SURVIVOR’S REMORSE Review: “Second Thoughts”

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This week on SURVIVOR’S REMORSE, M-Chuck hires a “borderline ethical” private investigator to find her father, behind Cassie’s back. But what she doesn’t know is that Cam has discovered the secret of her birth, and the knowledge is even more devastating than the mystery.

Reggie and Missie go on a romantic date to celebrate Cam’s new contract, but their bliss is interrupted when Missie gets a call from Trent Vaughn, Reggie’s absentee, recovering alcoholic father. He wants to reconnect, a proposition that Missie instantly rejects. Later, however, she decides to let Reggie in on the news, wondering what his father did to earn such a cold reception. Like Cassie, Reggie doesn’t want to talk about his daddy issues.

Trent’s introduction comes incredibly late in this season, and smells suspiciously of Season 4 setup material. Reggie’s parentage hasn’t been mentioned all season, and throwing it in now feels a little forced. At any rate, Reggie has little information to offer, except a choice four-letter word that describes how he feels about his father. Like Cam pursuing M-Chuck’s birth story, Missie is persistent and probably won’t leave this subject alone.

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Cassie and Bao head off to China, but Cam can’t resist one more attempt to pry the truth out of Cassie. He picks the wrong moment though, and Cassie finally breaks down: she doesn’t know who M-Chuck’s father is, because she was gang-raped at fifteen. The revelation weighs heavily on Cam; Cassie repels his sympathy and jets off to China with Bao.

It isn’t clear why this penultimate episode is destined to be the downer of the season. Cassie’s rape, M-Chuck’s angst, Reggie’s daddy issues – that’s just the beginning. Cam has a secret too.

We get the most awkward Cam high school flashback, showing one of Cam’s illicit rendezvous with a cute classmate Lindsey in the gym. Turns out that cute classmate was his coach’s daughter, and their meetups led to an unplanned pregnancy. The seriousness of situation is somewhat marred by Cam’s drug-infused dream of his unborn son, who has the head of a fully grown man on a fetus’ body.

Cam’s fetus/son puts I’m through the ringer, bringing out newfound feelings of guilt, shame and bemusement as they discuss the pros and cons of aborting his unborn son. Their conversation is interrupted by commentary from Julius’ mounted stag head, offering an alternative point of view. When it’s far too late, Cam realizes that he’s actually taken LSD, which explains the hallucinations, but not the guilt.

The only person having a good day in this episode is M-Chuck, who has a delightful time at therapy, followed by a nice date and productive workout. She’s positive and hopeful, just like a child who’s about to have all her hopes and dreams crushed in an instant.

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Reggie swoops in to straighten out Cam’s mental state, but the feelings of regret linger. Cam calls up Lindsey, who is now a prosperous businesswoman. She’s doing great and clearly following his with interest. Cam apologizes for not encouraging her to keep the baby, though Lindsey says there is nothing to forgive. Still, Cam feels responsible.

It’s a stalemate that’s characteristic of this show. On the one hand, it’s refreshing to see various issues explored from all sides, with enough evidence in each camp to let the audience make their own decision. Survivor’s Remorse is a show that lives in shades of gray, like that parent you can never get a clear answer out of (“Well, what do YOU think you should do?”). Sometimes, however, that lack of definition can be a problem. If the characters never take a position or make a decision, how can they grow? For instance, if Cam had decided to act on his feelings of guilt about the abortion, what type of action would have ensued in the rest of the episode?

Instead, we get a mostly static installment that takes thirty minutes to reveal information that could have been conveyed in a few scenes. We don’t even get to see M-Chuck’s reaction to her true parentage, because the episode ends abruptly. It’s the obligatory cliffhanger before the end of the season, but the cliff feels convenient instead of inevitable.

It’s been repeated many, many, times, but there’s probably not a show on television right now with a less appropriate name. On it’s own, Survivor’s Remorse is a little heavy, requiring a few seconds of thought to process. It’s not super catchy, it’s a little bit cerebral, and that’s fine. What’s not so great though, is that the idea of the title doesn’t really extend to what happens on the show. However, this episode does a lot of retrospection that technically fits the bill. Cam is “remorseful” about how his past decisions robbed him of the opportunity to know his son, even as they allowed him to grow into a successful basketball star. Although “Second Thoughts” feels way off topic, it may be a little closer to home.


Season 3, Episode 9 (S03E09)
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

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