Bel-Air: Season 1/ Episode 9 “Can’t Knock The Hustle” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

The men of Bel-Air create space to be vulnerable with one another and their significant others, which doesn’t always lead to reconciliation but does leave the door open.

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Will offering to do emotional labor for Carlton

The men of Bel-Air create space to be vulnerable with one another and their significant others, which doesn’t always lead to reconciliation but does leave the door open.

Aired 3/24/2022
Network Peacock
Directed By Matthew A. Cherry
Written By Malcolm Spellman, Rasheed Newson
Introduced This Episode
Ivy Karrueche Tran
Janice Daphne Maxwell Reid
Helen Vernée Watson
Judge Robertson Dorian Harewood


Church Provides Guidance In Mysterious Ways – Ivy, Hillary, Reverand Lamante, Ashley, Viv, Carlton, Phil, Will

Ivy (Karrueche Tran) greeting Hillary at church
Ivy (Karrueche Tran)

As part of the campaign, Phil has his family go to church for the first time in years. There Hillary is reacquainted with Ivy, who taught her how to put on eyeliner, and might have been her inspiration for becoming a social media influencer. Also, we learn Carlton can sing. Granted, his voice breaks, and he runs off from the dais, but he was hitting the notes he needed to before that happened.

As for the rest? Well, Reverand Lamante is tasked by Ashley to have more of an LGBTQIA+ presence, which raises an eyebrow for Viv. But when she follows up on that, it doesn’t lead to Ashley confessing a thing. As for Will? Well, with him thinking about the whole Lou situation, he asks Carlton what he thinks, and with this coming before Carlton is supposed to get up and sing, he has no answer.

Let Me Be There For You – Will, Carlton, Phil, Janice, Helen, Hillary, Viv

After Carlton’s anxiety gets the best of him, it becomes the talk of the house and leads to Will talking with Hillary about it and revealing Carlton does coke (!) and Xanax. This is a shock to her, and with him knowing what’s going on, Hillary asks him to talk to Carlton, who wasn’t necessarily in the mood, but Will showing genuine concern, gets to him. Later in the day, he even notes that his chat with Will inspired him not to do drugs as soon as he left, and he even flushed his drugs. Thus making it seem their beef may have been properly squashed.

But, while their beef is squashed, Phil and Geoffrey’s has reached a peak for Geoffrey delivers information on Will’s father Lou, who we’re told is alive but, with Will handing the unsealed dossier to Phil, where is Lou and all the other questions you could ask? That goes unanswered. All we know is Phil is pissed and fires Geoffrey. But, to save face a bit, after Phil is no longer deeply in his feelings, it is agreed that the statement will be Geoffrey took a leave of absence, effective immediately, which leaves the door open to him returning.

Helen (Vernée Watson) and Janice (Daphne Maxwell Reid) greeting Aunt Viv
Helen (Vernée Watson) and Janice (Daphne Maxwell Reid)

Which, as of this part in the recap, seemed necessary as Viv got the Neeman Fellowship. In fact, from what we hear Janice and Helen say, Viv had it before she walked through that door. The only thing that changed is their decision felt ever the more validated by her answer as to why she stopped painting.

You Lost A Lot Due To Your Ambition, But Also Gained A Lot Monetarily – Fred, Lisa, Will, Phil, Carlton, Viv, Geoffrey, Steven, Judge Robertson

Part of the reason Geoffrey was fired was him getting involved with the Lou thing. But the icing on the cake was his opinion on Phil’s ambitions and what he may do during the debate with Fred. Steven digs up Fred did, cheat on his dying wife, and the question became, would Phil use this against his opponent? Phil didn’t outright say no or shut down Steven, who brought up the idea, so Geoffrey, knowing that Phil would sacrifice time with his family and many other things because of his ambition, was worried.

Though, in Geoffrey’s defense, he was pushed to give his opinion before it was understood both men needed to take a break. But maybe Steven had the right idea? Judge Robertson, a former ally of Phil, who helped Will’s gun charge go away, betrays Phil by feeding Fred what happened. This leads Fred to want Lisa to stay away indefinitely, but with Will omitting what happened in Philly, she doesn’t believe her dad. At least not until she confronts Will in person, and despite Carlton and Will trying to explain things, she ultimately leaves their house upset.

Judge Robertson (Dorian Harewood) noting things didn't have to be this way
Judge Robertson (Dorian Harewood)

But with hearing that Fred knows about why Will is in Bel-Air, Carlton and Will rush to the debate to tell Phil, but after a rather tense conversation with Judge Robertson, he figured Fred knew. But luckily for him, he wins the coin toss. That allows for Phil to deliver his opening statement first, which is him withdrawing from the race, putting his weight behind Fred, and putting his family first. So, for now, it seems Will’s secret is safe, and Viv has the support she needs to pursue the Neeman Fellowship.

