The show is coming to an end, and so is the story of senior year. We start the ninth chapter in the future, where Iesha is talking about Al, who she’s married to, and his being an artist. Al then mentions Gabe’s success, and Gabe says how he does one for them, and one for himself. He also tells the group how he’s been trying to get the best director from Winchester to direct a movie with him for years, but he can’t get her on the phone. Al say’s she’s been busy, and then they all start to jokingly sing the song from Sam’s commercial. Coco comments on Gabe’s statement about “one for them, one for me,” saying she wish she could do that. We then go back to senior year, where Coco returns to Winchester and everyone is excited to see her and wants a picture taken. She sees Troy but they don’t speak to each other, the things she said on Big House unresolved between them.
At rehearsal for the Varsity Show, Michael shows them what he’s been working on for his piece, and everyone starts dancing and singing “I Wanna Sex You Up” by Color Me Badd. Then, everyone starts undressing and reveal the BDSM type clothing they are wearing underneath, and transition into “Hate Me Now” by Nas. Troy, Helen, Brooke, and Lionel love it, and Lionel compliments Michael on it. Sam comes over to film him, but Lionel pushes the camera away. Troy then comes over and asks if the three of them are still on for tomorrow, but Lionel says he’s not going. Sam tells him, though, that they need to “get out of this controversy and promote the show.”
The next day, Sam interviews Lionel, Troy, and Iesha for Dear White People. She presents both sides to the argument that they’ve been having on why people should be for or against the Varsity Show. When she’s about to ask her first question to her guests, however, Iesha interjects with her own question. “I guess what I’m wondering is, where the hell do you get off turning our community’s dirty laundry into entertainment for a white audience?” She then starts to argue with Sam in a confrontational manner, while Sam tries to keep her cool. Iesha then says, “Like, I get you don’t fuck with me, because I remind you of who you wish you were. Uncompromising. Actually about that life.” Sam responds, “I force a dialogue…out of the subtext and the inferences and into the open. That’s what I do. That’s my activism. That’s my lane. And this movement for liberation requires a multilane highway, sis.” Iesha counters that, saying that activism is about a collecting, and what Sam is doing is looting because she’s making a personal gain. Sam replies that her show has helped activism increase on campus, and that she’s now given Iesha a platform two times just for her to tear her down each time, while her show has advocated and inspired change for people to listen to voices like hers, and now she’s being hypocritical because of that, calling her an “ungrateful fucking bitch.” The radio station manager then tells Sam to go to commercial, and Iesha leaves upset. When the commercial finishes, Troy, who hasn’t been able to say anything, shouts out the Varsity Show and his social media.
Iesha goes to the computer room and sits down next to Reggie, who asks her if she thinks the app is ready. He’s nervous about putting it out into reality, but Iesha gives him courage, so “whatever happens next, you’re coming along for the ride.” She leans in to kiss him, but he turns away, telling her that he values their friendship. She storms out, yelling “I don’t want to fuck you, ew!” She goes into her room and immediately goes on a livestream to send a message to Sam, and starts singing “She’s A Bitch” by Missy Elliot while tweeting to trend #CancelSamWhite.
Meanwhile, everyone else is at rehearsal, as Helen gives some critiques and feedback about the students’ pieces. Then, everyone’s phones go off with alerts and they see the hashtag trending. Sam, overwhelmed with it all and not wanting to fight it, deletes her account. Joelle goes over to her and asks if she’s okay, and Sam says she’s fine, even though it doesn’t look like it.
Elsewhere, Gabe goes into a meeting with Uncle Roy, who tells him that what he made is not a Christian movie. Gabe tells his uncle that it was all subtextual, but his uncle doesn’t want that. He didn’t want it to be artsy or indie, he just wanted something that could be bought and sold. So, he gives his nephew an ultimatum of either being $50k in debt to him so he can make his art film, or he can take the next three days to go back into the edit room and give him the movie he wants.
