girl.

Don arrives at Little Richard’s pad with Jean in tow. He asks her to wait in the car. Little Richard runs up to Don and Don’s reaction is disbelief, he doesn’t even recognize Little Richard. Little Richard blames his poor looks on Rose and her hostage situation.

“My inner self is locked in that house, honey.”

Don just looks confused at the spectacle. But he’s going in.

They knock on the door to persuade Rose to let Richard get his things. He’s got to get his shit so he can make his Soul Train taping! Rose (Brianna Butler) is a feisty one, though, she accuses Richard of being a liar and making promises he’s not keeping. Rose takes Don’s money and slams the door on them. Don turns to Richard and asks him if there is more going on than he’s told Don. Richard isn’t having it.

“She’s a wop bop a loo bop a lop cuckoo!”

I wonder how many times Wayne had to rehearse that line to get it right. Around the other side of the house, Rose has set Richard’s exotic clothes on fire. Feisty, I told ya.


Simone is leaving a message with Ma Mable for JT about plans she says they have for later. Kendall gives Simone a hard time about JT, he doesn’t think he’s good enough for his sister.

Soul Train Set. Violet is watching the production with Tessa and listing off the tasks she’s completed for her new boss. Tessa exits and Flo  comes over with her entourage poking jabs at Violet for her weight. Violet is so uncomfortable and tries to make a gracious exit. Flo. You a bitch. I hope you break an ankle or need your jaw wired shut.

Still of Raven Goodwin as Violet Ohkio and Iantha Richardson as Tessa Lorraine from BET’s “American Soul” episode 106. (Annette Brown/BET)

Little Richard is upset about his clothes being torched and not committing to the taping, which Don reminds him is in 45 minutes. Enter Jean, who feels this situation needs a feminine touch to get it resolved. Richard is confused as to who she is. Don handles introductions.

“[She’s] The one who’s gonna get the rest of your shit back so I can stop bleeding money out here in the Twilight Zone.”

Still of Wayne Brady as Little Richard and Sinqua Walls as Don Cornelius from BET’s “American Soul” episode 106. (Photo: Annette Brown/BET)

Richard is quite cuckoo, even for Richard. He’s looking for his ring in the midst of the ashes of his clothes. This is an important ring he needs to perform it’s named Colleen. He asks Don to get the ring so they can get on-board the train, but warns Don to “cover up his bits” … sage advice when dealing with Rose.

Club 100 Proof. Farrah Fawcett is settled in a roped off section to watch the fight. Gerald asks one of his associates to move her to another table, she’s in Herschel’s seat. He’s giving her a bottle of Dom for her trouble.

Clarke house. Private Barker comes into the kitchen asking to freshen up and wishes Simone a happy birthday. Kendall and Simone gang up on Brianne a bit. Simone says it doesn’t look so good having him stay in the house. Brianne defends her decision saying he’s down on his luck and they should help. Simone asks her mom if there is something going on between the adults and Brianne gets all huffy offended at the thought.

Barker returns from the bathroom and is changed. Kendall confronts him, asking why he’s wearing his Dad’s clothes? Nate responds it was laying in the garage, he didn’t know. They get very physical for a moment and everyone kind of is flung by Barker’s defense against Kendall’s provocation. Nate goes into the garage and Kendall rounds on his mother.

“You see that? That’s what you brought into our home. What the hell were you thinking?”

Brianne slaps him hard.


Soul Train set. Tessa sees that Violet is upset and knows the source is Flo. Tessa brings Violet to her office and shows Violet a picture of herself as a kid. Tessa was heavy and was picked on and she empathizes with Violet. Violet is determined to not let Flo get her down, she’s thrilled at the work Tessa has her doing today. Tessa wants to give her more of an opportunity.

Club 100 Proof. Gerald and his associate have the bet money for the fight and are excited about it being a big payday if Ali wins. Gerald is concerned that some dudes haven’t shown up and thinks they should have another person guarding the money.

Jean and Rose are bonding. Jean manages to keep Rose out of the way long enough for Don to get in undetected to look for the ring. Rose is on the phone and Jean comes to the bedroom to talk to Don. She wants the story that’s here. Rose then comes looking for Jean and the hijinks ensue as Jean and Don try to exit the house without her finding them. They get trapped in the bathroom just as Rose decides nature is calling. Rose discovers them hiding in the bathtub as Jean and Don make a quick escape.

