After an excellent sophomore season, the Calloways leave us with an unexpected, tragic cliffhanger.
Credit: Starz

If that really just happened, then he just went out in the most Uncle J way possible.

Only Julius Calloway would spend what might be his final moments on Earth noticing his nephew’s girlfriend, Allison, and asking, “Who’s that tasty bitch?”

Survivor’s Remorse has ended its stellar season on an incredibly down note, with Mike Epps’ irrepressibly blunt, crude, and uproarious Calloway patriarch sustaining life-threatening injuries following a severe car crash.

Yes, it happened because Julius was lighting up a marijuana pipe, proceeded to drop said pipe, and reached down to retrieve it — all while operating a moving vehicle. He ran a red light, and a truck slammed right into his side of the car, causing it to flip over several times before throwing him from the driver’s seat. The episode ends before we find out if Julius has checked out for good — helluva cliffhanger there, Mike O’Malley (the Survivor’s Remorse showrunner penned tonight’s season finale, “Starts and Stops,” himself) — but, much as we don’t want this to be the case, we’ve left him in bad shape.

With Epps set to star in ABC’s Uncle Buck reboot in winter 2016, it’s possible he had to be written out of the show (especially now that the Starz comedy is coming back for a third season), though the idea of Survivor’s Remorse without our beloved Uncle J is still too hard to stomach right now. No matter the outcome, we are leaving the Calloways at the very moment their profound love for one another will be put to the test, which is what makes “Starts and Stops” such an excellent season finale — because we are not ready to let these people go yet.

As O’Malley has discussed at length, Survivor’s Remorse is not a show about basketball, but about family, and as any fan of the series will tell you, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the Calloways’ lives. We care about them, even though they can be really stupid sometimes — though not as stupid as someone like Jupiter Blackmon (more on him in a bit). So when Julius is lying there immobile on the pavement, his sister Cassie clutching his hand as Cam, M-Chuck, and Allison (who makes the 911 call) look on helplessly, it feels as if we’re right there on that desolate highway with them.

But it is not an easy scene to watch. Julius has never been one for profound discussion (even when he’s forced to witness police brutality firsthand), remarking early on in the episode, “I like it when we all don’t talk about nothing important, just laughs.” Now that he’s standing at death’s door, the regrets come spilling out of his mouth — “I did a lot of stupid s— in my life” — and it’s possible now he won’t even have the chance to make up for not taking life more seriously.

Whether he’s gone or not, Julius did fulfill his surrogate father duties in “Starts and Stops” by leaving Cam with a precious nugget of sage advice about his future with Allison: “If you’re a man over the age of 12, and you’re asking another man over the age of 12 if he’s been in love — then you’re in love.”

NEXT: Got me a Cadillac car…

Boy, is Cam ever in love.

It wouldn’t surprise me if O’Malley chose to throw a tragedy into tonight’s episode because the Calloways’ lives were pretty near perfect as the season came to a close. Cam and Allison are falling in love at a steady rate — Cam a little more quickly, maybe, but she’s not too far behind. These two and their phone flirting (“Let’s make out later!”) are so disgustingly adorable that the only thing that made the scene bearable was Cam’s self-aware remark of, “I am in seventh grade!” Now that they’ve worked through their real problems like Allison’s initial reservations and the HPV obstacle, the biggest crisis “Camson” had to deal with this episode (before Julius’ accident) was Allison’s reluctance to accept her very first big-ticket gift from her wealthy new boyfriend: a Cadillac Escalade.

And you can’t even blame Cam for going overboard here, because in his mind, he just wanted to help a loved one who was in need. Allison’s car is a hunk of junk that repeatedly breaks down on her, and she’s way overdue for a new model. Did that new model have to be a Cadillac? Of course not, but try telling that to a guy head over heels in love and with millions of dollars at his disposal. Julius and M-Chuck think Allison is crazy to refuse Cam’s gift, but Cassie admires her decision, calling it “principled.” The question now is, will the survivor’s remorse that’s been plaguing Cam all these months now transfer over to Allison? Julius was driving her car to its umpteenth mechanic appointment while Cam, Allison, M-Chuck, and Cassie followed behind in the Escalade when the accident happened. (Julius was totally at fault for not watching the road, but if Allison had just accepted the Cadillac from the start, this scenario would never have occurred.)

This Calloway family disaster is also hitting at the very moment Reggie Vaughn is on top of the world. After relinquishing his moron of a client, Jupiter, back to DeShauwn May — who now conducts business with a gun-wielding henchman named Cho Cho by his side — Reggie spends about five seconds in a client deficit before Tom Werner calls him from the center of Fenway Park with a tempting proposition. The Red Sox owner, impressed by Reggie’s Guts win last week, wants the budding mogul to go in with him on a hockey-team acquisition. Not that Cam’s manager needed any further reassurances that dumping Jupiter was the right thing to do, but Werner’s offer is a pretty clear sign that Reggie is on the up and up, and has no room for juvenile clients who drag him and his burgeoning company down.

Before Werner’s golden-ticket of a phone call, Reggie was running himself ragged cleaning up a series of messes Jupiter caused. That IQ test may have the NFL hopeful on the fast track to law school, but in the real world, Jupiter doesn’t need a manager, he needs a perpetual baby-sitter (yes, that is the job description for most sports managers, but given the stunts Jupiter pulled this episode, there is no salary high enough that could convince a self-respecting person to take that kind of a gig. Enter DeShauwn).

NEXT: Family ties

For all of Cam’s childish behavior, at least he’s always had enough sense to not shoplift marshmallows under “drug-induced negligence” or spray a bunch of naked coeds with a fire extinguisher in a college locker room. Jupiter’s inability to take responsibility for his antics send Reggie far enough over the edge that he makes the wise business decision to cut the guy loose. If that weren’t enough, Jupiter also cost the Vaughns a fine set of wicker outdoor furniture that an angry Reggie hurled into the pool out of frustration.

As Julius’ fate hangs in the balance, the Calloways are going to need one another more than ever now. Which means that Reggie’s alluring new business venture with Tom Werner could take him away from his family right when they need him the most, so it will be interesting to see how this is tackled next season.

No matter what, a family that both laughs together and cries together is one that cannot be beaten down by tragedy. So while Survivor’s Remorse‘s future remains ambiguous in the short-term, there is no doubt that the Calloways will come out of this with an even stronger bond, and in all likelihood, with enough raunchy observations about what they’ve endured to fill an entire third season.

I can’t think of a better way to honor Uncle Julius than that.

Stray observations:

  • Whether or not you trust in a higher power, Epps’ delivery on “I wish I believed in God” should be bottled and marketed as “Instant Waterworks.”
  • Not that it was even discussed, but perhaps now M-Chuck can get a special dispensation from her court-ordered therapy, citing family trauma.

Episode Recaps

Survivor's Remorse
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