Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)
As Cedric and Eva begin to lose hope, Coach Hardwick reveals a bit of himself to Eva and helps remind her of why it is so important to give people from all walks of life a chance
Topic 1: This is What’s Expected of You (Cedric)
With Cedric being publicly arrested and accused of murdering Chantel, he at first thinks his roommate Bryce can get his dad to defend his innocence. However, with Mr. Richardson [Larry Rhem] more worried about his son’s associate with Cedric than defending him, so begins Cedric losing hope. For with him coming from a neighborhood where people die every day, him disappointing his mom by ending up in a cell, on top of not being able to really grieve in peace because it may make him look soft, so begins the hardening of his shell. To the point when Eva visits him he doesn’t even feel like being thankful for her support and not tossing him aside. The damage has been done.
In general, I think the thing people fear the most is being given up on and disappointing one of the few people we know have our backs. Making it where, with this show building up how life was for Cedric and his mom growing up, for him to end up in prison is such a shock. For, like he said to Mr. Richardson, he is a good kid. It’s just, he is a good kid who wasn’t raised in the suburbs and so you kind of begin to understand the real theme of this show.
For, from Cedric to Eva, everyone is out to prove they are not their past and where they came from. They are looking to be better, challenge themselves, and we are experiencing one of their first visible, to us anyway, problems to surmount. Which for Cedric, it is questionable if he is already drowning in this challenge or if he is simply trying to survive. Either way, it will be interesting to see how much prison changes this young man.
Topic 2: The Petty & Hurt (Eva, Diamond, Carlton, and Derek [Masud Olufani])
A lot of men in Eva’s life seem to do nothing but hurt her or seek to hurt her. Diamond is still petty as hell, Carlton tries to hurt Eva with an attempt to blackmail and while Derek starts off as a sympathetic guy, he is then reminded of the broken trust and walks away. Thus leaving Eva with very few allies and friends among the Black men in her life, but luckily she makes two.
I think a day will come when Eva slaps Carlton or Diamond and if and when that happens, I will be jumping out of my chair and screaming at the screen like the people I usually see Tyler Perry movies with. For between Carlton just being a little mitch and Diamond just being outright disrespectful, the need for a comeuppance rises.
Yet, it is Derek’s time with Eva I found most noteworthy. Not just because it revealed Derek didn’t come from money or that there are some feelings still there. What mattered in his scene with Eva were two things. The first being what kind of man he is. For while upset when he learned $150,000 was used from their joint account, as he decided to listen to her as she gave him the opportunity to, and you saw him not shut her down, blame her for the way things are, but just listened, recognized her pain, and tried to console her, it gave me hope. For with so many ain’t sugar honey ice tea grown men on this show, it was nice to see Derek’s issues with Eva stem from her breaking his trust and making it hard to be friends with her. Yet, in that moment, I think we got that rare appearance of the friendship side, a healthy one, between two grown Black people who are, or were, in a relationship.
The 2nd thing which I feel mattered is that while Anika Noni Rose may not, in that scene, had you on the verge of tears, it helped me realized that what she brings different from a lot of actresses in roles similar to her’s – Openness. With Eva, there are no walls that we as fans, or the people in her life, have to climb over or dig under. She has a door open and is trying to invite people in. It is just, either no one takes the invitation or no one decides to stay. Thus explaining her relationship with these kids who seem to love her and why she still tries to work with the men who would kick mud at her. It’s because she believes their love for the school may one day outweigh their hate for her and there is a daily hope that today maybe that day they come in and bring peace and a plan they can fight together.
Topic 3: Not Every Man Should Be Seen As Your Enemy (Eva, Mr. Briggs [Coby Bell], and Coach Hardwick [Sean Blakemore])
With the water getting turned off, Eva goes into her own pocket to pay the bill. One which is $150,000. Thus pushing the idea, Eva needs to hit the pavement and phone to get some donors. One of the first we meet is one Coach Hardwick introduces her to. An alumni named Mr. Briggs who owns an assortment of businesses, though his favorite is his gentleman’s club.
Now, at first, he and Eva don’t get along since he is used to the school not wanting to be associated with him and he wants to take her down a peg. However, with her going into her own pocket for the school, and him recognizing this isn’t just a job, stepping stone, or a means to “give back” but that she is really there for people like him. Those who came from unhealthy environments just looking for opportunity, he gives her $250,000 for the school.
Let me address Coach Hardwick real quick. While Eva already has her husband and Jason knocking at her door, I like the fact Coach Hardwick seems to just want to be her friend. Granted, it maybe an insurance policy so she may less likely fire him for coaching a losing football team, but I think it maybe more than that. Which, in a show which has men like Carlton and Diamond on it, much less Jason using her for sex and Derek being a complicated relationship, I liked that she had a close male friend who was Black. If only because it wasn’t a maternal type of relationship or one which seems bound for a romantic relationship. Through their shared wishes for a better school and both having daughters, that is the basis of their friendship. Not cause one may want to sleep with the other, but because they have enough in common to be compatible as people.
As for the Mr. Briggs story, I think it further proves the point of Topic 2. Eva is willing to accept anyone who is willing to respect her and isn’t going to try to play her. To me, she is the type of woman with a lot of love in her heart and she has no problem sharing it with anyone. She’ll even give you a 2nd, 3rd, and maybe 4th chance after you rub her the wrong way if she sees something in you. However, she will walk away. She maybe willing to bend and take note of your life and situation, but only to a certain point.