Richard is waiting outside and he’s thrilled Don found his Colleen. Don sees through him, knowing the ring holds some drugs. He tells Richard he’s getting sloppy. Richard is incredulous.

“No one starts off sloppy, Don. You should remember that when you get here.”

Jean comes running out of the house asking them to make a quick exit because Rose called the cops. Rose is flying behind her, flinging household objects. Richard shouts that he loves her and Rose blows him a kiss and wishes him a good show. Schizo I tell ya, but funny as hell.

Brianne apologies to Kendall. He apologizes to her for what he said to her, but not what he did and said to Nate. Brianne is comforted by Nate’s presence, she feels like he’s here for a reason. Kendall gives her an ultimatum: if Nate is still there when he gets back from the Soul Train bus tour, he’s leaving.

Still of Jelani Winston as Kendall Clarke and Kelly Price as Brianne Clarke from BET’s “American Soul” episode 106. (Photo: BET)

Club 100 Proof. Gerald steps out to smoke a cigar. He’s attacked by Taylor but soon he gets the upper hand, demanding to know who sent him.

Soul Train set. Jean is pressing Don to finish the interview and include the dirt on Little Richard. He feels a personal responsibility to protect Richard’s iconic status and warns her from exposing dirty secrets.

“[If] We highlight our heroes’ worst traits, we won’t have any heroes left.”

Those are powerful words echoing through to the time we live in now. More commentary on that later. Jean seems to have a superficial change of heart following his words, but I’m very skeptical about her. There was too much of a scoop for her to just agree to drop it.

As Richard performs “Born On The Bayou,” Gerald and his associate stuff the money in a bag discussing their options as the guy he just beat the hell out of lies bleeding on the shag carpet. Gerald tells him to stuff Taylor in his trunk. Damn, this guy and his trunk. Wayne Brady just slays as Little Richard.

Still of Wayne Brady as Little Richard from BET’s “American Soul” episode 106. (Annette Brown/BET)

Tessa helps Violet get all dolled up and has her dance with the gang during the shoot of “Groove Me.” Don is watching from the control room, sees Violet on set and comes down to the floor to stop it. George finds him and tells Don that Dick Clark wants to meet in an hour. Don gets to Tessa, telling her that Violet won’t make the final cut and threatens to take the wasted production time out of her check. This is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

“Remembering who I am, remembering that I have a dream and doing everything I possibly can to make that dream come true. I quit, Don.”

His reaction is shock and Violet busts into a split. He’s in disbelief over Tessa and incredulous that she’d leave right before the dance bus tour she planned. Tessa tells him he’ll figure it out.


Don and George are in a restaurant with Dick Clark (Matt Walton) who compliments Don on delivering on Soul Train.

“It’s your vision I’m most impressed with, Don … Soul Train is a stroke of genius.”

Dick proposes to buy Soul Train for $5 million and a 25% stake in perpetuity to bring the syndication from 14 cities to 400, then take it international. Don’s family will never have to worry about money. Dick excuses himself to let Don and George review the offer. Don turns it down, telling Dick it’s not his to sell because the ownership is shared.

“It belongs to every black man, woman child who ever dreamt they could be more than they were told that they are.”

Exit Dick. Don and George know that this is not the end from Dick Clark. They’re kinda tickled though because Clark just confirmed that they are sitting on a goldmine.

Simone performing “If I Was Your Woman” at her show, waiting on JT to show, with a table reserved in front. Her drama teacher, Professor Haygood (Brad James), sits down in the back of the room and recognizes her. He looks troubled at the sight of her there.

Still of Katlyn Nichol as Simone Clarke from BET’s “American Soul” episode 106. (Annette Brown/BET)

Don knocks on Ilsa’s door. She is not happy to see him. She spurns his offer to go a few rounds, saying she has an old friend over.

Don sees Ilsa leading her friend hand in hand to the bedroom through the window. Ouch.

Simone tells the crowd it’s her 21st birthday. Her teacher comes over to tell her that he was going to have the conversation about her future opportunities for her talent closer to graduation. She tells him to buy her a drink and discuss it.