Sam is sitting outside when Gabe sees her and goes up to her. She tells him that maybe she’s not fine, that everyone doesn’t like her, and now the administration wants to see her. Gabe tells her that that’s something she’s used to and are her “greatest hits.” But, Sam says it was just white people before who sent hate her way, but this time it’s her people, or the people she wants to be her people. She then asks him how his existential crisis is going, and he tells her how his uncle hates the movie and wants him to go back and make it more Jesus-y and less good. Sam tells Gabe to tell his uncle no. “You made the movie you wanted to make. Does he get to take it away from you for a lame-ass fifty grand?” she says. “It’s rare to see the moment when someone white pays the price for their privilege.” “Does that do it for ya?” Gabe asks. “No, I don’t think it does anymore,” she replies. Sam tells him that she can’t keep watching him make the choices he’s making, at least not as his girlfriend.
Speaking of choices, Reggie is in a meeting with two men talking about his app New Greenbook. As he’s demonstrating it for them, it starts to blow up with #CancelSamWhite and the two men love that, but Reggie tells them that’s not what it’s for. One of them then gives him a paper that is a contract with a valuation of his app, and they want to buy it for $2 million dollars. As soon as he sees that, Reggie asks for a pen to sign it. Then, one of the men, who happens to be white, says that it’s perfect that the app is black only, because it will create a lot of marketing potential with reverse racism, SJW, and more. Then, when the time is right, they can open it up for everyone. The other man, who is black, says that they can potentially use it for Republicans to have a safe platform to talk about things that otherwise they would be criticized for. Reggie says he doesn’t understand, since “this is an app for black people to feel safe. Maybe at some point opening up to other marginalized groups. Maybe.” Reggie pauses and asks them if they can take a beat to think about it. He takes the paper and leaves and pulls out his phone. At first, he’s tempted to call Iesha, and then Joelle, then realizes he doesn’t need to talk to either of them. He walks back in the room, and tells them, “Yeah, it’s gonna be a no, brother,” and tears the contract up.
Sam knocks on Iesha’s door and she opens it and asks her to leave, telling her she’s not removing anything. Sam tells her that she came to say she doesn’t want to fight her, but doesn’t know what she did to her. Sam says she probably felt threatened, but asks why she came after her. Iesha tells her that it’s because she wanted Sam to be better; her show, activism, and her as a person. “Who are you to tell me to be better?” Sam asks. “Someone who came to this school because you go here,” Iesha replies. Sam goes in her room and notices that she may not be okay. Iesha admits that it’s this “dumb ass boy.” She tells her she was in the lab with Reggie working on New Greenbook and that she tried to kiss him, but he wasn’t into it. He told her she was talented and she’d do great things, and she was upset that it wasn’t anything more. Sam laughs, because that isn’t something Reggie would normally say, and it means he’s matured. Iesha tells her that she can take down the posts, but Sam tells her it’s okay and that she was right, she needs to be better. They then start to have a conversation of Bert Williams and Michael Jackson, and the parallels between them. Sam then pauses to think and Iesha asks what she’s thinking about. “That if we don’t cancel each other out, there Ian’t shit anyone can do to stop us,” she says. She then gets an alert and the radio manager is upset that she skipped the meeting with the administration. Iesha asks why she did, and Sam says she did to come here. Sam doesn’t think they’ll do anything about it since it’s her senior year. Cut to the radio station, and the manager says that Dear White People is canceled and that Sam needs to take her things out of the station.
Later in AP House, Sam has called a meeting and says how her and Iesha have been talking and have an idea for the Varsity show and that they’ll have to work together to pull it off. Al starts to clap, but no one else join sin. He then goes in to kiss Iesha, but she turns him down super quick. Joelle then says to Coco, “Are Sam and Iesha friends now? That’s terrifying.” Coco responds, “I don’t know who Iesha is.” Then, to close out the penultimate episode of the series, Sam looks at the camera, followed by Iesha.
But before we move on to the final chapter of Dear White People, we figure out who this mystery guy is in the credits. Patrick Jensen. And apparently, he was rejected by Winchester years ago. We then see him in the car, loading a rifle, and tucking it inside his coat as he exits the car and starts walking through campus. This is surely not going to end well, but we won’t find out until the final chapter.
We start that chapter in the future, where Troy finally arrives at the reunion. They all drink to Reggie, all wishing that he was here. Sam invites him to sit down and says that they’re swapping stories.
