“The kid can’t shoot for shit.”
With these words, this is how Detective Howard lets Raq know that he’s aware that Kanan shot him.
What we know about Kanan so far is that he’s a rather introspective, well-rounded kid with a lot of heart. And because of his level of maturity and intelligence, before shooting Howard, he thought he was ready for a specific kind of lifestyle that requires one to be heartless. While the two former lovers catch up in the park, Jukebox and Kanan are having a movie night. When Kanan gets choked up, Jukebox cracks on him while simultaneously pointing out that caring is one of his strengths.
Even after knowing the truth, Detective Howard only wants one thing: Kanan to know that he is his father. Raq denies knowing who Kanan’s father is, but Howard calls her out on her bullshit and tells her about the paternity test and his intention to tell Kanan the truth. He drops another bomb on her: she has a snitch problem. Out of all people, Howard tells her that Scrappy is working with the police.
Getting caught in a lie seems to be the theme of this episode, Scrappy lies (supposedly), Famous lies, Jess lies, and Detective Howard lies.
Raq wastes no time sharing the news with her brothers that Scrap is a snitch. Lou-Lou cannot grasp the information while Marvin points out a million and one reasons why Scrap would want to snitch on them. Scrap isn’t just any ordinary worker; he’s more like family. He’s been with them since he was a kid and has proven that he’s solid more than once (remember he lost an eye). The trio knows the importance of ensuring they have their facts straight. Raquel puts Marvin in charge of speaking with Scrap to see what’s really up. In the meantime, they meet with Worrell to talk business. Raq lays out the pitch: “Ya man radioactive. Deen ain’t gon’ sell to him,” she reminds him. “You a hell of an earner … and we feel like you can add some value to what we tryna do.” Without thinking twice, Worrell accepts the terms of the deal. He will help run 40 projects under Lou-Lou’s leadership.
Kanan visits Famous at the wrong time. When he knocks on the door, Jess answers it frantically. She tells him there’s a “skeezer” in the house who must leave before her mother arrives home. Kanan and Jess try to wake up Famous, but the task proves challenging. As soon as Jess starts to get on Famous about being in bed with a girl whose name he doesn’t even know, their mother walks in the door, and she’s pissed. His mother cusses him out and accuses him of stealing money from her to support his drug habit, though Famous denies it. “Go find another place to bring your putas,” she tells him. And just like that, Famous is now homeless.
With a stalled music career (if we can call it that), Famous has to devise a plan fast. He and Kanan decide to sell his tapes on the corner to “get some rent money up.” While they try to solve Famous’ problem. They hit the block to sell Famous’ tapes. The on-the-ground marketing doesn’t seem to be too fruitful for the pair. They do however attract the attention of two young white officers. They get harassed by the police, who have no idea what a mixtape even is.
Back at the house, after finding a baby photo of herself with her mother, Jukebox asks Raq if she “remembers her mom at all.” She has no recollection of her mother being present in her life, and the topic has not been discussed openly amongst her family. With her and Marvin at odds, it is not surprising she has developed an interest in learning more about her mother. Raq, who is always good with words (okay, sometimes), speaks highly of Jukebok’s mom while acknowledging the difficulties some women face in becoming a mother. We find out that the young songstress gets her skills directly from her mother, who was also a singer. By the end of the conversation, Raq’s affirmation makes Jukebox feel better (temporarily) about her mother’s absence. Jukebox is reminded that she is well-loved and her mother has missed out.
Over at the precinct, Nicole’s mother continues to search for answers about her daughter’s drug-related passing. She blames Jukebox for Nicole’s death and demands that she be arrested and, when that doesn’t work, to get officer Burke fired to no avail. However, Burke does get reprimanded by the captain in private, but this doesn’t stop her from developing allyship with Jukebox. She has located Jukebox’s mother, who is currently living in Harlem. Burke tells Jukebox that her mother moved back to New York three years ago after living in Los Angeles. Jukebox now has her mother’s address and can begin to figure out why she left in the first place.
