Sunday, September 24, 2017

REVIEW: 'Survivor's Remorse' - Cam Explores Activism While Missy Worries About Money in 'Reparations'

Starz's Survivor's Remorse - Episode 4.06 "Reparations"

Cam takes his basketball ambition in a new direction. Chen gets the wrong idea about Cassie's new hobby. Missy makes a troubling discovery.

On one hand, "Reparations" feels like it's simply setting up a lot of stories for the end game of this season. Cassie wants to get confirmed in the Catholic church. Reggie and Missy are fighting over their financial interests. Cam wants to embrace more activism. On the other hand though, it's doing what this show has always done well in having complex and nuanced arguments about these various stories. It's a very wise and insightful show that definitely has its pulse on what is currently happening in the world. It's incredibly timely for Cam to be exploring his activism side. Is he just suppose to be a basketball player because that's what he's being played millions of dollars to do? Or does it come with the inherent responsibility to use that platform in order to bring change throughout the world? For Cam, it's incredibly simple because he has such a huge heart. But it's also believable to see how that heart and desire to help everyone with a worthy cause is creating tension in his business relations because they just want him to keep still and focus on the actual sport. It's a story that is even more relevant given what has been happening in the real-world over the weekend regarding athletes protesting. But it's also nothing new for the show and the character. It's a natural extension of the man he has been becoming across the seasons. He's always had the desire to help other people. The show gets its title from the guilt he feels from being able to pull himself out of poverty while leaving others behind. And now, his desires to bring about change are playing out on a more global scale. He's passionate about it but it's continuing to cause stress with Reggie and Jimmy.

All of this is on top of what Cam has already been doing with his new charitable foundation. The charity was first created for good press. He had walked into an awkward situation and needed to give the appearance of doing what was right to correct it. It would have ended his troubles with people with frozen nostril syndrome. But now, the charity has taken on new focus. He's become passionate about a number of worthy causes. He wants sweeping prison reform and to deliver fresh drinking water to third world nations. He wanted people to feel something at the gala. Of course, what they ultimately felt was nausea and disgust. It was very effective in getting people to donate to the charity. But it's also wise to lay low for a little while too. But Cam just gets so excited and passionate about things very easily. It doesn't take much for him to be distracted by the shiny, new cause. Reggie can already rattle off a number of causes and charities he wants to support. Cam believes it's reasonable for him to want to add another one to that list. Reggie thinks it could potential be irresponsible because it would essentially be him giving away more money than he should. That's a conversation that is worth having. Cam wants to help the generation of black players who came before him in basketball. He wants to help them in a way that the league hasn't. People believe it will be easy for him to do because of his stature in the industry and the amount of money he is making. But he's already giving 25 percent of this income to charity. This new demand would only add to that total.

Cam's response to all of this is very interesting as well. Reggie tells him he can't use his personal money or the foundation's money for this worthy cause right now. Sure, he delivers it in disbelief because he can't believe that Cam is so selfless in comparison to the rest of humanity. This is just another frustrating detail for him to worry about as his manager. Cam doesn't ultimately go through with the deal beyond Reggie's back. But he does step up to become the team representative in the Atlanta organization. It's a distinction that falls onto him because he is the leader of the team on the court. He's seen as the player that absolutely makes this team. No one would take them seriously if it weren't for Cam. Jimmy just wants him to focus on basketball because that's what he is paying him to do. The season is starting once more. People are having thoughts about how the team actually plays. But the story has always been more interested in what happens off the court and how it affects Cam's life. This is a position he was told not to do because he would be taking an opportunity away from someone else on the team who doesn't get to play much. But instead, he decided to take on this responsibility because it's the right thing to do. It's him having a voice within this organization. That could potentially be dangerous because he always wants to help everyone no matter what. This could force him to make some compromising decisions. He'll have to do that sooner or later. But it's bound to be a very compelling story no matter what happens next.

