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All American - Time - Review

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WARNING: MAJOR spoilers ahead!

Stunned. Astounded. Flabbergasted. There is not a strong enough word to describe how utterly shocked viewers are after tonight’s episode. The cast and crew of All American deserve some sort of award for their ability to keep this whopper of a secret for a year and counting. No one could have predicted what is easily one of the biggest TV shockers, beloved Coach Billy Baker, father figure to so many and a pivotal cast member, was killed off the show. For those thinking that perhaps this is all a dream or a sick and twisted cliffhanger that leads to Billy actually being fine next episode, think again. TVLine confirmed that Taye Diggs has officially exited the series, an exit that has been in the works since last season, according to showrunners. 

Although Billy’s shocking death did not occur until the latter part of the hour, the entire episode had a somber feel to it. Aptly named “Time,” the episode centred around South Crenshaw participating in a combine with other area teams, allowing senior players to showcase their talents in front of college scouts. Jordan and Spencer were there to assist the players and provide advice, and Grace was also present to provide moral support to the boys, for when Billy broke the news that he was leaving the team. During the combine, Billy was visibly torn by his decision, with Spencer’s words about Billy’s significance at South Crenshaw playing on repeat in his head. As Billy huddled the team together to break the news, he decided in the moment that he would remain at South Crenshaw, realizing that he is in fact, right where he belongs. It was such a pivotal moment for Billy. He finally felt at peace with his decision, relishing in the moment with Jordan, who expressed genuine happiness for his father. Everything seemed to be heading in such a positive direction, there was truly no way of knowing what was coming. 

On the way home from the combine, the school bus that was carrying the Crenshaw team, Billy and Asher, blew a tire and flipped onto the side of the road. At first, it appeared that everyone made it out safely, including Billy. Grace and Jordan, who were following in a car behind the bus, were also present on the scene. Word of the crash broke to major news outlets, sending Laura and Olivia into a panic. The team was forced to wait in the cold night air for assistance, as emergency personnel could not access the crash due to another crash that was blocking the roadway. Relief settled in with viewers, but it was short-lived. As Coach Baker was checking on everyone, he realized that Jbari was missing. He was still stuck in the bus that was now teetering at the edge of a cliff. Billy ran to the bus to save him, despite Grace and Jordan begging him not to. 

Viewers did not get to witness Billy perish, instead, they watched as Jordan and Grace walked into the Baker home and broke the news to a grief stricken Olivia, Spencer, Coop and Laura. The news was shared just as Spencer was listening to a voicemail from Billy, and his words narrated the episode’s final moments. Billy shared that he had decided to remain at GAU, and he expressed his love and respect for his surrogate son. His final words were his hope that his decision would mend the rift between him and Spencer. The impact this will have on Spencer will be tremendous. Knowing that he spent the last days of Billy’s life mad at him, will surely cause Spencer to feel a lot of regret, among other things. Earlier in the episode, Jordan accused Spencer of hanging on to his anger for too long. Those words definitely hit a lot harder now. 

It is truly difficult to picture All American without Billy Baker. He was a father figure to all of the young cast members, a devoted husband and friend. He was influential in so many lives, that it is almost impossible to imagine how any of the characters will be able to move on from this. Whether or not killing off such an essential character was necessary, is an important question to ponder. The show is seeing some of its highest ratings to date, and even though it is in its fifth season, the writers continue to deliver engaging episodes each week. Usually a move like this is needed when a show needs new life breathed into it, not when it is excelling. It remains to be seen how viewers will react to this shocking turn of events and it will be interesting to witness how the writers handle the fall-out of Billy’s death, and the impact it will have on each individual character. One thing is for sure, All American will never be the same again.

Although everything else seems trivial in comparison, the episode also included some other important storyline developments. Layla’s father, JP Keating (Elvis Nolasco), made an appearance to confront Layla about taking back the Keating name. He accused her of destroying his legacy, as the original Keating Records will cease to exist with a rebranding. She attempted to try and call off the deal with Clay, but he had already begun rebranding with a new name, Clay Taylor Enterprises. After a seasoned artist agrees to work with Layla, instead of signing with a more established label, JP realizes that his legacy will continue to live on through his daughter. 

Meanwhile, Jaymee dropped a bombshell on Asher by announcing that she is pregnant. He spent the majority of the episode getting some much needed advice from Billy. Thank goodness he was able to take in some of Billy’s wisdom before embarking on his own life changing journey. Elsewhere, Preach’s mother-in-law finally realized what a changed man he is, thanks to Amina and Coop’s meddling, and she agreed to give him back full custody. 

All American fans, I absolutely need to hear your thoughts on this massive stunner! What was your reaction to Billy’s death? How will the characters be able to move forward? How will his death impact Spencer, specifically? Was this a good move for the show? Share your thoughts below and engage with me on Twitter @MiddleofCanada.

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