Star: Season 2 (First Half) – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

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The first half of Star Season 2 pushes us 5 months after the season 1 finale and it seems despite the major career step, everyone’s personal lives remain in disarray.


Summary

5 months after Atlanta’s NextFest, the ladies of Big Trouble, later renamed Take Three, have a record contract with a company called Midtown. However, the head of the label, Ayanna, creates many obstacles which prevent the ladies from putting out a record and going on tour. Which becomes a big issue for Simone, thanks to messing up in school and Carlotta losing custody, ending up having to live in a juvenile correction facility for she can’t get placed anywhere. Luckily for her though, while things are terrible at first, she meets these decent girl named Karen who becomes a love interest for her.

As for the rest? Well, Carlotta has nothing but issues. By the end of the season, her home and salon are on fire, and this is after Miss Bruce causes the salon to be shut down by the health inspector. On top of that, Cotton, not too long after getting out of jail, can’t keep on the straight and narrow. She started off good with working with Elliot and maybe rekindling that relationship, but then her prison boo Omari ruins that in more ways than one. In fact, he may have killed her and Elliot.

Then, of course, there is Jahil who, after Carlotta helped him fake his death, returns fresh with stolen material from his nephew Angel. Someone who, when he comes to Atlanta, threatens Take Three’s chances at ending up in this showcase Ayanna has to impress her father Charles. But that isn’t the only thing Angel threatens. Despite Simone’s relationship with Karen, Angel connects with her too and brings into question who Simone may choose? Though, for Angel, he may want to worry more about his uncle overdosing after he dropped him more than some girl he is only chasing to be petty – at least at first.

But, what about Star you ask? What about Alex? Well, at first, the two have separate storylines, when it comes to their personal life. Alex is dealing with life post-abortion and post-Derek’s car accident that has negatively affected their relationship and sex life. Though, there are glimmers of hope. Derek can still get erections, just not with Alex but this Muslim girl Soraya and he has some, minor, feeling in his toes. However, once Noah and Alex start a fake relationship, that is when things get complicated and go south – quick.

Not just because Alex starts cheating on Derek, but also because that is Star’s secret boo. The one who was her distraction from Brody, Star’s biological dad, coming back into her life; her career stalling; and also feeling helpless in this Simone situation. One which Ayanna fixes by adopting her, but being that Star doesn’t trust Ayanna, especially with her giving Simone her medication, all these situations don’t bring her any sort of peace.

And in the long run, as hard as these ladies, and men, try, it seems they keep ending up at square one with nothing to show for it. Well, besides knowing what not to do.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

Star-Season-2-Episode-9-Climax-Mid-Season-Finale

  1. With Alex being caught cheating, is there any chance for a Derek and Soraya relationship?
  2. Also, considering Derek got feeling in his feet during the showcase, does this mean he’ll be walking?
  3. With Arlene being killed by Brody, does that mean there will be no more Brody? Also, what are the chances of Brody being the one who set Carlotta’s house on fire to hide the body?
  4. Though, another idea, who thinks Miss Bruce burnt set the house on fire for the insurance money?
  5. Will they ever send Simone to therapy? Clearly, Ayanna knows the girls needs medication, but everyone else seems to be avoiding that. Then, to add to the neglect, we haven’t even seen Carlotta push going to church on her since she OD’d in the first season, I think.
  6. With Ayanna being fired, what does that mean for Take Three? Heck, what does that mean for Simone since Ayanna is her legal guardian?

Highlights

Alex Broke Out of Star’s Shadow and Had a Life Outside Derek

Star Season 2 Episode 7 Ghetto Symphony - Alex

Up until Noah came into Alex’s life, she has almost consistently been an afterthought. She may have been the reason for Take Three’s success, thanks to her writing the music and harmonies, but everyone has pushed her toward the back since she was dark skinned. And really, the only time she got featured was when her dad was named dropped or when she was with Derek.

That changes this time around. No longer is she a background player who gets highlighted for formerly having the sole cute and functioning relationship. Alex now has her own drama. Not that abortion or stealing nonsense, let’s not talk about that. I’m talking, more potential for a solo career now than Star. We’re talking about her being messy and cheating on Derek with someone who she can get off with. Let’s not also forget her friendship with Gigi which isn’t a huge deal, but does give Alex someone besides Star and her people to talk to.

