Oh, how I have missed the sound of platform stilettos hitting the floor as a Pynk dancer elegantly descends from the pole. After two years, reinstated mask mandates, a new president, and a new virus (that I don’t know a lot about because I’m scared of pictures of monkeypox), the Pynk is finally back on our screens.
When we last visited Pussy Valley, the chaos of Murda Night irrevocably changed the lives of both the entertainers at the Pynk and the civilians of Chucalissa. The season finale found Hailey, a.k.a. “Autumn Night,” killing her abusive ex and using his money to save the club from being sold to build a casino. Season two picks up a few months after the finale, and we get to see the pandemic’s impact on the establishment.
Like many real clubs across the country, the Pynk turned to an innovative way to keep its nonessential staff somewhat essential. Hailey and Uncle Clifford move the club outside to create a unique spin on the car wash. Welcome to Pussy Land, where you can get your car detailed for $50, a hand job for $30, and the “Mercedes Experience” for $100. Plus you can get THC-enhanced wings to go! And Clorox wipes if necessary, as we see from one gentlemen’s time in Pussy Land.
Tonight, the women do what they do best: put on a show. As the Mercedes Experience implies, our girl is still working at the Pynk, headlining every night as the $100 grand finale to the X-rated car wash. The stress is wearing on her, physically and mentally, as she’s suffering from a shoulder injury and is struggling to pay rent for her home and her gym. Thankfully, this means Mercedes was able to secure her spot, yet it’s still unclear whether this is due to her investment arrangement with Coach or if she was able to go about it alone. Either way, money is tight, and sis is stressed because some of her students might not be returning because of the pandemic.
Now 85 percent owner of the Pynk, Hailey is feeling the financial burden of the COVID economy after pouring $250,000 into the business. The money has dried up; Big L reports that there’s around $25,000 left with the rest going toward paying off loans, helping the dancers stay afloat during the pandemic, and the much-needed renovation of the Paradise Room (where Hailey’s ex was fatally shot). Clad in her Shein business-casual wear, Hailey is as brooding and moody as ever, this time with her anxieties focused on keeping the club open and possibly auditioning new talent.
One of the permanent casualties of the pandemic in Chucalissa is the death of Mayor Tydell Ruffin. A news broadcast playing at the club reveals that the slick-talking, grill-wearing public official died while battling the virus. I guess it’s time to say good-bye to Dr. Preston Burke’s tether — not that I’m going to miss him. This brings us to his godson, Andre. His cheating ass has been laid off and is living with his poor wife, who is a front-line medical worker. Things are rough — Miss Mamas has bruises around her mouth from wearing her mask, yet Andre’s bum self is doing little to nothing to make her life easier. Typical. He’s called to return to P-Valley when he gets the news about his godfather.
As a lot of us do while grieving loved ones, people remember Ruffin through rose-colored lenses. In his speech at the funeral, Andre describes him as a father figure and a pillar of the community regardless of his slightly nefarious nature and affinity for angrily yelling a particular five-letter word that starts with N. Maybe that’s what helps Andre sleep at night, but still, let’s not rewrite history.
Anyway, Wayne Kyle, one of the racist brothers from last season, is serving as interim mayor until the upcoming election. I’m hoping we don’t see any type of redemptive arc for this character. Not only are the Kyles, including half-Black Corbin, prejudiced and racist, but I’m also tired of shows and films that attempt to humanize racism. Yes, people can learn and change, but to me, that energy is better spent uplifting the community of people who have been victimized instead of showing how racists are nuanced people. Let’s not forget when Wayne and his brothers pulled a gun on Corbin for his signature to sell the family property or the insidious way he and his brothers spoke about race last season. From tonight’s episode, it seems as though Wayne is seeking out a possible alliance or at least a cordial relationship with Andre, though Andre questions Wayne’s motives.
The race for the mayor’s office is most likely a major story line this season. My prediction? Andre may throw his hat in the ring. Last season, we didn’t see much of Andre’s professional acumen beyond negotiating, but his speech in tonight’s episode proves he’s an engaging and talented orator who cares about the people. Running for mayor could be a natural progression. I do love how Uncle Clifford said she might be better suited for the position as she’s already the unofficial mayor of Pussy Valley. She has my vote.
Back at the Pynk, while one-third of the Trinity is still providing the Mercedes Experience, Gidget and Keyshawn have left their spots at the club. Gidget moved after her mom’s death from addiction, and Keyshawn is continuing to build her brand as the next big video vixen. Her collaboration with Lil Murda is giving her more clout, though her weird-ass white baby daddy is using her newfound social-media fame as a way to further isolate and alienate Keyshawn. Now, instead of at least finding some refuge at the Pynk, she’s confined to her home doing IG Live and Zoom to handle business. He even tries to police her tampon run to the store because he knows the dates of her cycle. (Please get out of her uterus, Derrick.) However, after an offer to go on tour with Lil Murda, Keyshawn starts to see that her career may be her opportunity to get out.
The final scene of the episode, with Keyshawn in the fetal position in her daughter’s crib as the camera pans out, is one of the shots that remind me why I enjoy P-Valley so much. Tremendous emotions and feelings of vulnerability and captivity are expressed through that shot, showing why the first season was critically acclaimed. Tonight’s episode is a great start to this season, and I can’t wait to see what is coming next.
• Keyshawn, or really M–I–crooked letter–crooked letter–I–crooked letter–crooked letter–I–humpback–humpback–I, is proving to be the star power Lil Murda needs to take his rap career to the next level. Murda, living in a Chucalissa trap house, still has the drive and hunger to get out of the city by any means necessary. It’s especially nice seeing him hone in on his creativity. The scene of him making beats with pots and pans is so sweet, though he’s definitely heartbroken from how things were left with Uncle Clifford, who has (rightfully) ghosted him for the past five months.
• Man, am I happy to see Drake 2.0 again. Diamond is looking fine as usual as mask security for the dollar store. Honestly, I’ve been faithfully wearing my mask regardless of any mandate, but I would come maskless to the store if it meant Diamond would manhandle me a little. Just kidding. (Kind of.)
• I’m very interested in learning more about Hailey’s past. Her remark about how bloodstains “always” bleed back through the paint on the wall is alarming … How many times has she done this?
• I want to dedicate the last few lines of this recap to Uncle Clifford’s fabulous chitlin-craving grandmuva. Loretta Divine is truly a gem we must cherish, and it’s a pleasure watching her on the show.