‘Black-ish’ Season 4, Episode 5 Recap: Junior’s Chain Gets Snatched, Bow and Dre Consider A Change, Zoey Offers Advice
This week's episode of Black-ish focuses on the importance of a Black man's transition from boyhood to manhood, as Junior's gripe with public school lead to Dre and Bow's concern about the overall perception of education in America.
Junior comes home to announce he's been expelled from school. Two days prior, Junior had gotten his first chain.
Like any teenage boy looking to claim his manhood, Junior works day and night to earn enough to cop his first gold chain. Dre explains the significance of Junior's purchase: every man finds "that one article of clothing that changes him and makes him that dude." For pops it was a leather jacket; for Dre it was an Africa medallion; and for Junior it's a shiny necklace.
As expected, Junior makes sure to rock his gold chain at all times - even in gym class. That is, until his gym teacher tells him to put it away. Junior obliges, and carefully places his newly-purchased trademark on its personal stand, which sits inside his locker. And that's the last time he ever saw his chain.
When Dre asks his son what happened, Junior says he thinks a kid named Reggie stole his chain. Why? Because he was leaning up against a wall, wearing thick, black glasses while eating a banana saying, "I don't like that" in a nod to the way Rico eyes Tommy aka Buns in the hood classic Belly.
Dre and Pops tell Junior he has to get his chain back because "that's your chain!" And according to Dre, without a chain, Junior is "just a light skinned weirdo kid in a turtleneck."
Junior doesn't know what to do: listen to his dad and grandfather or listen to his mother and just buy a new one. Ultimately, he takes Dre's advice and goes to take back what's his.
Junior gets into a fight with Reggie at school, ultimately breaking his jaw - so we think. Thus, Dre's oldest son gets the boot from his prestigious private school, Valley Glen Prep. Bow starts to question why Junior's punishment is so harsh considering he's never been in trouble before.
Here, Dre breaks into a monologue about segregation in the school system. He gives a brief history lesson on education in America: Thurgood Marshall's fight for equal opportunity education and the famed Brown vs. Board of Education case that dictated whether or not schools would and should be segregated. Then, Dre snaps back into protective papa bear mode. He and Bow search for another private school for Junior to attend, but his reputation proceeds him and no other private school will take him. So he's left with one option: public school.
Bow and Dre fear for their son as they're forced to accept Junior as a public school kid. Zoey gives her brother a few lessons on how to survive in environment that's perceived to be open season on any and everyone around.
Based on Junior's general "weird" and "nerdy" persona, Dre tells Bow,"Our kids weren't made for public school. They were raised in captivity."
The twins get wind of Junior's big change, and force themselves to watch seven movies about public school including Dangerous Minds. According to their research, they learn "public school teachers use baseball bats and it was okay to use homophobic slurs in the '80s."
Anxiety builds as Junior's first day of public school nears, and Dre find's himself pondering the reasons private school is so important to him. "White people send their kids to private school to keep them on top. Black people send their kids to private school just to get them in the game."
Bow and Dre feel like they condemned her son to "prison," after dropping him off at the neighborhood's Sherman Oaks High School. But things quickly begin to look up when Diane comes home from school - before Junior - and tells Bow that video footage of the fight has surfaced. After watching the video, it's clear Junior had nothing to do with Reggie's jaw breaking. In fact, Reggie's jaw breaking was inevitable because he suffers from some random condition that causes him to sporadically collapse. This time, he just happened to collapse into a water fountain that broke his jaw.
Bow's excited to give Junior the good news, but Junior doesn't care because he actually likes public school. Why? Because he's not the only Black kid in class, it has Black teachers and a vending machine with actual soda in it and he can be himself - all things he didn't see or feel at Valley Glen.
Dre reminds him about the importance of still trying to get his chain back, but Junior says he doesn't need it anymore because his chain lives inside of him. Public school gives him the same fuzzy feeling as his chain - it's called confidence.
Hearing this makes Dre think public school could be good for Junior. In fact, he thinks it might "make him cooler." But as soon as he says that, Junior enters the room with a new Harry Potter cape on and Dre's back to square one.
Dear Hogwartz, Junior's on his way.