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Black-ish - Sprinkles (Season Finale) - Review:"Spiritual Arithmetic"

Here we are, at the final episode of season three of Black-ish. After a rather shaky beginning (that Disney World episode didn’t impress anyone) Black-ish settled into its groove and provided inspired, insightful commentary on the state of the world and current events. The writers did a great job of stopping the more overtly political episodes from feeling too preachy or turning into an after-school special. The Johnson family went through some shocks during the season, but never stopped being the sweet, thoughtful (mostly thoughtful, there’s still Jack) people that viewers fell in love with.

There have been a couple of recurring themes throughout the season. One was Zoey’s imminent departure for college, which we dealt with last week in “Liberal Arts.” The other was DeVonte’s imminent arrival and the stress Dre and Bow feel in bringing another life into the world. This is finally settled in the finale.

The episode starts like a normal Black-ish with Dre delivering a monologue about baby showers. Dre thought baby showers were a hassle, until he realized that they combine tacos and drinking. Suddenly, he’s very into the idea of co-ed baby showers and throws himself into planning one for Bow.

Everything goes according to plan. Until it doesn’t. Bow stops by the hospital because of a slight headache. Suddenly, Dre and Bow have to talk about DNR orders and whether or not to save the baby or the mother first. Bow’s preeclampsia means that they have to perform an emergency C-section and Bow and Dre are both scared to death.

Pops has been asked by Dre to distract the kids and not let know what’s happening. He immediately announces the terrifying development to everyone. Pops really shouldn’t be trusted when it comes to watching kids or cupcakes.

Bow’s condition is so serious that even Ruby stops their pointless feud to yell at a nurse about getting Bow a blanket. In the Johnson house, Bow is her hated daughter-in-law. In the hospital, she’s Ruby's daughter, and Ruby will turn her full wrath on anyone who mistreats her.

Meanwhile, the children and the rest of the family wait anxiously in the waiting room. Their subplot in the episode featured them trying to come up with gifts for the baby. Diane and Jack decide to write a letter because it’s free and Jack probably won’t have to do anything. Junior decides to become a strong emotional role model for young DeVonte and break the cycle of the Johnson men’s coldness. Zoey decides to knit the baby something and comes to realize that knitting is the one thing in the world that doesn’t come easy for her. When they hear the bad news, the kids throw themselves into their gifts to distract themselves from their worry about the baby.

It’s a meeting of the minds for Johan and Charlie, who introduces himself because “You’re going to be the uncle to my mother.” Charlie’s mother lived through the dawn of flight and the death of Circuit City, but a bathtub shark finally got her. Charlie knows that, due to basic soul math, his mother’s soul will be transferred to DeVonte. Johan agrees that the math is solid.

Events take an even more terrifying turn when the baby is finally born and Dre sees the doctors and nurses spring to attention. DeVonte’s situation is more fragile than they let on and Dre can’t even bring himself to hold his new son. He doesn’t want to love something only to lose it so soon.

It takes a pep talk from Pops for Dre to finally go see DeVonte (babies really don’t need their space) and the baby is welcomed into the family with Diane’s poignant letter. We’ll have to see if he starts acting like an old woman next season, or if Holiday Hannah takes up drugged-up Bow’s offer to move in with the family.

It was pretty clear that neither Bow nor the baby were in any real danger in the episode. I don’t think Black-ish would pull a move like that. It still, however, gave us affecting performances by every member of the Johnson household. Sometimes, especially the sillier episodes, Anthony Anderson’s performance can be a bit broad, but he perfectly captured a panicking, vulnerable Dre. It was a great capper to a very good season.

I’ve been looking back at the older episodes of Black-ish this season, and have some thoughts now that the season is over:

Best “Dre” Episode of the Season: “Lemons,” where Dre tires of being the person his coworkers turn to after the election.

Best “Bow” Episode of the Season: “Being Bow-racial,” where Bow confronts her issues with her identity after Junior begins dating a white girl.

Best “Kids” Episode of the Season: “Nothing but Nepotism,” where Zoey gets a dream internship at Vogue and Junior becomes a whistle-blower.

Best Recurring Guest Star: Daveed Diggs as the hopelessly hipster Johan

MVP of the Season: Professor Charlie Telphy, who else?

Best One-Off Joke: Santamonica’s name (The fact that the captions told me it was all one word never ceased to make me laugh).

Best Scene of the Season: Dre’s stirring speech about politics in “Lemons.”

Best Episode of the Season: “Lemons” What can I say, I absolutely loved that episode.

Obviously, these are all very subjective. What did you think of this season? Which episodes would you pick for these categories? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much for watching this season with me. I think that Black-ish is one of the most insightful shows on television and constantly delivers thoughtful takes on real-world issues. I hope to see everyone in the comments section next season!