TV Recap: American Soul – You Don’t Wanna Be That Person …

American Soul
Nothing To Fear (Episode 107)
March 12, 2019

Last week, on American Soul, Tessa quit! Up and quit. And Little Richard showed up and displayed all his flaws to Don with an appeal for help. Don turns down a very attractive offer for Soul Train and Gerald flexed his gangster muscles to prove himself as a top dog.  Catch up on all of last week’s action with our complete recap here.

And now, continue reading for this week’s soulful journey on another all new episode of American SoulBEWARE OF SPOILERS!!!

Still of Sinqua Walls as Don Cornelius from BET’s “American Soul” episode 107. (Photo: Boris Martin/BET)

The Soul Train bus tour is underway. But not this second. Right now, the bus is stopped at a gas station and the dancers are taking the opportunity to work on their routines. Fresh is chatting up a white girl outside the convenience store as Kendall heads inside to pee. The store owner tells Kendall that “his” bathroom isn’t inside.

“The colored bathroom is ‘round back. Just dig a hole and squat.”

Nice. 

The store owner leaves Kendall outside the bathroom to go harass some of the other dancers in the store, accusing them of stealing. Kendall goes into the bathroom.

Brooks confiscates a beer can from Flo as she gets back on the bus. She protests, but Brooks tells her those are Don’s rules; the dancers drinking reflects badly on the Soul Train brand. But that doesn’t stop Brooks from poppin’ the top and taking a big swig.

“16 hours on a bus playing glorified babysitter? This isn’t drinking, it’s survival.”

Fresh and his white lady are still talking about hair when a big white dude comes up behind her telling her she shouldn’t be talking to this boy. Fresh is insulted, responding that he’s a man. Some of the dancers come over to take Fresh back to bus. There’s lots of white men leaning on pick-up trucks in flannel shirts looking very hostile and kinda bro-ing up, approaching the bus. Brooks senses the unease and calls for last call for the bus.

Kendall finishes with his bathroom trip and he’s met with a shot-gun pointed at his face by the store owner. Simone goes back in to find him. Brooks finishes his beer and climbs on the bus and wants to get out of there fast. He tells the driver to honk the horn to get Simone and Kendall out faster. Now, the menacing white guys start harassing the bus and one has a bat. When a bus window is shattered, Fresh points a gun at the good ol’ boys to “show these crackers what’s up.”

Still from BET’s “American Soul” episode 107. (Photo: BET)

The store owner was pushing Simone and Kendall out of the store until he heard the window shatter outside. He races out, shotgun aimed at the bus. Brooks see this and tells the driver to go. Shots are fired and the bus drives off without Simone and Kendall. They race away on foot away from the store. Brooks assures Flo that they’ll go back for them.

Still of India McGee as Flo Davis and James Devoti as Brooks Donald from BET’s “American Soul” episode 107. (Photo: BET)

Don returns home to a very warm Delores welcome. The Christmas tree is up and he’s got presents in hand, very festive.  Post-coitus he gives her an early Christmas present, an answering machine. Screams romance, even for 1971. He’s got to go to the station to see his old partner, Phil Stewart, ahead of the Soul Tran bus arriving later that day. They talk about house hunting while he’s home because he wants better for them, something to reflect their new stature.

“This place is good for the insurance peddler or the grocery girl but aren’t those people anymore.”

Still of Perri’ Camper as Delores Cornelius and Sinqua Walls as Don Cornelius from BET’s “American Soul” episode 107. (Photo: BET)

But Delores already bought the house they’re in. He is not happy.

Simone and Kendall walk along a road and argue, trying to put distance between them and those nuts from the store. They see a guy fixing a flat and ask for a ride. He’s a musician too, Nick (Chase Levy), who’s more afraid they’ll rob him than anything else.

Still of Jelani Winston as Kendall Clarke and Katlyn Nichol as Simone Clarke from BET’s “American Soul” episode 107. (Photo: BET)

JT is home with his little sister when he sees someone lurking outside their place. It’s Detective Lorraine asking about JT’s car. JT has a smart answer for him that the car is not for sale. Detective Lorraine asks him to come to the station because he’s been searching for that car. Lorraine has an officer with him to mind his little sister. It’s all in the details here; Lorraine knows JT’s name and his sister’s, even brought another officer with him to mind his sister while JT was brought into the station for questioning. JT asks what this is about? Lorraine advises JT to not play dumb.

