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All American - Sabotage - Review

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Tonight’s hour saw the vortex continue to work towards discovering who they are and what they want in life. As the penultimate episode in the season, however, it will likely be considered a disappointment by viewers. After Spencer and Olivia essentially re-ignited their flame on stage last week, fans were hoping for a Spelivia heavy hour. Instead, the episode focused heavily on J.J., despite viewers thinking his time on the show could be up after he departed in episode 16 to focus on his mental health. It certainly felt then like his storyline had come to a natural close, but apparently the writers had other ideas. One can only hope that the writer’s have a plan to make him more relevant to the show because as it stands right now, his storyline is played out and repetitive. 

Laura’s mother Wendy (guest star Jaclyn Fine) was back for a visit, and spent time catching up with Jordan and Olivia while Laura returned to work. Olivia received a call from the Cultural Exchange program and learned that she was accepted, and would be spending the summer in London, England. When she applied for the program she assumed that she would be sent to another state, not to another country far away from the people she loves. Olivia has always struggled with putting herself first and so naturally, this made her second guess her decision. Her mother is still struggling with all of the changes in her life, and Olivia felt like this could set her over the edge. Laura has always put aside her own feelings to do what’s best for her children and she encourages Olivia to go. She explains that even though coming back to work was difficult, she knows that getting back out into the world is the only way that she will find herself again and she tells Olivia that London is her opportunity to do the same. 

Wendy and Olivia have a heart to heart about London, and Olivia shares that she is torn about going away without resolving things with Spencer. Wendy tells Olivia that she needs to be whole before she can give her heart back to Spencer, and she isn’t sure that Olivia is in that place yet. As much as viewers want Olivia and Spencer back together, there was a reason they broke up in the first place. Olivia was holding back from living out her dreams and finding her footing in this world apart from Spencer. She needs to take time to discover who she is and what she wants out of life, before things can ever work between her and Spencer. Olivia takes her grandmother’s words to heart and breaks it to Spencer that she will be leaving for London and although he told her he was happy for her, his face told a different story. Spencer is not the kind of person that would ever stand in the way of someone’s happiness, but after learning the hard way that life is fleeting, perhaps he will let Olivia know how he feels before he potentially loses her forever. Only time will tell. 

Although Laura was struggling to get her rhythm back at work, she found her stride again by helping Coop deal with the situation with her law professor. Laura is a strong advocate for social justice issues and when she finds out that Coop’s professor has been intimidating and bullying her, she takes it upon herself to sit in on Coop's class and help her put her professor in his place. The professor’s insistence that Coop refrain from participating in class, is a prime example of retaliation. Together, the two women point out to the professor that the law is changing and unconscious bias is being brought to the forefront. Laura pointedly remarks that the professor can either get on board with the crucial changes being made to the justice system, or find himself without a leg to stand on. Coop is inspired by Laura’s impassioned support and tells her that she should consider becoming a professor. Being a lawyer has always been important to Laura, but so is making a difference in people's lives. Perhaps finding her new place in the world means trying a new career path, one that will allow her to directly impact the future generation of the law profession. 

Coop returns to the Baker house after taking time away at her parents house. Patience tries to apologize for the kiss with Skye, but Coop is hurt that Patience didn’t immediately tell her that Skye kissed her, instead of allowing her to be blindsided by the video. Patience shows Layla the video and she immediately becomes irate that Patience once again allowed herself to be taken by another one of Miko’s schemes. Layla tells Patience that she will be dealing with Miko from now on, and she has Miko served with a restraining order. Patience still doesn’t understand the extent of Miko’s depravity, until Layla tells her that she did not see any humanity in Miko’s eyes. Patience has always struggled with keeping her emotions in check and when she lets her anger get the best of her, it often comes with consequences. As she is promoting the acoustic version of her song during a live social media session, she loses her temper when Miko begins spamming the comment section. Patience tells her viewers what she thinks about Miko, and encourages them to lash out at her. Miko has already shown how unstable she is and there is no telling what she is capable of. The consequences of Patience’s actions could be dire. 

Meanwhile, the first day of mandatory practice at Coastal was approaching, and Asher was concerned because J.J. was still off the grid and not returning his text messages. He rounded up Jordan and Spencer, and the three paid J.J. a visit. They were taken aback when J.J. appeared to be doing much better, but Spencer could see right through his act since he was in a similar position not too long ago. J.J. is pretending that everything is okay when in fact, it isn’t. He hasn’t had any therapy to help him through his alcoholism and feelings of abandonment, and he shares that he is close to being put on academic probation unless he completes a video project describing who he is. The guys decide to help J.J. with his video, by talking about their experiences as freshmen in college. As the guys share stories of how they overcame the toughest moments of their lives, they give J.J. some tough love in an attempt to get him to realize that he needs help. Spencer enlists Olivia to help out and together, they help J.J. realize that “fun J.J.” is just a persona and they love him for who he is. The entire storyline felt like it came out of a Hallmark movie, complete with a corny group hug at the end. At first, it seemed like a major fail on the part of the writer’s for handling the topic of mental health recovery in such a naive way, especially after they handled the important yet heavy topic of grief with such poise and accuracy. They managed to make it somewhat right in the end, however, by having J.J. decide to step away from the football team to focus on his mental health. As mentioned before, this storyline felt incredibly repetitive as it seemed to be resolved a few episodes ago. Hopefully, there is a bigger plan in place for J.J. because the writer’s justification for keeping him on the show just isn’t cutting it anymore. 

It was nice to see the James family together again, this time, with D’Angelo as part of their family unit. Although Grace was thrilled that D’Angelo and Dillon were bonding, she couldn’t help but feel hurt that Dillon told D’Angelo about his new girlfriend and didn’t mention it to her. Grace knows that it is important for Dillon to bond with D’Angelo, but she didn’t expect to be replaced as Dillon’s confidante. Spencer stepped in and talked to Dillon about how Grace is feeling. He reminded his brother that at one point, they were the centre of their moms world and she is struggling with not being top of mind for them now that they are older. As the James family sat down for an unconventional family dinner on the couch, Dillon asked his mom for advice about his crush and invited her to chaperone them on their next date. It was good to see Spencer step back into his big brother role after his mental health crisis. The James family is strong because of their love for each other and because they are there for one another. It is especially important for Spencer to be there for Dillon as he gets older and carves his own path in life. 

Although this episode felt a lot like a time filler, next week is the season finale and it looks to be a big one. Someone is getting engaged, any guesses as to who it will be? Let me know your thoughts about tonight’s episode and share your predictions for the finale, by commenting below and follow me on Twitter @MiddleofCanada.

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