All American Episode 12 Recap: “Back In The Day”

All American Episode 12 © 2019 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved Credit: Tyler Golden

This week’s episode was like listening to classical violin samples. I was very emotional. We got a closer look at Olivia’s drug addiction and Spencer’s struggle to accept love due to his father’s departure. We also caught up with Coop, since she wasn’t in last week’s episode. 

We’ve gotten to know Olivia pretty well since episode 1 and now her character sheds a light on teens in who experience drug addiction. Finally, a Beverly Hills character – besides coach Baker – gets a more insightful backstory. Olivia revisits the emotional turmoil that precluded the downward spiral. She was the black sheep in her family and used drugs to mask her feelings of depression. As for Spencer – before his move to Beverly Hills – he internalized a lot of anger and acted in ways that hurt his character. He feared love and closeness so he pushed people away. Spencer craved a father figure and it made him insecure.

Episode 12 flashes back and forth between their backstories. It explains their progress and how they got to where they are now.

Singled Out

Layla decides to study at Spencer’s house in Crenshaw to get away for a while. She brings up the many distractions, including Asher, who’s now living in her house. Spencer is clearly uncomfortable and he asks, “So, how long is he staying?” Layla is like, “He just got there”. So, Spencer initiates sex – to ease his mind – but the arrival of Grace and his brother Dillon kills all hope. 

The next morning at the Bakers’ house, everyone is busy. Olivia says, “Good morning everyone,” no one answers and she tries to talk to her mother to no avail. Coach Baker and Jordan are preoccupied with the upcoming game and Laura is too busy with her campaign. Olivia just stands in the middle of the room and no one bothers to acknowledge her until she gives up and goes to her room. On her way up the stairs, Spencer notices that she’s not herself but she plays it off like she’s okay. In her room she finds a half-empty bottle of pills – I’m assuming she forgot about them – but she stares at them like she wants to swallow the whole bottle. Then she has a flashback of her being high in her room while her parents were arguing down the hall. She comes back to the present and decides to take the bottle.

At Coop’s apartment – well, actually Shawn’s apartment  – she walks in and finds Tyrone playing her video game. Coop’s first words are, “How’d the hell you get in here?” Exactly, now he’s just showing up unannounced?? He replies, “Everything you got is mine including this place”. He holds up an eviction notice, but Coop has already created a pile with others just like it. Turns out she can’t take over the lease unless she gets emancipated because she’s still 17. Tyrone advises her to go back home and fix things because she could get tried as an adult if she gets caught.

At school, Jordan and JJ are riding Spencer about letting Asher move in with Layla. Again Spencer admits he didn’t have a choice and that he trusts Layla until she arrives with Asher. Layla assumes everything is cool until Spencer says, “Y’all riding together?” Layla is confused – who wouldn’t be? She tells him she had to drop her car off at the dealership and Asher gave her a ride. If Layla was more aggressive, she would’ve cursed him out right there but she kept it civil.

Under Pressure

Olivia skips school to meet up with her sponsor. She tells her that for some reason she can’t curb her urges to use. Her sponsor advises Olivia to figure out what triggered her. Olivia arrives at school but she just sits in her car. She has a flashback of herself planning a party while her parents were away.

It cuts to the present with Spencer tapping on the passenger’s window and they both confess to what they’re struggling with. Spencer has a flashback about being in a school fight back in Crenshaw. One of his teammates insulted him about sleeping with his then-girlfriend, Kira. After the fight, she admits that he’s pushing her away and it ends with them breaking up. 

After school, Layla and Spencer are alone in Layla’s house. His trust issues are obvious but he tries to skate over them by planning a date night. While walking down the street with Coop, he tells her that he bought tickets for the Hello, Dolly! musical. Right away Coop disapproves, “You are a black man!…” It’s crazy that we millennials have a fixated view on what’s acceptable and what’s not but at least Spencer tried. Coop advises that he should plan something that both of them would love. In the distance, Coop recognizes her dad in front of her apartment building. He tells Coop that her mother, Janelle, has had a change of heart and they want her to come back home. Coop is overjoyed but hesitant about her mother.

