Insecure Recap: A Long Way From the Manger


Pressure, Okay?!
Season 5 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating 4 stars


Pressure, Okay?!
Season 5 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Photo: Merie Weismiller Wallace/HBO

After last week’s jump into the future, this episode takes us back to the premiere’s end, just after Lawrence (Jay Ellis) and Issa’s (Issa Rae) breakup. Conspicuously absent from the majority of the first two episodes, Lawrence moved to San Francisco and took the new job he was offered at the end of last season.

Lawrence has a swanky new apartment and is presumably in a new tax bracket — things are going quite well for him professionally. A quick scene in a pitch meeting shows that his new team values his opinions and trusts his judgment. He finally seems at home in a work environment. On the other hand, his personal life is a bit of a mess. He and Condola (Christina Elmore) haven’t reconciled, and he remains in the margins of her life. In fact, Lawrence is in the middle of a very middling date when she texts him to say that their son has been born early. He leaves the date, immediately flies back to Los Angeles, and meets Condola in the delivery room with her mom Jackie and sister Kyra (played by the always-delightful Keke Palmer).

The first sign that things are amiss is when it becomes clear that Lawrence … is just now at this very moment, meeting Condola’s family for the first time. Her mother graciously introduces herself, but Kyra is not impressed by his presence (“Oh. That’s why the baby look like that”). Condola informs him of their son’s name (Elijah Mustafa Walker), and it’s clear Lawrence feels completely outside of the entire endeavor. He balks at “Mustafa” but doesn’t voice his objection, likely because he never indicated any strong feelings about it before now. At the end of last season, Condola told him that he could be as involved in parenting as he liked, but it seems he’s chosen the “not very much” option. But despite this, when he holds his son, he’s full of love.

Later at Chad’s (Neil Brown Jr.) place for the night, Lawrence complains that he and Condola had never officially agreed on what their son’s name would be and that giving Elijah his last name was not the courtesy she seems to be treating it as. He tells Chad that he wants his son to be circumcised (another thing they haven’t discussed) and complains again that her family is already treating him like a deadbeat. This isn’t what he planned for his first child, he says. He’s intent on not being left out of future appointments. The question, of course, is what was preventing him from being more involved before now?

At Elijah’s one-week well-baby visit, the doctor informs the new parents that he’s lost weight but that it’s nothing to worry about because it’s pretty common for newborns. When Condola tells the doctor that she’s been having some minor problems breastfeeding, Lawrence springs into action, asking questions about what they need to do differently. But Condola is annoyed, saying she’s already on top of it. The tension between them is thick. Already it’s clear that Lawrence thinks the situation is adversarial, and his concern for Elijah doesn’t extend to Condola. It feels pretty safe to say that will only lead to more conflict down the line.

In the parking lot after the appointment, Lawrence asks if Elijah’s appointments can be moved from weekdays to Friday evenings so he can fly down from San Francisco to attend them. When Condola tells him that likely won’t be possible, he moves on to the baptism, asking if they can organize it soon. Condola tells him that her family has already planned it, and her sister will send him the details. This is what finally prompts Lawrence to note his objections for the record. He doesn’t like that he’s informed of his son’s schedule after the fact. He wants to be involved in making decisions. But as Condola points out, he told her to “just keep me posted.” So that’s what she’s been doing. To neutralize the situation, Lawrence asks if her schedule can accommodate him seeing Elijah every weekend. Graciously, Condola says they’ll work it out. Back in San Francisco, Lawrence buys Elijah a crib.

At the baptism, Lawrence’s parents are dissatisfied with the proceedings and his lack of involvement. On Condola’s side, Kyra remains unimpressed, throwing catty barbs that would make the Black Auntie Brigade™ proud. When Lawrence asks to take Elijah for the holidays, Condola is just shy of horrified by the prospect of being away from him for an entire week. Lawrence is incapable of reading the room and reiterates that it’s just a week, and he wants his son to spend time with his parents. Condola agrees to check back in with him closer to the holidays, but it’s clear by Kyra’s face that he won’t be getting that baby.

Lawrence keeps his word about flying down to Los Angeles every weekend to see Elijah and give Condola some reprieve. But one night, after working late in San Francisco, he cancels at the last minute. Condola takes it in stride, but the ever-skeptical Kyra (Keke Palmer truly doing the Lord’s work) tells her that Lawrence hasn’t been stepping up enough, and she deserves to be more upset than she’s allowing herself to be. She tells Condola that Lawrence is no more than a fun uncle — one who’s now ruined their planned spa day. She offers to watch the baby while Condola has a chance to unwind, but Condola, for her part, seems resigned to the fact that she signed up for single parenthood. This is her life now, difficult as it may be.

Back in San Francisco, Lawrence is putting the finishing touches on Elijah’s crib when Condola texts him to ask if they should accept Tiffany and Derek’s invitation to Simone’s first birthday party. She wants to know if they should go together. He agrees. It’s a brief scene that reveals one telling detail: They have different nicknames for their son. Condola calls him “Eli,” while Lawrence calls him “Jah.” It’s not an issue in the grand scheme of things, but it signifies the massive gulf between them when it comes to working together for their son’s well-being.

