Bel-Air: Season 2/ Episode 8 “Pursuit of Happiness” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Doc’s big secret is revealed, as is the reason why Aunt Viv doesn’t trust Erika, and while there are reconciliations or attempts, some don’t take.

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Carlton (Olly Sholotan) and Geoffrey (Jimmy Akingbola)

Doc’s big secret is revealed, as is the reason why Aunt Viv doesn’t trust Erika, and while there are reconciliations or attempts, some don’t take.

Aired (Peacock) April 13, 2023
Director(s) Nick Copus
Writer(s) Ali Laventhol, Tawnya Bhattacharya
Newly Noted Characters
Olivia Reagan Marum
Previously Noted Characters
Carlton Olly Sholotan
Geoffrey Jimmy Akingbola
Connor Tyler Barnhardt
Viv Cassandra Freeman
Phil Adrian Holmes
Lisa Simone Joy Jones
Will Jabari Banks
Jackie Jazlyn Martin
Doc Brooklyn McLinn
Drew Nicholas Duvernay
Erika Diandra Lyle
Ashley Akira Akbar
James Reno Wilson
Joan Wendy Davis
LaMarcus Justin Cornwell
Hillary Coco Jones


This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Our History Doesn’t Have To Dictate Our Future – Erika, Viv, Ashley, Olivia, James, Phil, Joan

Olivia, the girl Ashley thought was the catalyst for Ms. Hughes getting fired, ends up her partner for a robotics task in school, and the two have a bit of a cold war vibe at first. That is until Olivia says she isn’t the reason Ms. Hughes got fired, i.e., she didn’t snitch, and as both get to talk more, they reveal their misconceptions about each other and seem to grow a sense of camaraderie.

Phil (Adrian Holmes) and James (Reno Wilson)
“Phil (Adrian Holmes) and James (Reno Wilson),” Bel-Air, “Pursuit of Happiness,” directed by Nick Copus, 2023, (Peacock)

They aren’t alone in patching things up. In honor of James’ brother Derek, who died of a heart attack years ago and was the third partner at their firm, James and Phil hold an intra-company celebration. During this, Phil seeing Erika’s firm is confronted, and with all secrets out, it seems James and Phil prepare for a future together rather than apart. Even if it means going through with being acquired by another firm.

But, if one thing is for sure, it is that Phil isn’t joining Erika, which is a huge relief for Viv. Why? Well, because the last time Erika and Phil got together, it was from, in Viv’s perspective, Erika snatching him up when her and Phil were on a break. That led to Erika and Phil being together for two years, and not only has Viv not forgiven her line sister, but neither has Joan, who is ready to do whatever Viv wants, on sight!

However, with a come-to-Jesus moment that leads Erika to seemingly understand what was then and what is now, it appears she won’t get the paws put on her. Though, after Vivian gets the opportunity to get Janice’s job after her social media venting about the Neeman Fellowship, I can’t say Janice may not find Vivian and show her a good ole one-two combo.

Nobody Wins When The Family Feuds – Will, Jackie, Doc, Phil, Geoffrey, Carlton, Lisa, Drew

At this point, every few episodes, Will finds himself beefing and reconciling with people, and in this episode, he reconciles with Phil and Lisa, but things are still a little rough with Carlton. That is, until Will learns Drew and Lisa are seeing each other, and Will uses Carlton to try to take down Drew by revealing Drew released the video to ruin Carlton’s life. Carlton takes the bait, reveals this to Lisa, and this ruins their friendship. How? Because Carlton gave her a bracelet, awkwardly kissed her cheek, thanked her for being by his side, and now he is talking about someone she is seeing? Yeah, it doesn’t sit right with her.

Lisa (Simone Joy Jones) and Will (Jabari Banks)
“Lisa (Simone Joy Jones) and Will (Jabari Banks),” Bel-Air, “Pursuit of Happiness,” directed by Nick Copus, 2023, (Peacock)

In fact, it leads to Will and Carlton switching places. Will, who takes Lisa to the hospital to join her family awaiting her little brother’s birth, helps her deal with her sense of abandonment and feeling like a stepchild in her birth family. Note, he does this at the cost of his relationship with Jackie, but considering Jackie acted out of character, Will seems to think he should have some leniency. Granted, she apologized, and he skipped out on their date for his ex, but getting back on Lisa’s good side, as Carlton shows, is worth the effort.

Yet, considering what Geoffrey and Phil learn about Doc, as does Will, maybe blowing off Jackie may not be the worst thing? As shown previously, Doc used Jackie to reel Will in, and she seems uncomfortable with her part in getting Will on Zenith now. But, what really is interesting, and will lead to some drama in the future, is that Doc, similar to Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, with the whole college admission scandal, appears to be bribing recruiters to get his guys on teams. Now, whether or not Jackie, when she said she needed to talk to Will, was going to reveal this? Who knows? But with him finding out before she could tell him, fully expect that to lead to a fight.

