Though I’m sure many of us, myself included, are still reeling from the last episode, things are continuing to boil over for our favorite Chucalissa residents. Back home in Mississippi, Keyshawn, Murda, and Teak adjust to their new realities. Keyshawn is imprisoned in her own home while Derrick monitors her every move — going as far as messing with her car, blocking her attempt to flee with the children. This abusive relationship is anxiety-provoking; it’s hard not to project a myriad of ideas of what Keyshawn should and could have done, but at the end of the day leaving a physically abusive relationship is rarely as simple as making a plan and going.
P-Valley never shies away from topics rich in nuance and impossible to neatly tie-up with a bow, like domestic violence and human sexuality. However, since the introduction of Teak, I felt conversations about incarceration and rehabilitation were missing, but this episode offers a deeper look at what Teak has gone through. Remember, Murda and Woddy literally picked him up straight out of jail. He didn’t go home and take a shower or see family or just gather his bearings before going on the tour. He went from living essentially in modern-day slavery for almost a decade (thanks 13th Amendment) to a life of nightclubs and pandemics and raging police brutality. Like many others, Teak has had trouble reentering society after life in jail.
To celebrate his homecoming, Murda gifts Teak a brand new Charger wrapped in red, green, and black camo, repping the Hurt Village Hustlers gang colors. Murda accompanies Teak on his first day back home in the city. Over lemon pepper wings, they reminisce on the early days of their romance, remarking how they never thought they would have a “proper” date. Despite their circumstances, Murda, forever a romantic, set up a makeshift date in the jail supply closet with a candle and a bowl of pasta. The nostalgia is short-lived as Teak returns to the present and asks about Uncle Clifford. When Murda describes her, saying she’s like “eating funnel cake once a year at the fair,” it’s clear, to the audience and Teak, that the love he has for Clifford consumes him in a way that his love for Teak does not.
The two stop at a gas station where, to their surprise, someone is playing one of Murda’s songs on the radio. Both men are overcome with emotion, but once again, Teak proves to be ill-equipped to deal with big feelings as he lashes out at a patron who is yelling for a turn at the pump. As night starts to set on Chucalissa, Teak drives them to what appears to be a trap house. Inside, he has a flashback to his childhood, hearing the sounds of a woman shouting at children and eventually the high-pitched screams of those children, culminating in Teak visualizing a young version of himself, frightened and splattered with blood. Still in the car and on the phone with Woddy, Murda notices Teak left his gun in the glove compartment. He goes inside the house to give Teak his weapon, snapping him out of the trance. Teak, clearly shaken up, explains that the house was where he lived before incarceration.
They end the night smoking by the river, continuing to discuss their time in jail. Teak reveals that when he went to solitary after defending Murda, it wasn’t his first time; he talks more about the darkness, “the devil” that resides inside of him after witnessing his mother murder his three baby siblings with a knife, representing each of the three tear tattoos under his eye. Murda argues that this devil is not intrinsically a part of Teak but a part of his environment, optimistically stating everything will change once they’re back on the road. He refuses to let Teak drop him off, demanding to stay by his side to prevent the dark thoughts from completely clouding him. Sadly, Teak has other plans, pulling a gun out and positioning it at his temple, ready to end it all. He’s tired, he says, he doesn’t see the light, he doesn’t see a future no matter what Murda says. Murda refuses to leave. Teak pulls the trigger, his last words, “HVH for life.” Rest in peace, Teak.
Distraught after witnessing Teak’s suicide, Murda goes to Uncle Clifford’s house and collapses in her arms. Of course, Uncle Clifford takes him in, adding to the ever-growing list of worries on her mind. Despite claiming allergies triggered her rogue sneeze, Toy, in fact, does have COVID, and the virus is traveling through the club because Clifford’s grandmother is exhibiting symptoms as well. On top of that, they owe the Health Department $11,000, Roulette and Whisper took it upon themselves to “bring the Pynk to the people,” and Hailey is still living in the back room.
Even though she’s squatting in a strip club, Hailey’s plans to flip the Pynk are still evolving. She dons a red sequin dress to crash Andre and Corbin’s campaign event. Andre has positioned his platform as the catalyst for a “Chucalissa Renaissance,” promising to redistribute the wealth from the casino throughout “the poorest county in the poorest state in the union.” Good luck with that, comrade; we all know how much white people love to share. He leans into identity politics, claiming his status as an underprivileged child turned mayoral candidate is proof of change. Hmm, I heard that before.
Corbin and Andre are upset by Hailey’s presence, but she remains persistent, finessing her way into the cigar room with the new owner of Promise Land. There, she goes straight to the top and emphasizes the true worth ($10 million?!) of the land the Pynk is situated on, implying the original offer was an insult. Hailey follows Andre home, and there’s some back and forth between them, with Andre trying to maintain dominance, and they eventually have sex. Though Hailey says he’s in charge, she ends up on top and controlling the entire situation, symbolic of her role in the relationship.
Mercedes is questioning her role in her own relationship (entanglement) with Coach and Farrah after Coach requests a redo of the Mercedes experience since they were interrupted last time. Apparently, Farrah is also very eager for the experience for obvious reasons. During their ménage à trois, Coach can see the chemistry between Mercedes and Farrah, who is a little too involved for his taste. He correctly guesses the two have been intimate before, accusing Farrah of cheating and breaking his heart. Call the whambulance. Wasn’t this only the first time he bothered to include his wife in his extracurricular activities? Coach and Farrah argue about their strained marriage (he didn’t even know she was bisexual), then Coach calls Mercedes a hoe and breaks their deal, leaving Mercedes out of the rest of the $40,000.
Mercedes’s problems are adding up like a laundry list of undesirable chores. She’s doing her best to support Chelle and Terricka through Chelle’s unemployment and alcoholism, though she isn’t making strides toward sobriety. By the end of the episode, Terricka shows up at Mercedes’s house with a positive pregnancy test, adding one more thing to the chaos.
• Roulette and Whisper flex their skills and highlight the athleticism of pole dancing at the spades tournament. Competition between the two is starting to brew, although “competition” feels like an insufficient word choice, as Roulette is clearly the best on the pole.
• Diamond and Big Bone’s sex scene was like a palate cleanser from last week — what a fine couple. She needs to stop touching all his stuff, though, before she gets bad spiritual energy.
• I want to shout out P-Valley’s costume department for its use of color throughout the series. When Hailey wore a white suit with red detail for the auction in season one, the outfit choice conveyed her position as a guardian angel with a devilish underbelly; now, fully draped in red, Hailey steps into her devil persona. Other great color moments I’ve noticed are the use of blue in Keyshawn’s Cinderella story and Teak’s red King of Hearts sweater in this episode, showing just how much he wears his heart on his sleeve.
• Refoundry, a nonprofit providing formerly incarcerated people with necessary life skills, reports that 650,000 people are released from prison each year, and statistically, 50 percent of those people will be arrested within one year of their release. This data represents a plethora of things, including how the U.S. prison system fails to rehabilitate, how the conditions most inmates return to are not conducive to productive living, or even how society’s attitude toward the previously incarcerated is biased and derogatory.