Last season, we were left wondering what Detective Howard would say when he finally woke up. And now that he’s awake, he doesn’t have much to say about the incident — at least not in front of the doctors or his fellow officers. According to the detective, he doesn’t remember anything from the night he was shot. His doctor believes this to be true as well. While Howard’s partner Burke questions the doctor’s expertise, he reminds her to focus on what’s most important — Detective Howard is now cancer free. Another cop donated his bone marrow, and now Howard is in remission with both of his lungs intact.
While Howard was in recovery, his son/attempted killer was spending quality time with extended family in Virginia. Happy to be reunited with her son, Raquel took a trip down I-95 to pick Kanan up.
Back in New York, Jess and Lou-Lou are beefing over Famous not being famous yet. Jess is her brother’s manager, and she hasn’t quite figured out how to be both a manager and a girlfriend. Lou randomly overhears a pretty girl with a feisty New York attitude singing over his beat. He almost causes a car crash to get her attention. Before speeding off, he gives her his business card and doesn’t even ask her name.
Like her uncle Lou-Lou, music is what keeps Jukebox afloat. And as she grieves the loss of her girlfriend Nicole, she delivers a song neatly packaged in a cassette tape titled “It hurts so much” to her grave. In a weird way, Kanan is grieving too. “You ever shoot somebody and miss?” he asks. The shooting incident still has Kanan shook. As he tries to make sense of all that took place, he knows that his innocence is officially gone. His mother tries to provide some comfort by telling him that Howard doesn’t remember a thing. Kanan isn’t really convinced and asks her what will happen if Detective Howard remembers his face. Raq puts on her mother-bear hat and reminds him that she would never let anything happen to him.
Marvin is dealing with legal troubles, but Tony, his “ex-girlfriend,” left town, and without her testimony, there isn’t a case. He now has to choose between anger management and trash pickup. He chooses anger management because he can sign in and leave.
After three months in the hospital, Detective Howard returns home. Burke shows her partner support by accompanying him. She wastes little time before she begins snooping around his house. The near-death experience has Howard feeling like “he’s been given a second shot at all this shit,” as he tells Burke. Committed to finding out what happened the night he got shot, Burke informs Howard that Unique’s whereabouts were accounted for, so he isn’t the shooter. Not interested in engaging with her, he sticks to his memory-loss story.
Ever since Unique was framed for Detective Howard’s attempted shooting, the streets have been on fire. The police are coming in far stronger and more aggressive than ever before, attacking the corner boys first. And because of their shift in police tactics, Raquel had to shift her businesswoman tactics to sell her product in large quantities yet under the radar. She currently has complete control over Baisley; all sales and use of product take place inside, away from the police, and armed watchmen are strategically placed on the roofs of each building. She and her brothers are bringing in $75,000 a day! To keep the peace, Raquel makes sure to bribe the residents and address any of their requests. On the other hand, Unique is at Rikers Island with a target on his forehead.
So far, Kanan has proven to have far more luck than Unique. He finally reunites with his favorite cousin. The two catch up about his trip down South. “It was good to be gone,” Kanan says. He then proceeds to vent about what the drug game can or cannot offer him. He tells Jukebox, “I’m not sure if this is enough. I’m not sure if this shit is for me.” Like the best little cousin she is, Juke just listens.
Her relationship with her father is still strained. Marvin’s attempt to have a conversation with her in front of the family doesn’t go well. We find out that it’s been a minute since they spoke or saw each other. Before their conversation escalates, Raq interrupts with a warm home-cooked meal. It’s the first family dinner since Kanan was gone. As Raq tells it, “If [Kanan’s] seat is empty, [they’re] not sitting around the table.” Her speech about family is timely since she’s not really rocking with Lou-Lou, and Jukebox and Marvin are beefing. But regardless of the tension, family is all that matters.
After dinner, Lou-Lou acknowledges that he’s been slipping. The label has proven to be harder than he thought. As always, Raq’s mind is on the business, and since Lou-Lou hasn’t made any money, she lectures him hard about his “hobby.”
Outside on the steps, Kanan and Jukebox continue their venting session. Kanan is pretty surprised that what he did in the park (or, more so, failed to do) didn’t even come up at dinner. He questions whether or not he’s cut out for the family business. Juke tells him that Raq should’ve never asked Kanan to take out the detective. She suggests that he have a conversation with the direct source (i.e., his mom). As Famous walks up to greet his friends, Kanan peeps Detective Howard driving by.
Back inside the house, Raq, Marvin, and Lou-Lou are refining their plan to expand. To everyone’s surprise, Raq considers working with Worrell, one of Unique’s men, over promoting Scrap. This is the old “keep your enemies close” trick. Her goal is to make sure that when Unique gets home, he will have nothing to come home to — no men, no product, no money. She assigns Lou-Lou to oversee the 40 projects using their same model, “inside and up high.” He rejects her offer but is unsuccessful, and by now, we know that whatever Raquel says is what goes.
As I mentioned earlier, since Detective Howard got shot, the police have been on their bull (this actually happened in real life). Scrap’s mother’s illegal gambling ring gets raided while he is there. Detective Howard sees him at the station running his mouth in the investigation room. This is not a good look for Scrap; it now looks like he is a liability to Raq. At the precinct, Howard also realizes that his partner won’t stop looking into his case. Although he does warn her about messing up things, he doesn’t appear to be too bothered.
It’s kind of hard not to be bothered when you’re in prison. Unique gets into a brawl with three white inmates who were in the middle of sexually assaulting another inmate. The fight shows that he’s nobody to fuck with.
Meanwhile, in Raquel’s world, she and Kanan meet up with Symphony to express their gratitude. Despite having a nice lunch, Raq and Symphony’s personalities clash once again after he brings up the incident in the park and reminds Raq how good of a kid she has. This, of course, pisses her off. “You still think you know my son better than me … you never learn,” she says, scolding him. “I know who my son is, and I know what he’s capable of. I don’t need nobody to tell me that. He’s protected.” But Symphony doesn’t back down. Instead, he actually doubles down on what he said and lets Raq know that not only did Kanan confide in him on the way down to Virginia, he was visibly scared. Kanan’s return from the bathroom snaps Raq and Symphony back to reality. It’s clear they both have love for each other, but it’s also clear that their relationship will never work.
Symphony’s words affect Raq. She checks in on Kanan to see how he is really feeling, and he is honest. He tells his mother he’s not sure he’s cut out for this life. He also shares that shooting Detective Howard has caused him many nightmares. Her love for her son runs deep, so Raq immediately apologizes for putting Kanan in harm’s way. She reassures him that her role is to protect him, not the other way around. The mother-and-son duo connect for a few before being interrupted by the house phone.
Episode one ends real crazy! Not only because Unique manages to get out of jail. When he does, Marvin is waiting across the street, watching his every move. The call Raq received had to be Howard. After seeing Unique, viewers see Raq back at the same park where Kanan shot Howard. Shortly after, Detective Howard appears from thin air. If looks could kill, he and Raquel would both be dead. What feels like a five-minute stare ends episode one, leaving us all hanging by the edge of our seats.