Let’s kick things off with Gael, shall we? His story line isn’t the most prominently featured in “Whoosh, Pow, Bang,” but what can I say? It’s the one that made me a little misty-eyed and it’s the one I’m thinking most about after I watched. The idea of comparing your life milestones and your career trajectory with your peers and coming up short and frustrated is such a universal feeling, especially in your 20s (but can also pop up later too, sorry, kids! It’s something you have to work on all the time!), and I’m glad to see Good Trouble tackling it with Gael and tying it together with commentary on privilege and opportunity. I’m also glad to see Gael getting a story that doesn’t have anything to do with Callie. That man must break free! Suffice it to say, this story line is working well on several levels.
So what’s going on with Gael? He’s on a dreaded group text with his art-school friends and everyone’s chiming in about big wins they’re having in their careers. Very cool for them and we’re all about supporting and lifting up our friends and colleagues, but also, Gael buddy, sometimes you gotta at least hide those alerts. It’s for your sanity.
He’s feeling pretty down and out about being left behind when Davia walks in, she too in the throes of a shitty day. In her first official Equity Committee meeting, the group decides that in order to protect their students, especially the ones in the diversion program, they’ll send them to one another when a teacher has a free period and they can use the time to practice restorative justice — the use of mediation rather than punishment when dealing with misbehavior — instead of sending them to the principal’s office. Davia’s first go-around ends up turning into a dodgeball game in her classroom; it is unsuccessful. She asks Gael if he’s ever heard of restorative justice. He has. He used to volunteer with an organization that practiced it — they helped the kids there express their feelings through art. He saw it really make a difference.
Well, he’s hired. Davia has Gael come to her school to teach the kids who’ve been sent to her classroom a little bit about art — he gives them a lesson on Jean-Michel Basquiat — and then encourage them to find the right medium to express themselves. It goes over pretty well. But when one student asks Gael if he’s a successful artist, Gael doesn’t hesitate to say he’s not. Andre — sweet, sweet Andre! — corrects him: “Not yet.” After the art session, Davia asks Gael why he’s so down on himself about his art. He’s so great at it. Gael explains that he feels like he’s fallen behind all of his friends. They all took unpaid internships with high-profile artists after school to jump-start their careers, but because he didn’t come from a rich family and needed to get a job to begin paying his student loans, he missed out on that opportunity and was immediately set back in his career. If he can afford it, why not try to get an unpaid internship with an artist now? Davia asks. And when Gael responds that it would feel like starting over and it’s embarrassing, Davia lays down some truth that so many people need to hear: “We all have our own timeline; it doesn’t matter how fast we get there, just that we do.” Metaphorically tattoo that on your heart, babies, it is an important lesson to learn.
And so Gael takes a friend up on an offer to hook him up with an internship. The artist seems like a dick and also only wants to paint with tools Norsemen used, so it should be an interesting time for Gael. May something fruitful come from this!
On the other side of the career spectrum: Our baby lawyer is really taking to her new gig. Not that she, too, didn’t suffer some setbacks: That scene when she finds out she failed the bar remains upsetting every time I think about it, and you all know how short my Callie fuse is. But she persevered and here she is fighting for her clients and getting things done. She’s still working on Yvonne’s case, but this week she’s mostly focused on the Jerod situation.
Callie sits in on Kathleen’s meeting with the DA on Jerod’s case and gets another primo lesson on How to Lawyer. This time, the lesson is always “wear a killer outfit and smile while making sure people are well-aware you’re not going to take shit from anyone.” Or something like that. Oh, also that there’s always a better deal. Well, sometimes there’s a better deal. These lessons are not straightforward! In Jerod’s case, since he assaulted a guard and there’s no evidence that he was defending himself, Kathleen tells Callie it’s better to take the deal offered — one year with time served — because going to trial would mean Jerod’s sitting in jail waiting and could wind up being handed a longer sentence in the end. This deal is the lesser of two evils and that’s that.
Here’s the thing: Kathleen doesn’t know Callie Adams Foster. And when Callie promises to help someone, she’s going to do everything she can to keep that promise. Even when it means she’s jumping in vans with pimps (never forget!). After learning from Jerod that this guard not only withheld his meds, but took them for himself or to sell, Callie does some digging and learns that this guard has been fired before for suspicion of stealing inmate medication. That’s a pattern of abuse and once the DA hears that, he suddenly finds a better offer for Kathleen. He brings the time in jail down to one month. Callie can’t even hold back a smile right there in the room. They did it! But then Kathleen says thanks but no thanks, they’re taking this baby to trial. She thinks there’s potential for a huge lawsuit and the city could have to pay millions — and this could help fund her non-profit. Callie’s obviously upset because of all that extra jail time Kathleen warned her about when she was explaining why not to take this to trial. But now with a lawsuit on the table, “it’s a win-win all around,” Kathleen assures Callie. She instructs her to under no circumstances take the 30-day offer to Jerod because according to her, he won’t see the long-term benefits. Something tells me none of this is going to sit well with Callie Adams Foster.
• Lots of drama brewing in Mariana’s Tech Fight Club: The women are excited about an app idea they come up with until Mariana shoots it down for being “too big” for them to have a handle on it; it will surely fail. They pivot to something smaller that none of them are passionate about. Where’d she get that idea? Evan, of course. The other ladies will not be thrilled to find out that Mariana’s sneaking around with the guy they all took a stand against because he wouldn’t pull the plug on an app taken over by white supremacists. Sneaking around for trampoline sex and unsolicited business advice, no less!
• Evan’s apartment is giving off some real Josh Baskin from Big vibes.
• Fingers crossed Alice gets something out of this comedy-diversity workshop because right now, it seems like that whole situation sucks. The program director is offensive and out of touch and the other people in the workshop view Alice as dead weight and exclude her from day one. When Alice is a big hit after using her imitation of her mother as a character in an exercise, Lindsay congratulates her on her success and bitingly adds, “You’re lucky you have your ethnicity to fall back on.” So I guess all that talk about there being no competition between them no longer stands.
• There are only five spots for the end-of-workshop executive showcase and seven participants in the program. So, uh, yeah, things are probably going to get worse between Alice and Lindsay before they get better.
• As an avid Davia/Dennis enthusiast, when Very Nice Teacher Matt showed up being Very Nice at the Equity Committee meeting, a lot of alarm bells went off and I was prepared to find a way to hate him. Unfortunately, Very Nice Teacher Matt informs us that he studies YouTube videos about video games so he can connect with his students, and says things like whoever Davia is “sort-of dating” is a “lucky guy or girl or person,” and makes dumb dad jokes about green thumbs, and now I’m warming up to this development! Davia deserves nice things!
• Davia’s Teach for America contract got renewed for another year! She so badly wants to send Dennis a “wish you were here” to celebrate text, but thinks the better of it. Can’t wait until Dennis makes his triumphant return just as Davia’s decided to move on. What a cool, fun time for us.
• Oh, you guys, Evan sent Mariana “DTF” cookies that were supposed to stand for “Down to Fight” for her. No. Just no. I fucking love cookies, but no.