Season 2 of “P-Valley” does not experience a sophomore slump as it cuts away from its less interesting characters and doubles down on the ones who’d bring you down to the valley.
|Genre(s)||Comedy, Crime, Drama, Romance, LGBT+|
|Uncle Clifford||Nicco Annan|
|Patrice||Harriett D. Foy|
|Lil Murda||J. Alphonse Nicholson|
|Big Teak||John Clarence Stewart|
|Coach Cedric||Taylor Selé|
|Mane||Thomas Q. Jones|
|Big Bone||Miracle Watts|
|Woddy||Bertram Williams Jr.|
This content contains pertinent spoilers.
Things begin right after pandemic restrictions have lifted, and the relief couldn’t have come soon enough. Hailey and Uncle Clifford have lost so much money because the club was closed, and no government agency was willing to give relief funds for a strip club, never mind making it an essential business. Which means Hailey is open to figuring out a way to make her money back, including selling The Pynk and its land.
However, with no one willing to give her $10 million, she inserts herself into Andre’s life as a mistress and a bit of a confidant. This isn’t the worst thing for Andre since his marriage is in a bad place, and to revitalize his life, he decides to run for his godfather’s seat as Mayor since Mayor Ruffin died in the pandemic.
As you can imagine, this ruffles some feathers, but while Wayne Kyle and Andre are the serious candidates, all eyes end up on Patrice when she decides to throw her hat in the ring. Thus, the election becomes a three-way race, with the casino referendum also on the ballot.
Outside of Hailey and Andre’s drama, though, a lot is going on. Lil Murda’s ex, Big Teak, gets out of prison, and he struggles with his mental health as he acts as security during Lil Murda’s Dirty Dozens tour with Keyshawn, who is still struggling under Derrick’s fist. Oh, and speaking of struggle, Shelle, Terricka’s guardian, lost her job, is a drunk, and while she doesn’t want to allow Mercedes to step up, due to her prejudice and her dying, cheating, lying ex-husband’s wishes, she ends up having no choice when Terricka gets pregnant.
Alongside all that is Uncle Clifford dealing with The Pynk under constant threat, Hailey and the new girls messing with her Mercedes, Lil Murda working her nerves, and working her out, getting older, and so much more. Simply put, between The Pynk, relationships, Grandmother Ernestine getting sick, and the election? Uncle Clifford is going through it and is lucky not to find a gray hairstreak.
Episodes Which Dive Into Characters’ Past
In season 2, we get a handful of flashbacks regarding Mercedes’ past, which help illuminate her relationship and trauma with Patrice, and for Keyshawn? We get a whole episode which helps us see how she gets to Derek and Derek’s fall from grace. Now, for Mercedes, her flashbacks dealing with her talking about her relationship with Terricka’s dad, you may feel like we didn’t get enough of, since there is surely more to that story. However, deep diving into Keyshawn’s past surely does push the need to wonder if more characters may get featured like that in the future.
I’d even say, after Keyshawn’s episode, you may have expected Uncle Clifford to get one, but, unfortunately, that will have to be next season.
The Different Sides of Patrice Woodbine
Patrice is a supporting role and her screen time reflects such, but you can never deny that Patrice isn’t a scene stealer. With being a holy roller who is still very much hood, she honors both who she was and who she is. In watching this, you understand why Mercedes is haunted by her momma because the woman can switch up on you instantly.
We’ve seen in the past her use guilt and what love Mercedes has for her to collect money off her like a pimp. Yet, to show Patrice isn’t trying to be better, but is actually better, look no further than her role in Terricka and Mercedes uniting. In her participation of bringing those two together, giving Mercedes a full-time chance to be a mom, and not just when Terricka is in crisis, you can see the potential for some real healing. Maybe not with a therapist and deep conversations about wounds that still hurt when it rains, but the kind of gestures that show that not all apologies will be verbalized.
