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Jackie actually comes through, Zeke perhaps embraces the corporate world, and Shaolin learns the fate of his DJ career.
Zeke | Mylene | Jackie | Shaolin Fantastic | Boo-Boo
Main Plot (with Commentary)
Topic 1: Black Man In a White World (Zeke)
There is a conflict when it comes to Zeke trying to enter the corporate world, under the tutelage of Mr. Gunns, while still being part of Shaolin’s crew. At first, it seems he may give up one for the other as he is late for the first day of his internship. However, the teacher you wish you had, Ms. Green, she sets him right. In fact, even Leon sets him right and they invoke all his mom taught him so he wouldn’t become a field negro of the streets. Thus leading him to negotiate with Mr. Gunns, claiming he needs a ghetto mascot, and Mr. Gunns is impressed enough to give the boy a second chance. He is to have dinner with him and this will either seal the deal or end this possible option.
I feel like we haven’t really given enough credit to Zeke’s family and extended family, in Ms. Green (Yolanda Ross) and Leon (Brandon J. Dirden). Dirden, even in the few scenes he has, makes something of them every time. Even if it is just reminding the boy, even with him living in the Bronx, in the hood, he still is very privileged. He had a mother who loved him, taught him a skill in playing the piano, and luckily was given enough time to instill values in him. Something not a lot of people get. Add on he has someone like his aunt and Ms. Green on his ass, and you recognize this boy is so very lucky. Making me continue to wish they didn’t have the scenes of him in modern times for that ruins the guessing game of asking whether he’ll make it out the hood or not. Much less, which path he would take.
Topic 2: Set Me Free (Ramon and Jackie)
Though it looked like Jackie was about to get a royal butt whooping, he did burn through 40 grand, last minute he pulls out the idea of having “Set Me Free” becoming some sort of disco jam and mostly everyone goes for it. In fact, they even record it in Ramon’s church and Ramon is fine with them doing so. It should be noted, however, it could be because Francisco humbled the heck out of Ramon. For between him revealing he got someone pregnant, went to jail, and more, Ramon’s business was just laid low and spread wide (that term from Evelynn Braxton still cracks me up).
With how much of a holy roller Ramon acts like, you knew he had to have some skeletons in his closet. But perhaps the thing to note the most is not only Jackie making a big turnaround but also Francisco and Lydia’s relationship. The episode ends with Ramon’s family, Jackie, and Zeke at the dinner table and Francisco is working his hand up Lydia’s knee toward her inner thighs. Now, whether or not there may be consensual feelings is slightly hard to say. Lydia has likely given up a lot to be with Ramon and who knows if she knew about his past. What is for sure though is that Francisco’s spilling of the beans definitely is going to lead to a shift in power dynamics when it comes to his family.
Topic 3: Death to Pedro and The Rebirth of Shaolin Fantastic (Shaolin, Zeke, Boo-Boo)
Shaolin finds the bootlegger, turns him over to Kool Herc, and Kool Herc signs him up for a DJ battle against his proteges. On top of that, thankfully Grandmaster Flash also gives Shaolin a pass, but only if he beats Kool Herc’s mini-crew. Thus leading to Shaolin trying to figure out a way to beat a more established, experienced, and better-equipped crew. All the while dealing with Fat Annie’s people and their expectations.
Well, killing a few birds with one stone, an abandoned mansion, the new temple, provides almost all Shaolin needs. That and him trusting his crew. Zeke writes lyrics for everyone, and with Mylene’s song having a dope beat, that is perfect for the battle, and then there is Boo-Boo. The smart aleck of the show has almost always had one-liners, but with him singing to the beat and rhythm, he has now proven himself a secret weapon. Also, with him discovering what is likely Napolean, the boy is just winning.
The first half of the season is going to end with a DJ Battle, Zeke’s dinner with Mr. Gunns, and Mylene shopping around her record. You know at least 1/3 is not going to work out so you have to wonder which situation isn’t going to pan out? On top of that, Fat Annie and crew are highly suspicious of Shaolin and while Annie maybe a little too much into her fun to really take note of Shaolin’s discretions, her boys put him on notice more and more each time he is in Les Inferno. To the point you have to wonder, even with him finding Napolean, will that be enough for them to lay off or will he be forever on their sugar honey ice team list.
Boo-Boo’s singing of Zeke’s rap.
Us getting to see Mylene, and her girls, sing “Set Me Free”
Learning about Ramon’s past
Watching Zeke step to Mr. Gunns and make a case for him getting a second chance.
On The Fence
While it is nice we know Zeke’s fate, at times it feels like it discredits his journey since we know he’ll ultimately be alright. We don’t know if the same can be said for everyone else, though, which sort of upsets me. Almost to the point where I wonder why haven’t we seen adult Zeke off the stage and possibly interacting with some of his old friends?