It feels weird to refer to this week’s episode of Survivor’s Remorse as a deeply satisfying one — coming away with renewed anger over the police-brutality epidemic in this country should never be called “satisfying.”
As its done all season, Survivor’s Remorse managed to put its signature comedic spin on the decidedly unfunny topic of law-enforcement violence and intimidation, while still making a very clear statement regarding its prevalence around the country. And for once, it was Mike Epps’ Julius — not Cam, not M-Chuck — who bore witness to the fact that life outside of his comfortable gated community includes cops who like to beat up on kids. Not that what Julius observes comes anywhere close to what happened to people like Eric Garner, Freddie Gray or Trayvon Martin; the writers wisely included a piece of dialogue where Epps’ character tells a teenager who’s been assaulted by the police and is complaining he can’t breathe that “if you’re walking and you’re talking, then you can breathe.” Epps’ delivery of this line is so flawless that it if it doesn’t conjure up images of victims like Garner or Gray, then you’re watching this episode incorrectly.
What also makes this episode so beautifully orchestrated is that even though Julius’ story line is technically one of the two subplots, the Cam-Allison narrative is pretty much resolved midway through the episode, which allows us to turn our attention almost entirely toward Julius’ predicament. Yes, we get a Cam-Allison coda that cleverly ties in the Julius subplot, but the writers have ensured that we don’t need to spend “The Date” worrying about “the date.”
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Having won over MRI technician Allison Pierce enough to end last week’s episode with her number in his phone, Cam has been working himself to the bone to prepare for their all-important first date, and it’s downright adorable. He’s been studying up on Ronald Reagan and Helen of Troy (courtesy of a history app), which at the very least, introduces the world “Spartan” into his vocabulary — and on Allison herself, courtesy of social media. While Reggie cautioned his cousin against doing such extensive pre-date Internet research, it turns out Allison was doing the exact same thing by reading up on how Cassie used to spank Cam with Hot Wheels tracks and how M-Chuck once punched him in the eye (I’m guessing she read Survivor’s Remorse recaps because she basically runs down the whole series to Cam when divulging what Google pulled up). So when Cam shows up at her doorstep, she’s still in her hospital scrubs and recommends they just nip this in the bud before anyone gets hurt, giving him the “we’re from two different worlds” speech.
Welcome to dating in the 21st century: Even when you do meet in person, the lure of social media and Internet trawling can destroy a relationship before it even begins. “You’re bouncing me pre-date based on Internet research?” exclaims Cam.
NEXT: “Google says you like food trucks”[pagebreak]
Cam is just as persistent as he was in last week’s episode getting the medical tech to reconsider, even somehow leaving her apartment twice, coming back twice, and having it not seem creepy (I said she was going to make him work for it, and she sure is). He finally wins Allison over by saying the reason he started playing basketball was to meet her; in a straight-out-of-a-rom-com scene, he leaves her apartment for good, only for her to reconsider two seconds later. She grabs her purse, and OMG, who would’ve expected this? Cam’s outside her building and ready to take her on his thoroughly Internet-planned date (“Google says you like food trucks”). #Awwwwwww
Cam is off pursuing his dream girl. M-Chuck’s at her court-ordered therapy session, and Cassie is over at Casa Vaughn learning to make dumplings for the Chinese sportswear mogul she now calls “my Chen.” So Julius is living it up at the empty Calloway Castle. After going for a leisurely one-handed bike ride (he needed the other hand to hold his huge, two-scoop ice cream cone, of course!), it’s time for Julius’ killer solo dance party. When the grooves are cut short due to a hooded teenage perpetrator making off with the bicycle, it’s hard to know who’s more frustrated: Julius for losing the bike, or the audience, for being deprived of more Dancing Julius.
The Calloway patriarch subsequently locks himself out of the house in a futile attempt to chase the kid down, which sets him up to be caught climbing into the window by a passing patrol car. “I know what it look like,” he says with his hands in the air. “A black man doing what you heard black men do. But I live here.” A quick check of his ID gets him off the hook, and soon enough, Julius has been invited to roll with the police officers to try to track down the “Justin Bieber-looking motherf—er” that took the bike. It should be noted here that Officer Hovany is white (Freddy Rumsen himself, Mad Men actor Joel Murray) and Officer Diston (Miles Mussenden) is black, because Survivor’s Remorse does not discriminate when it comes to cops dishing out brutality.
What starts off as an innocuous ride-along (jokes about Julius riding in the caged backseat of the patrol car, etc.) quickly deteriorates into a disturbing insight into a day in the life of an Atlanta police officer. Julius watches as both Hovany and Diston harshly interrogate every white kid in a hoodie they encounter, even after he tells them the teens in question aren’t responsible for his bike theft. At this point, Julius is ready to let the matter go, but they’re in the parking lot of a barbecue joint, and the officers ask him to join them for dinner. And it’s not like he’s going to turn down a BBQ meal.
NEXT: “He’s bound to shoot up a school or something eventually”[pagebreak]
Once the dinner is over, Julius spots a white hoodie-wearing kid on a bike that he thinks is the thief. The cops swiftly apprehend the boy, but what happens next is not what Julius was expecting: With Diston’s blessing (“for obvious reasons”), Hovany proceeds to punch and kick the teen repeatedly, with Diston remarking, “Nicely handled.” A horrified Julius realizes he misidentified the kid, Rufus, and asks the officers to chill. Regardless of Rufus’ nonexistent criminal record, both Hovany and Diston assert that the beat-down was necessary: “No, no, he’s guilty of something,” says Diston. “He’s bound to shoot up a school or something eventually,” says Hovany in his painfully timely, albeit misguided, defense. And we all die a little as we absorb the fact that Freddy Rumsen just kicked the ass of an innocent kid. Couldn’t he have just played Rufus a little Mozart on his zipper and called it a day?
The officers chuckle at themselves as they leave a bloodied Rufus behind with nothing more than a recommendation to pop a few Advil. Julius, having concluded his afternoon law-enforcement jaunt, is shattered by what he saw, but as he reminds Rufus, who can still breathe, he got off easy compared to so many others. There’s not much Julius can do for the young teen, but at least he can buy him a double-scoop cone at the place where “the black girls and the gelato is.”
As for the real thief, he and Julius’ bike make a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo at the end of the episode, when they knock over an elderly woman named Barbara at the food-truck park. Cam and Allison immediately come to Barbara’s rescue, which is just a plot device so a perfect stranger can ask how long they’ve been married and then be taken aback when they admit the truth about their nascent relationship. “It’s amazing,” observes the lady who’s known them for a total of 30 seconds. “Don’t you know how you are together?”
That’s called chemistry, baby, and you can’t find it on page 5 of a Google search.
- I realize that I’ve given the Cassie/M-Chuck subplot the shaft this week, so I’ll just say this: M-Chuck, you are a skilled liar and could put thousands of shrinks out of business with your convincing impression of a therapy patient. But it’s not worth skipping out on court-ordered sessions if the punishment is jail time. Think of your new girlfriend, Julz — you really want to give that up so soon?
- Cam, the food truck guy just gave you your dinners on the house, and you couldn’t throw him $5 for the tip jar?
- Missy’s line, “When did the state of Georgia become so passionate about black girls’ mental health?” Another drop-the-mic moment from Teyonah Parris. Brava.
- Julius calling Da Chen Bao “Mr. Miyagi.” Awesome.
- Extra points to Allison for going on a date dressed in scrubs. If we all looked as good as Meagan Tandy does in hospital gear, this would have become a dating trend decades ago.