After a brutal beating, Swagger shows his sensitive side [Apple TV+ recap]

COVID-19 debuts this week Swagger, a Baltimore-based Apple TV + basketball drama inspired by Kevin Durant’s junior league experiences.

In the episode called “Everyone on the Line”, Jace and his teammates cover up the crime. Crystal exhaled and realized how she felt. Both Jackie and Jenna threw it out. They are all at the peak of their game in one of the best episodes of the season so far.

Swagger review: ‘Everything on the line’

Jace Carson (played by Isaiah R. Hill), Phil (Solomon Irama), Musa (Caleel Harris) and Drew (James Bingham) beat coach Warrick (Al Mitchell) to hell. Jace did it to retaliate after Crystal (Quvenzhané Wallis) admitted to being bullied by the coach.

Jace can’t tell his friends he had a pretty good reason for the beating, but Musa and Drew are tormented by guilt for it. Phil is a little more generous. He is even offered to take the blame if the police find out that they are responsible. But Jace shows them a little guidance and reminds them that it was his idea, so he will fall if he has someone to take over.

It’s crystal furious at first because she fears that if Jace is found to be responsible, she will track down the incident next to her. And that could mean revealing a secret she had kept for so long.

Another of her teammates mitigates Kristalina’s guilt by admitting that she is also was abused by the coach. The violence Jace resorted to was not the most elegant solution to the problem, but obviously something had to be done. By the way, this guy was just getting away with it. Jace and Crystal reconcile in a beautiful scene near the end of the episode that finally lets them know what these two really mean to each other.

More problems at home

Meanwhile, it finally turns out that Phil’s dad (Michael Beasley) beat him up for several nights, which explains why he wants to spend more time at Drew’s house than usual. His dad comes to Ikea (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and Tonya (Christina Jackson) in search of Phil, who hasn’t been home in a day or two, and they decide to confront him.

Ike’s direct approach doesn’t lead Phil to open up, but Tony’s softer touch allows him to finally express his opinion. This is an extremely moving scene – and a great show for both Jackson and Iram, two quiet but essential components of this show. Lots of performances on Swagger You have to be louder to show the boiling pride that many of these characters live with, but it’s a pleasure to see the two quietest performers share a scene like this.

The confession goes to everyone because Ike thinks that’s why Jace and the others aren’t in the game – they covered Phil to save him from his father, not worrying about going to jail for beating the coach. Ike is happy to have a reason because he doesn’t have to worry about more things right now.

Meg (Tessa Ferrer) lets him know that he has stopped helping the team pay the bills, as Brett (Miles Mussenden) has now adopted Nick Mendez (Jason Rivera). Decides to contact Alonza (Tristan Mack Wilds) in Gladiator shoes to see if he would consider sponsorship their team instead of Nick’s old team. Alonzo doesn’t think it would show much of the brand’s character to replace the horses in the middle, but he can’t say he’s no longer interested in being behind the team with Jace and Nick in the starting lineup.

I’m the only one watching over you

It’s not all about basketball.
Photo: Apple TV +

Jace’s mom (Shinelle Azoroh) makes a big mistake this week when she leaves Jackie (Jordan Rice) for the finals of step-dancing before her performance to come to a meeting with her cosmetics sales group. Jackie appears and makes a huge scene, maybe he will make a big promotion in front of the district brand manager. He complains that it would be one of Jace’s games made it’s time for that. They scream at each other and they both go to bed crying.

I like that Swagger leaves as much time for Jackie as he does. It is a sharp sting of a child who receives less attention. And although Jackie is supportive of her family, she has limitations. It was great to see Jordan Rice manage the scene so well (not to mention performing a devilish choreography of steps).

Also this week, COVID-19 is finally coming out of the background. The basketball season is getting shorter. Rarely does anyone appear in a step-dancing final or a Swagger team game. And, most heartbreaking of all, Musa’s grandfather dies. Musa goes to California to see him before he leaves, which means he missed the game and scared Jace, Drew and Phil for a moment because he looks like he left them in anticipation that their crime would be revealed.

This was one of the most sensitive performances, directed, written and edited episodes of the season, and I like that Swagger it draws so much from the precarious emotional states of each of its players. Screenwriter / director Nijla Mumin nails every connection.

Look Swagger on Apple TV +

New episodes Swagger lands on Apple TV + every Friday.

Rated: TV-14

Look at: Apple TV +

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of a long-running series of video essays The Unloved for He wrote for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books i Nylon Magazine. He is the author Kinemaphagy: On the psychedelic classical form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at

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Naveen Kumar

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