Insecure Series-Finale Recap: Last Time for the Birthday Bitch


Everything Gonna Be, Okay?!
Season 5 Episode 10
Editor’s Rating 5 stars


Everything Gonna Be, Okay?!
Season 5 Episode 10
Editor’s Rating 5 stars
Photo: Merie W Wallace/HBO

Here we are at last — the end of an era. As predicted, this episode has a lot of loose ends to tie up, so we’re staring down the barrel of a double-length episode, with plenty of time jumps. Last week’s episode ended with Lawrence and Nathan’s fight. This week, we start with the aftermath — as Nathan and Issa pull up to her place, Nathan declares that their relationship is toxic to him, and he doesn’t want to be part of it anymore. Issa takes it in stride and heads inside, but Nathan looks devastated. It’s a sad echo of the final scene of the season’s first episode when Issa broke up with Lawrence. If this is a test, Issa fails it. But she also knows that Nathan might have a point. They don’t work as well as they want to, and it’s time to move on. When she gets inside, Lawrence texts her to apologize for creating a scene. For her part, Issa seems to be in shock. She falls asleep on the couch in her party clothes.

The next morning, Molly wakes her up with food and liquor. Issa’s not in the mood for company, though. And a confrontation with Mirror Issa leaves her even more despondent than ever. “I just want to fast-forward to the part of my life when everything’s okay.” So we do.

Months later, Issa has organized a small shindig in Molly’s apartment for her birthday. Tiffany has come down for the occasion as promised, and her family and co-workers are all there too. Taurean’s family has even joined for the occasion, and Kelli has a new man in her life — a rebound from Daniel Kaluuya. Back in her bedroom, Molly can’t decide what to wear. Issa comes to encourage her to join the party, but let’s slip that she’s tired of Los Angeles. She feels like a mess, but Molly assures her that she should be proud of how far she’s come. Conspicuously switching subjects, Issa tells Molly that the day is about celebrating her and her achievements.

A while later, Issa shows up at Crenshawn’s warehouse after a call from Quoia. There’s a busted pipe that they need to tend to. But when Issa opens the doors to the space, it’s a surprise party for her birthday. Quoia and Molly set aside their beef to do it big for Issa, including a fundraiser for the Blocc. Later in the night, Molly and Kelli try to set Issa up for some “birthday dick” with one of the attendees from the Blocc community. As she goes over to chat him up, Molly raises a conversation she’s clearly had with Kelli before: Her firm is ready to start an estates division, and they want Kelli. In the moment, Kelli agrees. She’ll call Molly in the morning.

Just then, Nathan walks in, and the mood in the room shifts. He and Issa head to a quiet area to chat, and Nathan gives her a donation from the other barbers at the shop. He tells her that L.A. is finally starting to feel like home and apologizes for how things ended between them. Issa tells him that she has no regrets, and she hopes he doesn’t either. They hug, and Nathan leaves, while Issa rejoins the party.

Sometime later, the women travel to Denver to visit Tiffany. It turns out that, as predicted, she hates living there. She isn’t working yet and doesn’t feel like she has a community to support her. It doesn’t help that her daughter Simone is the only Black girl in her class. But Tiffany doesn’t want to dwell. She asks for the gossip she’s missed, and we find out Issa is seeing someone new.

Later in the evening, Molly works in the kitchen when Issa walks in. They wonder if Tiffany will be okay and recommit to showing up for her. Then they start in on the wine. On her way to get fresh glasses, Issa sees a framed photo of Derek and his friends with their kids — including Lawrence and Elijah. Catching her eye, Molly asks her what she would have said to him that night at the party if Nathan hadn’t interrupted them. Issa says she doesn’t want to be inconsistent and that it’s too late anyway. But as her phone starts ringing, Molly tells her that working things out isn’t that hard if it’s what she really wants. When she answers her phone, it’s her brother Curtis calling with devastating news: Their mom has died.

We jump to Lawrence’s birthday sometime later. He’s on FaceTime with his parents telling them about his day when Issa calls. When he picks up, she’s surprised that he answered and, in typical Issa fashion, makes it awkward. But she does get over the hump and tell him that she’s been thinking about him a lot. If he’s free, she’d like to take him out for his birthday. Lawrence has plans, but he suggests they get dinner sometime instead as Issa hastily gets off the phone. She calls Molly instead, but there’s no answer.

A few months later, the gang is gathered at a restaurant for Kelli’s birthday. Molly is conspicuously absent, but otherwise, all is well. Issa brings her new date Nasir, and Tiffany has dyed her hair brown. Looking regal in a loose-fitting green kaftan, Kelli calls the party to attention and announces that she and her boyfriend are having a baby. Tiffany is predictably elated at the prospect of another friend to navigate motherhood with, but Issa is confused. She thought Kelli didn’t want kids. Kelli says she didn’t, but after her “death” in episode one, she started reflecting on her life and came to a different conclusion. Issa is happy for her friend, but it’s clear she feels left behind and left out. And Molly isn’t even there to help her carry the burden.

