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‘Survivor’s Remorse’ recap: The family secrets start to spill out

Missy learns about a prenup and Chen finds out the truth about Father Tom

Season 4, Episode 6 | “Reparations” | Sept. 24

Well, this was a little uncomfortable.

Survivor’s Remorse has begun to unleash the Big Questions of its fourth season. And the ones presented by the Reparations episode are good ones: Just what are our obligations to our fellow man? And how do we determine them?

Written by Victor Levin and directed by Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Reparations looks at those questions from both personal and existential angles. Let’s run them down, relationship by relationship:

Missy and Reggie

We know that Missy (Teyonah Parris) and Reggie’s (RonReaco Lee) marriage is not a relationship of full transparency, given how little Missy knew about Reggie’s father before he turned up bleeding in the hospital. But that lack of communication seemed more about respecting boundaries: Reggie didn’t want to be bothered with his father, and he didn’t want to bother Missy with him, either. It didn’t seem to matter to him that they all share the same last name, or that Missy and Reggie’s relationship has clearly been affected by Reggie’s relationship with his father.

But now we’re getting into trickier territory: money. Reggie lost $123,000 in a high-stakes poker game and called it a “business expense.” He didn’t hide it from Missy, but he didn’t discuss it with her either.

That was enough to spark an eyebrow raise until Reggie dropped a bomb: Missy’s father made him sign a prenuptial agreement, and neither one of them told her.

So now we’ve got questions about Missy and Reggie’s obligations to disclose things to each other, and also about whether Missy’s parents are obligated to treat her like an adult. Missy’s parents, played by Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Vanessa Bell Calloway, think they don’t need to treat her like an adult until she starts behaving like one. Their reasoning is that they’re protecting the wealth they’re planning to pass down eventually. It will be hers one day, but it isn’t yet, and to them, Missy hasn’t done much to demonstrate her adulting abilities. She quit her job as a lawyer to play housewife to Reggie and work the charity circuit. Or, as Missy’s mother put it: “You might call yourself a feminist, but you live like an Eisenhower-era wife.” And that raises yet another question: What are Missy’s obligations to her own feminist principles?

Cam and the world

Cam (Jessie T. Usher), doesn’t really belong to a person. Sure, he’s dating Allison (Meagan Tandy), but Cam belongs to Atlanta. He belongs to his teammates. He belongs to black people. He belongs to a whole list of larger groups before he’s accountable to Allison in the way Reggie and Missy are accountable to each other. Part of that is because Reggie and Missy are married and Cam and Allison are not. But it’s also because Cam really is a sort of public servant. He sees himself, his celebrity and his wealth as tools for improving the world on a range of issues, be it “frozen nostril” kids, prison reform, clean water or his latest cause: pensionless black ballplayers who were the victims of a racist basketball league.

Cam feels obligated to everyone because of his large fortune. His role as a franchise player makes him uniquely suited to serve as team representative (an official intermediary between players and team management) because he has some clout. And because of that clout and his money, Cam can help the black ballplayers who came before him and have no retirement fund.

As Reggie reveals, Cam is spending nearly 25 percent of his pretax income on charity. He’s doing it not just because it makes him feel good but because he’s started thinking about his legacy. Reggie, on the other hand, would prefer it if Cam started thinking more about his obligations to himself.

Cassie, Chen and God

The great thing about the relationship between Cassie (Tichina Arnold) and Chen (Robert Wu) is that it feels like a relationship between equals even though Chen is a billionaire and Cassie’s son Cam is merely one of many on his payroll. Still, it’s clear that Cassie is struggling to fully trust Chen, even after he defended her to his kinda-racist parents and repeatedly demonstrated his devotion to her.

The more M-Chuck (Erica Ash) delves into the history of who fathered her, the more Cassie has burrowed into her Catholicism. And because Chen wants to make Cassie happy, he’s happy to indulge in spending on various saintly statues, even if he doesn’t know why he’s buying them.

But this week, thanks to M-Chuck’s big mouth, Chen now knows why Cassie’s recommitted herself to her faith: She’s leaning on it to help deal with the emotions dredged up by the revelation that she was raped by three boys when she was 17, a gang rape that resulted in M-Chuck. How much of that is Cassie obligated to tell Chen? Obviously, it’s up to her what she wants to reveal and when (or it would have been, had M-Chuck not inadvertently spilled the beans).

But on some level, Cassie’s trauma isn’t just hers once it affects her relationship. Chen only worried that Cassie was cheating on him because he didn’t know she’s been seeing and texting her priest. And he didn’t know that because then Cassie would have had to explain why she’s been seeing Father Tom so much. OK, so leaving your partner in the dark when you’re in a committed relationship seems unfair. But what exactly is Cassie’s obligation to Chen, especially if they aren’t married? Is anyone ever completely honest in a relationship? Should they be?

Soraya Nadia McDonald is the senior culture critic for Andscape. She writes about pop culture, fashion, the arts and literature. She is the 2020 winner of the George Jean Nathan prize for dramatic criticism, a 2020 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism and the runner-up for the 2019 Vernon Jarrett Medal for outstanding reporting on Black life.