BLACK-ISH ends its third season with a dramatic episode that eschews social satire and jokes, instead focusing on family bonding and tear-jerking moments. The episode opens with Dre happily planning Bow’s baby shower–he used to think baby showers were just for the ladies, but when he found out that the co-ed shower trend is mainly an excuse to eat tacos and play drinking games, he got into it. The kids debate what gifts to get the new baby–Junior will give him the gift of male guidance, Diane will write a letter that Jack will sign, and Zoey will knit something. She’s never knitted before, but things come easily to her.
Here’s the thing–ABC had been heavily promoting the fact that Bow was finally going to give birth in the season finale. The audience knows that this is going to happen, so everything that happened before it felt like a meandering if pleasant distraction. Bow complains of a headache, so Dre takes her to the doctor, where they learn she has a dangerous condition called preeclampsia. Her blood pressure is too high, so they have to induce labor, two months early. Baby Devonte needs to be born that day, but they quickly learn that they can’t simply induce–they need to do an emergency c-section.
This is all very dramatic, but it’s incredibly shocking to learn that Bow is only seven months pregnant in Black-ish world, as she’s been pregnant since the season two finale last year. It’s an odd development that doesn’t quite fit with what seemed to be the established timeline. Maybe the writers wanted to use this life-or-death development, based on creator Kenya Barris’s real-life experiences, but the network told them Bow had to give birth during the season finale?
The doctor explains the procedure to Dre, telling him that in situations like this, the hospital’s policy is to save the life of the mother first. This shocks Dre, who didn’t realize that he was in danger of losing Bow. He breaks down in front of Ruby, who in turn shows a moment of genuine warmth for Bow, calling her her daughter. The c-section goes well, but Devonte is whisked away to the NICU. Since he was born prematurely, his lungs haven’t fully developed yet. Bow tells Dre to go with him, but Dre stalls, instead calling random members of the family to update them on the situation.
Dre explains to Pops that he’s scared that Devonte might not make it. He’s small and fragile and Dre doesn’t want to fall in love with him only to lose him. Pops gives Dre an inspiring speech, giving him the courage to go into the NICU, then promptly hits on a nurse. Dre reaches his hand into Devonte’s glass case. The baby grabs his finger and I begin crying, because I’m a sucker for shamelessly emotional moments. Those commercials/YouTube videos featuring soldiers coming home from war and surprising their dogs? Gets me every time. I’m tearing up just thinking about it.
While this episode had some tear-provoking moments this week, Charlie was around to provide some attempts at comedic relief. He’s at the hospital because his mom is dying–she’s very old, but it was a shark attack courtesy of the bathtub shark he bought her that finally did her in. He thinks that if the baby is born on the same day his mother dies, his mom’s soul will be transferred into the new baby. Basic soul math. Not surprisingly, Johan is completely on board with that idea. He has the soul of Henry Fonda, which is why he loves cardigans.
The season ends with the Johnson clan huddled around Bow’s hospital bed, while Biz Markie sings a personalized version of “Just a Friend”. Black-ish is first and foremost a family sitcom and it’s always nice to see the entire family together.
Season 3, Episode 24 (S03E24)
Black-ish airs Wednesdays at 930PM on ABC
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor