Erica Ash, Mike Epps, Jessie T. Usher

After a couple odd but charming installments, Survivor’s Remorse returns to form with “The Injury,” which practically steamrolls the previous episode to get back to the core characters and themes as quickly as possible. It’s not a course correction per se, considering the show has had a sharp, smart, and funny second season, but “The Injury” feels as abrupt as a course correction would feel. When last we saw the Calloways, Cam was fretting over his possible HPV infection while Reggie gloated without gloating. By “The Injury,” there’s no mention of HPV, or even Issa, the woman who might have given it to him, and it’s a bit bumpy. That’s not to say I wanted the last third of the season to dive deep into Cam’s battle with venereal disease, but when Remorse introduces a thread like that then sprints away from it, the show starts to feel like its trying to make ‘80s-style “very special episodes” with random serious topics sewn into an otherwise light comedy.

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“The Injury” is especially jolting because the aftermath of Cam’s dalliance with Isa has direct bearing on what’s happening with Cam. He’s in a hospital after a possibly career-ending knee injury, and he’s being attended to by Allison, a gorgeous radiology tech who will probably want to know about the whole HPV thing sooner than later. Of course, the knee injury is Cam’s bigger concern because of the threat it poses to his future and his family’s livelihood. He’s instantly smitten with Allison, but can’t help drop f-bombs at a furious pace. After this episode and “Homebound,” the knee injury and the HPV aren’t Cam’s only health concerns. The dude has a serious issue with anxiety. But such is the life of professional athletes, who spend every moment in fear of the media gaffe, physical injury, or morality clause violation that could instantly unravel their life’s work.

What’s most interesting about “The Injury” is that because Remorse has focused so little on Cam’s actual basketball career, the audience can’t take for granted that Cam will end up okay. The show probably wouldn’t work anymore if the Calloways had to pack up the Buckhead estate and try to make a go of it back in Dorchester, but it would be incredibly interesting to see how the family would react if Cam’s career was placed in jeopardy. The lack of basketball content seemed odd when the show first began, but the wisdom in using pro basketball as the show’s backdrop rather than its focal point has slowly revealed itself. The writers aren’t limited in what subject matter they can cover, and the show’s viability doesn’t hinge on Cam’s success or failure as Atlanta’s high profiled, highly compensated new addition. It’s possible to make an episode fly even if it’s just about Cassie and M-Chuck singing the national anthem and Cam’s clumsy attempts to flirt with a healthcare worker.

Clumsy is probably too generous a word to describe Cam’s initial interactions with Allison. Granted, healthcare workers are like police officers. Ideally, you can avoid them entirely. When you do interact with them, it’s typically under the worst possible circumstances when tensions are at their highest and common courtesy is uncommon. Cam’s profane exchanges with Allison are understandable considering everything he has at stake. But he’s also rude, insulting, and selfish, choosing to rat Allison out when she gives him an affirming gesture to calm his nerves following his MRI. No good wink goes unpunished. Cam eventually wears her down enough to get her number later, though he has to show up at the hospital in the wee hours of the morning to get it. And it still looks like Cam is facing an uphill climb on a busted knee. Allison won’t be easy to court, and it’ll be refreshing to see Cam in the position of having to work to win the heart of a woman who isn’t impressed by his wealth or celebrity.

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Cassie and M-Chuck face their own challenge when they are invited to sing the national anthem at a small college Cam bought at a charity auction. It’s a completely random B-story, but it’s consistently funny and gives Missy some much deserved screen time. The ladies are all prepared to bring down the house as a trio, but they leave to be by Cam’s side when he finally tells them he’s at the hospital. Just as a visual gag, the smash cut to Uncle Julius singing the anthem to an appreciative packed house is pretty amazing. It’s not a story that rips the bandage off of a deep social wound, but it’s still great even when it isn’t working on multiple levels.

Stray observations:

  • I loved the scene of the family dancing to the Gap Band, which framed Cam’s injury as something that affects his entire life, not just his ability to play ball.
  • Creator Mike O’Malley wrote the episode, which was evident from the breakdown of the “Star-Spangled Banner” lyrics. Filtering the familiar through a skewed lens is what he does best.
  • The era of Jupitor is officially upon us, as Reggie is stuck babysitting Jupitor in Denver. I don’t know what I want from that story, but I’m curious to see where it goes.

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