In the Power universe, avoiding street politics comes with consequences regardless of who you are. Raq’s decision to expand the business in Jersey has caused her more problems than it has made her money. While en route to make a drop in Newark, Jersey, one of Raq’s men gets attacked by the Italians, accompanied by a specific message from Sal Boselli, head of the mob: No one does business in Newark without Boselli profiting.
Word eventually gets back about the hit in Jersey, and while the team gets together to come up with a solution, Kanan steals a stack of bread from the closet where the dead body of the super is hidden. The room stinks badly, but somehow everyone seems to ignore it. This is Kanan’s second time stealing (from his mother, at that), so now he’s a full-blown thief. Raq is super-heated about Jersey, so of course she doesn’t notice.
“Ain’t nobody gonna tell me where I can and cannot do business. Not the Italians and not neither of you,” says Raq to her brothers after Lou-Lou suggests they lay low. Instead, she requests a meeting with Boselli, during which she remains unapologetic. He offers her a number, what he refers to as a toll to continue doing business in Jersey. In true Raq fashion, without even looking at the number she rejects his offer and rips up the paper in a disrespectful manner.
“Taking out Nique is one thing. These mafia [guys] … that’s something else,” Lou-Lou says to Raq after being scolded for trying to keep the peace in the meeting. He thinks his sister has lost her mind. Raq’s solution to her mafia problem is to get rid of the trucks and come through the city driving a short yellow school bus.
Jukebox has been on a mission of her own to finally meet her mother, and this week she gathers up the courage to show up on her doorstep and ring the doorbell. When Kenya Pierce, played by Letoya Luckett, opens the door, she is surprised to see her teenage daughter standing before her. The reaction is not exactly an “I miss you soooo much let me give you a big hug” mother-daughter reunion — it might even be more appropriate to call this a “reintroduction,” with Kenya saying Jukebox’s government name (Laverne). As a new momma to a daughter, I found the emotionally raw scene well-played by Luckett and Kilgore — it’s hard not to feel bad for both mom and daughter.
The semi-awkward introduction is a reminder that in the Power universe, the women struggle with motherhood and are far from what many would consider a good mom. But mothering is quite complicated. Although Kenya hasn’t been a mom to Juke, she volunteers with the youth group at her church. After viewing a photo of her mom looking motherly while posing with a group of kids, Jukebox questions her. “Why did you leave me? I wasn’t even a year old and you just bounced. I wanna know why,” she says, cutting Kenya off mid-sentence. She explains that she was immature and ran off to pursue her dreams of becoming a star with the hope of coming back for Juke. For now, the duo appears to be on a track toward grace and forgiveness. With Jukebox estranged from her father, she needs her mother now more than ever.
When she returns home to grab a few dresses so she can attend church with her mother, she finds her childhood room newly decorated with a fresh coat of blue paint. “The color just felt like you,” Marvin says, adding, “I found some shit to hang I thought you like.” There’s a collective understanding in the Black community that Black parents don’t apologize, they just come back acting nice. The room makeover is Marvin’s way of asking for forgiveness and expressing that he understands his daughter’s sexual identity. His daughter is not interested in what he has to say, though.
With all of the parental issues in this episode, Maury Povich or Dr. Phil could have made cameos. After Detective Howard dropped a truth bomb on Kanan, he’s been obsessing over whether DefCon is his real father. To get some answers he heads to visit his father’s (the father he knows) brother, who ends up telling Kanan what he wants to hear: that DefCon is his daddy and that he looks just like him. The visit leaves Kanan feeling even more confused. Marvin kindly reminds him that he has a mother who loves him more than anything “on this goddamn green earth.” He hears Marvin and knows this to be true, but at the same time, he doesn’t hear Marvin.
While Jersey is on fire and her only son is desperately trying to mend his broken heart, Raq is on a semi-date with Cartier, who is more her speed than Symphony. He schools her on investing in high-quality art as a way to clean her drug money. In addition to purchasing a new home, Raq has some potential solutions to one of her rat problems.
Raq’s love life is just as complicated as her business. She invites Symphony to tour the home with her before finalizing the purchase. Even though he’s not the traditional gangsta she’s used to dealing with, there’s something about Symphony that keeps her coming back. He’s unable to handle the instability of their romantic connection, and struggles with being an outsider looking in on her dealings in the streets. While Raq celebrates the purchase of her new home, Symphony “breaks up” with her (again). This time he’s more truthful about their reality, and rather explicit about his personal wants and needs. Anyone can see the love they have for each other, but like Ghost and Angela, Tommy and Lakeisha, and Lauren and Tariq, their contrasting lifestyles require more than just love in order for the relationship to survive.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, but Unique can’t be trusted. Detective Burke pays him a visit and attempts to figure out who set him up, but he gives her no info. He’s been busy taunting Juliana and plotting on Raq’s team despite agreeing to lay low. He knows about the short bus plan (most likely because of Worrell) and sets it up so that the Italians have easy access to steal Raq’s product. Raq underestimates what Nique’s capable of, but Juliana somehow manages to see straight through Unique, telling Raq, “This is weakness. He laughs at us.”
After being down bad, Unique is up one, and Raq and her crew are down by three. The third loss is a personal one just for Raq: She catches Kanan in a lie and witnesses him knock on Detective Howard’s door. The thing about betrayal is that it can come from your enemies and the ones you love.