SURVIVOR’S REMORSE Review: “No Child Left Behind”

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Several months after Julius’ death on SURVIVOR’S REMORSE, Cam finally works up the courage to go into his late Uncle’s bedroom. But his interest in the past brings up a new problem: what should they do with Julius’ gun?

Lest we forget, this is the gun that Julius used to kill a stag on the front lawn, a stag that is currently hanging as a trophy on his wall. Cam speeds off to parts unknown, it’s not really clear what his plans are.

A workout session doubling as lady time between Cassie, Missy and M-Chuck reminds us how close a show can come to passing the Bechdel Test without actually passing it. Cassie announces the arrival of her DNA test results, hoping that through a mixture of prayer and positive thinking, the results will get to Julius. She’s excited about her newfound Nigerian heritage, but M-Chuck reminds her of a much more relevant DNA inquiry, her search for her real father. Per usual, Cassie ignores the question.

Cam and Reggie show how clueless they really are when the existence of the gun becomes a national crisis. The problem is that at the very least, they know Julius used it to poach a deer. But what sordid history could the gun be hiding?

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It’s interesting that unlike other series that have killed off a starring character unexpectedly (I’m thinking House), Survivor’s Remorse isn’t afraid to keep reminding us of the dastardly deed. Rather than moving on from Julius’ death, the series continues to exploit it as a dramatic and comedic resource. In a way, it’s almost as if the point is to say, “this wasn’t a fluke, this wasn’t a contract dispute, we did this on purpose.” Maybe they did.

Cam and Reggie need one more mind to help them figure out the gun issue, and they choose Jimmy Flaherty. Flaherty is annoyed at being brought in to consult purely on the basis of his Irish mobster heritage, and even more annoyed when Cam reveals that he doesn’t actually like the Patriots. Okay, that was a detour, but I promise the joke was funnier on the show. Despite his superiority complex, Flaherty calls in help too; in the form of team lawyer Clayton. Clayton for his part is an avid gun enthusiast and knows exactly what to do. Or so he says…

Meanwhile, Cassie, Missy, and M-Chuck visit a Nigerian restaurant in order to explore their heritage. Cassie instantly bonds with the waitress Eka, who offers to show her around the Nigerian section of Atlanta. Cassie’s new friend gives her a taste of the Nigerian culture as they visit a dance class and shop for traditional garb.

Clayton runs a report on the gun and it comes up clean, so he advises Cam and Reggie to turn it into their local police station. Cam and Reggie are nervous, and Clayton’s reassurance isn’t particularly helpful: “Nothing is more central to the idea of law enforcement than taking weapons from black people.”

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Things are moving pretty quickly for Cassie and her new BFF, as the Calloways agree to host a “birthday party” for Eka’s daughter. The party turns serious, however, when Missy realizes that it is actually a ritual ceremony for female genital mutilation. What ensues is a slightly funny but mostly preachy argument about the practice, with Missy and Eka representing opposite sides of the spectrum. The scene makes a lot of good points, but at times it stops being a television show and starts being an essay, and at the risk of sounding petty – it’s not fun anymore.

Survivor’s Remorse is increasingly topical; we’re seeing less and less of Cam’s life as a basketball star (in fact, there is almost zero reference to his occupation in this episode) as the focus shifts to issues and controversies facing the African-American community. Last week was colorism, this week was gun ownership and female reproductive rights. The difference is that last week’s moralizing felt natural, this week it stuck out like a sore thumb. And none of it answered the bigger question: Who is M-Chuck’s father?

At the police station, the desk officer convinces Cam and Reggie that the gun is too valuable to turn in. In the end, they put it right back where Cam found it, in the safe, with a new combination.

The final two scenes of the show bring up an interesting comparison: a Nigerian genital mutilation ceremony versus a Jewish circumcision. What makes one more acceptable than the other? The show would argue it’s the way we look at it.

TB-TV-Grade-B+
Season 3, Episode 6  (S03E06)
Survivor’s Remorse airs Sundays at 10PM on Starz

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Heather is a fan of all stories that reflect life, but it doesn’t hurt if they’re set on another planet or in another time.
Twitter: @Elianarra

Keep up with all Survivor’s Remorse reviews here. 
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