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‘The Quad’ recap: Dr. Fletcher takes on sexual assault on the GAMU campus

The college may be fictional, but this episode shows the real cost and consequences of rape

Season one, episode five: The Quad –– “Quicksand”

After the drama of last week’s episode, this week starts with the typical campus activities at a historically black college. The campus barber, hair stylist and nail technicians all gather in one room tending to their clients and discussing the latest gossip floating around the university.

The young men and women begin discussing whether the woman in the infamous video that’s circulating around campus was raped or if she was just caught on camera having consensual sex.

Madison Kelly, Sydney Fletcher’s best friend and the only one who knows that Sydney is the woman in the video, is visibly upset by the debate.

On the other side of campus, Sydney struggles to concentrate in her classes as flashbacks of the horrific night flash in her head. It’s also the first time the viewers get an up-close yet blurry view of the suspect.

Dr. Eva Fletcher reviews the tape in her office, but still doesn’t know her daughter is the victim. Right away, she finds out that a student, only identified as EJ, is the one who uploaded the footage. He tells Fletcher that he’s tired of sexual assault on campuses going unnoticed or ignored. The chief of campus security dismisses the act as consensual sex caught on tape, mentioning a number of instances he’s seen all on campus. Fletcher senses that the chief does not take these incidents seriously and forces him to resign.

The show then switches to a meeting with Cecil Diamond, Danny Brown and band mates. Diamond stressed the importance of speaking up if band members know anything about the situation. Brown assures Diamond he had nothing to do with it, but didn’t stop short of speaking his mind and being one to believe the sex on tape was consensual. After seeing the damage he inflicted on former band member Ebonie Weaver (Erica Michelle), it’s not surprising that Brown wouldn’t think rape was an option.

Shortly after the meeting, Brown learns that Noni Williams is the one behind the rumors that started the fight between himself and starting quarterback Terrence (Kevin Savage).

Back in the dorms, Cedric Hobbs, trying to establish normalcy in his life after everything he’s gone through, finds refuge in Weaver, whom he has remained in contact with since she was hospitalized. While video messaging, Weaver seems to be acting a bit strange, so Hobbs pays her a visit.

Weaver explains that the Georgia A&M University (GAMU) band was her dream, one that was snatched away by Brown and his crew’s savage assault that left her with a brain injury. Williams, who was her roommate at GAMU, has never reached out to check on her. Weaver and Hobbs continue talking, bonding through the tough times of Weaver’s recovery and Hobbs’ attempt to move past Chantel — memories they’d both rather forget. The two later grab food at a local bar that also happens to be hosting an open mic night. Hobbs’ failed attempt at trying to persuade Weaver to return to GAMU ends with the two on the mic, challenging each other during a rap battle.

On campus, Sydney tries to return to her normal spunky self, masking the pain she’s feeling with a bit of retail therapy. Kelly expresses how worried she is about Sydney and urges her best friend to seek professional help or talk to her mother. After Sydney refuses to do so, Kelly leaves the dorm room and Sydney has a meltdown. Even after dealing with her pain alone, Kelly tries intervention-style to get Sydney some help by inviting a couple of members from I Didn’t Consent, a sexual assault support group on campus. Sydney, angered by the actions of her friend, kicks the girls out and gives Kelly the silent treatment.

Meanwhile, board members scold Fletcher for firing the head of campus security — a decision she made without consulting with the group. Later that evening, over wine and snacks, dean of GAMU’s history department Ella Grace Caldwell (Jasmine Guy) gives Fletcher a reality check, asking her to be more measured and not turn every situation that occurs on campus into one that revolves around her. Later in the episode, Fletcher takes Caldwell’s advice and softens her approach, addressing the sexual assaults on campus through a live stream on the university’s website. Caldwell storms in to express her displeasure at the way Fletcher handled the situation. In the dorms, Sydney breaks down again, this time with her best friend supporting her.

In a separate turn of events, Weaver, who’s on campus to see Hobbs, runs into Williams in the hallway. Williams, dressed in her full band uniform, is elated to see Weaver. Weaver, however, hasn’t forgotten the dirt Williams did to her. Once she realizes Williams is the one who took her spot, she turns even colder and tells Williams in so many words that she hopes she gets what she deserves. It’s safe to say that former friendship is now beyond repair.

Back in Fletcher’s office, an envelope is delivered by EJ. It was a package Fletcher had requested. She’d get to the bottom of the situation and get justice for the victim. She carefully goes through the pictures, only stopping and immediately breaking down once she realizes the victim is Sydney, her daughter. Sydney shows up at her mother’s office, where they share a long embrace and cry together. It’s the first time both women are vulnerable and outwardly express love for one another.

After leaving the office and walking through campus, Sydney locks eyes with Terrence, who is surrounded by excited classmates and fans asking him questions and taking pictures. In that very moment, everything clicks. Sydney flashes back to the night she was sexually assaulted and clearly sees his face. Before Kelly could stop her, Sydney is charging towards Terrence, yelling at the top of her lungs in front of the entire yard that he was the one who raped her. Terrence, shocked and attempting to persuade those around him that Sydney and her allegations are crazy, begins to lose the supporters who had surrounded him only minutes earlier.

This week’s episode ends on an excellent cliffhanger. Who will head football coach Eugene Hardwick believe? Sydney? Or his star player? Will BoJohn Folsom slide into the No. 1 quarterback slot? With so many unanswered questions, we’ll all have to wait and see how next week’s drama will unfold.

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.