With the question of whether someone had rough sex or was raped circulating through campus, it begins to cast a shadow over George A&M. One which may hide how some lives, non-related to that, are falling apart.
Trigger Warning(s): Episode contains conversations about rape as well as a blurry image and video of the act
Episode Focus: Sydney’s Rape (Terrence [Kevin Savage], Eva, and Sydney)
With Sydney’s rape by Terrence circulating the campus, before Dr. Fletcher even knows it is her daughter she is on the case. She figures out who did it, asks for the resignation of Chief Gaines who didn’t take it seriously, and in the process ruffles some feathers. One of which is Ella Grace’s (Jasmine Guy). She is trying to be a loyal ally, be the one sister who has power and can help Eva. However, Eva doesn’t seek counsel, she seems condescending, perhaps about her own resume than the school, and she is growing tired of it. For even if she has done some good, she is making it seem that the school wouldn’t know what to do without her gracious opinion.
Between Sydney and Ella Grace, I struggle to see this ego they both keep talking about. While Eva is certainly well put together and calculated to a point, nothing about her seems selfish to me. Her dealings with Mr. Briggs was about the school and making sure it could pay their water. Also, lest we forget, unless this is being kept a secret, she paid the bill at least once! On top of that, it isn’t like she isn’t the president of the school. Shouldn’t she make addresses to the faculty and students? Is the way she act really that much of a “Yankee” mentality that it makes people feel like they are being treated as dunces? It isn’t like she is telling people what to do and stomping out the room in her heels thereafter. She makes decisions which, so far, seem to be about benefiting the students. She tries to talk to Diamond about his budget so that their tuition likely doesn’t have to go up, she tries to talk to Coach Hardwick about BoJohn starting since it would mean a network deal which means more money and exposure for the school. Money which could go to bills, repairs, faculty, and the quality of the student’s lives there.
Making Ella Grace’s comments odd to me. I would expect them from Carlton, maybe as a means of developing why he doesn’t like her, besides her being a woman and earning a job he thought was his, but Ella Grace delivering that “selfish” speech came off odd. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they are actually utilizing Jasmine Guy, after she basically disappeared, but her lines didn’t click at all.
As for the rape storyline, it feels so hard to criticize because of the topic. For how can you side eye the actress playing Sydney when everyone would handle going through that differently? How can you criticize a story with some after school special dialog when it is such a difficult topic to take on? Especially for an actress who has been in the game 20 years and this is only her 2nd time being part of the cast and getting to really inhabit a character? Well, you can. You can because this story-line seems geared solely toward creating drama, cashing in on a serious issue, and presenting almost comically bad soap opera styled breakdowns. That is, on top of perhaps trying to make a very one note character actually become someone who you can feel more than indifferent about.
Subplot 1: The Return of Ebonie (Ebonie, Cedric and Noni)
After taking some time to recover, and get the hell away from Georgia A&M, Cedric is in the process of trying to get Ebonie to comeback. For while there are bad memories there, he understands what she feels. But as for whether these two may just remain friendly or become something more? Well, that’s hard to say. What is known though is, if Ebonie comes back, Noni will have more to worry about than just Danny [note]Danny is told by the sax first chair that Noni set him up at Dr. Fletcher’s party.[/note].
I need Ebonie to comeback. She brings a sense of realness to this show that no one else really has. She makes Cedric into a likable character, she further complicates Noni’s character, and honestly is the best young actor/ character on the show. Plus, with how her story is setup right now, with revenge against Danny, maybe trying to take back her spot, and then of course what could happen with Cedric, she gets your wheels turning. She presents some form of excitement and stability on a show still trying to figure out how to balance the assumed ratings that network TV drama would bring alongside it’s theme of life on a HBCU campus.
Subplot 2: Diamond’s Relationship with His Sister (Cecil Diamond)
Like Sydney, Diamond is in the process of being humanized. In his case, we learn that on top of his cancer and his main relationship being with a escort/ sex worker, he had a very abusive father. One which he escaped from and left his little sister Cynthia (Jaqueline Fleming) with. Something she has neither forgot nor forgive. Also, in order to show repentance, he has been sending her mother. Of which, she throws on his desk and leaves before he can try to talk to her about what is literally killing him inside.
I’ll admit, Diamond is starting to get to me – in a good way. He is brilliant at what he does and keeps a tight ship, so while I may not like his interactions with Eva you can understand why he was so hostile. He wants to the best to fulfill his vision, so he needs the budget to do so. Also, as he noted, his band was the big thing at the school for a long time. Not the football team, basketball team, debate, or any of their programs. It was him and his band.
But once you add in that he only has that band, that those kids are perhaps the closest he will get to having children, you can’t help but feel bad for him. For, in a way, you can imagine he is trying to give those kids what he wasn’t given in terms of love, proper discipline, but encouragement. Hence why, when it came to Noni, he gave her a box to practice and is mentoring her. Because, at the end of the day, he loves his job, it is perhaps all he securely has, and those kids are the closest relationships he doesn’t have to pay for.
You don’t have to say everything you feel everytime you feel it. Take your time, see how things fall, if you don’t leap.
It’s not what you’re doing, it’s how you’re doing it.