Layla meets up with Olivia at the restaurant. She gives Olivia a Wonder Woman pendant in celebration of her one-year sobriety but Olivia pulls out the bottle of pills. Layla is stunned and concerned like her heart was in her throat. Olivia explains that she feels invisible at home but she tries to sweep her feelings under the rug. Layla urges Olivia to tell her family how she’s feeling. She gets a call from Spencer and he’s excited about the date but Layla calls it off and Spencer immediately thinks it has something to do with Asher. Layla checks him for accusing her and lets him know that it’s actually Olivia.


Spencer arrives at the restaurant – does he still have a job there??? Olivia is gone, but he sees Layla talking to Asher. He gets agitated and confronts them. Turns out Asher lost his key. This time Layla is over it and she curses Spencer out. She tells Spencer that she feels like he’s pushing her away with his jealousy. A flashback comes up with Grace begging coach Baker to take Spencer in. Meanwhile, Olivia is still reflecting on the night of the party when she slept with Asher.

Olivia finally gathers her family at home but she makes a point that she had to use emergency text messages just to get them to agree to show up. She addresses the fact that she feels invisible. They respond by trying to ease her concerns instead of taking accountability. Olivia feels like Jordan’s shadow. They still won’t take responsibility for not being more attentive. So she brings up Jordan’s drug stunt and that he didn’t get in trouble – except Laura didn’t know.

The next day, Coop and Spencer are in the backyard of her parent’s house. Coop sums it up perfectly, Spencer has a hard time with love because his father abandoned him. He just prepares himself for other people he cares about to leave, too. Spencer asks Coop why he hasn’t pushed her away and she tells him it’s because she loves him. Then she climbs on a tire swing and Spencer begs her to get down before she falls but Coop just gives him a blank stare.


Jordan confesses to Olivia that he knew about her drug problem but he thought he was just covering for her like a big brother. He has a flashback of the day he found her unconscious. He comes back to the present and tells her that he should’ve said something and promises to be more attentive. Jordan congratulates her for staying sober for a year.

Everything seems to be going well at Coop’s parents’ house but her mother still doesn’t accept her. Coop gets a call from Patience and Janelle has had enough, so she tries to go in the house. Coop’s father stops her but Coop already feels lied to. “You already broke my heart, so you wanted to bring me back so you could break it again?” says Coop. Janelle says their reunion was Tyrone’s fault. Apparently, Tyrone has ties to Coop’s father’s job and told him he’d lose his job if he didn’t arrange a reunion with Coop. I think this is all part of Tyrone’s mind games because he wants to isolate Coop to strengthen her loyalty. 

The following day, Spencer is working out in the school’s weight room when Asher walks in. Asher tries to approach him humbly but Spencer is very cold. Asher manages to tell Spencer that Layla is trustworthy. Spencer admits that he actually didn’t trust himself. Then Spencer makes a suggestion to Asher about helping with plays so he can play football with the team again. So, I’m guessing Asher is on the team but he can’t participate in any games.

Letting Go

Coop finds her father standing outside her apartment building again, but this time he hands her the emancipation papers. He admits he only agreed to Tyrone’s scheme to get his family back together and he doesn’t care about losing his job. He tells Coop that he’ll do whatever he can to get his family together again.

Spencer and Layla are sitting by the pool at her house and he finally opens up about his emotions. Layla already had him figured out. They actually say ‘I love you’ to each other. The following day, the Baker’s attend Olivia’s sobriety ceremony and she earns her one-year sobriety medallion. Later that night, Laura jumps on Baker’s case about lying to her. She tells him that they should admit the truth, no matter how much it costs. So, he tells Laura that he swapped Jordan’s urine sample. This could jeopardize his coaching career, Jordan’s football eligibility, and Laura’s campaign.  Of course, Laura is at a lost for words but she reassures Baker that they’ll handle it. All the while Jordan is eavesdropping.

How do you think Laura and coach Baker will handle this? Will Olivia have the strength to fight against another trigger? I think Spencer will have lingering feelings because I’m not convinced he’ll change anytime soon. Moreover, Tyrone is a heartless jerk and Coop is too naive to recognize he’s just taking advantage of her emotions.  

All American airs on The CW Wednesdays at 9e/8c.