The Dirty Dozen tour has kicked off and is making its way through the South. First stop? NOLA. Who better to welcome Lil Murda to the stage than New Orlean’s very own Big Freedia. We got a new song accompanied by fun visuals (I keep rapping “Champagne, campaign” at the most random times) and some great tour looks from Mississippi. Drama follows the duo on tour, with a fight breaking out after Pico, a friend turned opp, shows up at one of the clubs and starts throwing shade about Murda’s sexuality. Big Teak gets shot in the commotion, but we march on since he wasn’t hurt enough to have to stay in the hospital.
My curiosity about Teak and Murda’s relationship is heightened after hearing them talk about their experience being incarcerated together. Teak is sent to the hole after killing someone who shanked Murda. He confides to Murda, saying the only thing that got him through isolation were the lyrics Murda slipped to him written on little pieces of toilet paper. I might just be being messy in my theory that Murda and Teak have some sort of romantic past, but in all seriousness, seeing intimacy and genuine love between two Black men, whether platonic or sexual, is always welcome in my book.
Back in Chucalissa, Hailey decides to have Roulette and Whisper headline the club until Mercedes fully recovers from her injury. At her breaking point, Mercedes reaches out to Coach regarding last season’s offer. She agrees to move forward with the arrangement for him to set her up in a penthouse and be his official hoe? Side chick? Concubine? I feel there’s a better word that has a less negative connotation, but we’ll save my ruminations about language and sex work for another day. What we will talk about is the fact that sex work is still work, and sex workers deserve respect, safety, and professionalism. Though Mercedes agrees to let Coach take care of her, she has one stipulation: His wife needs to be present when negotiating terms and conditions. I respect the transparency. His wife, Farrah, is a photographer who isn’t blind to her husband’s indiscretions, but she tells Mercedes this is the first time she’s been directly involved in any of her husband’s arrangements. The couple has Mercedes sign a contract and nondisclosure agreements (again, loving the transparency) before Coach insists Farrah sees her perform on the pole.
The power dynamics at play within this trio are fascinating; some could interpret the situation as the man being in control, and some could see the two women holding the power. This is further reflected when Mercedes stands up for Farrah when Coach shoots down her photography career. She assesses one of Farrah’s photographs, pointing out how she isn’t used to seeing men shot from above, saying, “it’s almost like we always have to look up at them.” She goes on to say by not doing that, Farrah tapped into the “soft, masculine energy” of her subject while still keeping his power. This interaction leads to a woman-to-woman conversation where they agree that both their relationships with the Coach are transactional. Farrah went as far as to say she got the shorter end of the stick as $10,000 a weekend and a condo is far more than she receives on her end.
The photograph, and the entire situation at hand, bring up themes of power and consent. Both women respect the other for being active agents in the arrangement instead of passive participants who bend at the will of the man. Things get so Freudian that after Farrah sees Mercedes dance, she takes her clothes off and initiates a threesome. Okay, girl! Sadly, their night is cut short by Terricka blowing up Mercedes’s phone. Earlier in the episode, we see Terricka illegally driving Shelle’s car and visiting her grandmother’s church food drive to procure pandemic supplies. Patrice is immediately suspicious and asks about Shelle’s whereabouts, only to be met by a shaky excuse from Terricka about her being asleep.
When Mercedes finally answers her phone, a police officer informs her that Terricka was caught driving the car with a drunken Shelle passed out in the back. Apparently, Shelle is a recovering alcoholic who broke her sobriety while experiencing unemployment due to the pandemic. During an intense scene where Mercedes sprays Shelle with water in the tub to sober her up, we learn more about the history the women share. We already know Terricka was conceived during an affair between Shelle’s deceased husband Cortez and Mercedes, but tonight it’s revealed that Mercedes was fifteen when she got pregnant, having lied to Cortez, claiming she was eighteen. And, for the first time, Shelle tells Mercedes that in his dying breath, Cortez insisted on Shelle being the one to take care of Terricka.
A lot to unpack here. Shelle still blames Mercedes for “ruining her life,” admitting she wasted years being loyal to a dead man who wasn’t loyal to her when he was alive. As usual, instead of blaming the man who cheated and impregnated a teenager (even if she was eighteen, that’s still a teen), the onus and vitriol are directed at the other woman. Terricka hears this entire conversation and confronts Mercedes about the information she’s learned. In a truly heart-tugging moment, Terricka tells her biological mother that it seems like there’s always an excuse as to why the pair can’t be together. Now with recorded evidence of Shelle putting Terricka in danger, I’m worried about the authorities getting involved further, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Other than asking Terricka a few questions about where Shelle is and giving her additional food, Patrice is seemingly unbothered by whatever is happening with her granddaughter. Instead, her attention is set on the future of Chucalissa and the possibilities of a casino. Interim mayor Wayne Kyle is on tour to secure the Black vote in the city, setting his sights on the church community as a way to increase his popularity. During a meeting with the city’s church leaders, Wayne hints that those who vote for him may receive “heavier” collection plates and promises to bring an economic renaissance (hey Beyoncé!) to Chucalissa.
Never missing an opportunity for theatrics, Patrice speaks out against Wayne and the casino, likening the potential future of Chucalissa to Sodom and Gomorrah. She insists white people will do what they do and use the tax revenue on a golf course instead of pouring back into the community. I hate to agree with Patrice, but that is the precedent white politicians have chosen to set. Wayne retaliates by using his power as interim mayor to order the closure of Patrice’s church under the guise of a COVID social distancing violation.
Meanwhile, at the Pynk, the possible construction of the casino still looms over Uncle Clifford and Hailey, who are determined to play the long game and hold onto the club as long as possible, ignoring Corbin’s persistent offers. Thankfully, business at the Pynk has picked up with Whisper and Roulette solidifying their spot as the top talent at the club. This next generation is rowdier, especially Roulette, who breaks Uncle Clifford’s rules against going topless on the main stage and performing sexual acts with clients. Word spreads about Roulette’s “dick-sucking lips,” with clients openly seeking the special service while at the Pynk.
At the end of the episode, after one of Roulette’s illicit rendezvous, she catches Big L and Gidget’s ex Duffy trafficking drugs. Maybe Patrice wasn’t too far off with her Sodom and Gomorrah comparison. Just kidding, she was doing the most.
• My theory about Andre, the perennial prodigal son, is right. Together, he and Corbin are brewing a plan to gain more control of Chucalissa by having him run for mayor.
• I’m such a stan of Lil Murda and Uncle Clifford. When Keyshawn was helping Murda write postcards and she questioned why he only wrote “I love you,” and he replied by saying, “Keyshawn, that’s the only thought,” I actually melted. Speaking of Uncle Clifford, seeing her on the pole was a treat!
• Big Bone may not have talent on the pole, but she’s putting her musical taste to use as the Pynk’s new DJ. I forgot to mention this last week, but Big Bone is played by former stripper and IG influencer Miracle Watts, a.k.a. Tyler Lepley’s girlfriend (who plays Diamond). The irony of Miracle playing someone who can’t work the pole after gaining recognition as one of Drake’s favorite strippers is not lost on me.
• Roulette and Duffy are a couple I didn’t see coming, and their brand of sexual tension is especially chaotic. I was shook when she pulled that knife out, like, what is going on?