“Let’s not start off by lying to each other.”

JT sighs. He knows he has no choice but to go along with Lorraine. This scene was really well done and in very much in the style of Detective Lorraine style: low-key, dignified and effective.

Commercials.

Don meets with Phil (Ric Reitz), his old business partner who helped get the local market of Soul Train going. Phil reminds Don that he still owns 25% of Soul Train, handing him a contract. Don is getting his Don-anger face on, asking if he’s being sued. Phil doesn’t want it to come to that; he wants this to be amicable, but he’s firm that a piece of Soul Train is still owned by him and assures him that clause has always been there. Don is all, bitch whatever.

“Do what you got to do, Phil.”

Police station. JT and Patrick talk about the deceased officer’s family. JT tells Lorraine he didn’t kill anybody. Lorraine presses JT to say who did it because things aren’t looking good for JT. They found evidence on his bumper and he’s known to run with their lead suspect.

“Confession is good for the soul, Jeffrey. Talk to me.”

In the van, Simone and Kendall do a quick audition for Nick so they can make some cash for a hotel room for the night. Their audition is an a capella rendition of “Stand By Me” with angelically gorgeous harmonies. Dang, I can listen to these two all day. Nick is impressed. 

Delores is braiding Don’s hair as they make small talk. Don is quiet and Delores calls him out on it. He tells her about Phil and his shake down. Delores tells him that no one can take Soul Train from Don, it’s who he is.

Still of Sinqua Walls as Don Cornelius and Perri’ Camper as Delores Cornelius from BET’s “American Soul” episode 107. (Photo: Jace Downs/BET)

Their son, Tony, comes in. He’s hearing a scratching noise in his room that’s frightening him. Don tries to reassure him there’s nothing to be worried about. 

Nick, Simone and Kendall are at a local club Nick knows. Nick is trying to fast talk the club owner to let them play. The club owner calls out Simone’s fake ID and she shoots back she’s a regular at Dugan’s club in Hollywood. Don’t mess with Simone, she’s got her eyes on the prize. On stage, Kendall and Simone jump into “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” to a quasi-hostile, mostly white crowd … But they come around. I mean, how couldn’t you? They’re so good and charming.

Still of Jelani Winston as Kendall Clarke and Katlyn Nichol as Simone Clarke from BET’s “American Soul” episode 107. (Photo: BET)

Police Station. JT and Lorraine share a smoke. Lorraine tries to get close by telling him they have the same background but JT’s not biting. Detective Lorraine gives his theory that Reggie Michaels was the trigger man and Latch was an accomplice who got caught in the crossfire. He wants JT to confirm it and he’ll be free to go make music again. Lorraine shows JT Dexter Brown’s picture after he was found hung in his jail cell.

“Dexter Brown killed himself over a crime you helped commit.”

JT won’t talk and adds insult to injury by putting the cigarette out in Lorraine’s coffee. Not a way to endear yourself, friend. JT’s placed under arrest for the officer’s murder. Ruh Roh!

Still of Phillip Mullings Jr. as Detective Patrick Lorraine and Christopher Jefferson as Jeffrey “JT” Tucker from BET’s “American Soul” episode 107. (Photo: Jace Downs/BET)

Commercials.

Simone and Kendall start “This Christmas,” telling the crowd it was their dad’s favorite Christmas song. The crowd is pretty into their sound, dancing and kissing all over the place.

Soul Train dancers signing autographs. A man, Darryl (LJ Scott), comes up to Flo and asks her to autograph his poster. Brooks pops in to tell Flo that he heard from Simone; they’re okay and they’ll rejoin them the next day. Darryl asks for the poster to be made out to his girl, “Anita.” After he gets the signature, he sees the aforementioned Anita at the signing with a guy, Corey. She had told Darryl she was sick but now she feels better. Corey was kind enough to give her a ride because she wasn’t going to ride over on the back of Darryl’s bike. Burn!! Poor Darryl. You shady, girlfriend. 