As for Raq, her motherly instincts, for whatever reason, continues to allow her to lie to Kanan about Detective Howard. She warns him about some things the Detective may or may not say, leaving Kanan confused and even more worried. She has another set of problems to worry about, though: literal rats are trying to take down her business. In the bodega storage room where Raq keeps her money, rats have been eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — New York rats don’t give a fuck! She decides its time to upgrade and visits a realtor. When the realtor questions Raq’s ability to afford the pricier neighborhoods, Raq quickly shuts her up with a cash offer (now is the perfect time to look up redlining to understand further the nuances depicted in this scene).
While Raq is figuring out how to protect the team’s money from actual rodents, Marvin manages the team’s initial rat problem. Marvin pulls up on Scrap and asks about his whereabouts. Scrap explains that he was “helping his peoples out in Corona” by “put[ting] some shit up on the walls.” Sensing that he is lying, Marvin uses the moment to make fun of Scrappy by questioning his ability to see with one eye. His comical approach also disguises that this conversation is a test for Scrap, and what he says will ultimately determine whether he lives or dies. But Scrap doesn’t seem to understand the seriousness of the conversation and begins to talk about how he feels disrespected and overlooked. “You should’ve called the new guy Worell, to help you out last night; I’m sure [he’s] always available,” he says. He vents about the decision to give 40 projects to one of Unique’s men, who comes from the same team that caused him to lose his eye. “I been down for y’all since I was fourteen; looking out, bagging, soldiering, hustling, cooking. Whatever needed to be done, I done done it,” he shouts. Ade Chike Torbert’s monologue performance is impressive. It’s hard for viewers not to feel bad for Scrap after he has demonstrated over and over again that he is down for Raq and her crew.
Marvin is unphased by Scrap’s emotional performance. From Marvin’s perspective, all that Scrap said comes across as an admission of guilt. The only way to prove Scrap’s innocence would be for his alibi to check out, so Marvin presses Scrap to tell him exactly who he was hanging up pictures for. Marvin takes a trip to Corona, a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood in Queens, to confirm Scrap’s story. Unfortunately for Scrap, his story doesn’t check out. “The last thing I put up on my wall was a Thriller poster, and that was 1982,” Scrap’s cousin Ebony tells Marvin.
While Scrap isn’t having much luck, Lou Lou is (kind of). He gets offered a single deal from a big-time street label executive and accepts it without Crown Camacho’s input. This puts the two label owners at odds even more.
With so much going on — rat infestations and snitches — Raq and her crew forgot all about Unique. He’s home, and just like she set it up, he’s down bad. No money, no men, no drugs. The shooting of Detective Howard has truly changed the game, and with the blame on Unique’s shoulders, no one wants to associate with him. Deen, his former connect, is not interested in starting a drug war — Raquel and her Columbian connect have Unique old spots on lock. Unique doesn’t take the rejection well and makes a scene. One thing is certain: hitting rock bottom and being left with nothing will make a man do anything to protect their family.
We see this play out with both Scrap and Raq. After Marv reports back that Scrap’s alibi doesn’t check out, they debate about what to do next. Scrap is now a liability, and getting rid of him protects the family’s business. But Lou Lou isn’t on board to murder Scrap. The three agree that it’s essential to be 100 percent sure before pulling the trigger. But how can one ever be sure? We don’t even know if Scrap snitched, and knowing Scrap’s history, I’m saying he didn’t snitch. But Raq does think he snitched, which means he must be “taken care of.”
Marvin and Lou Lou are tasked with leading Scrap to “the spot.” They hyped him up by telling him he finally got his own spot. And Scrap is HYPED. This is all that he ever wanted. To be recognized and rewarded for his hard work and loyalty. On their way to the unidentified location, Marv and Lou Lou wear their regret all over their faces. As soon as they walk into the abandoned building, Scrap celebrates, acknowledging he “got room to breathe in here,” but unfortunately, it isn’t for long. The gun quickly appears and all Scrappy has time to say is “Nah,” the feeling of disappointment shows on his face one last time. Next, Raq puts a bullet in his head in the most gangsta way possible. For some reason, this feels like a mistake. Even Marvin sheds a tear.