Things To Note

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. How long has it been since Carlton went to church, and why did he stop? I get Phil stopping because he got so much going on. However, with Geoffrey around, he could have taken Carlton to church, and Carlton could have found the community he didn’t get at school. The way Viv made it seem, the kids were baptized and were there until around the time Hillary was a teenager and having Ivy teach her about makeup. So what happened?
  2. Did Geoffrey join the family before or after they got to Bel-Air? Also, where did Phil find him, or who recommended him?
  3. Are they just going to have Lou be named but not show up in the series?
  4. Who is Carlton’s drug dealer? Xanax he can likely get by prescription, but coke? Where is he getting that, and is Geoffrey aware?
  5. Are we going to meet any of Phil’s family members? Will they come visit this or next season? It seems like Phil is in need of rediscovering who he is, beyond being a provider.
  6. Is there more to Fred’s story than meets the eye – regarding meeting his new wife?

What Could Happen Next

  1. Hopefully, an episode dedicated to Geoffrey’s backstory, or him reconnecting with his kid
  2. Ivy and Hillary bonding, and us learning why they didn’t stay close
  3. Us seeing how things were like when Viv was the head of household

Collected Quote(s)

This s*** won’t be so heavy if you let me carry it with you.
— Will


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Black Men Being Vulnerable, and Even Crying

Have you ever seen so many Black men vulnerable in one episode? Mind you, not because someone died, lost their partner, or anything like that, but because of their relationships with other men. I mean, yes, Will did get teary-eyed over potentially losing Lisa, but for the most part, the conversations between men drive the heart of many emotional moments. I’d even say, with the way Geoffrey and Phil separated, you could easily misinterpret the pain Geoffrey was dealing with over his dismissal and potentially losing his friend as romantic love.

But, I would write that off as it being rare to see men who are close without there being a romantic relationship. Think about it, how often do you see two men who are assumingly heterosexual have the type of bond where a disagreement doesn’t lead to fist flying, raised voices, and more? Yes, Phil did hit a low blow and brought up Geoffrey’s kid, but it seems the love Geoffrey has for Phil recognized that Phil was speaking from a place of hurt.

From the way we see it, Phil has been working his ass off to provide for his family, take the load off for Viv, protect Will, and offer his kids the opportunity to fail, thrive, find themselves, and more. It has all been on his back, and Geoffrey criticizing him for doing what he feels, as a man, he should, what he is expected to do, that was a low blow, especially since Geoffrey is aware that what has been done thus far was a means to an end. Phil was doing just as many privileged white families have done for generations to uplift and protect their own.

Yet, what Geoffrey didn’t want Phil to lose is that good person. As we often note, Phil’s frat brothers know who Phil is, deep down, but in the pursuit of protecting his family through financial means, that person can disappear. And for a while, it seems Geoffrey made it his job to protect the family and make it so Phil wouldn’t have to be tainted. Geoffrey would instead add onto his own sins rather than let Phil lose himself to whatever is the cause.

However, it seems we have come to the point where Geoffrey had to draw a line, and no matter how much it hurts both, they had to separate.

As for Will and Carlton? Over the past few episodes, Carlton has come to see and accept that Will isn’t his enemy. He is not only his cousin but the brother he has always asked for, and I’d even add-in, the person he has long needed. Will accepts that Carlton’s Blackness doesn’t align to the popularized version, which is often commercialized. Carlton can like foreign racing events, lacrosse, and things like that and not lose his Black card in the process.

However, perhaps the biggest thing which matters is that Will engages him. Hillary, who grew up with Carlton, didn’t know how bad things were. Phil seemingly was as oblivious, and likely Viv is as well. The only one who knew was Lisa, and because of him and her being in a relationship, it put certain conditions on what he could expose her to. With Will, though, him not putting conditions on his love for Carlton, just wanting to be there for him was a breakthrough. The kind Carlton seemingly has long needed for in the pursuit of perfection and keeping his head down, he lost the attention he seemed to have desperately needed.

Understanding Phil’s Ambitions Could Stem From Insecurity

At one time, Phil and Viv didn’t have the power dynamic we see now. From what we were told, Vivian was the breadwinner, and with that, a part of me wonders if Phil’s ambitions came from insecurity. With his family losing their farmland back in Yamacraw, North Carolina, we know that inspired him to be a lawyer. But what about the culture clash of him being a southern boy with a wife from up north?

Between her family and her own work, Vivian seemingly did not need Phil to be the man of the house and fit into the definition of what he thought a man should be. So when it comes to his ambition, is it possible that didn’t only stem from his desire to protect his family but also to prove himself as a man to himself, to Viv, and their families as well? For if Viv was asking her family for help, to the point of Vy having a chip on her shoulder about it, imagine how Phil felt during the years he wasn’t able to be the rock she needed.

I’m not saying this is why he became the man Geoffrey painted him to be, but I think it is something to consider.

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Will offering to do emotional labor for Carlton
Bel-Air: Season 1/ Episode 9 “Can’t Knock The Hustle” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The quality of Bel-Air mirrors what we often see on OWN regarding productions with predominately Black faces. It explores life beyond the comedic moments and pursues getting to know its characters' traumas, dreams, the bliss and difficulties in their relationships, and giving you everything you’d need to become a committed fan of the show.
Understanding Phil's Ambitions Could Stem From Insecurity
Black Men Being Vulnerable, and Even Crying

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