Sunday, September 18, 2016

REVIEW: 'Survivor's Remorse' - New Details About the Family's Past Come to the Surface in 'Second Thoughts'

Starz's Survivor's Remorse - Episode 3.09 "Second Thoughts"

Cam uncovers secrets about his family's past and deals with the fallout.

Family has always been a vital part of Survivor's Remorse. Cam is proud of how he has been able to pull his family out of poverty with his basketball career. He enjoys helping people who helped get him to where he is. He is no longer as naive as he once was. He's more skeptical about people being near him just to get a hand out. But he is still the caring and generous person he has always been. And yet, the show has always been about this family's life in Atlanta. Except in brief flashbacks, the audience has never seen just how poor they truly were in Boston. Atlanta represents a brighter future for all of them. So, they've enjoyed this lifestyle change. And yet, the past cannot be completely forgotten. It's a shared experience for all of them. They understand what each other went through because they were right there with them. However, there are certain parts of the past that the family doesn't talk about. The show has deliberately kept them a mystery for the audience. And now, it's clear that the past can no longer remain in silence.

M-Chuck has been searching for answers about her father all season long. The whole family knows who Cam's father is. He's never someone the family talks about a whole lot. But at least they have answers. He's a deadbeat who left and no one has spoken to him in years. Cam has clarity on his lineage. M-Chuck does not. All she has is a tense relationship with her mother. She questions if Cassie even loves her. She knows that she does. It's just the way she expresses those feelings can be very alienating and abusive. M-Chuck has gotten better because of therapy. But this is still a major issue for her. She desperately craves answers. She feels like she is falling apart without them. Her life is great. That has nothing to do with knowing who her father is. But it's still an important part of the puzzle that she wants to know about. She needs to know how her story began. She wants to know if she has any more family out there. Cassie has the answers and refuses to give them - which has slowly been tearing this family apart.

It is clear that Cassie has a closer relationship to Cam than M-Chuck. Cassie only went to M-Chuck's therapy session because Cam asked her to. She didn't participate like M-Chuck wanted though. She showed up because that's what Cam wanted her to do. M-Chuck has asked her mother multiple times this season who her father is. Cassie has refused to share anything. But now, once Cam asks her before her big trip to China with Chen, she provides all the brutal details of how Cassie was conceived. At 15 years old, Cassie was gang raped by a group of boys at a party. She has no idea who M-Chuck's real father is. Her conception was this horrifying experience that happened to her. She doesn't share it with Cam for him to pity her. She doesn't tell him so he has to keep the secret as well. She tells him because he asks not knowing just how dark the story actually is. And now, she can burden it with him too. That's a lot to handle. Cam has to seriously question if he should tell M-Chuck the truth. She's going to keep on digging no matter what. She's hired a private investigator to help her uncover answers. But does she need to know the tragic circumstances of her mother being raped? That's weighing heavily on Cam's conscience.

Cam copes by retreating to Uncle Julius' room to smoke some drugs. That has really been comforting to him throughout the season. Remembering his uncle allows him to find some peace with his ever-changing world. And yet, he does not find comfort or stability in the room this time. Instead, he gets a pretty outrageous and scary experience. It's not surprising that Julius would have LSD just laying around. There are many things in this room that the family doesn't know about. But it leads to a pretty awkward and hilarious situation once Cam takes some. It amplifies his subconscious thought. It's not a story beat about M-Chuck's father though. It's not a sequence about his guilt over knowing the truth and struggling to figure out what to do. Instead, it's about his own guilt over a similar situation that happened to him when he was the same age his mother was when she was raped. It's a detail about his past that the audience has never heard of before. In high school, he got his girlfriend and the coach's daughter pregnant. They had an abortion and went their separate ways. And now, he's feeling guilty about not speaking up more. He doesn't know if that would have changed anything with what ultimately happened. He just hates that he only said he supported her decision. He has grown a lot since high school. He has gotten fame but he has also found maturity in Atlanta. It's been a learning curve for sure. He's still just learning how to cope with his emotions.

Nothing in life has an easy solution. Reggie is able to help Cam come down from the drugs. He's busy dealing with his own family issues. But he is still there for Cam when he needs it the most. In fact, it's really funny when Reggie first comes in the room and Cam believes he's melting just because he's covered in sweat from working out. Despite that though, Reggie helps him get back to normal. But this experience still meant something to Cam. He reaches out to the girl to try and feel better about the situation. He believes she could provide him with the solution to cure him of this guilt. She doesn't believe he has anything to feel guilty about. And yet, he still feels that way. He feels the same about the truth about M-Chuck's father. He feels guilty that this happened to Cassie and she couldn't report it. He hates that society was so broken down that this could happen to a poor black woman with absolutely no consequences. She had to just keep on living. But now, it was a life with a daughter in it. Cassie loves M-Chuck. But this story does help explain their tenuous relationship. Cam ultimately decides to tell M-Chuck the truth. She had a good day. She had a solid session with a shrink and had a date with a great girl that didn't immediately lead to sex. She's learned her lesson with her sexual impulses. She has grown. And now, her world is going to change because of this news. It's already changed for Cam. The audience got to see how he struggled in the immediate aftermath of learning the truth. And now, Cassie is out of the country for three weeks. So, it should be interesting to see how everyone copes dealing with and processing this news in next week's finale as another family threat rears it's ugly end in the form of Reggie's dad.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Second Thoughts" was directed by Mike Mariano with story by Marquita J. Robinson and teleplay by Benjamin Neivert & Brendan O'Malley.
  • Reggie is Cam's cousin. That was established in the first episode of the series. But how is he specifically related to the family? Do Cassie and Julius have another sibling who they just don't talk about? Answers are coming with this mystery. His father, Trent, shows up in town. Reggie doesn't speak to him because of a substance abuse problem. But now, he has seemingly cleaned up.
  • Reggie and Missy's story is largely just necessary plot setup for what will probably happen in the finale. Trent reaches out and ruins the mood for them. They will going to have outdoor sex. And then, Trent ruins all of that with his call.
  • Clay is always a reliable and funny character. He doesn't need to appear more than he does. But he always provides an interesting reaction to what the family is up to. Here, he gets way too interested in M-Chuck speculating about her conception.
  • The visual of the talking fetus and deer head is quite the image. It's a long sequence too where Cam is not sure what he's looking at but is starting to feel more and more guilty based on what's being said. The addition of the deer probably wasn't all that necessary. But it was a fun detail.
  • So now that babies are on his mind, how soon until Cam starts thinking about having one in the future with Allison? Their relationship is serious. But that would be taking things to a new level. One they may not be ready for quite yet.
  • Okay, that's the second time that Cam already having taken his final drug test for the season has been mentioned in an episode. Is it setting up some final twist for the end of the season that could jeopardize his career?
  • Because it's worth mentioning, Cam's team has made it to the playoffs. Not that his actual career has ever been the main driver of onscreen story.