Bel-Air: Season 2/ Episode 5 “Excellence Is Everywhere” – Recap/ Review

In the aftermath of Will’s actions, things aren’t looking too bad. However, while things are looking up for him, everyone else is trying to manage with varying difficulty levels.


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Carlton (Olly Sholotan)

In the aftermath of Will’s actions, things aren’t looking too bad. However, while things are looking up for him, everyone else is trying to manage with varying difficulty levels.

Aired (Peacock) March 23, 2023
Director(s) Keesha Sharp
Writer(s) Tawnya Bhattachraya, Ali Laventhol
Newly Noted Characters
LaMarcus Justin Cornwell
Erika Diandra Lyle
Previously Noted Characters
Will Jabari Banks
Carlton Olly Sholotan
Connor Tyler Barnhardt
Yazmin Riele Downs
Lisa Simone Joy Jones
Doc Brooklyn McLinn
Jazz Jordan L. Jones
Janice Daphne Reid
Jackie Jazlyn Martin
Phil Adrian Holmes
Geoffrey Jimmy Akingbola
Viv Cassandra Freeman
Hillary Coco Jones

Recap

This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text in this post may contain affiliate links which, if a purchase is made from those sites, we may earn money or products from the company.

Forgiven But Not Forgotten – Will, Carlton, Connor, Yazmin, Lisa, Doc

Life is strange. Will, despite being suspended, ends up on a list with Carlton and the infamous Connor to be a Founder’s Award recipient. Why? Because Yazmin, even after Carlton’s reveal at the bowling alley, still seems to be a bit peeved by him. Luckily for Carlton, originally, Will wasn’t interested. However, as Doc pushes the idea that he has the advantage the others don’t because of Bel-Air Academy and him having not only the athleticism but also the education, he takes that Founder’s Award more seriously

Enter Connor, seeing Carlton stressed out, offering cocaine to him and Carlton tempted. He hates Connor, but a bump allows Carlton a sense of freedom. But he does his best to resist temptation.

Meanwhile, Will hanging out with Lisa is very tempting and hard to deal with for her. His playfulness, what feels like flirting, gives her hope. Add in they bond over her teaching him how to swim and showing she is still invested? It builds a sense of anticipation and expectations that never become fruitful.

The Past Is Hard To Let Go – Jazz, LaMarcus, Hillary, Janice, Lisa, Doc, Jackie, Phil, Geoffrey, Erika, Viv

Erika (Diandra Lyle)
“Erika (Diandra Lyle),” Bel-Air, “Excellence Is Everywhere,” directed by Keesha Sharp, 2023, (Peacock)

Before there was a Vivian, it appears there was an Erika, and with Phil trying to get his firm back together, he has to go through her to get back one of his biggest clients. However, Erika is formidable, and it seems, with her being twice divorced and potentially still interested, as Viv was tempted last season, Phil will be in this one.

But, with Geoffrey looking for his son and being in a better place with Viv, it seems Phil has enough on his plate, and him taking the bait seems unlikely. Plus, there is always the chance her trading in a client for him working at her firm is all she wants.

That aside, Phil isn’t the only one trying to get his business in order. The Influencer House is starting to flail, and Hillary is hoping between her ex, LaMarcus, who is a major football player, and finally getting that alcohol brand deal, she can restore confidence and loyalty. But, with bringing LaMarcus around comes Jazz becoming a bit insecure and needing time to himself.

Unfortunately, Jazz isn’t the only one with relationship drama. Lisa meets Jackie, and while there are 0 issues, it forces her to recognize she needs to let Will go. Not just in terms of being romantic again but friends as well. Though when you consider Lisa still plans to work for Viv, who needs her and Hillary to keep encouraging her to face Janice’s influence, it should be interesting to see how she handles their devolved relationship.

Lisa (Simone Joy Jones)
“Lisa (Simone Joy Jones),” Bel-Air, “Excellence Is Everywhere,” directed by Keesha Sharp, 2023, (Peacock)

Yet, while Will may mourn the loss of Lisa in his life, Jackie is no slouch. She is a good friend, and while their relationship is new, both seem happy. Also, Doc may have initially used Jackie to get Will, but he doesn’t involve himself in whatever they have going on. He might be finessing Phil, but he knows where to draw the line so he doesn’t rock the boat and push people to take note of anything nefarious he might be doing.