Back in senior year, everyone is getting ready for the Varsity Show dress rehearsal, but Troy and Lionel are not there. Instead, they’re having a meeting with The Order, and they want tickets for the show so their connections can see them. However, they want the queer number to be cut, and Lionel doesn’t think they should. He tries to fight it, but The Order says that their connections won’t make it to the show if they keep it in there. So, Troy tells him it won’t be a problem, and tells Lionel, “we’ll let them rehearse it their way, and we’ll figure it out before opening night.”
They then go to dress rehearsal and tell Helen and Brooke what happened. Troy tells Lionel that he needs to tell Michael about cutting his piece short, and then Helen pulls Troy aside and asks for them to have a chat once the dust settles. Michael then comes down and Lionel goes to talk to him. But instead of telling him the truth, he just tells him he’s doing a great job.
We then see Sam showing Gabe what she has so far for her thesis, and Gabe loves it. But, Sam says, what if she told Lionel, who’s at the center of it, that she wouldn’t make him the center of it. Gabe responds by saying she has the first version she showed him, which is not as good. Therefore, she should talk to Lionel. Gabe says he may not be the moral authority, but she can make the choice he couldn’t. We then Gabe at a coffee shop with Joelle and she tells him that she loved the movie. She turns around and goes to Reggie, and tells him that everyone loves New Greenbook, and he was right to follow his heart. She apologizes for acting out of fear instead of faith by wanting them to look a certain way. Reggie tells her, “I proposed to you. If that’ snot pressure, I don’t know what is.” He tells her she always tries to make his dreams a reality, and that’s what he loves about her. He then tells her he was offered a lot of money but turned it down. Joelle tells Reggie that he wasn’t wrong to do that; it was integrity to do so and that’s what she loves about him.
It is now opening night of the Varsity Show, and Reggie is looking at notification from New Greenbook as he makes his way there. He sees one about a white guy in khakis being rude and asking for direction and plays the video, showing the man to be agitated. He then goes by Iesha and Black AF protesting, who calls him out as he goes by: “Really dude?” Reggie walks over to her and says, “So, what, y’all just gonna stand out here making me and every black person that walks by feel like we ain’t black enough? We plan to make the white people feel bad too.” Inside, Coco goes to talk to Troy and asks him to talk to her about anything other than Big House since that’s all she’s been doing since she’s been back. But, he brings up her finale speech. He tells her she doesn’t have to talk about tit now, but she tells Troy that it’s just a TV show and it’s not all real. She doesn’t owe him an explanation and he doesn’t owe her anything either.
Troy and Helen ask Lionel if he’s told Michael about them cutting his number, and he nods no. So, Helen takes it into her own hands and tells Michael that they’re cutting the “Hate Me Now” part of his piece. Michael asks Lionel if he knew about this, and he says he tried to defend it. Sam films this entire encounter and Lionel is annoyed that she is. She’s about to tell him how she lied and is using him as the center of her film, but decides not to and just tells him congrats. Then, the curtain opens and the Varsity Show starts, taking place in 1993 AP House, as they start singing “What About Your Friends” by TLC. Michael exits the stage and argues with Lionel about cutting his piece. Lionel tells him it was controversial and Michael tells him that so is the last piece in the show. Lionel says that one is about civil rights, but Michael says that his piece was too. Lionel guesses, “because of the sex work.” “No, Lionel. Because I’m a queer black man and so are you. When are you gonna get the fucking nerve to put who you are next to what you are on the same goddamn page?” He walks away and we see that Sam has filmed their entire conversation. She then admits to Lionel that he is the best part of her film and the heart of it. He tells her to stay away from him and hits her camera to the ground.
On the stage, Joelle sings “Right Here” by SWV but gets interrupted by Iesha as she walks into the auditorium and calls on them, the students and the audience, to join the protest outside, and that they shouldn’t be sitting in a building named after a slave owner. Reggie looks at his phone as he starts to get a lot of alerts from New Greenbok about the man in the khakis, so he quickly leaves to try to find him, who is outside the building, as the crowd marches towards the President’s House. Joelle goes to find Reggie and finds him right outside the building, with a look of pure fear on his face. We then see that the man with the rifle is behind Joelle. Meanwhile, Sam is filming the ongoing protest and Lionel gets mad at her, but she tells him she’s filming everyone, not just him. The guy then takes out his gun and a gunshot rings out, causing the protesting crowd to run for cover. We see Reggie, a gun in his hand, and the guy with the rifle shot dead behind Joelle. The wails of sirens fill the air, and Reggie puts down his gun and raises his hands in the air as police come towards him and Joelle.
