Originally, Athena was going to be a lawyer. However, a young man named Emmett, with his charm, and speaking about why he joined, thanks to a 6th-grade presentation by narcotic detectives, convinced her to change directions. Leading her to be part of the LAPD’s recruiting initiative to get to a force of 20% women. Something Officer McCluskey found himself coerced into by training at least 5 female rookies. All of which ended up married, having kids, and wasting his damn time.
Though Athena ends up different. She kicks ass, takes names, and shows she has staying power. Leading to her not only impressing McCluskey but many members of the force.
1991: Athena, Emmett, Beatrice
However, the main person she has her eye on is Emmett, and they soon become quite the match. In fact, Beatrice tells us, in the present, he was her favorite. Hence why she gives Michael and Bobby such a hard time. However, with asking Emmett to go run for some groceries, something not that important, he ends up shot in a robbery and dying on the scene.
The day of his death was February 17th, 1991.
2019: Athena, Dennis, Beatrice, Bobby, Michael
For three decades, Athena has held onto Emmett’s death, and alongside the girl who went missing in her childhood, the murder of Emmett has been a driving force in her being a cop. Well, and the Rodney King beatings. However, with being unable to do anything about Tanya, letting Emmett’s murder go unsolved has haunted her. Even to the point of hiding who he is from Michael and Bobby.
However, with the murder weapon showing up, Athena goes on a wild goose chase and ends up at Dennis’ door. We learn he is the person who killed Emmett, and it was while he was an addict and desperate for a fix. But, all these years later, he has gotten clean, goes to church, and takes care of at-risk youth.
That information, however, isn’t enough for Athena to leave him be. Instead, she has him come in, he confesses to the murder, and Athena seemingly gets to release herself from the guilt of being part of a man’s murder.
Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs
It’s the not knowing that haunts us. — Hen
You may understand my pain, but you don’t understand my struggle. — Athena
While we have bits and pieces of Athena’s backstory, from why she became a cop, meeting her mom, and things like that, most of what we know is from the present. Be it the dissolution of her marriage, abusing her power sometimes, dating Bobby, and being a mother to two kids.
Now, unlike Hen, who was long neglected, I won’t say Athena’s feature was impactful, since Athena has been at the forefront for most of the show. Plus, if we’re being honest, it is hard not to feel a bit cheated since Angela Bassett didn’t get to play out her younger self to the capacity everyone else did. Yet, it must be said, Sonuga did one hell of a job.
I’d even say, as much as this Emmett thing feels pulled out of nowhere, she made you care beyond what Bassett has done with the character. Heck, I would even submit, despite her work on Famous In Love, you could see big things from Sonuga. I’d even say, as there are conversations about Storm and the X-Men, she’d make a good storm.