At the party, Kelli (Natasha Rothwell) plays master of ceremonies for a gaggle of tiny humans and warmly greets the pair. She’s in a matching suit with baby Simone, which Derek only finds mildly concerning. Lawrence awkwardly asks after Issa, but Kelli refuses to give even an inch (“Everyone I associate with is thriving”). When Elijah needs a feeding, Lawrence takes charge, introducing him to some of the soft solids at the baby snack table. Condola is concerned, pointing out that there’s a process to introduce babies to solid food in case they’re allergic. She asks why he didn’t check in with her first.

And here’s where things begin to fall apart. Rather than validating Condola’s feelings and agreeing to consult her in the future, Lawrence tells her that it wasn’t that serious and she needs to relax. Condola angrily tells him to give her the baby, and he refuses, telling her to calm down and knocking over Simone’s presents in the process. Seeing the confrontation play out, Derek (Wade Allain-Marcus) asks Lawrence for his help to move some boxes to remove him from the situation. Lawrence complains that Condola is “trying to make me look like a bad father in front of everyone” and that she’s petty and controlling. Derek wisely tells him that acting out is not the solution and that Elijah can sense the negative energy. He encourages Lawrence to be Condola’s teammate instead. Swan-diving into full villain territory, Lawrence refuses, claiming that Condola should be happy he’s not an absent dad and that he’s doing everything he can to be present for their son. It’s yikes on bikes, not gonna lie. But thankfully, Derek is there to point out that adding stress to the situation helps literally no one.

With Lawrence back in San Francisco, we get a split-screen of his and Condola’s average day. While he’s working hard, advancing his career, and dating, Condola is perpetually tired and overworked nursing a fussy infant, cleaning bottles, and managing Lawrence’s brief entries into their son’s life. It’s telling too that Lawrence has a crib set up for Elijah in his living room, but the baby never comes to San Francisco. He thinks he’s made room for his son in his life, but has he really?

When Lawrence arrives to pick up Elijah for an overnight stay in Los Angeles, he’s fussy and crying. Condola is understandably anxious, but he snaps at her when she asks to hold Elijah so she can calm him down faster. She decides that it’s not a good idea for Elijah to leave her, and when Lawrence presses, she admits that she doesn’t trust him. Angry, he tells her that he’s Elijah’s father and that he doesn’t understand why she’s so upset. But Condola rightly points out that he’s minimally involved in their son’s life and exercises the option to opt-out of his care when he chooses to because he lives in a different city. She tells him that he wasn’t around when she had to take Elijah to urgent care and that he’s perpetually a plane ride away.

Lawrence defensively insists that he’s trying, then (extremely rudely!!!) tells her to shut up when she lists all the ways in which he’s free to live his life while she is tied to their child. He says that he’s working hard and checks in when he can. She points out that he moved away. He tells her that she “blew his life up.”

At that, Condola is rightly incensed. She tells him that he’s not a victim in the situation and that the half in/half out arrangement isn’t working for her anymore. She refuses to let Elijah leave with Lawrence. For the second time, Lawrence does the exact wrong thing, threatening to take their son from her using any means available to him. Furious, Condola kicks him out. It’s a nasty scene and it’s hard to take Lawrence’s side in it. He sincerely believes that he’s doing all he can, and given that he’s so far away, that may be true. But his complete and total disregard for Condola’s well-being is difficult to get past. She is caring for a newborn and doesn’t have a partner to care for her. She is right that he has it much easier than she does. She is consumed with the care of their child day in and day out. He is free to simply leave, which is exactly what he does.

On the flight back to San Francisco, Lawrence’s plane hits some significant turbulence. Lawrence is visibly shaken from the scare and calls Condola when he gets back to his place. When she picks up the phone, it’s clear she’s been crying. He apologizes (finally!) for his behavior and asks what they should do. #FadeToBlack.

This episode is a doozy, but what it does really well is expose the gulf between how Lawrence sees himself and his actual actions. There is no doubt that Lawrence thinks he’s a present and involved father, but part of being a dad is caring for the partner who brought your child into the world. The way he treats Condola throughout this episode is, frankly, unforgivable. But with seven weeks to go, we can only assume that he figures out how to get it together for his family. Either way, #LawrenceHive has a lot to answer for.

Week’s Best Woot Woots

• “Walker’s a good last name. Who the hell don’t want their baby to walk? Speak that shit into existence, ya dig?” — Chad

• “Okay, so she made an evite, and you gave up on your baby’s soul.” — Mrs. Walker

• “I guess his forehead is saved, but what about the rest of him?” — Mrs. Walker

• “Ashy Larry strikes again.” — Kyra

“I was really looking forward to Big Hands Kyle and his thick thumbs.” — Condola

• “And that is a full baby with both your faces.” — Kelli

• “Her obsession with my child is unsettling, but you know, free babysitting.” — Derek

• “No, no, no. That’s Pepper Pig with a hard r. You know, there’s copyright issues.” — Kelli

• “Now, I don’t like children. Never have. Their small features and stilted movements remind me of tiny demons.” — Kelli

Join Insecure stars Issa Rae and Yvonne Orji for a live pre-union at Vulture Festival on Saturday, November 13, 2021. 

Insecure Recap: A Long Way From the Manger