Following the song, Nick leans over to ask Simone how old she really is and Simone tells him 17. In a kinda creepy way, he tells her there’s a whole world waiting for her when she’s ready. Nick tells Simone she’ll be a star but has to put herself first. 

Lorraine brings in JT’s dad, Maurice (Sean Baker), to talk to JT. Lorraine adds that he’ll put in a good word for Maurice’s upcoming parole hearing if he sets JT straight now. Alone, JT is tortured by what happened and asks his dad for advice about living with blood on his hands.  His father, sagely, responds that everyone has blood on their hands, it’s just a matter of degrees. He gives his son some additional advice to do everything possible to stay out of jail.

“All you can be in there is the worst version of yourself.” 

Commercials.

Soul Train is back in Chicago and production is underway. Phil is there at Don’s invitation. Don dismisses what happened between them earlier as a thing that happens between friends. Delores heads to the bar to sweet talk Phil.

Still of Sinqua Walls as Don Cornelius and Perri’ Camper as Delores Cornelius from BET’s “American Soul” episode 107. (Photo: Boris Martin/BET)

Kendall and Simone get back to the production. Flo is upset and walks away after Kendall imitates gunfire with his hands.

In the bathroom, Darryl, he of the poster for the nasty girlfriend, looks at at a gun in his bag and looks all pissed off.

Cut to Brooks talking to Flo about what’s bothering her, channeling his inner Tessa. The Five Stairsteps perform “Ooh Child.” (Nice touch, BET, The Five Stairsteps are from Chicago). 

Still from BET’s “American Soul” episode 107. (Photo: Boris Martin/BET)

Darryl is out on the dance floor looking all shifty; he starts to take out his gun, all in in slo-mo. Flo intercepts him before he gets the gun out and asks him to dance. Damn, my heart. Simone was in front of his girl dancing and she’d have been in the line of fire. Darryl dumps his bag in the trash. Afterwards, Flo and Kendall patch things up. Flo tells Kendall about her baby brother being killed outside their house by gunfire.

“Being on that bus, seeing all those guns … I didn’t’ know where you were…”

And they kiss. Alright, maybe she’s not all that bad. 

Still of Jelani Winston as Kendall Clarke from BET’s “American Soul” episode 107. (Photo: Boris Martin/BET)

Delores and Don get home and Tony is still up with the babysitter. He heard that sound again, the animal scratching. Don drags Tony down to the basement. They find a possum in the basement. Don has a gun pointed at it, but he wants Tony to pull the trigger. He tries to make this a lesson for Tony, akin to the school of hard knocks Don’s father had him endure with those boxing matches. Tony doesn’t want to do it and Don ends up killing it. 

Commercials.

Lorraine’s Captain gives Lorraine an envelope with an offer of promotion to lieutenant. This whole exchange is just icky … needs men he can trust … blah blah … future of department… yada yada… make a great lieutenant. The ick factor is high as the Captain gets to the real reason for this bribe promotion. 

“As far as the public is concerned, the men responsible for Officer McMartin’s death are dead. This case is closed, Lieutenant.”

Phil’s Office. Don arrives to give a hung over Phil his cut of the show. Before he can open the envelope and go back to being friends, Phil gets a call from Woolworth’s — they’re pulling their ads. You can hear the caller on the other end telling Phil he broke their agreement. Don sits with a smug look on his face as Phil’s secretary walks in to say that Sears and Marshall Fields are holding on the line too. In fact, the phones are very busy.

Phil knows it was Don who sabotaged him. Don responds that those advertisers know Don is Soul Train and threw their weight behind Don. Don reminds Phil that he turned Don down on the chance to go national. Phil told Don that they should just keep the Chicago show going and they’d make money for a long time. Phil opens the envelope with his cut. Inside, Don wrote “GO TO HELL.”

Police Station. Lorraine lets JT go. As JT leaves the interrogation room, Reggie is in handcuffs being brought in as Lorraine shakes JT’s hand and thanks him for all his help. Reggie’s gaze follows JT out. 

Delores’ boss shows Delores Right On! with a picture of Don and Ilsa very cozy from the UNCF fundraiser. The caption says they’ve caught the Love Train and that Don might be enjoying more than the California sun. Her boss wanted her to see if before it got put out. Her boss asks Delores if she wants to go home early. Delores, the trooper, tells him she’ll be fine. 