Gerald delivers Taylor to Hershel (Clifton Powell) who’s in his living room watching the fight. There’s vendetta level tension between them. Herschel says they’re slipping in their old age. Gerald delivers the bet money and feels it should raise his clout with Herschel. Herschel extends a hand and Gerald ignores it, turns and leaves.

Damn, Simone is stumbling out of the club on the arm of Professor Lecherous. She is enamored by the praise he’s heaping on her for her talent. There is a moment of attraction but he comes to his senses before anything happens and calls her a cab. Just … damn. I got a bad feeling about this.

Brianne finds Nate packing up. She doesn’t want him to go. He comes clean with her about how he was wounded; that he panicked and ran. He came to the Clarke house to confess to Sgt. Clarke and then planned on committing suicide. Brianne tells Nate that he’s not the only one with secrets. Ooooohh, I want the Brianne backstory! I like her, she’s sweet, but complicated. Spill that tea!

Violet and Tessa eating a feast of fried chicken, mac and cheese and apple pie. Laughing about how stereotypical it is, but it’s good for the soul. Violet asks Tessa what she’s going to do next. Tessa says she’s going to try the apple pie.

Gerald having a drink with Don as “What A Wonderful World” plays in the background. They’re talking about how big Soul Train will be. Gerald asks for an on-set office. Don kind of gives him a side eye, but agrees. Yeah, Don. I’m not sure about him either and I know more about him than you right now.

Still of Sinqua Walls as Don Cornelius
and Jason Dirden as Gerald Aims from BET’s “American Soul” episode 106. (Photo: BET)




This episode was definitely more light-hearted that the last few heavy laden ones. There was a brightness in this episode not felt really since the premiere. The characters are established now and are developing their stories well.

The music and the guest appearances each week really are the heart of the show. Each appearance is so well-crafted after their real-life counterpart. Combined with the soundtrack, which is the undercurrent of the show, we get little emotional hints as to where our characters are at. For example, the last episode had the O’Jay’s “Backstabbers” playing as the protests were underway and this episode ends with “What A Wonderful World.” I appreciate that level of attention to detail.

This episode, with Wayne Brady. Mmmm, I love me some Wayne Brady; he’s entertaining in every respect and he just oozes talent. His portrayal of Little Richard is perfectly executed. He got everything right, even the exaggerated eye movements and the jazz hands when he talks. So, so good.

I love Tessa and how empowering she is. Her quiet strength gave Violet the confidence to shine and herself the confidence to step out onto the path she’d chosen for herself. I hope Violet is hired in Tessa’s place. I just need to see Flo get checked by Violet, now in a position of power. It’ll be sweet revenge cuz I’mma about to hijack a DeLorean and time travel back to 1971 to give Flo a bitch slap.

This week saw Don learning his place in the world and the degree of success he’s attained (in a very short amount of time according to the show’s timeline) and he’s so much more likable. Between the complaint about the Frederick Douglass Afro Sheen commercial at the start of the episode to turning down the offer from Dick Clark, Don’s feeling more comfortable with who he is. Maybe, this means he’ll be less of a dick going forward, because I was really starting to dislike him. Just from the way he spoke to Tessa made me want bitch slap him.

Possibly this change in Don is that his ego also took a big hit from Ilsa shutting him down and Tessa quitting. The exchange with Jean about being discreet about Little Richard’s plight and highlighting heroes’ flaws was the biggest show of humility we’ve seen since the beginning of the series. As much as I admire his conviction, Jean is not going to let that go; it’s too good a story, unless she’s going to go after Don negatively. My gut tells me Don’s going to pay for that moment of valor.

Speaking of the “highlighting your heroes’ flaws” and having a responsibility to protect icons … I think that was a noble gesture on Don’s part. I am taking this as a pointed commentary on the TMZ-crazed, cell phone camera-era we’re now living in where there is a complete lack of privacy for celebrities.

I’m trying to figure out Gerald. Why is he asking for an on-set office? Is he trying to make some kind of a play to further punish or overtake Herschel? I know he’s not letting the attack from Herschel go. Does he want more of the stake in Soul Train now that Dick Clark is interested? Either way, it’ll be entertaining and hopefully clear of anymore guests in his trunk, but unlikely.

Thank you for reading along with us each week. We’ll be back next week for the next stop on the Soul Train. American Soul airs on BET on Tuesday nights at 9/8c. And you can catch up on all the prior episode’s recaps at!

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