Things To Note

What Could Happen Next

  1. Learning Doc is having Phil pay far more than anyone else for Will’s training
  2. Meeting Geoffrey’s son by the end of the season
  3. Carlton relapsing
  4. Ivy firing Hillary
  5. Jazz and Hillary being off and on throughout the series
  6. Lisa and Will getting back together within one or two seasons
  7. Phil’s family reunion is coming up, so I’m expecting family drama and secrets
  8. Will seeing more of Jackie’s world and her seeing more of the world he comes from – which may lead to questions from her regarding long-term potential

Review


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Highlights

Will and Lisa’s Chemistry, Yet Still Wanting Him To Explore Things With Jackie

You have to give it to Jabari Banks in terms of, put him with any actress, and the chemistry is just there. With Simone Joy Jones, as Lisa, there is this cute and young relationship. Not without its struggles, but it gives you high school sweetheart that could become everlasting love.

Yet, then there is Jazlyn Martin as Jackie. She gives power couple potential, as Will pursues basketball and she does dance. You can see them push each other, be in awe of one another, and part of their drive is maintaining the sense they deserve the other person.

I truly hope that, even if Jackie may only be around for a season or two, the show gets everything it can out of that relationship. Specifically, I would love for Will and Jackie to meet each other’s families and for Will get to see more of her world beyond where Doc’s shadow lies.

On The Fence

Geoffrey Looking For His Son

I love that they are expanding Geoffrey, but him sneaking around and pretty much having no one to talk to beyond Phil and Viv? It makes the storyline about his missing son lack the necessary intrigue. Yes, I want to know the story and meet him, but the way they are going about it has the vibe of a CW show more so than the tone “Bel-Air” usually has.

The Exes Arriving

LaMarcus (Justin Cornwell)
“LaMarcus (Justin Cornwell),” Bel-Air, “Excellence Is Everywhere,” directed by Keesha Sharp, 2023, (Peacock)

Like with Geoffrey’s situation, the character development is welcomed from Erika to LaMarcus. It’s just, after season one and the whole Reid situation, I feel like “Bel-Air” doesn’t do relationship drama well. Personal drama, like what we see with Carlton, or drama between parent and child as we saw with Will? It does that with 10s across the board.

However, relationship drama isn’t the show’s strong suit thus far. Especially when the drama stems from a third party getting involved and shaking things up. Now, granted, neither LaMarcus nor Erika explicitly are pursuing their exes, and both know their former partner has someone new, and Phil is even married with kids and a shared mortgage. But this is a dramatic retelling of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” and what’s more dramatic than an ex who doesn’t stay in their lane?

Carlton Taking A Few Steps Back

I think it is fair to say Carlton didn’t evolve as much as he adjusted. Will can suck all the air out of the room, so Carlton learned that, to co-exist, he needs to have an oxygen tank on hand. However, as Will eventually found his own lane, it seems Carlton found a way to go beyond tolerating Will and learning to love him. But, with Will again interfering with Carlton’s thing, you can see him reverting to old habits.

In many ways, I get it. Carlton had a vice, and when things are good, you don’t think you need it to get through life. But, when things are bad, whether it is drugs, alcohol, sex, or another distraction, you latch on. Yet, even with acknowledging that Carlton is having a rough time and that, of all characters, Carlton has handled any drama thrown his way the best, sometimes I want “Bel-Air” to not be lazy. That is, to less so be the darker version of its predecessor, which often means, drug, sex, and unnecessary drama, and be more.

Carlton’s storyline dealing with Blackness and his acceptance, or lack thereof, when it comes to the culture was good. Having Carlton deal with anxiety, panic attacks, and having to work twice as hard to be accepted in a predominately White landscape is the kind of stuff a more serious version of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” needed.

This isn’t to downplay how seeing a young man struggle with drugs isn’t of value, but it just feels so generic and overdone that, even with Olly Sholotan’s talent, it is hard to not want more and better for him and the show.

[ninja_tables id=”63933″]

Carlton (Olly Sholotan)
Bel-Air: Season 2/ Episode 5 “Excellence Is Everywhere” – Recap/ Review
Overall
“Bel-Air,” as it transitions away from its “Black Lives Matter” storyline, find itself looking for what’s next for everyone in a way that feels odd. Almost as if the show just wanted to add its two cents to the movement and then truly begin the season.
Highlights
Will and Lisa’s Chemistry, Yet Still Wanting Him To Explore Things With Jackie
Disputable
Geoffrey Looking For His Son
The Exes Arriving
Carlton Taking A Few Steps Back
75

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