It's also fascinating to see Reggie be so careful about managing Cam's money while being a little reckless with his own. He still has a regular card game with Tom Werner and company. That hasn't been a major part of the main story in a long time. But here, it comes roaring back after a devastating loss. He doesn't think it's a big deal that he lost $123,000 in a game of poker. He's not worried about not being able to earn it back. He's not trying to hide this from Missy. But it's still a big deal to her. This represents a unilateral decision that he made without even thinking about how she would react. This is a significant amount of money to lose in one night of gambling. She's worried because it's their joint account. It's not a crushing blow to their finances. They are still members of Atlanta's elite. But it's a significant loss. Instead, Reggie just steers the conversation to Missy never having to worry about it because her family money will still always be there to support her. That starts an interesting discussion about prenups and financial security. Missy's father believed he was doing the right thing in forcing Reggie to sign this document. He's support Missy in everything she has ever done. He's given her the freedom to do whatever she wants. She's proud to assert herself as a feminist who knows the power of words and visuals to the world at large. But does she have a right to complain about finances when she's not the one actually earning it? Yes, she should have a voice in that conversation. But everyone else is being blunt and cruel to her a little bit. This is an eye-opening experience for her. It's her ideals being questioned by her own family. They are willing to protect her while she doesn't want to be treated as a little kid. This may spark a new career move for her. That could be interesting. Or it could just foster even more friction in her marriage with Reggie.

Meanwhile, Chen's story of feeling a little distant from Cassie and ultimately deciding to look through her phone is a very conventional story. That's a plot that has been told many times and it always backfires. It continually stirs up a big fight with the core couple that threatens their relationship because of a misunderstanding. That's exactly what happens here. It's just good that it doesn't take too long to actually get to that point. Chen questions Cassie about a conversation she's having with someone named Tom. She reveals that it's Father Tom. She's talking with him not because she's having an affair but because she wants to be confirmed in the church. That's a very sensible explanation. But it's not the most damning secret she is keeping from Chen. M-Chuck doesn't know that Cassie hasn't told Chen about her being raped at 15 and getting pregnant with M-Chuck. She just assumes that everyone now knows that because she has the clarity over her conception. That's a selfish moment for her even though she's been a delight to watch lately because of her psychology classes. She just keeps talking and talking about how Cassie has this new urge to be more spiritual because she has finally addressed what happened to her all those years ago. It's a shocking realization to Chen. He had no idea. This was Cassie's story to tell and she didn't. She wanted to but it was forced out by M-Chuck instead by accident. M-Chuck immediately knows it was a mistake. But it's mostly just a unifying moment where Chen has a new understanding for what has been going on with Cassie. He no longer needs to worry about her.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Reparations" was written by Victor Levin and directed by Salli Richardon-Whitfield.
  • This is Jimmy Flaherty's first appearance for the season. It's a little disappointing because he's such a fantastic and funny character. He has formed such deep relationships with many of the members of the Calloway family. He's the reason M-Chuck got to Boston at the start of the season. But now, it seems likely that he'll have a big impact on the remaining episodes of the season.
  • According to her parents, Missy has only done work for Reggie's one client which includes running one photo shoot and planning one gala. To them, she's not making good use of the degree she earned. She should be working more to earn her own wealth. So, will her new job be a part of the foundation or another aspect of Cam's life? Or will she try to put some distance between herself and the family?
  • Ernie Hudson plays the famous basketball player whom Cam looks up to and asks Cam for help in ensuring that other players in his position are taken care of. Again, it's a good cause that also highlights the discrimination in the sport in past decades. That's an issue that largely goes unmentioned in society. So, it's good for the show to talk about it here.
  • Cassie's revelation that she is talking to a Catholic priest and wants to get confirmed in the church would have more surprising if she hadn't been adding a ton of religious statues to the garden lately. Because of that detail, it seems a little more obvious as to what's going on with her and why she's distant from Chen.
  • It's a tad amusing that it took three seasons for the show to cover one season of basketball and only five episodes to cover the offseason for Cam. It seems like time has sped up a little bit while the characters haven't really changed too much as a result. These are important logistics. But it's also just fun to see Cam re-enter this organization he loves with a new perspective. That adds value to his earlier conversation with Rodney.