Continuing To Show The Complexities and Potential Strippers/ Sex Workers Have
“P-Valley,” like many premium station shows, has no issue using sexuality as part of the hook. However, as shown in season 1 and continued in season 2, “P-Valley” pushes you to see these women as more than objects for lust, fantasy, and desire. In season 1, Mercedes showed us the strength needed to do all those effortless tricks and how to spot a mark who can make your night worth being in the club.
In season 2, Mercedes continues this by showing that when strength is weaning, you can rely on technique when you have injuries. Whether it is shifting your weight or focusing on certain positions. You can even extend this out to how she and Keyshawn find other lines of work.
As shown by many singers and rappers, stripping can be a launch pad for an entrepreneurial endeavor. After all, like any influencer out there, you are selling a lifestyle to someone, a look, a fantasy, and whether man or woman, the fantasy sometimes isn’t something you just want to experience, but have or be.
Take Farrah. She saw more to Mercedes than a dancer as she saw the lines of her movement, the freedom, and captured it in photos that gave something beyond what King Magazine offered back in the day. Then with Keyshawn, her look, from hair to eyelashes, were marketed and made into a product. One that others, like Whisper and Roulette, were fanning over.
Yet, despite all the money that could be made, we were constantly reminded that the life doesn’t come without dangers and sacrifices. Keyshawn, for example, had her dreams come true thanks to Rome, who saw himself as her pimp and thus tried to treat her as just a piece of ass. Knowing damn well she was with someone who she is in a possessive and abusive relationship with.
The same can even be said for Mercedes, regarding the attempt to exploit her. Originally, Cedric, aka Coach, was supposed to be her sponsor, and she’d be his private dancer. Which as you know, dancing, at this point, is all about Mercedes making enough to get her studio. So for a condo and $10,000 a week? Some decent dick too? It’s not a bad deal.
However, as shown in the Pynk and noted by Farrah in episode ten, sponsorships don’t last forever. You can make money off these men, sometimes women too, but only for so long before someone younger and more aggressive are willing to bend the rules comes along. Never mind, as long as you stay within their demands.
And meanwhile, your bills and responsibilities don’t end. You still have kids to feed, to try to keep from following a path you didn’t make your first choice and live your own life. One that, because of the stigma put on strippers, doesn’t lead to an easy transition for folks don’t respect all legal methods people take to survive.
To tell the truth, when Whisper and Roulette were introduced, you could easily see Roulette being Whisper’s sidekick since Whisper was as weird as they could be. She was into crystals, had these crazy contacts, and her potentially being linked with the spirit world made you think she could be trouble. However, Whisper never lived up to her potential, and instead, life was poured into Roulette from talking about how her brother died, getting Duffy to fall for her, and even having her become a pimp.
The combination made you take note of the next generation who will run The Pynk as Keyshawn, Mercedes, Gidget and the rest graduate, or simply find themselves unable to comeback.
Lil Murda’s Storyline
If you want to talk about consistent, visible growth, look no further than Lil Murda’s storyline. While Keyshawn’s storyline has the show dig deeper into her relationship with Derrick, and Mercedes’ talks about aging out and her trauma caused by Patrice, Lil Murda gives you a bit of everything. Whether it is being a sex worker to help feed his family, life in prison, his relationship with Big Teak, his relationship with Uncle Clifford, or even killing Pico? He gives you everything and more.
Pretty much, what we get out of Lil Murda is the same depth we get from the ladies who strip. We’re shown life behind the curtail, the jewels, and the posturing to see the pain, the perseverance, and the community that supports them. This includes Woddy, who, yes, is often shown to be the calm, cool, and collected one since he has a legit job, doesn’t gang bang, and stuff like that. Yet, with Woddy killing Rome as he does, we’re reminded that the association with Lil Murda goes beyond business. They are birds of a feather who flock together, but while Lil Murda might be showy with guns and showy fights, Woddy will just poison someone and watch them die.
On The Fence
Feeling Like Some Storylines Were Touched Upon Just To Be Put On A Bench
Focusing specifically on Uncle Clifford, with meeting his mother Beulah, and seeing the past, when Ernestine ran what would become The Pynk, it felt like we were constantly teased with a potential flashback episode. The same goes for Mercedes. Yes, we got a handful of scenes showing her with Patrice when she was a teenager, but with the precedent Keyshawn setup, you’d think you’d get the full story.
