“The pain of grief is just as much a part of life as the joy of love; it is, perhaps, the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment,” said British psychiatrist Colin Murray Parkes on the subject of grief. If this is true, Jukebox has paid for love in full.
Jukebox is deep in grief throughout episode eight and carries on the same melancholic mood viewers experienced in episode seven. She and Kanan show up at Nicole’s funeral only to be turned away by her parents. Jukebox decides to take matters into her own hands and breaks into Nicole’s room and rewatches the mall-made recorded duet they performed together. As expected, seeing Nicole causes her to break down and sob uncontrollably. Aware of a break-in, Nicole’s parents alert the police but are surprised to find Jukebox. Her father appears to empathize with his daughter’s heartbroken lover far more than Nicole’s mother (which is not a surprise). When she sees Jukebox, the mother immediately has an emotional outburst and blames her for Nicole’s death. As expected of her character type, she reveals that she and her husband chose to lie to family and friends about the cause of Nicole’s passing. An affluent teen dying from a crack-cocaine overdose does not fit into the picture-perfect life Nicole’s mother has created. For Jukebox’s and Kanan’s sake, it is a good thing the Bingham’s didn’t tell the police about the blue cap lethal drugs. They return the empty cap to Jukebox, who surprisingly chooses not to blame Kanan or herself for Nicole’s death. Instead, her frustration is geared towards their environment. An environment that is set up for many to fail, whether due to doing drugs or selling drugs.
Although the Binghams don’t share information about the drugs with the police, Detective Howard and his partner still manage to find out because of the heavy impact the drug has been having on the community. Bodies have been dropping left and right. While Howard tries to push the issue under the rug, Burke is insistent on finding the dealer and treating this issue like a murder. They spot a junkie and bribe him for information. He tells them where the drug came from and even name-drops the dealer. Because Kanan and Marvin believe they’re smarter than everyone around them, they set it up so that anyone on the streets would think the Queensbridge dealers were the ones responsible for the blue-capped drugs. However, they fail to make sure that if the plan goes left, the Queensbridge guys won’t snitch. And because their plan isn’t secure, that’s exactly what happens. As soon as Detectives Howard and Burke run up on ol’ boy and tell him that he is responsible for seven bodies, he gives up Kanan’s name without even thinking about it. Because Detective Howard desires to play “father of the year,” he tells his partner he will handle it. Lately, she is becoming suspicious of not only his obsession with Kanan but his tendency to go off and handle tasks alone. It’s only a matter of time before she finds out what he’s up to.
With this new information about Kanan, Detective Howard now has something tangible against Raq, and he wastes no time using it. He pulls Raq over (illegally, might I add), and when they meet up, he tells her that Kanan was the one who cooked the blue-capped crack, killing at least seven people. He lets her know that he intends to handle it but makes it clear that he wants her to tell Kanan the truth in return. At some point in the conversation, he even threatens to let the streets in on their little secret.
During their brief conversation, we find out a lot of interesting information. Detective Howard, at one point in his early 20s, was an undercover cop. When he hooked up with Raq, she was only 16 years old. Although the streets believed her to be in a romantic relationship with DefCon, Raq revealed to Detective Howard that DefCon was gay. Their relationship was a coverup and Kanan supposedly being his son added an extra layer to hide the truth. The writers thus far have done a great job tackling a ton of complex, real-life street politics, such as the need for a hypermasculine image and the connection between the drug game and the music industry (for the latter, think Baisley’s Supreme Team and Murder Inc. Records, Kareem “Biggs” Burke and Roc-A-Fella, Suge Knight and Death Row Records).
After fronting Crown Camacho money for studio time and the showcase, Lou-Lou pivots and decides he no longer wants the transaction to be viewed as a loan but more so an investment. He shows up to the studio, kicks everyone except Crown out, and gives him little to no choice to sign official paperwork that states they are partners. Now that Lou-Lou has 50 percent ownership in the record label, we could assume his girl Jessica would be happy — nope! No matter what he does to move forward toward his goals of succeeding in the music industry, she seems to push the line of satisfaction further back.
Jessica might as well date a guy like Kanan because he also pushes the line of satisfaction further back. There’s a consistent theme in each episode with Kanan’s character — his mother always is forced to clean up after his mess, and as we have witnessed, you can’t hide shit from Raq. Both Kanan and Marvin know they are in deep shit if Raq finds out. Marv even feels like Raq can kill him herself or have him killed despite being brother and sister. She asks Marv specifically to figure out who cooked the blue caps and handle them. Though he knows he and Kanan are the culprits, he plays dumb. When Raq does find out, all hell breaks loose. Entering the house in a fury, she calls Kanan by his full-government name, a sign most of us know to mean we are in trouble trouble, not just regular trouble. Instead of lying to his mother, he attempts to make her feel guilty by placing the blame on her for how he has turned out. Shocked by his disrespect and naivety, Raq slaps the daylights out of Kanan. As she outlines all the ways she has had to clean up his mess, she admits to killing D-Wiz; she also shares that Marvin was once a junkie and Kanan choosing to do business with him puts him in a vulnerable position. Kanan is left stunned by the new information. It’s not clear yet if he is mad at his mother for murdering one of his best friends. It also doesn’t seem like he has learned any lesson.
On the other hand, Marvin definitely has learned his lesson, but it might be too late. When Raq presses him about working with Kanan behind her back, she starts to beat him with a thick piece of wood, but after one hit, she cuts him out of her life completely. There is a pain in her eyes as she tells him that she doesn’t want anything to do with him. One thing about Raq (let’s say it in unison): “Don’t get in between her and her son.” Unfortunately, Marvin hasn’t proven to be worthy of Raq’s trust. I’m glad she didn’t kill him, though.
In a desperate state, Marvin goes back to the club to visit Toni. He has no idea that Toni is trying her best to work with law enforcement to protect her own ass. She has bugged her office and fails at getting Marvin to say something incriminating. He may make a ton of mistakes, but he did not fall for Toni’s antiquated trap. Symphony peeped Toni in action and will more than likely warn Raq about her shady ways. It will be interesting to see how Toni’s role plays out.
We finally get to see Raq get her hands dirty. She works closely with Juliana to kill her abusive husband. It was clear that the bodega store owner would be a problem since they began working together. Killing Gabriel worked in Raq’s favor. Joaquin, Raq’s new partner and Juliana’s cousin, ambushed her after his crew saw her talking with Detective Howard. As usual, she doesn’t fold under pressure (more than five guns pointed at your head) and explains their relationship as best as possible. Joaquin is impressed once she reveals that she is responsible for killing Gabriel.
The episode ends, leaving us on the edge of our seats, praying for Lou-Lou’s recovery. After Lou-Lou tells Unique that he’ll never work for him (and shoots up at Worrell), they set his house on fire and shoot it up. Marvin happens to show up almost on time (just like when Unique’s boys stole from the stash house). He exchanges gunfire with Worrell, but Unique’s crew gets away unscathed. In a desperate attempt to save his brother, Marvin breaks down the door and finds Lou-Lou unconscious. Though they’ve been bickering through the entire season and can’t really stand each other, Marvin shows up for his brother. The two make it out of the house, but we are left with Marvin’s cries for help, only to wonder if Lou-Lou will make it.