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All American - Passin' Me By - Review: Perception is One Hell of a Drug

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Emotions ran high on tonight’s episode of "All American.” With New Year's Eve on the horizon and a critical playoff game for GAU looming, tensions mounted between the members of the Vortex. The episode was packed with multiple subplots, creating an intense viewing experience as it required close attention to follow everything that was happening. 

Coach Mac was named Interim head coach once again, citing Coach Kenny's family issues, and he set the stage for internal team drama by praising Jordan as the alpha leader to the media, as Spencer watched. Despite this, Spencer maintained his composure and supported Jordan, who was grappling with Layla's ongoing struggles after the traumatic break-in at her lounge. The heart to heart at the cabin last week seemed to have worked, as Spencer seemed to have really worked hard to revert back to his calm, level-headed team-driven self. 

Layla's mental health was a focal point, as Jordan attempted to coax her back to seeking medical advice, only to be met with resistance. Spencer and Olivia faced their own turmoil when Ashley reappeared, but Olivia was quick to set a boundary, respecting Spencer’s wishes. 

On the field for the big playoff game, Spencer started on the bench, a decision by Coach Mac that initially sidelined him but didn't keep him down. Jordan struggled throughout the game, as he was too preoccupied with the fact that Layla was a no-show for such an important moment in his life. Spencer noticed Jordan struggling and stepped up. His strategic play suggestion and entry into the second half of the game pivoted GAU towards a hard-fought victory, earning him overdue recognition from Coach Mac.

"Passin’ Me By” – ALL AMERICAN. Pictured: Daniel Ezra as Spencer James. Photo: Troy Harvey/The CW ©2024 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 

Post-game celebrations were cut short for Jordan, who rushed to confront Layla at the lounge, pushing for a deeper understanding of her needs and emphasizing mental health, only to find resistance yet again. Thankfully, Olivia bridged their communication gap by helping Layla see Jordan’s point of view and suggesting to Jordan that he research ways to help Layla, instead of pushing her into things she isn’t comfortable with. A silver lining came for Layla when they finally apprehended the individual responsible for the break-in at her lounge. In a moment of reconciliation, Jordan offered an apology to Layla and presented her with various treatment alternatives that he looked into, suggesting she consider them at her own pace. They committed to being better at communication and informing one another about big decisions. Communication has been a huge problem for them. Hopefully their talk is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, Ryan remains a threat looming in the distance. As of yet it is unclear what his intentions are, but he clearly has an ulterior motive where Layla is concerned. 

Meanwhile, Spencer and Olivia's plans for a quieter New Year's Eve were disrupted by the GAU team inviting themselves over for a beach house celebration. As Olivia and Spencer attempted to slip away from the team celebration. Ashley unexpectedly arrived at the beach house, presenting a portrait of Olivia, which immediately put Spencer on edge. Confronted with this grand gesture at Spencer’s own home, Olivia challenged Ashley's intentions. In a heartfelt confession, Ashley revealed his long-standing feelings, explaining that Olivia's departure to London was a moment of clarity about losing something special between them. He described their connection as rare and deliberate. However, Olivia reaffirmed her commitment to Spencer, gently rejecting Ashley and steering him away. With the distraction handled, Spencer and Olivia seized the moment to find some quiet time together, sharing a meaningful New Year's kiss. 

"Passin’ Me By” – ALL AMERICAN. Pictured: Daniel Ezra as Spencer James and Samantha Logan as Olivia Baker. Photo: Troy Harvey/The CW ©2024 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Good things are happening for the James boys as Dillon learned that he had been accepted into the Boston School of Arts and needed to start in a week. Initially, Grace insisted on accompanying him to help him settle in, but Dillon preferred to go alone. Grace consulted Preach about covering her work commitments, and Preach suggested that it is Grace, not Dillon, who may not be ready to let him go on his own. At the same time, Spencer told Dillon to value the time with his mother, hinting that he will have many days of loneliness ahead in Boston. Just as Grace was ready to let Dillon go by himself, he expressed that he wanted her to go with him. They reached a middle ground: Grace agreed to stay in Boston for just one day instead of a week. The James family has come so far since the first season and although it will be hard on Grace to have her youngest boy so far away, she is proud of the man he is becoming and should be proud of herself for raising such an amazing young man. 

The episode also found Patience struggling with her situation with Miko. Coop tried to reassure her that she and Laura were on top of the case, but Patience struggled with letting her perception of the situation not take hold of her. Things took a dark turn as Patience stole Layla's gun from the Baker house and parked outside Miko’s home, intending to intimidate her. Thankfully, Preach and Coop intervened, with Preach emphasizing the severe implications of her actions and the importance of perception versus reality. He advised her to trust that Laura and Coop have her back. After reflecting, Patience decided to testify in her defence at the trial, choosing to trust the legal process.

"Passin’ Me By” – ALL AMERICAN. Pictured: Chelsea Tavares as Patience. Photo: Troy Harvey/The CW ©2024 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

If the episode wasn’t jam packed enough, there was also a sub-plot featuring Asher. He was having dreams of returning to football, after getting clearance from his cardiac doctor for increased physical activity. Montes approved him for half-speed drills with the team, where he excelled without missing a beat. However, Jaymee spotted him running drills and, concerned for his health, discussed her worries with Jordan and Spencer at the GAU team party. Asher admitted that he had been consulting another cardiologist secretly for months. Jaymee was upset by his recklessness, especially since he is now a father. Asher confided in Wade Waters about his longing to play football again. Wade sensed Asher's desire to return to the game. Ultimately, Asher chose his family over football, but it is clear that he is grappling with this choice. He said that running drills was the first time that he had felt like himself in a long time. It likely won’t be easy for him to just give his dream up completely. 

Although there was a lot going on in the episode, the writer’s always seem to find a way to weave things together nicely. The writing team should also be commended for emphasizing the importance of taking care of your mental health and getting help and the various forms that help comes in. The writing team consistently tackles important issues and they do so appropriately and with integrity. Your turn, All American fans. What did you think of the episode? Is this the last we will see of Ashley? What do you think Ryan’s motives are and has Asher really given up football for good? Share your thoughts below and engage with me on X at @middleofcanada.

Cristina manages the site and reviews several shows. She is an Elementary School Counsellor by day and avid TV buff by night. True Crime, thrillers, dramas and dramedy's are her favourite genres. When she is not at work or managing SpoilerTV, she loves spending time with her two dogs, a Chihuahua Pug mix named Holly and Terrier mix named Penny. She also loves Travelling to visit family.

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