In the future, we see that Reggie has in fact joined their reunion, and is speaking to the group about that experience. “That shit wasn’t easy. Getting put into a cop car, the cops all assuming that I was the assailant. Yeah, it’s no wonder that the forces behind American capitalism wouldn’t get behind an app for Black people to track dangerous whites. What if gangs used it to track the innocent? There were people that tracked my address…down to either harass me or pitch an app. I try to keep a low digital footprint and stay away from y’all so y’all don’t have to go through that shit.” Joelle asks him what he’s doing here, and he tells them that it was time and apologizes for taking so long.
We return to senior year once more for graduation day. People are asking about where they totes are for BSU, since Reggie would’ve had them, but he isn’t there. Al asks them if they read the shooter’s manifesto. Unsurprisingly, he was a white supremacist who also hated that Coco won Big House and was also rejected from Winchester in the 90s and he had blamed it on affirmative action. Sam then comes by with he BSU stoles, and Al asks her if she read the manifesto. She tells him that she doesn’t want to. “The entire world always obsesses over the shooter’s backstory. Their names and faces become a part of the cultural conversation every goddamn time, but never the people they kill. Yeah, the cops let Reggie go, but are they going to let it go, ever?” She points over to a group of white people. “Reggie’s a goddamn hero, bu the media will forever paint him as the black kid who had a gun on campus. It’s bullshit.”
Outside, Joelle runs into the teacher who says he has her next year’s schedule, but that they’ll talk about that later. Joelle and Lionel both sit down, as they aren’t graduating this year. Joelle tells him that she may take a year off to travel and fuck around, and Lionel says he might take her lead since he has enough credits to already graduate. He also mentions that he got n offer from a publisher to write a memoir about being black at Winchester. Joelle asks about the rest of it—meaning him being gay. “The rest of it never seems to come up,” Lionel replies. Then, Dean Fairbanks starts his speech and reveals that the building originally named after a slave owner has been renamed to Spencer Wood Hall, the first black student of Winchester. He then starts to sing “You’ve Got the Music in You” by New Radicals, and everyone walks across the stage to get their degrees.
Back in the future, Reggie comments, “I was everything the gun rights people said they wanted. A good guy with a gun stopping a bad guy with a gun.” To that, Troy says, “But they weren’t there when the good guy’s black,” which is incredibly true. Pro-gun rights people are always about the right to have a gun until it’s a black person holding it. Sam tells Reggie that she mourned him and missed him; they all missed him. He tells the group that Joelle got him through it and share a kiss. Then, Al and Iesha kiss, and Troy looks over at Coco, but she says she’s got a very attractive husband. Brooke goes over to Troy and says, “I know you, what is going on?” Meanwhile, Sam tells Gabe that after this, they should grab a drink and sort through everything. Lionel then goes in to kiss Michael and Sam exclaims, “I knew it!”— the two of them are back and living happily together. Sam then toasts everyone, especially Reggie. Reggie says let’s not forget Troy, and Coco jokes that he already got one and they all laugh. Troy stands up and tells them that CasaBLACKKKa tanked at the box office and now the board is not letting him put up Lionel and Sam’s book and TV show like he thought. He threatened to resign, and apparently that’s what they were hoping he’d do. So now, he’s going to raise funds for this project, and they’re going to make it; it just won’t be today. Joelle then starts to sign “Stand Up” by Cynthia Erivo and one by one, the others join in. They all stand together facing the camera, as we look into the faces of the people we’ve spent the last four years with, as it fades to black. Dear White People, a show that has revolutionized television and brought up a lot of important things throughout the years, has come to a close. For those who have kept with it throughout the years, especially white viewers, I hope that it has opened your mind and shed any ignorance you may have had. And I encourage you to not let this be the end of that, and that you continue to seek out art, television, film, and books about the black experience and history, that is also created by black people. There are many stories being told, and that will be told, that are important to be heard. Dear White People was just one of the many, but an important one. The show will sorely be missed, but at least we have four seasons to look back on and suggest for others to see. The conversation continues.