Billy Baker’s big decision about whether or not to accept the head coaching position at GAU loomed over the winter premiere, in a rather fitting episode that was centred around his big birthday celebration. It was never going to be an easy decision for Billy, and his struggle is justified. He accepted the Principalship at South Crenshaw, much to a lot of people’s dismay, including Grace, who didn’t want Crenshaw to be just a stepping stone on Billy’s path to obtaining a coaching position again. You could imagine the anxiety that Billy must have felt, as he gave Grace a tour of the Crenshaw campus at the beginning of the episode, showing her how much he had accomplished. He did act enthusiastic about his current role and seemed eager to continue to make a difference, which at the time made viewers feel as though he may turn GAU down, but feels disingenuous now that we know the outcome.
Although Billy managed to keep the job offer confidential, he did confide in Laura about his internal struggle. Billy felt like the fact that he was even considering the offer, is a betrayal to Spencer, who turned to him for support with A.D. Barnes to get coach Kenny hired for the position. In so many ways, Coach Kenny is the better fit for the job. He knows all of the players and has experience coaching at the college level. However, there is no denying that Kenny’s name is tainted just for being connected to Coach Garrett, and with the NCAA investigation looming, it makes sense that A.D. Barnes would want to make it clear that the university was not connected to Garrett’s crimes, and that the team is ready for a fresh start.
In the midst of all of this, Laura planned a birthday roast in Billy’s honour, and clearly he was uncomfortable being the centre of attention, given everything going on. He managed to hide his struggle well and it ended up being an entertaining night, with Coop taking on the Emcee duties and executing joke after joke flawlessly. Aside from the roasting, each of the important people in Billy’s life took time to share their admiration for him, and the impact that he has had on their lives. Spencer, Asher and Jordan shared how much they missed Baker as their coach, pretty much solidifying Billy’s decision. He decided that taking the job was the right move for him and for GAU. When he finally fills Jordan in on what’s been going on, Jordan helps make Billy’s decision even easier by proclaiming that it would be his dream to play for his dad again. Grace, however, catches wind of Billy’s decision and doesn’t mince words as she tells him that everything she feared about him taking the Principal position at Crenshaw is coming to fruition. That leaves Spencer as the only one left in the dark, and it will be interesting to see how he takes the news. On the one hand, he respects Billy and is indebted to him for helping him get his start but at the same time, he was really rooting for coach Kenny and could see this as a betrayal.
Spencer spent the episode focused on his personal life. His casual relationship with Alicia was heating up, to the point that she wanted Spencer to invite her as his date to Billy’s party. Spencer decides to invite her, but is conflicted about how Olivia will feel about it. Grace is his sounding board as usual, and she reminds him that there is no timeline for moving on after a break-up. Spencer and Olivia are both healing and moving on at different stages and this is all a part of it. Olivia overhears Coop telling Skye that Spencer is bringing Alicia, and she is obviously hurt, so when Noah offers to go to the party as her date, she agrees. The tension between Spencer and Olivia during the party was palpable, and Spencer realized that maybe he isn’t as over Olivia as he thought. The chemistry that still lingered between Olivia and Spencer was enough to make Alicia decide to cut ties with Spencer. A casual relationship just isn’t possible when feelings become involved. Spencer and Olivia spoke about the awkward evening, and made it clear that although they can never get back what they had, they can work together to try and find a new normal. Attempting to re-build a friendship after a broken relationship is difficult for any couple, but their lives are so intertwined with one another, that they have to at least try to make it work. I am sure their friends would appreciate being able to be in the same room with them, without the uncomfortable tension that always follows.
Meanwhile, the other couples faced challenges of their own. Layla and Jordan were happily continuing their secret love affair, until Layla decided to change the rules without informing him first. She let Jordan know that while she was in Atlanta with Patience, she told Simone about their relationship. Jordan was quite upset and reasonably so. Although Simone and Layla are friends, Jordan is the one with a romantic history with Simone and so it was really his place to tell her about his new relationship, not Layla’s. This storyline suggests that another crossover may be looming, now that Simone is apprised of Jordan and Layla’s secret romance.
Elsewhere, Skye was pressuring Coop hard to move out of the Baker home and find a place with her, but Coop was simply not interested. She feels secure in her set up with the Baker’s and isn’t ready to move past a casual relationship. When Skye tells her she loves her and admits that she is uncomfortable with Coop living under the same roof as Patience, Coop makes it clear that although she is over Patience, she isn’t looking for a serious relationship right now and hopes that Skye can be okay with maintaining their casual status.
Asher and Jaymee appear to be the only couple with a healthy relationship at the moment, until Jaymee begins having chest pains tied to her Lupus and needs to be taken to the emergency room. Asher hasn’t had much of a storyline yet this season, apart from the conflict with J.J., so whatever is going on with Jaymee, will hopefully bring Asher a more important role aside from being a supportive boyfriend and roommate.
What did you think of the winter premiere, All American fans? Will there be repercussions for Billy for taking the GAU job? Will there even be a team at GAU for Billy to coach when the NCAA investigation is done? Share your thoughts below and follow me on Twitter @MiddleofCanada.
This story originally Appeared on SpoilerTV