Talk about a tear-jerker! “Stay in Your Lane” shows what happens when you don’t, well, “stay in your lane.” From Famous rapping about a life filled with drugs and violence that he never lived, which alerts Davina about Kanan’s potential involvement, or at minimum awareness of Buck Twenty’s murder, to Kanan, per usual, biting off more than he can chew, the episode is filled with chaos. By now, we know Kanan is more interested in walking before he crawls. He’s so eager to be “the man,” be in charge or be the star that he cannot see the importance of being a good student. Obviously, he did not take good enough notes when Raq showed him how to cook up crack. He makes a deadly batch that begins to wipe out junkies in South Side by the dozen. The worst part of it all is Nicole, Jukebox’s official girlfriend, takes the blue-capped crack out from Jukebox’s backpack without her knowing (not staying in her lane) and smokes it right before she was supposed to head out to the prom. After a couple of hits, she dies instantly while locked in her room.
When we last saw Jukebox and Nicole, they were riding the Q6 after a very successful and fun night at the club. Nicole snuck away from her homophobic borderline racist mother and expressed her love to Jukebox. Their love story climaxed in this episode. We see the two love birds make their union official and take risks by going to Nicole’s school dance together against her mother’s wishes. The dress code for school dances typically consists of fancy dresses for girls and a nice suit for guys, but Nicole lovingly encourages Jukebox to wear whatever is comfortable to her. Another breakthrough that happens for their union is that Raq, unlike her father, gives Jukebox permission to be herself. Throughout the entire season, she has kept her sexuality a secret. The night Nicole died was the first time she acknowledged out loud to a family member that her love interest was a girl.
Nicole’s tragic accidental death puts viewers in a melancholy mood. Before doing the faulty drugs, she began listening to a love song Jukebox wrote personally for her. While this is happening, her mother continuously knocks on her door to take the required pre-dance photos with the date her mother set her up with (a young boy, of course). As Nicole takes her last breath, we hear her mother’s pleas for Nicole to open up the door, but we know she can’t. During this entire time, Jukebox, dressed in a nice tuxedo bending all gender expectations, is at the high school, waiting for her girlfriend’s arrival. She patiently watches the other teenagers enter the building with an abundance of joy. I think I shed a tear for Jukebox, Nicole’s mother, and Kanan. Kanan is about to get in a shit of trouble for his bright idea. His mistake leads to so many questions. Will Jukebox find out he is ultimately responsible for the love of her life dying? Will Nicole’s mom blame Jukebox for her death? (Probably.) Will the police be able to trace the deadly drugs to Kanan and Marvin?
For some reason, Kanan continues to hide things from his mother, and she always finds out. In an attempt to reunite his mother with Symphony, Kanan set up a romantic double date at an upscale restaurant with Davina, Raq, and Symphony. Kanan offers to pay for the bill. Later on, Raq inquires about where he got the money from, and of course, he responds with a list of lies. While at dinner, at first, Raq’s coldhearted self wasn’t interested in forgiving Symphony for getting between her and her son, but she eventually gives in. The two make up and have more “I forgive you” sex than ever. Knowing the strong-willed woman Raq is, Symphony sets out to even out the power dynamic between them by reassuring Raq that she doesn’t always have to be in control. After apologizing to Symphony for her irrational reaction to Kanan calling him while in police custody, Raquel gives Symphony credit for being a trustworthy male in Kanan’s life. The two even hypothetically discuss planning a family together. Though she’s well aware it won’t happen overnight, Raq fantasizes about being able to “retire” from the business. Clearly, Raq enjoys being a mother, but the conversation around Symphony being a positive figure in Kanan’s life and a good dad seems to stem from Detective Howard finding out Kanan is his son.
Detective Howard pulls up on Kanan, and his partner Burke immediately questions his obsession with Kanan. While speaking to Kanan, Detective Howard oversteps the clear boundaries that Raq set by encouraging Kanan to ask his mother about him. When Kanan does (only to change the subject from his continued lies), Raq demands he stay far away from him. Her dislike for Detective Howard makes me wonder what happened between the two. If I had to guess, he’s probably the reason DefCon got locked up. We will have to wait and find out.
One thing that we finally have more clarity on is Davina’s at-home situation. Tanisha is, in fact, just Davina’s little sister, although she is forced to mother her. Davina’s mother has been missing in action since she showed up at the school. After the dinner with Kanan’s mom and Symphony, Davina confronts Kanan about Famous and Jukebox’s song “Streets Need a Body.” He fails at convincing her that Famous is just rapping about made-up stories. Believing the dry-snitching lyrics, Davina dismisses Kanan’s request to come inside and help her with her sister.
Kanan is not the only one in the hot seat. Lou-Lou failed to secure a successful hit on one of Unique’s men. The hit was payback for what Unique’s crew did to Scrappy. Regardless of whether Lou-Lou would’ve caught a body or not, the act itself solidified the start of a war between Raq’s crew and Unique’s. After the attempt, Unique rolled up on Lou-Lou at Lamont’s diner. The rule on the streets is the dinner is off-limits for violence. He makes it clear he only wants to talk business. The conversation starts with Unique outlining all of Raq’s current troubles, no supply, losing corners, soldiers looking for other crews, but Lou-Lou is unphased. Unique makes a threat against Raq and simultaneously offers Lou-Lou an opportunity to join his crew. Unique admires his forward-thinking mentality and entrepreneurial spirit, and though flattered, Lou-Lou disrespectfully declines his offer. He shows he isn’t intimidated by Unique and his right-hand man and even makes it known that he was the one who ran up on them. The conversation doesn’t really end well. Unique apologizes in advance for what’s about to happen. He succeeded at stealing the supplier from Raq by buying her out, but his arrogance causes him to underestimate Raq.
With the help of Juliana, she linked up with a potential new connect (Juliana’s cousin), and the meeting went well. One of the Waki’s men even complimented Lou-Lou on “Streets Need a Body,” rapping the chorus with excitement. The relationship between Raq and her potential Dominican connect is just beginning. Hopefully, she doesn’t do anything to ruin his trust as she did with Deen.
• The acting in this series is phenomenal. Everyone has proven to be able to hold their own (I probably said this before, but it’s because it’s true). I smell awards in the near future.
• The wardrobe subtleties win again! Raq’s name chain at dinner, Lou-Lou’s outfit when he met up with Unique. Unique’s outfit! The wardrobe continues to surpass all expectations of a period piece. I hope the stylists are able to land some awards too.
• 50 Cent’s monologues go hard! They always fit the scene and more than likely drop a gem or two.
• If you’re wondering why the music within each episode is so damn good, it’s because Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge are the music directors. If you’re a true hip-hop head, you know exactly who they are!