At the beginning of episode five, Kanan is still in clean-up mode after P-We’s murder. Although he is oblivious to the fact that his bloody shirt is missing from under his bed, he notices tiny specks of blood on his uptowns and gets rid of it immediately. As he makes his way downstairs for breakfast, Raq confronts him in the most I know what your ass did cause I’m your momma way. And as expected, Kanan quickly responds by telling a story. By now it’s clear that lying comes easy to him. He is well aware that lying to his mother will come with repercussions, but as a dope boy in training, he understands his loyalty to his uncle Marvin in this moment is more important. Raq is in full-mom mode while Kanan is in dope boy mode. She continues to reprimand him, expressing her frustration and disappointment, but like most teenagers, Kanan isn’t really phased by the toughness in her voice.
When working and living in the hood, there are few things to be phased by. Detective Howard and his partner take a visit to the now-abandoned stash house. They are well aware that the recklessness of the house indicates a potential crime scene, but without a victim, they decide not to look much further into it.
Meanwhile, Raq doesn’t hesitate to look further into Marvin’s story about the stash house. And like Kanan, he begins to lie. Because she’s the boss and rightfully upset, she gets in Marvin’s ass for having Kanan at the stash house and attempting to cover it up. She speaks to him in the same manner she speaks to her son; the only difference is she’s not interested in mothering him and makes this clear by announcing that “she’s tired of cleaning up after his sloppy ass.”
With little time to invest in Marvin, Raq shares her plans to get ahead of Unique. She has no intention of going to war but seeks to make a statement by outsmarting him. The goal is to move her product off of the corners, out of the cops way, and into the buildings. Out of sight, out of mind. Lou-Lou and Marvin end up going to war with each other — both a verbal and physical war. They get into a tussle which is interrupted by the police outside of Raq’s house. The theme of Raq mothering her brothers shows up again as they both accuse each other of being codependent in a child-like manner.
Episode five has a few plot twists scattered throughout. Who would’ve thought that Kanan would actually grow to like Symphony? Or that Raq’s most loyal employee would turn on her? Or does he really turn on her? Or that Detective Howard is Kanan’s father?? (In my recap of episode two, I halfway predicted that).
Saturday classes with Symphony are going well for Kanan, and since he is books smart, he remains engaged. He also low-key admires Symphony’s intellectual alpha-male personality. After being scolded by his mother, Kanan makes it his business to find out who gave up the stash house. We know it was Davina, but he underestimates her street smarts and gets into an intense argument with Jukebox for even suggesting she could be culpable. Instead, Kanan places the blame on Scrappy. The two get into a rather brief tussle that’s interrupted by the police. By now, it is understood that the writers have a clear structure or point that they overemphasize in each episode. I haven’t decided if it’s brilliant because it unifies the storyline, or annoying because it’s redundant.
Kanan’s decision to fight Scrappy appears to have long-term consequences. He gets arrested which allows detective Howard to not only get his DNA, but also realize Kanan’s birthdate fits within the timeframe he dated Raq. And he triggers jealous emotions in Scrappy, which ultimately leads him to switch sides.
Prior to finding out Kanan’s real age, Detective Howard gets some disappointing news; his only known family is not a possible match for a transplant. His doctor then places his name on the bone-marrow registry. For Detective Howard, finding a donor is a matter of life or death, and something tells me someone connected to Raq (probably Kanan) will be a possible match.
Nearly halfway through the episode, I notice the violent scenes are all physical, absent of any weapons. When visiting her new unit she scored via bribery, Raq runs into another problem — an older male tenant is adamant about not leaving his apartment. Raq’s subtle motion to Marvin results in a brutal (unnecessary if you ask me) beatdown of an innocent civilian. But mouthing off to the Queen is a heavy offense.
For now, Raquel’s biggest problem is her son. Kanan is in such a rush to be on his mother’s level, he makes a daring request to learn how to cook coke. At this moment, Raq realizes Kanan is just like her; he will figure it out on his own, so she agrees to teach him. As she prepares her 101 making dope tutorial, Raq acknowledges the irony of her actions and how they conflict with her identity as a mom.
The development of Jukebox’s character continues in episode 5. Remaining vague about the details, she brags in a non-braggadocious way to Kanan and Famous about losing her virginity. She also gets an opportunity to sing in the studio on Famous’ track thanks to her uncle Lou-Lou “paying for her studio time.” Remember, bribes go a long way in the Power universe, and he dished out enough money to make specific demands that will benefit his talented niece. As Lou-Lou expected, Jukebox wowed everyone in the studio. She didn’t wow Nicole’s mom, though, when they got caught making out, her mother was so upset she threatened to press rape charges against Jukebox (a pretty accurate threat for the early ’90s). Both Nicole and Jukebox are devastated as Jukebox is kicked out of the Upper Eastside apartment.
Black Sheep’s 1991 hit “The Choice is Yours” plays in the background as the episode closes out. Each character ultimately has been presented with difficult decisions. Kanan consciously chooses the streets, and Raq chooses to support that decision by guiding him along the way as both his mother and a drug queenpin. For whatever ulterior motives, Scrappy chooses Unique, and Detective Howard chooses to confront Raq about Kanan’s paternity. In response to Detective Howard’s emotional spill, Raq chooses herself by ignoring and dismissing the accusations lobbied at her. Like the territorial momma she is, she tells her former lover, “Kanan is off limits to you … stay the fuck away from my son.” The detective doesn’t back down, though, and claims Kanan as his — “Kanan is my son!” Which leaves us with a somewhat predictable yet still jaw-dropping storyline.