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‘The Quad’ recap: The good, the bad and the downright ugly

BET discovers how to pack a season’s worth of drama in one episode

Season one, episode one — The Quad: “The Movie”

Those watching the hour-and-a-half debut of BET’s new series The Quad were left wondering what could possibly happen in the episodes to come. With a debut filled with laughter, drama and meme-inducing moments for those live-tweeting, it’s hard to imagine the intensity will last.

But if it does, we’re here for it.

The show, set at the fictitious historically black Georgia A&M University (GAMU), touched on the good, the bad and the ugly — real ugly. Murder-scene ugly that can certainly come with any college life, but with a black college twist.

GAMU is in desperate need of a turnaround. And after failing several interviews to head Ivy League universities, Dr. Eva Fletcher (Anika Noni Rose) has come to GAMU as a last resort. She confidently assures her soon-to-be colleagues she’ll be able to turn the place around in no time. It’s also a way for Fletcher to keep an eye on her daughter Sydney (Jazz Raycole). Can somebody say free tuition?

Fletcher is also hoping the distance away from her husband will help her marriage, which is on the rocks due to her affair with a grad student.

The scene cuts from a peaceful rural Connecticut town where Fletcher resides to a bustling Chicago club, where Cedric Hobbs (Alex Smith) and others are frantically trying to escape flying bullets and a dead body. Keep in mind we’re only 10 minutes in at this point.

When Hobbs, who lives with his mother, runs into the house and acts as if he wasn’t just hopping over dead bodies, mama knows what’s up. She’s already packing his clothes. Wanting her son to do more with his life than focusing on a rap career, gang affiliation and being an active member of crime scenes, she informs him that he’s going to make something of himself, beginning by going to college at GAMU.

The High Notes

There’s an influx of freshmen at a familiar college welcome on the school’s lawn, complete with the handful of white people you find on campuses at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Among those is Madison Kelly (Michelle DeFraites), who quickly befriends Sydney once they realize they have more in common than they first thought, including smoking marijuana.

One of the most authentic parts of the show came when the band, the Marching Mountain Cats, performed its rendition of Cameo’s Talking Out the Side of Your Neck — an unofficial theme song associated with nearly every HBCU.

Like for many students, it’s the band that attracts the most attention. It’s incoming freshman Noni Williams’ (Zoe Renee) dream to join such illustrious musicians.

As optimistic as Williams is, she quickly finds out there will be those out to break her spirit, such as Danny Brown (Tallie L. Brinson), the band bully. Brown, the senior drum major who looks like he has more than extended his four years at the university, immediately establishes his authority when Williams tries to prove her love for the band. Brown, who felt disrespected by his freshman peers, makes an example of Williams’ friend Ebony, who ends up in a hospital’s intensive care unit, suffering from head trauma after he severely beats her.

It’s one of several problems no incoming president wants to deal with. Plus, Fletcher’s colleagues don’t have her back, and band director Cecil Diamond (Ruben Santiago-Hudson) would prefer to turn a blind eye to the situation.

To make matters worse, Fletcher can’t escape her past as her boy toy, known only as “Six Pack,” shows up in Georgia to continue where they left off. What marriage reconciliation?

Meanwhile, Hobbs’ new life in Georgia is looking a bit more promising than the drama he left in Chicago. He’s going to school while still focusing on his music and his love interest, Chantel Brussard (Candace B. Harris).

The Drama Begins

Toward the last 30 minutes, we thought we’d cleared the threshold of drama. Things are quiet on campus until word spreads of a house party. Who can resist a good (and black) house party?!

The scene cuts to a dimly lit fraternity house where Greek-letter organizations are strolling, alcohol is flowing, partygoers are trying to find their potential boo things and games are being played. Those are about the only notes reminiscent of an HBCU-style house party. Other than that, this scene was a slight miss.

In the middle of it all is Sydney Fletcher — a presumed queen of turning up but also the president’s daughter — drunk and enticing the men with a stripping game that leaves her in nothing but her bra and skirt. It’s all fun and games until Sydney passes out, and the guys don’t know if she’s drunk or dead. It’s her new best friend Kelly who saves Sydney from her stupor and safely returns her home.

The next day, Hobbs, who’d been spending most of his time with Brussard, is awakened by a knock on his dorm room door. Two white police officers ask for his name, which he refuses to give. His roommate encourages him to comply before the officers rush in and handcuff him, announcing that he was being arrested for the murder of Brussard.

Murder?! It was all good just a day ago.

His love interest with ties to Chicago was found dead in a field. Viewers are left wondering what happened to Brussard and why.

It’s hard to tell where the story will go from here. But it’s hard to turn away, so we’ll be right here waiting for next week.

Be sure to follow #TheQuadBET on Twitter for more commentary.

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.