Later that night, Issa’s at her place with Nasir getting ready for bed. She tries calling Molly one more time but still gets no answer. Mirror Issa tells her that she’s excited all their friends are going after what they want and making decisions about their lives. And they’re on that path too. The progress feels good. But then Lawrence calls, and Mirror Issa insists she has to move on because things will never work with him. But Issa doesn’t pick up. She lets the call ring out and meets Nasir in the bedroom.

A year later and it’s Molly’s birthday again. Issa is setting up the Blocc’s offices, and Molly’s back at work. Issa greets her with warmth and love on a phone call and inquires about how she’s been feeling. Molly admits that she’s still struck by her mother’s death and how much she misses her. Issa tells her it’s okay if she’s not okay yet, and they commiserate on how much harder things have gotten in their lives now that they’re older. Then, Kelli walks in to tell Molly to get ready for her date with Taurean and the surprise he has planned. It seems she did take that estate-division job after all.

Later in the evening, Issa is still at the office when Lawrence walks in. Issa gives him a truncated tour of the unfinished space, but Lawrence congratulates her on how far she’s come. Issa tells him that she keeps thinking about how much time she spent doubting herself, only to realize that she needed to believe in herself to make her dream come true. And when Lawrence pointedly asks if she thinks things will work out, she answers him honestly: “I’m okay with finding out.” Lawrence strides toward her, and they kiss, finally reuniting.

Months later, we’re at a wedding. Molly and Taurean have just gotten hitched. Issa, Kelli, and a visibly pregnant Tiffany are all decked in red as a few of her bridesmaids. The happy couple looks beautiful in their matching white gown and tux. The wedding is lovely, with a small table dedicated to Carol’s memory. After Molly and her dad have their father/daughter dance, the other guests join the dance floor, but Issa stays behind at their table. Lawrence brings her a drink and asks if she’s okay. He’s noticed her watching Molly wistfully from across the courtyard. But Issa’s just happy and proud. She’s done her duty by seeing her bestie off to the next phase of her life. Lawrence takes her hand and guides her to the dance floor. Today is for celebrating.

Issa helps Molly out of her wedding dress at the end of the night. Taking their moment alone, Molly thanks Issa for her friendship and loving her even when she made it hard. The women tear up, but Molly pushes through: “As long as you’re around, I’ma be okay.” It’s a bittersweet moment even as it’s filled with love. Their friendship has been an anchor for the show for five years, and seeing how happy and dedicated they still are to each other is more than enough to put a little lump in the throat. Molly’s been free with her I Love You’s all season long, so it makes sense that on her wedding day, she’s still making time to thank the person who has been holding her down since long before Taurean entered the picture.

Sometime later, Issa is at the Blocc’s now completed office on her HBIC tip in a gorgeous red suit. She hops into her car and drives through Los Angeles, passing many of the landmarks this show has made so visible: Thug Yoda and his daughter are spending time together on the steps of the Dunes, Sarah and Frieda working with kids at We Got Y’all, and even the Best Buy where Lawrence used to work. It’s Issa’s birthday again, and this time she’s coming back to a scene of domestic bliss in her new home with Lawrence and his son. They’re a picture-perfect family, and given the flashy engagement ring on Issa’s finger, we’re left to assume that they managed to find a way to make their lives work together. It might have taken an unconventional path, but it seems like Issa finally managed to create the life she’s always dreamed of.

As Issa gets ready for dinner in the mirror later that evening, Molly calls from (one presumes) her honeymoon in Greece. They laugh and chat, and Molly tells her Taurean won’t leave her side. And in a beautiful bit of synergy from the pilot, Molly jokes that he might have broken her pussy from all the sex they’re having. They’re grown now, so she’s claiming it. Issa cackles and heads out to meet Lawrence as the camera holds frame on the mirror.

And with that, the beautiful, imperfect Insecure comes to an end. Over the years, the show had its issues and more than a few missteps, bringing authenticity to the Black millennial experience onscreen. Watching these characters over the last few years gave us avatars for our own relationship issues and qualms, as well as people we could root for despite their mistakes. And in the end, Insecure permitted us to root for ourselves (and everybody Black). With the show’s end, Issa Rae’s legacy is set. It’s exciting to imagine what more she has to offer.

Week’s Best Woot Woots

• “I spilled a candle on myself while I was getting ready. It hurt pretty badly.” — Issa

• “Don’t you have to date Daniel Kaluuya for it to be a rebound?” “Don’t try to make it make sense.” — Tiffany/Issa

• “If they don’t [love you], I’ll make them hate me. Set the bar real low.” — Issa

• “Wait, so there’s no busted pipe. I don’t have to start an OnlyFans?” “I would subscribe. I do got a flat-booty fetish!” — Issa/Molly

• “We already at 5,000 dollars. 5Gs like the cellphone.” — Quoia

• “Girl, when I have bad sex with a n- - - -, I glare at him and his dick. I want them both to feel shame.” — Kelli

• “If you black out, you did it right. If he blacks out, call for help.” — Kelli

Insecure Series-Finale Recap