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All American - My Name Is - Review

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After several episodes focusing on the aftermath of Billy Baker’s death and another long hiatus, All American returned with a fresh new episode, that had everyone focusing on the future and taking important steps forward in their walk through grief. Tonight’s episode focused on some important life lessons, with an overarching theme of second chances. The hour served as a stepping stone to the next chapter of the show beyond Billy Baker, with each character making decisions that will set them forward on their paths toward hopefully brighter futures. 

In an attempt to rebuild the GAU roster, Spencer and Jordan came up with a plan to recruit former football stars as potential walk-ons, using Coach Baker’s old playbook and recruitment list from his time at Beverley. When they fill Coach Kenny in on their plan, he doesn’t share their enthusiasm and makes it clear that he has things under control. Instead of respecting his wishes, they go ahead and meet with two potential recruits, Kai (Tre Hale), a single father who is working full-time at a grocery store to make ends meet and Sal (Darone Okolie), who was recently released from prison, and invite them to tryouts. Spencer and Jordan are products of Billy Baker’s coaching and share his belief in second chances. After meeting with Kai and Sal, it is obvious that both were not dealt a fair break the first time around and are deserving of an opportunity to try again. At first, Coach Kenny is upset that the boys went behind his back, but when Kai and Sal prove their worth, he offers them both full scholarships and a spot on the team. Although giving Sal and Kai this opportunity was the right thing to do, it may not be a good look for the team in the eyes of the NCAA. Unfortunately, the NCAA isn’t likely to be too touched by this feel good story and with the investigation of Bountygate still looming, hopefully signing a former inmate and a considered “has been,” won’t mean a death sentence for the program. 

Coop is given a reality check by Layla, when she points out that Coop knows very little about her girlfriend, Skye’s, life. Layla tells Coop that she is headed to see Skye present at LA Influencer Con, and she gives Coop a hard time for not even knowing anything about the presentation. Coop immediately feels guilty, and promises Skye that she will be at her presentation because she wants to support her. However, Coop reneges on her promise when she receives great news from her law professor that he has officially enrolled her in the class. The only catch is that Coop must participate in the course’s study group, which happens to be taking place at the same time as Skye’s presentation. Later, Coop excitedly fills Skye in on how well it went with her study group, despite her professor telling her to lose the street talk. Skye is hurt that Coop didn’t even bother to ask about the presentation or apologize for missing it. She is tired of playing second fiddle and ends things with Coop, which likely won’t be surprising to viewers. This relationship has felt doomed from the start, when Coop made it clear that she wasn’t looking for anything serious. Skye’s jealousy and Coop’s laser focus on law school were also problematic for the pair and in reality, Skye never really fit in to the show. Seriously. She hasn’t been in the last few episodes and did anyone really miss her? It was time to say goodbye. The only negative thing is that it took so long for it to happen.  

When we last saw JJ, he had returned to Coastal completely dialed in and ready for the new season. Coach Montes made it clear that he does not do second chances, and one more screw up would mean the end of JJ’s career at Coastal. Despite this warning, JJ is flattered when his fraternity almost unanimously votes him in as Recruitment Chair, and he steps right back into the party life, albeit sober. His first responsibility as chair is to host a “Drinks and Dogs” recruitment event at the beach house. He attempts to be the sober life of the party, but isn’t able to let loose and have fun. Constant comments from the frat president, Keith, that he is too uptight, throw JJ over the edge. He asks Keith for a pick me up, and things take a dramatic turn when Keith nearly dies right in front of JJ. The pill he took was laced with Fentanyl. It was a huge wake up call for JJ, who realized he needed to take time to make some much needed changes in his life. He tells Asher that he is stepping away from everything, including football, to get the help he needs. JJ’s epiphany, felt like the writer's way of writing his character off the show, which has honestly felt like a long time coming. He’s a fun character, but he doesn’t add anything to the show one way or another. The writers have enough storylines to focus on, without worrying about coming up with reasons to keep JJ relevant week after week. 

Elsewhere in the episode, Layla is conflicted over rebranding her label to Keating records, because she feels as though getting rid of the ForMonica name will mean the end of her mother’s legacy. While at the venue for Skye’s presentation, Layla, Patience and Olivia spot a Quinceañera going on and see an opportunity to escape their problems by creating fake personas and crashing the party. Although playing pretend was fun for a while, some special moments at the party brought the ladies face to face with reality and forced them to make decisions about their future. A heartfelt speech by the birthday girl's mother, helped Patience see that she can honour the legacy of both her parents by rebranding her label to ForMonica Keating records. An impromptu performance at the party by Patience, made her realize that she was much happier being the old Patience and the new “Fire and Ice” Patience isn’t for her. Watching the father-daughter dance brought Olivia back to reality and right back into her grief. She realized that her father won’t be there to walk her down the aisle, and that they will never share a father-daughter dance. Pretending to be someone else made Olivia see that she is tired of hiding her true self. She decided that she wants to stop hiding behind her alias, and take credit for the Bountygate article. Her decision was met with support from both Spencer and Jordan, allowing her to take an important step forward in her future. 

Spelivia fans were likely disappointed by this episode, especially after the knowing look that the two shared during the last episode. Hopefully we will see these two have some important conversations moving forward. Your turn, All American fans! I’d love to hear your thoughts. What did you think of tonight’s episode? Is this the last we will see of JJ? What will the new recruits mean for GAU’s future? Comment below and follow me on Twitter @MiddleofCanada.

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