First things first, I am genuinely happy to see another predominately black teen drama, I just wish more things were happening on this show. I know it is based on a true story, but it doesn’t need to reflect exactly what happened — I want to be entertained. When I saw the previews of All American I was reminded of The Game from the early 2000’s. That was centered around football too, but the characters were adults, so the themes were more scandalous. After watching the previous episodes of All American, I feel like we’re still scratching the surface with the characters. My whole thing with Spencer’s father is, if he’s going to be used as a way to move the story, why wait to make him a physical character? Will we ever get to see him?
I just wanted to speak on that, so let’s jump into this recap of All American episode 6 ‘The Choice is Yours’. It originally aired on Wednesday Nov. 28. A few of my premonitions came true and I think this episode was more tight than the last one.
The episode opens with an impressive game against Culver City, but Jordan (Michael Evans Behling) isn’t the best protection for Asher (Cody Christian). This creates tension between the two. Duh, Jordan knows that Olivia (Samantha Logan) slept with Asher.
Meanwhile, JP (Elvis Nolasco) arrives with Chynna (Niatia ‘Lil’ Mama’ Kirkland) following close behind. Layla (Greta Onieogou) is cordial with Chynna but she’s suspicious of her intentions. “It’s weird, she’s not even his type, because she’s not,” Layla complains, but Olivia interjects, “like your mother.” Chynna’s and JP’s relationship is not real, something more is going on. Olivia’s statement makes Layla feel let down about the truth. Spencer (Daniel Ezra) looks into the stands and isn’t happy that Coop (Bre-Z) is not there, he suspects that she is with Shawn (Jay Reeves).
Jordan scores the winning touchdown. In the locker room, everyone is excited — except Asher, who confronts Jordan — but he tells Asher to stop whining. Please stop with the passive aggressiveness. Coach Baker isn’t too thrilled either. “Culver is dead last and they almost beat us. Now, if y’all play like that against Malibu, they’re gonna crush us,” he says after receiving an earful from Coach Sconick, the coach for Malibu.
After the game JP, Chynna, Layla, and Asher are having dinner. JP is not impressed with Asher. Layla becomes annoyed with Asher when he starts talking about his father taking him in a private jet to go snorkeling. She leaves the table just when Spencer comes around to serve their food. JP praises Spencer for his performance and appreciates that he is from Crenshaw. JP is from Harlem, “Where everyone is straight up real, what you see is what you get. You don’t find real people anymore,” JP eyes up Asher. I couldn’t help but laugh because Asher came off as a child, but it’s sad that his self-worth is invested in material things. JP invites Spencer to hear Chynna’s music that weekend, but he declines. Spencer mentions he’s a volunteer at Alvin’s (Bill Lee Brown) Block Party. JP is impressed with Spencer.
“Your father doesn’t like me,” Asher says to Layla. She encourages him to be himself, but he’s over it. Everyone can tell Layla doesn’t like Chynna. Well obviously. Think about it, your dad is this big music producer and he shows up with a girl around your age and she’s about to drop an album. That’s nothing but shadiness. I feel for you, Layla.
Coop and Shawn
After work, Spencer finds Coop hugged up with Patience (Chelsea Tavares), but their interaction is cut short when Shawn arrives and pulls Coop away for a job. Spencer is concerned and asks Patience about Coop’s whereabouts but all she can say is Coop spends more time with Shawn. Spencer decides to come up with a plan to get Coop from under Shawn.
The next day, Coop and Patience are hanging out in Alvin’s barbershop when two rival gang members come in. Right away Coop and Patience are on edge. The lead member pressures Coop into cutting his hair but she secretly texts Shawn who arrives shortly after. The gang members want Shawn’s money but Shawn stands his ground and defends the shop since it is ‘safe zone,’ meaning it can’t be used for gang activities. The rival gang leaves the shop. This isn’t good.
Layla finds an engagement ring in JP’s bag when she visits him and Chynna at the recording studio. She steals it. I would too. I couldn’t stand by and watch my father marry a woman I barely knew, but I have a feeling JP is smarter than that. She shows Spencer the ring, and he’s like, “Whoa, Layla, we ain’t even dating,” but she needs him to read Chynna and he’s like, “I can’t just turn it on and off.” Layla is nervous to the point that it’s crippling. She really does not trust Chynna. Spencer sees nothing for her to be concerned about, but Layla won’t let go.
Spencer and Layla meet JP and Chynna for lunch. JP needs Alvin’s permission to use his block party as a venue for Chynna’s album release party. They ensure Spencer that it won’t overshadow the block party, so Spencer agrees but only if Coop gets to MC. Sadly, Alvin’s barbershop gets tagged and Spencer thinks Coop knows who did it. Spencer really doesn’t want Coop and Shawn to be friends. He thinks Shawn is just another street thug and Coop is being taken for a ride. I also think Spencer feels like Shawn is taking his place as Coop’s friend since he has to split time between Crenshaw and Beverly Hills.