Now, for Mercedes, you can forgive this, since her life story feels doesn’t have a shade of mystery to it. Uncle Clifford though? Being the big, gay, and fabulous person, they are? To learn more about their momma, upbringing, and what led them to the Pynk? That would have been something to see. Hell, even with getting Keyshawn’s story, we don’t see what ultimately led them to go to Uncle Clifford and get a job. To add to that, we don’t properly meet Andre’s father, who is introduced, and a lot of little things that can linger in your thoughts.
Touching Upon Montavious’ Ghost
Montavious getting murdered in the Pynk lingered over season 2 of “P-Valley.” However, after episode 1 or 2, the ghost of Montavious, and Hailey’s feelings about it, were dropped. We were thankful for this because it tapped into this weird spiritual and ghost side that “P-Valley” hasn’t strongly played with. And you could argue that playing down and phasing out the more mystical elements the show could have had led to Whisper being more prominent since she is into that.
But, on the other hand, with not dwelling on Montavious’ death, the show was able to move on from that and take Hailey out of center focus.
The Gang War Storyline
While the Delta Devoted hasn’t played a major role thus far, in “P-Valley,” with them kidnapping Diamond and maybe coming for all those involved in Montavious’ death, they could enter the scene in season 3 (which hasn’t been announced yet). This isn’t something we’re sure could be a good thing for while Lil Murda killing Pico re-established he has long earned his name, the HVH vs. CFC situation is thus far blah and doesn’t have anyone beyond Lil Murda worth investing in.
Yes, Mane, Mercedes’ favorite eye candy, is CFC, so the gang does have one named member. However, it isn’t clear whether they can build up these gangsters the same way Big Teak was. For Big Teak truly seemed like a rare character. One who, between his trauma and sexuality, was going through so much that when he killed himself, it was a moment that could shake you as much as it did Lil Murda.
But can that be done with all the thugs we meet? Yes, as shown on various Starz programs, there is more to gangsters than guns, drugs, sex, and chosen family. But can what we’ve seen done with the members of the Pynk extend to the CFC, HVH, and maybe the Delta Devoted too?
Hailey and Andre
It isn’t clear if we’ve seen the last of Hailey considering, in her wake, the Delta Devoted have descended on the Pynk, and Big Bone was an OP collecting information for them (Actually, Hailey’s actress said she is exiting the show). However, it wouldn’t be the worst thing. While Hailey’s flirtation with Andre was interesting, even hot at one time, that isn’t the case by the end of season 2. At that point, Hailey was just a sparring partner for Uncle Clifford and a mistress who could offer more than some ass for Andre.
But, as shown towards the end of the season, these two didn’t bring out the best in each other. Andre wasn’t more interesting, despite being as dry as Hailey, when with her. If anything, he was held back since Hailey is good for an argument or any kind of contentious back and forth, but a relationship? That’s not who she is. Meanwhile, Andre is a bit more diverse, and with the discovery of his dad being alive and him opening a new law practice, you see there is still more to the character to explore while Hailey? Over the course of an entire season, she seemed to have just stalled.
So one can only hope that between being gone permanently or popping up because the Delta Devoted demands it, we’ve seen Hailey fall from lead to supporting to guest star.
Keyshawn’s Struggles To Leave Derrick
It’s a shame how much Keyshawn’s whole story revolves around Derrick. In some ways, you get it because she has to move carefully due to her abuser, which can dictate her entire life. But, the loop gets old. Especially as we’re constantly teased with her escaping and new ways being invented so that she ends up staying. Her being stuck in Chucalissa with him, similar to Lil Murda deciding against going on tour with Tina Snow, leaves you beyond frustrated or disappointed. Worse, it leaves you bored and losing investment since it is hard to say if we may ever see her get freedom. Especially since she has a record now.
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