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BET’s “Rebel” Pilot Review

BET’s “Rebel” Pilot Review

By Carolyn Hinds

Rebel is the newest BET show with a black female lead. It premiered on Tuesday, March 28, at 10:00 P.M., Rebel is the newest television project of acclaimed director John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood, American Crime Story) and Amani Walker.

Danielle Truitt plays the protagonist Rebecca ‘Rebel’ Knight, a no-nonsense, sarcastic Oakland cop, who makes quite the impression in her first scene. She walks into a bar, approaches a group of white men bragging about their sexual conquests, whips out a metal baton and proceeds to scare the crap out of them. Rebel lets them know that if they want to test her, she is willing to unleash a world of hurt on their behinds, and proceeds to drag the man she was there to collect out by his ears. It was at this moment I knew I would love this show.

Rebel is a woman who will take on anyone who comes at her the wrong way, whether it be her Lieutenant, a fellow officer, or her father. She fears no one, hence Rebel is an appropriate moniker. But behind this tough exterior is a woman who uses poetry as an outlet for her emotional turmoil, is open with her love and affection for her brother Malik (Mikelen Walker), best friend Cheena (Angela Ko), and father Renee (Mykelti Williamson). With each relationship Rebel shares a different part of her personality. With Renee, its loving but complicated because she is trying to maintain her independence while trying to be understanding and respectful of her father’s emotional turmoil. Rebel loves Malik, she is fully supportive of his dream to be a musician, but like some young black men growing up in an urban setting, Malik is struggling with and staying on the path of pursuing his dream instead of hanging with his boys on the block. (His sample tracks were pretty good, I wouldn’t mind hearing them again.) Cheena and Rebel are equal parts trouble and hilarious together, they throw shade while being emotionally supportive of each other.

The thing with this show is that, to me, it’s an amalgamation of different genres, a mix of drama, action, comedy, and a touch of Blaxploitation. Different segments carry different tones in, dialogue, action, and cinematography.

The drama comes with the main plot of this pilot episode. On a night when Rebecca and her partner Mack (Derek Ray) are riding in their car, and discussing their brief relationship (according to Rebel, it was a moment of weakness), the dispatch announces shots fired in their vicinity. Initially, Mack doesn’t want to respond because he wants them to keep talking about their “relationship”, but Rebel insists that they’re close, so they might as well.

Once they reach the location, which is a dark alleyway, they see the silhouette of a man walking away, holding something in his hand. Both Rebel and Mack pull their guns and tell the unknown figure to drop his. Recognizing Rebel’s voice, the figure turns around and we see it’s Malik. When this happens I just know, things are going to end badly. After a bit of back and forth, Malik drops the gun, but Mack is frozen, completely checked out. Then he fires a shot at Malik, and Rebel shoots Mack in the leg to distract him. As Rebel is leaning over Mack, trying to calm him down, other squad cars roll up. The cops jump out, see an “officer down,” draw their guns, and for some reason that I cannot understand, Malik decides to run. As this scene plays out my heart is in my throat, because I just start thinking of Mike Brown, Sandra Bland and Travon Martin. To me this scene is so heartbreaking because, once again, another unarmed young black man was shot, I cannot imagine how difficult this scene must have been to do.

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The fallout from Malik’s death causes Rebel to have an emotional breakdown that, honestly had me laughing, because this is one of the parts that was both drama and unintentional comedy. Rebel was laid out on her sofa, with her hair a mess and her apartment in complete disarray. Now the thing is, this sequence was supposed to be dramatic and emotional because, she’s grieving over Malik, she’s wracked with guilt because her baby brother has been killed by the very cops she works with, but my girl was wailing, tossing back drinks as though she was in a saloon and literally wall sliding. The shift in tone was just so jarring that I couldn’t control my laughter, all I kept thinking about was how the actors in Telenovelas literally throw themselves on the floor in utter despair. 😀

After meeting with Internal Affairs, due to an investigation and much soul searching, Rebel decides she’s going to quit the force. She no longer has faith in the justice system. How can she trust the very men who shot her unarmed brother in front of her? While Rebel was on suspension, her friend Dolores (Bree Williamson) pleads with Rebel for help because after finding a gun, Dolores thinks her husband, Brian wants to kill her. For me this led to an unexpected but pleasant surprise in this show, it turns out Rebel, with the help of her shady sidekick

While Rebel was on suspension, her friend Dolores (Bree Williamson) pleads with Rebel for help because after finding a gun, Dolores thinks her husband, Brian wants to kill her. For me this led to an unexpected but pleasant surprise in this show, it turns out Rebel, with the help of her shady sidekick Cheena, discovers she’s a pretty good P.I. This is her new calling, and this is a great delight. Rebel and Cheena, are two fools who get up to hilarious shenanigans, their banter is so realistic and flows so naturally, I wonder how much of it was written in the script and how much was improvised between the actresses.

The episode winds down with her Lieutenant, Charles (Giancarlo Esposito), visiting Renee’s house to talk to Rebel, but because of her anger and disappoint, Rebel becomes abrasive. Charles tells her that her problems are because of her actions. Rebel is stubborn, makes rash decisions, and never considers the consequences, which is not how a cop should behave.Charles eventually gets fed up and tells her that he is finished covering for her and she’s on her own.

My musings on this episode

  1. Rebel is a trip, but one you don’t mind taking unless you’re getting on her bad side or in her way.
  2. Cheena is ride or die for her friend and has no issues with telling Rebel the truth she dosen’t want to hear.
  3. Whoever does Danielle’s hair deserves applause. Her hair was looking fly all the time.

 

 

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