I mean, if you look at it, the only one who really benefitted and grew from the first half of the season is Alex and everyone else sort of remained stagnant.

Low Points

Miss Bruce Didn’t Get a Storyline

Considering Lee Daniels love for his LGBT brothers, sisters, and cousins, it seemed weird that Miss Bruce didn’t get more of a focus in the first half of the season. Especially after Carlotta handed them the reigns to the shop so that she could focus more on the girls’ career. Not to forget, that moment Miss Bruce and Derek had at the BBQ when, for perhaps the first time, Miss Bruce wasn’t some comic relief but shown as a person. One with feelings that doesn’t always have some quick quip to clap back.

Not to forget, with them noting how all they had is the salon, and Carlotta, it makes me hope, so badly, Miss Bruce caused the cliffhanger.

The Cliffhanger

Star Season 2 Episode 9 Climax - Maurice and Carlotta

All things considered, this show has more than enough drama. We have Simone’s situation with two love interest and her still dealing with a whole lot of mental end emotional trauma; Cotton being in an abusive relationship, which may have ended deadly; Jahil having an overdose; Brody killing Arlene; Ayanna’s life falling apart; Carlotta just getting back into church thanks to Maurice, a new love interest; Alex has to deal with the fallout from cheating on Derek and how Star will deal with the relationship with Noah going from a publicity stunt to real; and so much more.

So, with that in mind, this house fire and “Who died?” just seems desperate. Now, let’s be real, Star was never a ratings smash and if it wasn’t for the CW, it would probably be at the bottom of its timeslot – viewer wise. Making it so desperate manuevers are still, sadly, necessary. Yet, considering how strong many of the characters’ personal dramas are or could be, it makes these tent pole soap opera moments disappointing.

On The Fence

Cotton

One of the things you had to love about Cotton’s storyline this season is that she is this openly woman who is trans, with two love interest. Both, I believe, I’m not 100% sure when it comes to Omari, who love her and are obsessed with her irregardless. In fact, her being a woman who is trans isn’t even brought up by either one. They simply find something insatiable about her in a healthy way, like Elliot, who even proposes to her, and then Omari in a healthy way. Leading to her possible death.

Which, in itself, raises a bit of an eyebrow. If only because her death seems geared more toward some idea that there isn’t anything left to do with her vs. it is just the right time. That is, assuming this wasn’t for shock value of the actress ready to move onto other projects.

Simone

Star Season 2 Episode 6 Faking It - Simone

Simone seems to be in an endless cycle. One in which, clearly, she has mental issues, ripe for exploring, but the show doesn’t seem to want to dig into them too deeply. It’ll remind you something is off, like when she was banging her head after Carlotta was denied custody – again. Also, it becomes clear with Ayanna recognizing something is mentally wrong, to the point she knows Simone could use medication, again there are signs this child could use therapy. Something she was forced into while in juvie but, unfortunately, after a few sessions that got dropped.

Ayanna

There really was so much potential with Ayanna. She is this music executive of seemingly a big family, of which she is the Black sheep. One which betrayed her father and seemingly that one incident wasn’t the only problem she had. On top of that, she was on prescription medication and assuming she wasn’t self-medicating, that could have opened the door for a real conversation about mental health in the Black community.

Yet, all that ended up happening was a bunch of nonsense. We got her shacking up with Jahil, for a short period of time; her becoming the foil for Star’s antics, and it possibly ending with her maybe contemplating suicide? Again, like with Miss Bruce, there seems to be so much they can say and do with the character but there is this fear that your expectations will likely not be met.

Star

Star Season 2 Episode 7 Ghetto Symphony - Star

Like Simone, and arguably Carlotta, Star is also in this sort of endless cycle. One in which her inability to trust somewhat gets noted, through Brody’s appearance, and even Mary popping up, but it doesn’t truly get handled. Instead, it is just further established how sex has become an unhealthy coping mechanism when it comes to external stressors and perhaps how bad Star’s taste is in men.

Which, thankfully, is paired with that hustler’s spirit that made the character so appealing in the first season. However, while I loved how we got to see Star look to Simone when it comes to love advice and validation, of all people, and I’ll admit I thought her and Noah were cute, the storyline arguably set her back. Similar to how the Alex and Derek dynamic work, arguably Star being in love didn’t do much for her character as much as it gave Noah shoulders to climb up on to make himself more interesting.