A Peak Beyond The Curatain, But That’s Only Half The Story – Carlton, Geoffrey, Connor, Viv, Phil, Lisa

With Lisa’s rejection, and his world spinning out of control, Carlton decides to hit up Connor again for potentially more cocaine. He ends up doing far more than that as he decides to party with Connor at a relatively sketchy house.

However, while Carlton is drinking and snorting, it seems Connor and the others are partaking only enough for a high, not to get blacked out like Carlton does. This allows him to be set up, and the next thing he knows, his car is gone, and he is out walking to a bus stop, hoping his mom won’t ask too many or the right questions.

Which she thankfully doesn’t, but she and Phil both know he is lying; they just lack proof. Geoffrey, however, who is now back to being fully committed to the Banks family, does have enough to at least prove Carlton lied, but he seems to keep that in his back pocket. Mainly to allow Carlton to, once again, speak his truth, rather than someone coerce him to live under their narrative.

Things To Note

  1. LaMarcus officially made his first move on Hillary to get her back

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. What ultimately led to Erika and Phil breaking up?
  2. What was Jackie going to tell Will?
  3. How will Janice react to Viv being given her job?
  4. Has Jazz moved on, or will him and Hillary potentially get back together?
  5. If Olivia didn’t snitch on Ms. Hughes, who did?
  6. Wasn’t Viv a professor somewhere? What happened to that job?

What Could Happen Next

  1. The whole Doc situation is going to blow up
  2. Eventually, Carlton’s drug addiction is going to become known – the only question is, how will it be revealed?


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Seeing The Bad Ass Side Of Aunt Viv

Vivian (Cassandra Freeman)
“Vivian (Cassandra Freeman),” Bel-Air, “Pursuit of Happiness,” directed by Nick Copus, 2023, (Peacock)

Honestly, we don’t like meek, putting everyone before herself, Vivian. I like, will roll up on you in your office Vivian, with a sprinkle of Tabitha Brown, “Let’s have a come to Jesus moment.” I can only hope this side of Viv, the one from Philly, becomes more of a constant for the housewife in Bel-Air version does nothing for me.

The Dark Side of Doc’s Business

Doc participating in a college admission scandal-type way, I must admit it doesn’t shake the foundation and paint him as a villain to me. It’s one thing for the Felicity Huffman types, another for people who need college, an education, a scholarship, to potentially get out of the lives they are in. Now, does this excuse him not only doing something illegal, but if he gets away with it, and you get big, him earning money from your entire career? No. That’s some P. Diddy type of contract, especially during Bad Boy’s heyday.

But, it is hard not to feel torn about how we should feel about Doc since he lives so deeply in the grey.

Ashley Potentially Having A Storyline

Olivia (Reagan Marum)
“Olivia (Reagan Marum),” Bel-Air, “Pursuit of Happiness,” directed by Nick Copus, 2023, (Peacock)

Are we going to revisit Ashley being a queer Black girl exploring the world? Or, at the very least, being more than the adorable little sister who sometimes seems to exist solely because the original show had an Ashley? I can only hope.

Carlton’s Secrets Continually Coming To Light

From having anxiety, how he tried to survive, and maybe his drug habit next? Carlton has been continually exposed or coerced to tell his truth. As noted in the past, it has led to some of the best and emotional, moments of the entire series. So as we get to one of his darkest secrets, his drug addiction, I’m looking forward to how that coming out, and maybe a stint in rehab, may change Carlton. Especially if we get to follow his recovery and they don’t have all that happen between seasons.

On The Fence

Phil’s Law Firm Storyline – Featuring Erika

Yes, it is important that Phil started a law firm with two other Black men, with progressive goals, of which many were accomplished. However, with James being not only a new character but lacking much in presence and story? It doesn’t drive interest.

Now, does the Erika plotline help – in some ways, yes. It has given a notable boost to Aunt Viv, but again, there is no desire for a love triangle or even the tease of cheating. It didn’t work in the first season, surely wouldn’t in the second, and at this point, it seems Phil is flailing as any sort of lead in his own story and may need to be demoted to a supporting role.

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Carlton (Olly Sholotan) and Geoffrey (Jimmy Akingbola)
Bel-Air: Season 2/ Episode 8 “Pursuit of Happiness” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
While “Bel-Air” shows improvement in some ways, it seems unable to balance making this show an ensemble and only having a select few characters capable of holding the show down.
Carlton’s Secrets Continually Coming To Light
Ashley Potentially Having A Storyline
The Dark Side of Doc’s Business
Seeing The Bad Ass Side Of Aunt Viv
Phil’s Law Firm Storyline – Featuring Erika

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