The title of this week's The Game is fitting: last week, everything was at least salvageable, until Malik had to go and get himself arrested. Apparently, he didn't pay attention to those anti-drunk driving PSA's. Or get the memo about not picking fights with cops. As a result, he got to go directly to jail. I've watched a lot of episodes of Jail, and that is not someplace I ever want to visit.
Tasha is quite unhappy that her son has been arrested. Derwin doesn't look too surprised. Even Jason knows this is a Big Deal, and walks out on his date (although he leaves her with the check, because this is Jason we're talking about). Yet Malik is unbothered, and so is the Sabers' new owner, who says they have all the right people holding Sabers season tickets. "All you have to do is keep quiet," he tells him, but before the sentence leaves his mouth, Malik is tweeting about his freedom. The whole scene is a perfect example of how athletes' egos (or for that matter, egos of the rich and famous in general) go unchecked because the people around them are more concerned with themselves and their bottom line than someone's responsibilities and welfare. It pains me to say it, as I'm as big a sports fan as anyone, but scenes like that happen more often than we think. (And the Tweeting aspect is pretty funny considering the recent Twitter argument between Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck and Jets CB Antonio Cromartie, who isn't exactly an upstanding citizen himself, but I digress.)
Leaving his meeting, Malik runs into Jason in the hallway, who tells him he's concerned about him. "I pretty much fully support you," he says, but it's only an in for him to angle for an exclusive interview with his former teammate. Malik sees right through him and heads home, just so he can be reamed out by his mother. She seems to be the only person interested in holding him accountable for his behavior, but he's not listening. As she leaves his McMansion, she walks into Derwin, who's there to check on his colleague. She is forced to warn him that being seen with Malik would be bad for his newly burgeoning career, even if Derwin could be a good influence on her son. It's as close to schizophrenic as Tasha Mask has ever been. "You can't be risking everything for someone who's gonna be going to prison," she says, managing to scare him off.
Since he was unable to get Malik to cooperate with him, Jason has decided to spend some time in a jail cell to do a piece without him. He interviews several members of the public who don't have anything nice to say about him either. The real nail in the coffin comes when he gets Tee Tee and Juvon on camera being equally unflattering. Watching Benched and seeing all this, Malik calls up Jason in a fit, and agrees to do an interview with him in an attempt to set the record straight.
Meanwhile, Melanie (and several of his sponsors) are not happy with Derwin even being in Malik's vicinity. Derwin is just as unhappy about being forced to put business ahead of his friendship. Melanie shows him one of his commercials and their Essence cover, reminding him that they worked hard for his success, and that's what he'd be sacrificing. Still, I can't help but side with Derwin here. If it were me, I probably would be just as torn as he is. Granted, I don't hang around people who make such bad choices, but I'm loyal to a fault and I've let people drag me down because of it. The way the show presents it, it seems as if Melanie is warning him off to protect their new high life, but I think she's probably just worried about Derwin getting hurt if he hangs on too long.
Even Malik's girlfriend, Parker (the owner's wife), warns him that he's in trouble. She tells him there's a conduct clause in his contract that says if he does jail time, he can be released. She wants him to go to rehab, so it at least looks like he's making an effort. "No team is going to take you on right now," she tells him, but he just continues to deny that he has a problem. This attitude extends to his interview with Jason, where he finally explodes complaining that he's been abandoned. "Malik, you're going to bury yourself if this airs. You're taking it too far," Jason warns him to no avail. Jason isn't exactly known for having a censor, especially this season, so if even he's taken aback, you know it's serious. (Though I have to say his telling a staffer to keep the interview in the vault just in case Malik commits suicide goes a bit too far.)
Having blown up at his mother, Parker, and Jason, Malik calls Derwin and wants him to appear at his press conference. Mel's had a bit to drink, and tells him that she's not as bothered because she appreciates his loyalty. Despite telling Malik that he'll be there, Derwin doesn't go to the presser, where Malik gives an apology and tells everyone that he's going to rehab. The question is if he actually means it after all the lies we know he's told. We've seen that he can lie with a perfectly straight face, so is he really going to take that leap? And even if he does, will it work? There are people who've had to go to rehab multiple times before coming clean, and obviously the show doesn't have that kind of time. I'm genuinely interested to see how Malik's character arc is going to play out.
That said, this is the first time I've had a few complaints about this season. The first comes with the aforementioned suicide line, which I found tasteless even for Jason. The second is that this is the second episode that's been almost entirely about Malik's story; hopefully, the show will find time to get back to the arcs of the other characters now that Malik will be allegedly off at rehab. For example, this is the second episode where Brittany Daniel has had a credit, but I haven't seen her actually appear. I'm sure this will rectify itself eventually, but given the level of Malik's atrocious behavior this season, I think I've had about as much of him as I can take for the time being.
There's also one thing I've heard a lot of people take issue with since the show's return, and that's the lack of humor in the season four episodes. The Game isn't really a comedy to me anymore, and I don't think it has been since the much darker third season. Yes, there are moments and lines that are still funny, but if you compare seasons one and two to seasons three and four, there's a noticeable change in tone. I can sort of understand why, as the show has become much more of a character study, and realistically that means it's not always going to be funny, as a lot of life isn't hilarious. I'm so invested in these characters that I'm not looking for a certain number of laughs. Having said that, though, I agree that the show could lighten up a bit and still be a good show, especially since a lot of people still perceive it as a comedy. There are a lot of shows that balance comedy and drama very well (White Collar, Burn Notice), but The Game seems like it's been leaving out the laughs a bit.
The most interesting thing, though, is that I have zero idea what's going to happen in next week's episode. I honestly don't know what the writers are going to give us next. I feel like I should know, knowing these characters as well as I do, but I don't. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, but I do know that's one way to build anticipation for the rest of the season.
For more of The Game, check out the show category at my blog, DigitalAirwaves.net.