This All American review contains spoilers.
All American Season 2, Episode 7
Daniel Ezra said this episode was the hardest episode he’s ever had to film and, watching it, it’s easy to understand what he meant. On the most basic level, it meant that Spencer would make us ugly cry once again and he did just that.
I can’t believe how underrated this show is. It’s one of the best shows out there now because of the way it depicts so many relatable situations that happen in everyday life, with all kinds of families. It runs deep and it hits home to viewers on so many levels. There really is no reason to complain about the pacing for this episode because it allowed both the Bakers and the James to fully delve and explore through their family affairs, while showcasing some of their stellar performances that let us as the audience appreciate these character dynamics.
Spencer and his family, along with Darnell (DaVinci) go off to bring Corey (Chad L. Coleman) home after piecing together that Corey is in fact dying and he didn’t want his family to see him “weak” during his final moments.
There is a lot that comes into play in this episode: it unlocks and explores the deeply-rooted fragile masculinity that is heavily stuck in the Black community, when it comes to Black men. The honest conversation between Spencer and Corey strips away the stoicism of toxic masculinity. The characters allow themselves space for the healing process and its not a scene or depiction you often get to see between Black men on TV. Corey and Spencer’s conversation is honest and so raw to its as they talk about the beauty that is vulnerability and how important it is for Black men to show it. Show all of it. Vulnerability is your greatest strength and watching these two break it down was beautiful.
“Let it out. Let it all out,” Corey says to Spencer and he unleashes it all. It’s an absolutely emotional scene and I don’t know how many times I have to yell this out but Daniel Ezra deserve all the awards. Everyone’s performance in this episode is top-tier, with this cast continuing to raise the bar. Spencer is a softy deep inside and when you allow him the space to open up, he will give you his most authentic self and I just want to hug him each time.
“You’re always leaving me!” Spencer screams and it’s so gutting that I couldn’t help but just let those tears flow.
What’s also flawless about “Coming Home” is how well everything flows together, with the nuance of each scene making a huge impact on the pacing of this episode. While The Bakers are the ones in actual therapy, the James family are the ones making those breakthroughs and the parallels between Corey/Grace (Karimah Westbrook) and Billy (Taye Diggs)/Laura (Monet Mazur) flows effortlessly as well.
The Bakers are working on their family problems and it’s evident that there is a lot to unpack. The conversation the twins have are my favorite part of the Baker dynamic because it’s a rare conversation you see nowadays between teen siblings. I love the fact that, because of overhearing her children open up about their pain, it put things into perspective for Laura.
Billy has to keep working and proving himself that he’s a better man and has changed, but I’m glad to see that they were able to find a common ground from which to start. Those saved letters he brings out were cute, not going to lie. You can see the genuine guilt and sorrow in Billy’s eyes and, as much as what he did was wrong and hurtful to Laura, his constant determination to make it all better is admirable to watch because he’s taken responsibility and accountability for it. And like he said, “whatever it takes.” I hope you keep that promise, Billy.
Then, we have the unexpected death of Corey right when they are about to take him home. I did not expect that to happen so soon, especially right at the end of the episode. It was soul-crushing, it was hard not to feel the pain Spencer was feeling. And that scream Spencer let out as he embraced his father? My goodness, I lost it. The silence during that moment was too much to bear. I wish they had more time, I wish they could continue on the healing. Spencer was so happy, Corey was so happy, we were so close to something even more beautiful between them. Sigh.
All in all, this episode was one for the books. The writers took storytelling to a whole new level and I can honestly say (well, I keep saying it) Season 2 is better than ever and each episode has been strong so far. I’m blown away at how the creators and writers handle this show with the utmost care when it comes to telling these stories because of the depth of feeling it holds for a lot of people. Representation matters. When done well, you never know who it may save.
I’m so glad Corey found out that Dillon (Jayln Hill) was in fact his son. I was nervous about that.
I can’t wait to see the growing friendship blossom between Spencer and Darnell (hopefully if he’s still around) after this. Appreciated the way Darnell was there for Spencer.
Spencer never had the chance to go fishing and hearing another guy talk about memories he’s never had with his dad was so sad to watch.
Grace (Karimah Westbrook) is the true MVP. She is Spencer’s backbone and their bond is unbreakable.
Olivia (Samantha Logan) is so real when it comes to mental health. A true queen.
Shadia Omer is an entertainment writer, pop culture enthusiast, and an aspiring TV writer. She’s based in San Diego, CA but will always rep being from Houston, TX instead. You can find her on Twitter tweeting about her favorite shows one tweet at a time at @shadiawrites.