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All American - United in Grief - Review

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Spencer has been spiralling into a person virtually unrecognizable since Billy’s death and tonight, it all came to a head in a way that left no one in his circle of family and friends unscathed. 

The fact that Spencer had the gall to ask Coach Kenny for a recommendation letter after being belligerent to him last week, demonstrates how much he has changed. The real Spencer James would never treat people unfavourably, or act unappreciative. Coach confides in Jordan about his concerns for Spencer’s well-being, but the two have to focus on getting the GAU team in good shape while the NCAA investigation is still pending. When Spencer gets into it with his brother Dillon, and tries to pick a fight, Coop steps in and calls him out for what's really going on. She tells him that she has seen every side of Spencer and this side scares her. It is only when Dillon voices that he no longer feels safe being alone with Spencer, that Spencer finally starts to take his walls down and open up to the therapist that his mother set him up with. 

Spencer has been allowing his grief to take over him and turn him into an unrecognizable version of himself. He is watching this new Spencer from the outside, unaware of what to do to help himself. Revisiting childhood haunts and discussing important moments from his youth with Dr. Speers helped him begin to process his feelings. The fact that Spencer did not get to say goodbye to Billy and that he declined his call on the day he died, is the hardest for him to overcome. Dr. Speers helped him see that he has always relied on a father figure for words of wisdom and encouragement, but he has other people in his circle that can be there for him in the same way. Calling Billy’s phone and saying the words he has been hiding from since Billy died, is exactly what Spencer needed to finally move forward. Spencer has a lot of work to do, but he has made huge revelations and is committed to therapy now, which are the right steps towards finally being able to heal. 

At first, Coop and Jordan want to distance themselves from Spencer, but Olivia refuses. She doesn't want to give up on Spencer and she tries to make her brother and Coop see that his actions are coming from a profound hurt and he needs help. Calling Alicia and talking her into helping Spencer was a mature move on Olivia’s part and speaks to the deep love that Olivia has for Spencer. Jordan was able to use Olivia’s words of wisdom, that they shouldn’t give up on their people, to steer him towards being the leader that GAU needs to finally move them out from under the dark cloud of the bounty scandal. Olivia’s advice also motivates Coach Kenny to reach out to Spencer again, and allow him back on the team. In Spencer’s voicemail to Billy, he tells him that it was him and his birth father that taught him that he has a circle of people who care and that circle is only getting bigger. Kenny leads him to his mother’s Crenshaw house, where all of his friends and family are waiting to support him with open arms. It would have been easy for everyone to just give up on Spencer, but forgiveness leads to empathy, compassion and healing which is exactly what Spencer needed to be able to finally come out from under his grief. D’angelo also arranged for Grace and Dillon to move back to Crenshaw, allowing her to be able to support her son for as long as he needs.

Elsewhere in the episode, J.J. re-appeared just as Coastal began preparing for the new season. He was completely dialed in and ready to get to work, even turning down partying with a couple of frat boys. Coach Montes makes it clear to J.J. that although he is impressed with his turnaround, he usually does not do second chances and if J.J. screws up again, he’s done. Knowing J.J., this huge change doesn’t feel quite right and viewers see that he is indeed still struggling, as he reaches for a flask in his gym bag. He resists the urge to drink, but trying to break an addiction without support is difficult and once the pressures of school and football start up again, willpower alone may not be able to save him. At the gathering for Spencer, Jordan received a text from Asher saying that J.J. was supposed to give him a ride but he was nowhere to be found. J.J. is on a dangerous path and hopefully he can reach out for support before it’s too late. 

The episode also saw Layla finally tell Patience that Miko sent flowers to the house, leaving her completely creeped out. The problem is that Patience’s new video is only garnering attention on social media because of Miko, and the allure of stardom makes it difficult for Patience to want to keep her distance from her. The flowers are the least of Patience’s worries, however. Miko has hacked into Patience’s phone, and is able to listen in on Patience and Layla’s conversations. Patience isn’t safe and the worst part is, her fixation on success is not allowing her to see the severity of Miko’s actions. 

At the end of the episode, it appeared as though Spencer was ready to work things out with Olivia until Alicia walked in and ruined the moment. It was Olivia that thought to include Alicia in the moment, but it could very well have cost Olivia her happiness. Your turn, All American fans! Now that Spencer is finally moving towards healing from his grief, will this lead to him and Olivia finally getting back together? Will J.J. be able to resist drinking or is he headed for his own downward spiral? What do you think Miko’s plans are for Patience? Share your thoughts with me by commenting below and follow me on Twitter @MiddleofCanada.

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