Dear White People (S02E01) “Chapter I”

The second volume of Netflix’s highly acclaimed series, Dear White People, has finally arrived. The end of volume 1 left us with many questions about the future of Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell), the love life of Lionel Higgins (DeRon Horton), and the state of Armstrong Parker House.

Volume 2 kicks off in familiar fashion focusing on our woke heroin Samantha White (Logan Browning) and her best friend Joelle Brooks (Ashley Blaine Featherson) eating breakfast at AP House’s cafeteria.  As we follow the scene we start to notice something unusual; there are white people in Winchester’s historically black residence! As you may recall from the end of volume 1, Davis House caught fire around the same time as the protest at town hall and the displaced residents were placed in Armstrong Parker.

Coco showing the new white residents around
Adam Rose / Netflix

In the studio, where Sam hosts her weekly campus radio show, we hear the sounds of doleful classical music instead of her usual fervent voice. Her and Joelle go back and forth brainstorming topics to speak on the show. Giving up Sam scrolls through her social media to see tweets from an account called @AltIvyW gaining popularity.  She shrugs it off as nothing but continues to see their alt-right-esque tweets throughout the day.

Back in AP we see Coco (Antoinette Robertson) giving a group of white residents a tour of the place. Sam and Joelle walk away in disgust as Coco clearly soaks up the attention. Al (Jemar Michael), meanwhile, is trying to convince Lionel and Rashid (Jeremy Tardy) that Davis House was purposely burned down in a plot to integrate AP. We start to see the tensions of integration as the former Davis House residents partake in “white yoga” in the middle of the common room, much to some people’s annoyance.

While on a run Sam and Joelle spot Reggie (Marque Richardson) who seems to not be in the mood to talk. We find out that Reggie isn’t particularly fond of Sam any more which is why she’s been so despondent recently.  Sam complains to Joelle about the @AltIvyW’s tweets and the support they are getting from white students. After a few words of motivation from Joelle, Sam finally responds to one of @AltIvyW’s tweets on the way to her film class. She has started a war.

Logan Browning as Samantha White
Adam Rose/Netflix

In film class we find Sam’s ex-lover Gabe (John Patrick Amedori) speaking to the only other black girl in the class. Sam pretends to ignore him and continues to follow @AltIvyW’s tweets. Back in AP we see the residents watching a new reality TV show staring Master of None’s Lena Waithe. A welcome addition to the cast. We find Sam at the back still scrolling through tweets while the rest of the students laugh at the TV show .

She heads back to her room and continues her social media war against @AltIvyW. As she just about gets into it she receives  a FaceTime call from her father.  Eager to get back into the action she shrugs her father’s attempts at giving her advice and ends the call as a mysterious account called “Order-Of-X” follows her on all her social media accounts. She gets back into the war, this time it takes over her. We see her tweeting for several days straight powered by caffeine and cheap takeaway before ultimately crashing. Once she wakes up from her “clapback coma” she gets tagged in one of Gabe’s post. We see the first of a series of video interviews he’s conducting about the effects of racism in Winchester. His first guest: Reggie.

Back in the studio we find a new radio show hosted by three alt-right white students called Dear Right People. Their anti-black, pro-white stance annoys Joelle and Sam as they begin the show they now co-host. An aggressive tweet aimed at Sam’s inter-racial parents bring her to tears. Fueled by anger she goes on air.

My thoughts:

This episode was a great introduction to volume 2; setting the scene for the rest of the season. It begins to answer some of the questions we had from the end of volume 1. We expect the rest to be answered as the season continues. As always, the episode’s score was brilliant and worked in well with the scenes. I especially appreciated “Jesus Walks” by Kanye West as the episode faded out. I’m excited to see how everything plays out in the next episodes.