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All American - Lost One - Review

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How do you say goodbye to a beloved television character, when the shock of their death hasn’t even worn off yet? Last week, viewers watched in utter disbelief as Billy Baker perished, attempting to save Jbari from a school bus that was teetering off the edge of a cliff. Viewers were left speechless, wondering how the show could possibly go on without its patriarch, the man who brought everyone together, and who was at the heart of everything. Tonight’s episode was all about honouring Billy and the amazing man he was, through the people who loved him most. The writer’s delivered a well-written episode that encapsulated the man that Billy was and the legacy he left behind. Whether or not viewers agree with the show runners decision to end Billy’s life is irrelevant at this point. How the creators manage the aftermath of the death, is what will be important moving forward. 

The thing about grief, is that no two people experience it in the same way and everyone moves through the various stages at different times. Despite this well known fact, there is always an expectation for people to act a certain way and concern and judgment often appear when they don’t. Such was the case for Spencer, who was supporting everyone and taking care of everything without demonstrating any emotion over the loss of such an integral person in his life. Spencer is an empath, a protector. He is always there for everyone he loves, taking care of them and making sure their needs are met. It shouldn’t be surprising that after a difficult loss, he was acting exactly the same way. Dillon and Coop tried to get him to face his feelings, reminding him that it is okay to not be okay. As Billy’s dad stated, we all find our peace in different ways. For Laura, it was attempting to exert control over the funeral, since she had no control over Billy’s death, and feeling immense anger that her husband sacrificed his life for another. Olivia couldn’t bear to write her father’s eulogy and struggled to make it through, unable to speak through tears. Jordan walked through his grief with calmness, but his pain was evident when he struggled to face anything that reminded him of his father. Although every single character navigated through their grief differently, they rallied around each other, supported and comforted one another and provided the strength that Laura so desperately needed. It was a reminder of the impact that Billy had on each and every one of them. It was not lost on anyone that it was because of Billy that they were there together at this moment. His bright light brought all of these characters together and thanks to his legacy, they will forever be bonded through the love he showed to each and every one of them. 

It was difficult to watch Laura try and process Billy’s shocking death. The anger she felt at Jbari because Billy died saving his life was misplaced, but understandable in the moment. It was admirable that Jordan was the one to let Jbari know that Billy’s death was not his fault. That Billy would have done the same for anyone in Jbari’s situation. In the end, Laura told Jbari that because Billy died to save him, he owed it to Billy to be the best person he could be and that he needed to work hard to make a difference in the world. She made it clear that it was up to Jbari to carry on Billy’s legacy. Knowing the person Jbari is, there is no doubt that he will make every moment of his life count, in Billy’s honour. 

After the funeral, Spencer stole a moment with his brother and finally allowed himself to feel his emotions. He confessed his guilt over declining Billy’s call on the day he died and explained that part of the reason why he’s been taking care of everyone and everything to do with the funeral, is because he wants to be there for the people who need Billy, and can’t have him. Spencer also admitted that he didn’t want to stop moving, because he couldn’t bear to feel the guilt of hanging on to his anger at Billy for so long. It is clear that Spencer will be struggling with his guilt for a long time. Hopefully he will be able to work through it and realize that Billy would not have wanted him to feel this way. We never know when a moment will be our last and Spencer handled the situation the best way he knew how at the time. We will have to wait and see how regret and guilt will affect Spencer in the coming episodes. 

Despite Laura’s desire for privacy, Jordan wanted desperately to honour his father’s legacy in the South Crenshaw community. Especially after Jbari told him that Billy’s last words on the bus were that he wanted to invite the whole community to Billy Baker field to announce that he was staying, and that he was committed to the community forever. Jordan works with his friends to plan a memorial at Billy Baker field in his father’s memory, and after a loving talk from Billy’s dad, Laura decides to attend. The stadium was absolutely packed with people wanting to pay tribute to the man who impacted so many lives. It was the perfect way to end such a somber episode, and pay homage to a character who was beloved and that will be so very missed by millions of viewers. 

The impact of Billy’s death will have ripple effects on every single character moving forward. The final scene was Olivia pulling a bottle of alcohol out of her father’s desk drawer at South Crenshaw, leaving viewers wondering whether or not she will take a drink. Earlier in the episode, Olivia kicked JJ out of the Baker home when she discovered he was drunk. Layla’s parting words to him were that he was total trash. Both characters will need to deal with their sobriety, just how they do that remains to be seen. Viewers will have to wait a while to find out how their favourite characters are coping with their grief, as the show is moving into a long hiatus, not returning until March 13th. 

Over to you, All American fans: Was this episode a fitting tribute to Coach Baker? Will Olivia turn to alcohol for comfort? How will JJ handle his own struggles now that the group has turned their back on him? I’d love to hear your thoughts below and you can follow me on Twitter @MiddleofCanada.

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