As the Soul Train tour bus prepares to leave, Simone is soaking up the spotlight as fans look for autographs. Flo is there to remind her to quit showing off. There’s the Flo we know. Kendall walks up to her and asks her to stop the lying about the gigs, that she doesn’t want to be that person. 

Don is packing for his return flight to LA when Delores storms in demanding to know who Ilsa is. She can deal with the cheating, that’s not new, but not the national embarrassment. I’m impressed that she could pronounce DeJarnette without an introduction. He’s blowing her off saying its not what it looks like, it’s just business. She is yelling at him to deal with this now. He heads for the door with his suitcase. Delores let’s him know what leaving means for them.  

“Don, if you walk out that door you are choosing Soul Train over this family.”

Still of Perri’ Camper as Delores Cornelius and Sinqua Walls as Don Cornelius from BET’s “American Soul” episode 107. (Photo: Jace Downs/BET)

Exit Don. And scene.

***

Thoughts.

Don. I’m about to smack you upside the head. I liked ya again after the last episode when you defended Little Richard against the Right On! reporter wanting to dish Richard’s drug and love woes.

B T Dubs, my instinct that Jean was going to burn Don somehow was … right on (pun totally intended).

Don was a bit of a bastard again this episode. He had a bit of a mic drop moment with Phil and the advertisers cancelling, but I feel that part isn’t over for him; there’s too much money at stake now for Phil to walk away. And Delores, Delores, Delores.  There was a lot of back story that was hinted at in the first episode and now in this one, with her telling him she can deal with the cheating, that she had for years.

To be walked out on in that moment is unforgivable, Don. We know from Don’s bio that him and Delores split and I can’t blame her. To find out via a national publication that your husband is cheating is beyond the brink to come back from. I feel ya, girl. Kick that man to the curb and take him for everything before Phil sinks his teeth in to recoup his share.

JT, man. This episode really ripped your guts out by how masterfully Detective Lorraine danced around to try to get him to crack, even parading in his father and dangling an incentive for parole for JT to play ball. The whole scene with the captain is just par for the course with the LAPD in this show: corrupt and slimy. When Lorraine let JT go and Reggie was outside …  ooh Detective Lorraine, you knew what you were doing. Knowing how bad a player Reggie is and who he’s connected with and now Reggie is in custody not knowing whether JT rolled on him (or not), just sealed JT’s fate in a kind of elegant way. JT caught a break from the captain, but Lorraine knows Reggie will take care of JT. Justice is served, just not in the conventional manner. 

I feel like Simone is headed for a bit of a train wreck. She’s getting a little headstrong with her talent soaring. The creep factor is ratcheting up between her teacher last week and whatever was going on with Nick this week. I want to believe it was just solid career advice about putting herself first and in essence, ditching her brother to become a star. She needs to learn how to handle herself better, but then again, she is only 17 and very green. 

And Flo! You’re not the truly heinous prima donna you’ve been the previous 6 episodes. We saw a vulnerable side to her tonight and her kindness to a man who’d been publicly slighted by his lady avoided a potentially horrible outcome. Her and Kendall are progressing in their relationship now that she opened up a bit to him. Maybe she’ll soften up a bit. I’m not holding my breath, but Flo moved up in the ranks this week as the character you’re least likely to love to hate. Don takes that spot this week. 

The race tensions portrayed in the beginning of the episode were well done. I was legit afraid someone wasn’t going to make it out of that scene alive; the tension was pretty high. The comment about going out back to dig a hole to use the bathroom was just so typical racist redneck. It makes you think how far we’ve come and how far we haven’t come in terms of race relations in 45 years. Shit like that still happens locally and institutionally and kudos to American Soul for highlighting that this episode.

I don’t see a big star musical act in the trailer again for next week. The Five Stairsteps appearance was more in the background this week and the show did lack that ‘star moment.’ Little Richard’s and Gladys Knight’s appearances were much of the focus of their shows that gave us some memorable moments. With only 3 episodes left in this season, I hope we get some more of those big musical moments.

Join us next week for the next stop on the Soul Train, cats and canaries. Thank you for reading along! American Soul airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on BET. Follow me on Twitter @SheilsMcGangsta for more recaps and American Soul talk. 

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