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While Cecil remains the lifeline of this show, we continue to be eye-roll inducing melodrama when it comes to Cedric, Eva, Sydney, as well as BoJohn.

Episode Focus: The Man Who Shot Shontelle | Reconciling with Cynthia (Cedric & Cecil)

Starting with Cedric, Shantelle’s brother Dre has come to town hoping Cedric will help him kill the dude who killed his sister. Cedric is down since he too wants revenge. However, rather than Dre keep the gun on his person until the day of, he has Cedric hold a piece and his roommate discovers it. Leading him to believe, in a way, maybe his dad was right about Cedric and maybe, despite leaving his environment, he took the BS with him. In the end, however, Dre handled the kill since he knows, as Cedric’s roommate notes, the kill isn’t what she would want and expect from Cedric and, if something comes of it, it would ruin his life.

Switching to Cecil, he finally reveals his cancer to Cynthia and reconciles with her. But not before we are told the dad was physically abusive to his mom, sister and him, as well as part of the reason for the abuse,  was Cecil was out doing him. His father figured he was the talented one in the family and his son was threatening that. Hence why Cecil was in his cross hairs and why Cecil, once the scholarships came in for music, abandoned the family until his mother died. [note]The hunt for a new drum major has begun.[/note] [note]It seems the only reason Cynthia brought their father to that game is because she, after being the only relative to take care of him in his old age, has come to reconcile in some form. There isn’t a case of forgive and forget there, but she can deal with him.[/note]

Commentary

I honestly forgot about Shantelle and her murder, if only because that was the first red flag this show was just going to be sensationalized and I wanted to forget. So it being brought back and including such stupid things like Cedric’s roommate leaving a gun on the bed for anyone to walk in and see, it just facepalmed. To add insult to injury, I don’t know of too many college campuses, much less dorms, where you can just walk into the dorm, go to the rooms, without being on a list, getting announced, or something like that? How in the world did Dre just pop up and walk up? Much less, why in the world did Cedric even go through with possibly shooting someone? The boy has barely been out of jail and yet he was looking for a reason to go back? He was looking for a reason to disappoint his mom and waste all the time and effort she put into raising him? Come on now…

As for Cecil? More and more I wish his character was the central focus. The reason being, he grounds this show. While Cedric is playing with guns, Eva having an affair with a college student [note]What ever did happen to Jason?[/note], and the ridiculousness of the two storylines below, Cecil is dealing with real life problems. He has cancer, he has a band in which he still seems to believe his former drum major screwed him over [note]Despite Noni clearly making it known she screwed him over with filliping him off[/note], and he has realistic family issues he is trying to reconcile before his death. Now, could his interactions with Carlton seem over the top and petty? Yeah, they once did. However, while Cecil got to evolve, Carlton stayed on the level the majority of the cast have remained. That is, using pettiness and sensationalizing storylines, without much in the way of nuance or style, to attempt to get this show talked about.

Subplot 1: Money & Politics (Carlton, Eva, and Coach Hardwick)

Eva’s predecessor thought Carlton would have been a shoo-in for his job he was forced to retire from. Hence why Carlton refuses to accept Eva’s position and move on. What he thought was being given to him for time and service was stolen from right in front of him. But perhaps what he should be worrying about are the two things Eva is presently dealing with. The first thing is an external audit so that a group Mr. Briggs has formed, they don’t find out what he, and other members of the staff, have been siphoning out of the college. Alongside that, another girl, Maya (Marquita Goings), reports being raped by Terrence. Not so that Trina’s march can get Sydney, but because it does seem Eva wants to do something. So maybe her coming out could be the ammunition she needs.

However, while Eva gets a smoking gun, Coach Hardwick brings a bulletproof vest. One Ashley Watkins (Kathryn Winslow), who used to work in the DAs office, he has asked her to be Terrence’s lawyer and she accepts. Thus really drawing the line in the sand of which you know will cause a bigger rift between Hardwick and Eva.

Commentary

When it comes to this rape storyline, as likely said before, it honestly seems to me the purpose was more so to bring attention to the show than the actual issue of rape on college campuses. I don’t fully understand why I have this feeling, but I think it is because the narrative since the beginning has been about whether it was rape or rough sex and they hashtagged it. The folks in marketing didn’t allow the show to craft a situation where the viewer could have been unsure, they made it clear they wanted to be part of the rape conversation and not expose something but profit off of it. Which is why I find it so hard to invest in this storyline.

As for Carlton, while it tickled me to see men being petty and conniving in the way women often are portrayed, it is getting old since all he does is whine and mope. He never does anything and the one time he tried, with that Sydney video, Eva sent him walking away with his tail behind his legs. Something he has never recovered from and honestly, it makes me wish he would barely be seen and heard from like Madison.

Subplot 2: Threesome (BoJohn, Junior, and Tiesha)

There was a time you could have had hopes for BoJohn. He could have been used to approach the awkwardness of interracial dating or being the white outsider in a Black environment, but that would have been too interesting. Instead, his relationship potential with Tiesha is shot dead in its tracks with him deciding, alongside Junior, for a gender studies assignment, to see what would happen if people believed Tiesha was part of a threesome with those two. Something she solely agrees to because it would mean interview access with the football team’s starting lineup. However, in the end, she doesn’t get hardly a thing out of the deal for the rumors shame her and barely damage the boys. Well, it damages their friendship because of how the Tiesha fallout goes, but otherwise, besides having to do the assignment over, they get off scot-free.

Commentary

I had hopes for BoJohn. I figured Cecil perhaps wouldn’t be alone with dealing with real issues. Granted, that whole explanation for roughing up his coach to protect a gay kid seemed to be peddling to the audience, but it was a good Segway to making him more than some token white guy. Add in Tiesha maybe feeling him and the exploring of a white man with a Black woman, in a Black majority environment, and we could have had something. Be it the difficulties interracial couples deal with, the idea of self-hatred, colorism, and more. Yet, instead, it is, for some god awful reason, decided to use what was being built up to in order to accommodate the dumbest idea one could ever fathom. Thus wasting, and making it honestly unbelievable, for those two to perhaps become an item. At least without some grand, romance movie, type of gesture being involved.

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