Welcome back friends to the conclusion of this sentimental episode. The children are grief-stricken over James’s death but are bewildered that Florida seems to be in a festive mood. Hope you enjoy the review.
Willona was at the Evans’s apartment making preparations and Wanda came to the door crying. Willona assured her nobody else came yet for James’s post-funeral celebration of life. Willona went back to her apartment for something and the family came out of the elevator and inside to further prepare. The kids were all concerned about Florida, who never shed a tear at the funeral or since hearing of James’s passing. Willona returned to their apartment and ran into Bookman, she berated him for not showing up at the funeral. He stated that he hated funerals. He added if he had his way when he died they would bury somebody else. He dropped a ham outside their door while Willona grabbed it, threatening to say it was from her if he didn’t come inside to pay his respects. He followed her in and announced she was carrying his ham. Florida asked him to stay a while for something to eat. She then added that he and James had differences but he claimed that he had an occasional kind word for him. J.J. stated the kindest word James had for him was “buffalo butt”.
Wanda came back to the apartment crying all over again and J.J. had to comfort her. She also commented on how well Florida was taking everything. Willona also commented on Florida’s bravery and then mentioned how sincere James was, he said some pretty rude things to her and he meant every word of it. Florida said how much he loved hassling with her, it kept him busy until J.J. came home. While Wanda was checking the buffet, she noticed some pickled pig feet and stated how much James liked them. Florida corrected her by saying they gave him heartburn, she then realized she mistook James for her cousin, who she said passed away a year earlier. Willona corrected her with two years earlier. Wanda concluded he was dead anyway. Thelma asked J.J. what was wrong with Florida and why she hasn’t broken down and J.J. was also concerned. The reverend and his wife told Michael he was like a little soldier, setting an example for everybody. They repeated the quote that a little child shall lead the way. A disgusted Michael exclaimed he wasn’t a little child or a soldier and then stated if James were there he’d kick them all out (funny, because if James was there, they wouldn’t because there would be no funeral). Then James’s friends from his old job showed up with beer. They and Florida were swapping jokes about James. Michael blurted out that his father was dead so how could they all laugh like that. He stormed inside the bedroom while Florida asked James’s friend to help themselves to what they had (a large supply of ham) while Thelma and J.J. looked on in disbelief.
Willona made up a song and dance about the large assortment of hams they all had. (baked ham, smoked ham, cold ham, ham on white, ham on wheat, ham on cheese) In other words, they had plenty of food but not enough people eating. Thelma asked to speak to Florida in private about why she was laughing out there after he never let out a tear. She stated that it was part of their heritage starting in Africa. When a person passed away, their family and friends would beat on drums and sing and dance. The purpose was to celebrate the life, not to mourn the death. Michael and Thelma didn’t care about any of that, they just couldn’t understand why Florida never showed any signs of grief. Thelma explained that James was dead and they were all overwhelmed with grief. She then added how Florida stated they were wrong.
Ned the Wino showed up with something in a brown paper bag, as usual. (Didn’t Florida previously say that Ned the Wino was not allowed in their house?) He gave Florida a turkey (the store was out of hams, lol). He then stated how much he would miss James, just as everyone else would. Then he announced he needed to go on his daily hustle for muscatel, for hustling for the money for the turkey put him back some. Florida kindheartedly gave him a bottle of wine, brought in by James’s friends.
After all the guests left, J.J. called Michael and Thelma out to help Florida straighten the living room out. Florida insisted that she can do it herself, then demanded they all just leave her alone. While putting their things way, she picked up the punchbowl, threw it on the floor and smashed it, then yelled “DAMN!!! DAMN!!! DAMN!!!”, before finally breaking down. The kids immediately came outside to comfort her.
Original airdate September 29. 1976
Written by Lou Derman and Bill Davenport
Directed by Gerren Keith
Guest Stars Johnny Brown (recurring). Helen Martin (3rd appearance), Nick LaTour, Minnie Summers Lindsey, Irwin C. Watson, Stymie Beard (4th appearance), Raymond G. Allen (3rd appearance), Henry Harris, Lee Weaver
One of the most touching episodes of the series. One thing that stands out is their move to Mississippi was never mentioned and made like it was never to happen. Also, I was surprised Bookman didn’t evict them for their insults. I guess Florida was trying to set an example to everybody for putting on a strong show and even laughing and joking about the matter. Maybe she truly believed in the tradition of their people celebrating life over mourning the death. It was also good to show the kids displaying their grief with no attempt to hide it. Florida’s classic statement “DAMN!!! DAMN!!! DAMN!!!” was considered one of the most powerful and touching scenes in sitcom history.