A lot of strange things can happen on Halloween night.
That was certainly the case on All American Season 4 Episode 19.
First off, it was flat-out weird having a Halloween-set episode as the penultimate one for the season. That said, it worked, as some of the bumps in relationships this season got ironed out in the end.
The biggest surprise was that J.J. didn’t come off as a caricature but as more of a well-rounded character. It was a Halloween miracle.
The storyline involving the young characters hung off of J.J., who threw a Halloween bash with hopes that asked, “Why can’t we all just get along?”
His primary goal was to bring together his feuding housemates Spencer and Asher. Spencer still blamed Asher for doing his job as a sorta coach at Coastal California by scouting the opposition, Spencer and Jordan’s GAU team.
Spencer is more in the wrong here. He’s doing everything to help his team beat Asher’s squad. So why shouldn’t Asher be allowed to do the same? Because he’s a student assistant instead of a star receiver?
Spencer’s house-divided strategy of splitting up the beach house until after the Homecoming game wasn’t working because the tension was filling the air. Hence J.J.’s plan for a party with a point.
J.J. even sought a neutral territory for the affair, the Baker sorority house. Seeking to make peace for Spencer, Olivia went along with J.J.’s simplistic but well-meaning scheme, which was fooling nobody.
To overcome the resistance his party was meeting among some, J.J. upped the ante by making the party a murder mystery, complete with scripted characters, props, and costumes. Ain’t no party like a J.J. party.
Although Spencer and Asher were the worst-case scenario, many of the relationships suffered from the abrupt transition to adulthood.
Even Spencer and Olivia, the only intact teen couple, have been showing cracks as they have struggled to make any headway in their chosen fields.
Let’s lay most of the fault here on Spencer again. While more than content to whine about his mistreatment by his coach, he doesn’t give the same weight to Olivia’s discontent, usually being less aware of her current turmoil.
Olivia didn’t help herself by making her first extensive article an expose of GAU’s star quarterback, Wade Waters, the guy whose passing skills could help to make Spencer a household name.
She finally saw the flaw in her logic and backed off that piece just as her editor started to heat up. As a result, a pissed-off Cristelle ordered her to write “something about Halloween.” Yeah, way to score points there, Olivia!
Then they got into a rip-roaring argument at the party when Spencer told her that he wholeheartedly supported whatever she does, even if he couldn’t tell you what that is most of the time.
This situation meant that J.J. looked like a prophet when he decided Spencer and Olivia’s future selves would have been split up because they often look like they are headed in that direction.
Then there was Jordan, who had been ghosting Layla ever since his breakup with Simone on All American Season 4 Episode 18.
Since that breakup, Jordan has been dealing with the pain by reverting to his man-whore former self. He slept with a blonde bimbo one night, then brought her body-double roommate to J.J.’s party the next night.
Then Layla had the nerve to call him on his shit, and he reacted badly to that.
He finally told Layla that Simone broke up with him because of his friendship with Layla, which there was more to than he had previously been willing to admit to himself.
Jordan told her that he did have feelings for her, but it was a quick cut before exploring how she felt about him. Maybe next episode.
Then there were Coop and Patience, who were finally somewhat successfully navigating the waters of just being friends.
Coop loved her new role as Laura’s assistant, and Patience liked this new, responsible Coop, who was much more desirable than the woman she broke up with, filled with despair and self-doubt.
Maybe that’s why they kissed near the end of J.J.’s party. Bye, Skye!
So, in the end, J.J.’s cautionary murder mystery appeared to have accomplished its goal, as everyone seemed determined not to let their friendship die. Plus, they got that bonding experience of being busted by SWAT thanks to Olivia’s mysterious stalker.
The adults were having their spooky fun as well, thanks to the legend of the South Crenshaw Halloween vandal.
It was believable that Billy had never heard the story of the vandal before. He was dealing with football stardom and tragedy during his student years there, and he had only been back for a couple of years.
It was hilarious how Grace, Preach, and Amina combined to scare Billy with the Hallway Monster.
Billy was gracious enough to tell Grace to follow her heart and D’Angelo to Oakland if she wanted, even if that meant he wouldn’t get the principal job. Then Grace gave him the good news and his new nameplate showing that he had already been voted in the previous night.
The mystery janitor vandalizing the place right under their noses was also a nice touch.
To follow the fraying friendships, watch All American online.
Did this episode give us a better version of J.J.?
Did J.J.’s plan help to repair the friendships?
Who is Olivia’s stalker?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.