Carlotta

Star Season 1 Episode 8 A House Divided - Carlotta
Maurice noting that Carlotta’s guilt over Mary is clouding her judgment.

Carlotta becomes a straight up supporting character and while she has her little tiffs with Ayanna, Simone, even Star when she is contemplating replacing her, she becomes the new Alex. Which may come as a bit of a surprise since Carlotta is involved in nearly every single storyline. She knows about Alex’s abortion through them going to Carlotta’s new church, naturally Carlotta knows Brody and is acquainted with Angel, and there isn’t a need to rehash how she is involved with Ayanna and Simone.

But, unlike how Viola Davis adds an extra oomph to How To Get Away With Murder, arguably Queen Latifah is either bored or underutilized to the point it benefits no one. Her performance, in retrospect, makes Star just feel like a gig to pay the bills vs. something she is truly, 100% invested in. Pushing the idea that maybe, similar to his peer Ryan Murphy, Lee Daniels is good with intriguing ideas for a show, but doesn’t necessarily know how to keep it interesting over multiple seasons. That is, without consistently applying a shock factor.

Soraya

Star Season 2 Episode 6 Faking It - Soraya

With The Bold Type coming back who knows when, Soraya feels like a network TV equivalent to Adena that is sorely needed. Now, granted, she is coming in at an odd time within the show. After all, she is the one who reminded Derek that he can get an erection and seemingly is being setup to be his next love interest. Yet, she is a Muslim woman in a musical drama. How many can you name in the same situation?

However, like damn near all the characters, there comes the question of whether there maybe a real and honest attempt for her to live up to her full potential. Or will she be, like damn near everyone else, like a wacky inflatable advertisement that has a strong appeal but nothing of substance to keep you around.

The Death of Arlene

One of the things I’m thankful for on this show is that it will kill a storyline if it isn’t working. Jahil owing people who are politically corrupt and all that? Yeah, that storyline got disposed of and we don’t really talk about it anymore. So, with Hunter being firmly behind us, it was nice that Brody, really for hardly any good reason, took out Arlene. That means one less thing connecting us to past, indisputably terrible storylines, and hope that this show consistently figures out ways to figure out what does and does not work.

Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)

Star;-s2e6---Gigi---Keke-Palmer

To be honest, I’ll probably drop Star unless the backend episodes get better. The music of the second season has been more miss than hit and while I want to say that represents the girls not having creative control, that is wishful thinking. Then, in terms of the stories and characters, as noted with Soraya, they all have such potential and initial appeal, but the follow through sucks. Making it so it is really hard to see Fox keeping this show another season, unless they fear Lee Daniels will abandon them for doing so.

Has Another Season Been Confirmed?: Not yet.

Episode List

Episode 1
5 months have passed since Star: Season 1 ended and damn! Wait till you find out what happened.
Episode 2
One of the synonymous words to call Millennials is the “Instant Gratification Generation.” An accurate name for while Star understands the struggle and hustle, her peers are letting setbacks bring them down.
Episode 3
As Alex begins breaking under pressure, the girls continue to push Ayanna’s buttons and leave Carlotta to clean up their mess.
Episode 4
With Brody’s return comes the reminder of the effect of Mary’s death and we’re also reminded people have lives outside of their work w/ Star.
Episode 5
We are introduced to the new name of the group, Take Three, and police brutality returns to focus for Star.
Episode 6
As the pressure to get into the showcase rises, so does Derek with someone who isn’t Alex and Jahil with Ayanna.
Episode 7
Alex really begins to take center stage but best believe that Star isn’t going to let that last for too long.
Episode 8
Be it the recent or distant past, everyone’s seems to be thrown up in their face. If not in an untrustworthy person’s hands, through reminders of recent failings.
Episode 9
Star leaves us with the kind of cliffhanger which seems like a desperate move for ratings vs. something for the betterment of the story.

 

3/3 (1)

What's Your Take?

Author: Amari Sali

New Jersey native Amari Sali takes the approach of more so being a media advisor than a critic to sort of fill in the gap left between casual fans of media and those who review productions for a living. Thus being open about bias while still giving enough insight, often with spoilers, to present whether something is worth seeing, buying, renting, streaming, or checking out at all. An avid writer, Amari hopes to eventually switch from talking about other people's productions to fully working on his own. Such a dream is in progress to becoming reality.

Questions, Comments, or Opposing Opinion?