Bluff City Law – The All American
We meet Della’s wife, who right out of the gate, we learn can hold her own against the powerful force that is Della. Della is being honored by the LGBTQ community and needs a dress for the gala. In a surprising twist, Elijah is here for a fashion show. He offers his opinion on gown options, followed by Sydney, Briana, Jake, and Anthony. A law firm that is still family.
Marcus White, a former college football standout, is looking for help to die. Having been diagnosed with ALS, medical debt is piling up due to woefully inadequate insurance coverage and, though outward symptoms are not yet apparent, they are coming. ALS is a particularly difficult journey through the end of life.
Beyond the legal difficulties, Tennessee isn’t a right-to-die state, ALS doesn’t meet the diagnostic limitations for statute, and no case has yet been won for an ALS patient to be granted physician assisted death. More than that, Elijah hasn’t tried a case on this subject matter because he isn’t sure what his actual position is. Seeking guidance from everyone at the firm, Sydney cuts to the heart of the matter and reminds Elijah that he must find this answer for himself.
Elijah turns to his pastor for help in making this decision, part looking for reasons, and part looking for a way out. He is granted no such reprieve from his clergy who advises him to spend some time with Marcus and Brittany to see what their needs are before deciding.
Lots of money…
Meanwhile, the medical debt and costs are eating at Sydney. The injuries Marcus sustained during football make him ineligible for most insurance and the insurance he has doesn’t cover most of his treatment. She is determined to make a stand on this, but what case can/should she make? With no takers on the conference room discussion, she butters her fellow firm members up with a dinner to discuss strategies. In comes the strategy, with the Conference of Collegiate Athletes. Sue the conference who makes billions in revenue on the backs of student athletes while athletes are unpaid and face life-long consequences from their time in sports. This is a bold strategy and despite Elijah trying to put the brakes on it, Sydney will not be deterred. Sydney gets the go ahead for her case from Marcus and Brittany.
Elijah and Marcus discuss the situation with a doctor. She outlines procedures and asks pointed questions to ensure that Marcus is pursuing this course of his own will. Elijah is struggling with his morality on the subject. Marcus reminds him that he isn’t choosing to die, he is just shaping his legacy and memories for his family. Elijah will take Marcus’s case. He plans to argue that since Tennessee allows patients to refuse medical care, a dignified death is in keeping with those statutes and regulations. The defendant argues that the people of the state of Tennessee have decided that physician assisted suicide is equivalent to murder.
On the stand, Marcus describes the current impacts of his sudden onset ALS and how it currently and will impact his health in the future. He talks about not wanting his wife and sons to endure the trauma of watching him slowly die. He speaks from experience of watching a similar experience with his own mother.
Here we go…
Sydney and Jake start arbitration. They lay out the case of requirements, value to the university, attendance, as an argument that they were treated as valuable employees without additional pay over the scholarship. The Conference argues that most student athletes would not have been able to attend college if they had to pay income tax on the value of their scholarships. With the Conference unwilling to settle, the case moves forward in arbitration.
Sydney tries to set up the CCA as treating the student athletes as employees without paying or employing them. The CCA chairman argues that students are the priority of the CCA, and money is given to universities to fund all types of education. The argument continues that if student athletes were paid, scholarships would dry up and some sports would disappear altogether. Sydney counters by pointing out that the combined salaries of the top 10 coaches dwarfs the amount of money that would be required to provide a decade of health care for every student athlete. Are things shifting in Sydney’s favor?
In the end it’s a split decision for Strait and Associates. Elijah wins but Sydney comes up short in arbitration.
While Della is being honored by the LGBTQ community in Memphis, things are not so straight-forward with her son. She pays him a visit to ask him to reconsider introducing her at the Gala. He reminds her that he supports her lifestyle, but he isn’t ready to revisit his adjustment to a new life. For him, the Gala is a reminder of the worst time of his life.
Della is ruminating in the guilt of a mother. It is a hard smack to the heart when a child tells a parent they are responsible for the worst parts of the child’s life. For Della, it makes her question whether her attempts at living authentically cost her too much. On the one hand, she is loved and happy, on the other, the person she loves the most on Earth, still struggles with their situation.
At the gala, Della offers a spirited speech full of gratitude aimed at those who support the ones fighting for change. If you look beyond her specific award, you’ll find a speech full of hope, fight and optimism that is universally applicable.
Elijah accidentally opens mail meant for Sydney, her divorce papers. They go for a drink and discuss love and relationships. I can’t do this scene justice with words, so be sure to watch for yourself.
Sometimes, though, families end. Robbie and Sydney meet up to drink to the end of their marriage. They share some memories and Robbie has a talk of sensibility for Sydney.
This episode cuts right to the heart of several current hot topics in society. Each story told well by the writers and actors. What I want to say most here is, thank you, to the writers, the actors, the producers and showrunner for taking such care in telling this story. It is very easy to stand on principle and “know” what you would do when the situation is out there.
When you are an outsider to the story, it all seems very black and white. The gray comes in when you find yourself having to make difficult decisions of life and death. To watch a loved one sign a DNR and must ensure that it is on record and held. Or to have the power and responsibility to make the call at the end of a loved one’s life. The hardest of all is to make a choice like this regarding a child. Yes, it is terribly easy to “know” what you would do. I thought I did, but when faced with each of the above situations I found it to be a murky, gray, foggy area with no clear black and white answers.
So, let this beautifully told story wash over you, and remember that above all, we can choose to be kind to one another as we know not what they face behind the scenes. Changing the world takes courage, humility and kindness. Meet me in Memphis again next week for another round of inspiration.
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