Sunday, August 27, 2017

REVIEW: 'Survivor's Remorse' - M-Chuck Finally Gets to Express Her Feelings to Her Father in 'Repercussions'

Starz's Survivor's Remorse - Episode 4.02 "Repercussions"

Cam's visit to Walpole sends him on a wild goose chase in to the past. Missy gets a worrisome phone call. M-Chuck gives some teenagers a piece of her mind.

All of the characters on Survivor's Remorse right now are on their own personal journeys. Last week's premiere was solid because Cam, Reggie and M-Chuck were dealing with new revelations about their parentage. They were confronting Cassie over the phone and wanted answers. But they are all on their own separate journeys. This week sees none of them interacting. There are simply things that they need to do before being able to come back together as a family. Both Cam and M-Chuck are in Boston right now. But there is no desire between them to actually meet up and discover what they've just learned about their respective fathers. It's still an incredibly personal journey for them that they need to process themselves before bringing in other people. Of course, Reggie doesn't have that kind of luxury. He is actually interacting with his father even though he doesn't want to be. He doesn't want his father in his life but he keeps sticking around somehow. All of these journeys are different. That could lead to a very scattered episode where four stories are happening at the same time. And yet, they all feel thematically connected. Even Cassie in China is reflecting on the past and the life she had in comparison to the world Chen is from. That's a profound thought as well even though that story is much more comedically driven.

Cam's personal story seems absolutely incredible and outrageous. He returns to the childhood home he spent two years in. Boston has changed a lot since he lived in this house. It looks completely different now. The neighborhood has improved because of gentrification. His friend from last season's wedding even suggests flipping houses as a solid business plan that Cam should consider getting into with him. That's a promising tease for a story later on this season. Right now though, Cam is on a mission of personal discovery. He needs to know what his father wrote to him when he was in prison. He's hoping that the letters are still in the house where Cassie left them. It seems like a long shot. But he needs to know the truth. And surprisingly, the letters are still there. The house has been completely remodeled. It's much nicer now. But the man who did the project discovered the letters and held onto them because he knew they were of personal significance to someone else. He didn't hold onto them because he knew of Cam's celebrity status. He did it because he too had a personal story of being touched by a family member in prison. He felt connected with the story. It seems incredulous to believe. All of these connections seem random. And yet, that's the world we live in today. It's aspirational really. All it takes is a level of human understanding and compassion to bring us all together.

Of course, Neal McDonough is also playing this role as the house flipper in a very broad way. It still works in the tone of the show and gives this story a light touch to it despite its personal significance for Cam. Plus, it's just fun watching him riff on the inaccuracies portrayed in The Departed - especially calling into question Martin Scorsese, Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin - in comparison to his own life and struggle with a father in prison. It's a tremendous scene. But it still resonates when Cam sits down just outside the house to start reading the letters. To him, there is nothing else going on in the world. He can't be distracted by anything else. His friend is still talking about the potential to earn a lot of money flipping houses. He's preaching that it'll be a good investment for Cam. But Cam isn't listening. He's still reading the letters to know wanted his father tried to say all those years ago. He wants to know what kind of relationship he has been missing for all of these years. The letters hit him in a profound way even though the audience only hears a small snippet of one of them. It's a miracle that he found them. And now, he has to decide what to do because of them.

So, Cam is still searching for that resolution in his life. Meanwhile, M-Chuck is faced with the only possible resolution she could get about her own parentage. It's been such a harrowing experience for her to learn about the night she was conceived because of a gang rape. It's a story that just continues to get darker. On one hand, she's happy and vindicated that the three boys who did this to her mother were punished for it. Uncle Julius took the necessary action to make sure that they would forever pay for what they did to Cassie. And yet, all three of them being dead now doesn't help M-Chuck find the closure she was looking for. She went to Boston in pursuit of answers. And now, it's a journey that has led her to a cemetery. It's something she needs to see for herself. She has all of these emotions and feelings bottled up inside. She needs to let them out. But there's no one she can actually do that with. The only option she has is yelling at three graves. It's efficient because they are all right next to each other. But it's very impersonal as well. M-Chuck will never know which one of them is her biological father. She will never know if they died quickly or with the same amount of fear that M-Chuck and Cassie have felt in their lives because of that fateful night. All the people who can give her these answers are dead. Pookie is a good guy for showing this to M-Chuck. She appreciates his friendship. He is there to support her because he's been a friend of the family for years. He's been through the struggle alongside them. He continues to do that even though the family has left town and is famous elsewhere. He's still there for M-Chuck during this difficult time. She needs a shoulder to cry on because of this fucked up situation. It's nice that she has that without it being complicated by some kind of romantic tension. She can figure all of this out and try to accept that this is as good as she's ever going to get regarding this situation.

And finally, Reggie is in the hospital following the fight he got into outside of the restaurant. He's perfectly fine. The tension of the story comes from Trent calling Missy to inform her of where Reggie is at right now. Reggie never wanted his father to contact him or his wife ever again. He wanted no relationship with him whatsoever. And yet, Trent saved Reggie when he was being attacked by four individuals. And now, he's still protecting him from his urge to be self-destructive. It's important that Missy is here for this. But Reggie knowing that Trent contacted her would have the potential to ruin things even more. So, it does seem fitting that Missy lies to Reggie about how she found out about his injuries. It's a rational explanation as well. It makes sense that she is his emergency contact whom the hospital would have called. It eases the tension of the situation a little bit. But then, it delves into uncertainty once more because Trent refuses to have his own injuries looked at. He doesn't want anything to compromise his sobriety. But now, his hand is messed up and he's in a lot of pain. He's holding strong but he doesn't want to burden anyone else with the truth. It makes him a stubborn individual. Reggie is willing to care for his father not because of any familial responsibility but because of what he did in the fight when he didn't have to. He was protective in that moment. So, it's only fitting that Reggie helps him with the injuries in the aftermath. It means that Trent will continue to be in Reggie's life. Reggie doesn't want that. He doesn't want to return to the abuse of his childhood. But now, he may be the better person. He's helping his father out in this situation because it's the right thing to do.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Repercussions" was written by Mike O'Malley and directed by Mike Mariano.
  • After teasing that he could finally have sex in his childhood bedroom, that actually occurs between Chen and Cassie here. It's a very fitting room for a teenager as well. It's a funny story because Cassie is creeped out by all of the posters of women seemingly watching her. The over-the-bed one is completely unexpected. But it's also great when Chen decides to rip them off the wall.
  • Of course, this is still a life that Cassie never expected to have. She never had a room like Chen's as a kid. She was always bouncing around from house to house. She was always bouncing her kids around from house to house as well. Cam barely remembers the house he is now returning to. But Chen is able to lift Cassie up because of all that greatness that has happened for the family over the past year.
  • Neal McDonough certainly was a lot of fun here. It seems largely like an unexpected guest spot that will never be seen again. And yet, it would be so hilarious if he became a recurring presence this season - especially if the show decides to spend more time in Boston with Cam thinking about flipping houses for a profit.
  • And yet, the best moment of the episode may actually be M-Chuck and Pookie jamming out in the car to Donna Summer's "Last Dance." It's such an upbeat and joyful song. It pulls them out of the despair and difficult emotions surrounding their story. It's random but really empowering as well. It's so completely in line with the characters too. So, it's a really rewarding moment.
  • Was that shot of Cam reading one of his father's letters to Allison all that necessary? It once again shows that the two of them are still strong as a couple. And yet, it's been awhile since the show has done a story about their relationship. It's important that Cam is doing this by himself. But it's also important to remember he has someone waiting for him when he returns home.