It has not been an easy basketball season for Cam Calloway.
First he was sidelined by a sucker punch to the eye, courtesy of his own sister. Then he faced a seemingly never-ending slump and an HPV scare, the latter of which was coupled with an irresponsible affair with a reporter. But from the moment this week’s episode opens, and we see Cam hunched over and despondent, being rolled down a hospital hallway in a wheelchair, we know that he’d gladly get punched or sit through hours of insults by sports-radio jockeys all over again if it meant a strong, healthy knee. Because for a good portion of “The Injury,” we (the audience and Cam) have no idea if he’s ever going to play basketball again.
Survivor’s Remorse creator Mike O’Malley, who wrote the episode, has cleverly placed our protagonist in a setting that, for Cam, is both heaven and hell. The superstar athlete spends all of “The Injury” at the hospital, which, for those of us who remember Season 1, is Cam’s least-favorite place in the world. Not helping matters is the fact that he’s there due to potentially career-ending knee damage. However, the hospital is also where he meets a woman who may just hold the key to his grown-ass manhood. After last week’s disaster of a fling with Isa the sports journalist, who, to her credit, repeatedly called Cam on his immature, clueless behavior around females, the impossibly beautiful MRI technician Allison Pierce (Meagan Tandy) has arrived on the scene to assume Isa’s mantle. And, boy, has she got her work cut out for her.
She is also going to make Cam work for her affection (brava!), because he’s starting this relationship with a negative amount of points in his account. Although we should have some sympathy for the basketball player: One bad injury could spell out a nonexistent future, so when Cam asks Allison to tell his family, “I’m sorry,” it’s both sad and scary, because in a case like this, he’s not overreacting. But other than that, we are entirely on Team Allison for this episode. With Reggie off in Denver building his empire with new client Jupiter Blackmon (and not a moment too soon with that decision, as Jupiter still reeks of his former manager DeShauwn, making crude comments about Missy in front of Reggie), and the rest of the Calloways preparing to sing the national anthem at a local college, Cam is navigating his frightening injury alone. And because he doesn’t know how to hear bad news or even just sit tight until the doctor gives his diagnosis, poor Allison is stuck playing babysitter, mother, sister, teacher, and therapist for an increasingly panicked Cam. The kind and patient Allison does her best to assuage Cam’s fears while holding tight to her ethics, as the b-baller begs her to break protocol and just tell him what the scans say, even if it’s just a wink (to signal he’ll be fine).
She ultimately winks, but when the doctor’s initial diagnosis sounds more threatening than it actually is, Cam prematurely freaks out and throws Allison under the bus right in front of her radiologist boss. So the good news is, Cam’s knee is just strained, and his career remains bright and glorious. Bad news is, now Allison’s job is possibly in jeopardy, and with no Reggie around to shield Cam from her justifiable anger, the medical tech lays some very hard truths onto the “superstar jerk” who refuses to take any sort of real blame for what he just did: “You’re the worst kind of guy,” scolds Allison. “Charming when it suits you and selfish when you’re scared.” She eloquently berates Cam for his horrendous behavior, including “dropping F-bombs on people who are trying to help you,” and for putting people’s “jobs at risk when they’re trying to comfort you.”
But Cam refuses to back down, because on top of everything else, he’s falling in love. “I’m feeling something electric here,” he says, imploring Allison to let him take her out as an apology. Like Da Chen Bao with Cassie in last week’s episode, Cam asks for a single date — although it’s safe to say he’ll be keeping it local as opposed to a private jet to Paris. A belated, profuse apology only garners him an invitation to meet Allison at the end of her shift, at 2 a.m., where the promise of her phone number is, at best, a possibility. After Cam waffles on submitting to her demands, citing the need to rest, he surprises not only Allison, but the viewers, by being outside the hospital, on crutches, at 2 a.m. Allison plays the entire scene without making a sound, but following a fake-out in which she pretends to toss Cam’s phone, she inputs a number, walking away without answering whether or not it’s real. A quick call to her voicemail confirms she’s not playing, and now Cam’s real work begins.
Because this isn’t, to use Reggie’s words, a “random shawty.” As Cam confides to his cousin, who raced back from Denver to be by his number-one client’s side, “I think I really like this girl.”
NEXT: The Origin of Hot Sauce[pagebreak]
While there was no shortage of great comedy during the hospital scenes — most notably in the way O’Malley showcased the significant gaps in Cam’s education (Cam mixes up the notorious Tuskegee syphilis experiment, and gets the details of it wrong anyway, with the Tuskegee airmen; he also confuses the words “staff” and “staph”) — none of it compared to this week’s laugh-filled Calloway-family subplot. As Cam steered his way through hell to reach a possible heaven with Allison, the audience was treated to a heavenly version of what hell on Earth is for sports-going fans: the botched national anthem.
Thanks to a charity-auction purchase (for “the f–ked-up-mouth kids!” exposits M-Chuck), Cassie and her daughter had been “invited” to sing the “Star-Spangled Banner” at a local college (the fictional “Georgia Southeastern University”). This meant we, the viewers, enjoyed O’Malley’s hilarious take on the endless bungled versions of the national anthem that plague our sporting events. As Cassie and M-Chuck get deep into their rehearsals with Christopher, their uppity taskmaster of a music coach who makes dramatic pronouncements like “the performance is nigh!” they make some astute observations about “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Namely, to quote M-Chuck: “This song makes no sense.” Luckily for the Calloway ladies, both Missy and Julius are on hand to decipher the lyrics. Although Missy may know the actual definition of “ramparts,” you gotta admit, Julius’ explanation is way better: “Ram parts are the horns and meat and s—-.” He goes on to expound on how Spanish sailors invented hot sauce to “offset” the taste of ram.
But no amount of rehearsals with Christopher and Missy — who agrees to sing with her in-laws if only to hide their constant mistakes and melisma — can turn the Calloways into the Supremes. This is probably for the best, considering before they even had their first performance Cassie and M-Chuck were vying for the out-front Diana Ross placement. (Missy even quips, “Not a chance, Sparkle,” when M-Chuck voices her desire to be the star of their own girl group.) They also got word about Cam’s injury right before going on, so the ladies ended up bailing while Julius handled the national anthem on his own, with zero rehearsal. The big twist here is that Julius absolutely nails the song — but that doesn’t mean he’s faux-pas-free. He forgot to remove his snazzy leather driving gloves before taking the mic, and as he basks in the cheers, he raises his fist into the air, unintentionally giving the Black Power Salute to a predominantly white crowd before catching himself and skulking off.
Eh, I’d take an accidental raised fist — and singing about “ram parts” — over a discordant “Star-Spangled Banner” any day. But that’s just me.
- Missy’s Sparkle joke is made even funnier by the fact that Mike Epps appeared in the 2012 remake.
- M-Chuck’s “Thank God” upon learning that Cam was going to be okay is a pretty loaded reaction. Because you totally get the sense that she was more worried about whether she would still be rich in six months as opposed to her brother’s well-being.
- That squabble between Cam’s team doctor and the hospital radiologist had absolutely nothing to do with the plot, but wasn’t it awesome anyway?