After a dramatic Season 2 climax that left one character’s fate in question, SURVIVOR’S REMORSE returns with an intense, two-part Season 3 premiere. Cam Calloway, Cassie, M-Chuck and Allison rush to the hospital with Julius, who is seriously injured in a car accident caused by Allison’s faulty SUV. At home, Reggie and Missie have a romantic night together as they try to plan their future. Of course, because this is a comedy, we expect that all these issues will blow over in the next 20-30 minutes. But an unexpected bomb drops when a nervous young resident delivers the news that the Calloway’s have been dreading: Julius is dead. Like, for real.
As the characters begin to process their grief, we have to ask a slightly self-interested question: “is Survivor’s Remorse still going to be funny?” The answer: “Kind of?” To be honest, I was half expecting Julius’ off-screen death to be an impossible hoax, with the doctors in on the joke. Ten, fifteen minutes into the episode, it finally started to sink in.
Mike Epps is off the show, and network television is to blame. Though there were no reported conflicts with Epp’s work on Survivor’s Remorse and his starring role in ABC’s Uncle Buck, it’s hard not to use his newest gig as a scapegoat. After all, why play third fiddle when you can be a soloist? Unfortunately with the cancellation of Uncle Buck after its first season, there’s now an Epps-shaped hole in the silver screen. But I digress.
Speaking of scapegoats, Allison is indirectly responsible for Julius’ death, because she refused to accept Cam’s gift of a new car, which led to Julius driving her old one. Reggie and Missie arrive to help mediate the crisis, but the Calloways also get a surprising show of support from Jimmy Flaherty. Jimmy is on strangely good terms with M-Chuck, in fact he’s writing her college recommendations. Noted.
Cam, meanwhile, withdraws from Allison and from everyone except Reggie and seems unable to process his feelings. He takes full responsibility for Julius’ death, having bought Allison the new car. Reggie tries to talk him off a proverbial ledge and succeeds, but it still feels a little wrong that Cam won’t pull out of his upcoming basketball game. Later, it’s clear that he’s still a long way from healing as he burns the offending SUV to the ground.
There’s still room for bittersweet, dark comedy in the premiere, which is a relief. Highlights include a nervous, young resident who awkwardly delivers the bad news to the Calloways, two morgue employees asking Cam to pose for a photo after he identifies Julius’ body, and Da Chen Bao reading a Catholic prayer to comfort Cassie in her grief.
There’s also a bit of setup for Season 3, focusing on potential plotlines for the next few episodes. Because it’s more fun, I’ll list them in the form of questions: Will Cam overcome his guilt over Julius’ death? Will M-Chuck find her self-worth in college? (no) And will Missie’s misgivings about Atlanta finally convince Reggie to leave? Only time will tell.
The second of the back-to-back episodes finds the Calloways and Vaughns beginning the difficult process of planning Julius’ funeral. Cam, Cassie and M-Chuck dive into the details of burial versus cremation, Boston versus Atlanta, religious ceremony versus agnostic ceremony, while Reggie tries to find out which driver was at fault in the fatal accident.
If the tone of the first few scenes is anything to go by, this season is going to be a little bit uncomfortable. The laughs are still there, but they’re coming in the midst of pretty dark times.
First, the Calloways need to decide how to bury Julius, which leads into the inevitable investigation into his private life. Using a prayer card that Cam found in Julius’ wallet, Cassie decides to look into the possibility of a religious burial.
Meanwhile, Reggie does some inquiry of his own, hoping to find evidence that the truck driver was at fault for Julius’ accident. Instead, through his friend Clay Beckwith, Reggie learns that Julius was running a red light and smoking weed right before the crash.
Cassie visits a local Catholic church and speaks with kindly Father Tom, who reveals that Julius was a regular attendee at weekly dinner for homeless men – because he was pretending to be homeless. On a side note, Cassie’s storyline is one of the funniest in this episode as her relationship with Da Chen Bao continues to be a rich source of humor. That’s not because it’s ridiculous by the way, in fact it’s refreshing to see how serious their relationship seems to be. But as Cassie and Bao continue to explore the differences between their cultural grieving processes, it’s hard not to chuckle, even if they picking out funeral clothes.
The only character not permitted to laugh is Cam, who plods through this episode as if it were a hardcore drama. Along with Cam’s grief, Allison’s guilt about the accident puts a strain on their relationship. There’s only one other character who seems tortured by her own mistakes – an apologetic Dr. Kristine Lang who stops by the Calloway mansion to apologize for how she broke the news of Julius’ death.
Cam plays his basketball game and wins, but seems disinterested in the press conference that follows. Mercifully, the reporters mostly give him a pass on discussing Julius’ death.
Despite taking it’s time leading up to the funeral, the actual event is a bittersweet, but brief affair. Afterwards the Calloways entertain friends and out-of-town family at their home, M-Chuck fending off advances from Julius’ friend Cakebread. Reggie and Julius reconnect with Squeeze, son of Julius’ ex-girlfriend. Missie tells Allison that she made the right choice in turning down the car that Cam bought her; hopefully that knowledge will be enough to save their fledgling relationship. The funeral turns into a party in honor of Julius, though Cam and Reggie don’t join in.
Using mementos from Julius’ past, the first two episodes of this season have several flashbacks to his life. We’ve seen him giving Cam relationship advice about Allison, driving with Cam and having a good time, but for what may be the last appearance of Uncle Julius, we see a scene that no one in his family would have been present for. At the church, “homeless” Julius gives Father Tom his score for the day – a large bag of coins and an ounce of coke. Julius may not have been the most upstanding guy, but he was still guided by a key principle that shaped his relationships with friends and family: it’s more blessed to give than to receive.
Season 3, Episode 1-2 (S03E01-02)
Survivor’s Remorse airs Sundays at 10PM on Starz
Heather makes things for TV by day and writes by night (also sometimes by day). She 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.
Heather West | Contributor