Coop tries to warn Shawn and discovers that he’s a single father and the money he hides in Alvin’s shop is for his daughter, Maya. A heartwarming single father moment. Now we all see his softer side. Shawn is not a bad guy after all but he doesn’t believe that he has a way out like Spencer. But Coop is his voice of reason and advises him to figure out better way. They also mention that Shawn does music, why haven’t we seen him rapping or producing? It’s hard to believe.
Coach Baker tries to mend Asher and Jordan’s friendship by taking them to Malibu’s practice game. Jordan meets a potential love interest, a cheerleader for Malibu’s team. A creepy moment turns into a lighthearted interaction when she says, “You wanna watch me sleep?” After Jordan explains it would be great if he could do that. She agrees to go on a date with him. Asher and Jordan are still at odds.
Alvin’s Block Party
Spencer’s old friend, Chris, peaks interest in Olivia who is resistant but open. Coop shows up with Shawn and Spencer is ready to throw him out. “What’s up with you Spencer? You know exactly what it’s like to grow up here. And you said it yourself, chances like this don’t ever come around. You really ‘gon stand in his way?” says Coop. “The only person standing in Shawn’s way is Shawn,” Spencer replies. Coop threatens to leave with Shawn so Spencer backs down, for now.
Backstage in the dressing room, Chynna is getting ready for her performance when Layla and Coop walks in to wish her good luck. Chynna becomes dumbfounded when Coop mentions Alvin and his shop. This reignites Layla’s concerns when she tried to let them go. Where is Chynna from? Arkansas? She’s sassy but nothing about her reads ‘rapper’. Chynna acts like she had a sheltered life.
After getting acquainted with JP and earning his business card, Shawn decides to follow Coop’s advice, so he goes to get his money. Shawn leaves the shop but the rival gang members show up and guns are drawn. I just need to point out, Shawn’s gang color is red and the other gang is blue. Are they trying to mimic the Crips vs. Bloods? California’s notorious rival gangs. Careful, don’t make it, too, real. People can get caught up in that stuff.
Premonition 1: Jordan spills the beans about Olivia to Asher who is apologetic but Jordan is trying not to hear him. Duh. Jordan cannot hold any secret unless it’s going to benefit him. And, of course, he doesn’t want to hear Asher’s apology. He thinks Asher took advantage of Olivia, so their friendship was pretty much over until Coach Baker stepped in. To mention, Coach really wasn’t part of the episode, none of the adults were.
Gunshots go off during Chynna’s performance and everyone rightfully panics. Coop rushes to find Shawn. Spencer chases after Coop but scolds her when they find the members of the rival gang dead in the barbershop’s parking lot as the police are investigating. Shawn has disappeared. Spencer tries to lecture Coop about Shawn but she leaves the scene to look for him anyway.
Coach Baker makes Jordan and Asher walk home together, well, half way. As they’re walking Asher opens up about his financial issues and apologizes for sleeping with Olivia, he recognizes that it was a mistake. Jordan forgives him and apologizes. The coach picks them up and is pleased that his plan worked. So the issue wasn’t that deep.
Spencer confronts Shawn at his apartment and threatens him if Coop gets hurt. Spencer leaves but he doesn’t know that Coop was already there. Chris is walking Olivia to her car and he’s putting the moves on her but she’s not interested. She explains that she’s taking a break from boys to focus on herself, but Chris gives her his number just in case she changes her mind. She’s amused by his charms but he won’t get any play. Sorry fellas, when a girl says this nine times out of 10, she only wants you as a friend or she really wants to just focus on herself. Why do guys approach us when we’re the most vulnerable? That just creates more problems on top of the problems we still need time to solve. Ugh. And they say we’re crazy?!
Later that night, Layla is mad at JP because she feels neglected by him. She shows him the engagement ring and he apologizes. JP admits that he was selfish and he hasn’t been the greatest father to Layla. He tells Layla that he was going to give it to her since he didn’t have a chance to give the ring to her mother. Layla and JP hug before he gets in the limo. I applaud the sincerity but the dude is leaving with Chynna. I’m sure he can hire people to promote her. Why can’t he spend more time bonding with his only child? And she’s literally lonely. Layla is the only breathing soul in that house, besides Asher.
Premonition 2: In the restaurant, Layla praises Spencer for being real and she kisses him, then they make out. Olivia is bawling outside. How are you going to let your friend to date Spencer when you’re still feeling him, too? Why hasn’t Spencer been accused of being a player? I’d expect Jordan to say something to him by now since he’s the most threatened by Spencer.
I think Olivia will tell her secret about Asher to Layla just to piss her off. But at first she’s going to be passive aggressive, just like everybody else. Layla will, of course, confront Asher and Jordan is going to be the peacemaker if Spencer is not. I’m sad that Chynna won’t be back. Where is she actually from? JP is cool but he’ll have to do more bonding with Layla to rebuild their relationship. Coop is definitely in a dilemma. Please don’t kill her off or Patience. Jordan is finally getting a love interest but I don’t think he’ll try to be a player. I think Oliva will use Chris at her disposal. The adults weren’t involved in this episode, it was all about the teenagers.
All American airs on The CW Wednesdays at 9e/8c.