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

Cotton sipping tea.
77.85% (2)

The second half of season 2 of Star, seemingly is about cutting any and all fat so that season 3 can refocus on core characters.


Network
FOX
Creator Lee Daniels, Tom Donaghy
Noted Cast
Simone Brittany O’Grady
Noah Luke James
Carlotta Queen Latifah
Gigi Keke Palmer
Alex Ryan Destiny
Rose Naomi Campbell
Star Jude Demorest
Maurice Lance Gross
Ayanna Michael Michele
Karen Imani Lewis
Angel Evan Ross
Brody Stephen Dorff
Jahil Benjamin Bratt
Cassie Brandy Norwood
Derek Quincy Brown
Soraya Annie Jacob
Miss Bruce Miss Lawrence
Jackson Matthew Noszka
Cotton Amiyah Scott
Otis Darius McCrary
Andy Elijah Kelley
Christine Patti LaBelle
Arlene Nealla Gordon
Omari Justin Marcel McManus
Elliot Jack J. Yang
Ruby Juanita Jennings

Summary

Star's first conversation with Maurice as he plants seeds to break Take Three up.
“Everybody gets a time to shine, right?”

In the second half of season 2, Midtown seems to be in huge trouble but, as always, there are competitions and hoops to jump through to be featured. Which, as much as we’re getting tired of it, so is Simone, so she talks to Noah who gives things a push. Which is probably the last notable time Noah gets to do anything for anyone since his career pretty much goes on a decline. For while he has Carlotta become his manager and release a record, between alcohol and doing drugs with Gigi, he ends up on a roof staring at a street below. Something he may contribute to Alex breaking up with him, but with her giving up on her mother Rose for her alcoholism, she finds herself coerced to do the same with Noah.

Especially since things have come to a point where Alex has to look out for Alex. Her career is popping, as a solo artist, and all the nonsense she had to deal with for being dark skinned, that’s gone. Now Star is the one playing the red headed stepchild and you know she isn’t happy about that. After all, who is always in the studio, dance or recording? Who has been willing to make sacrifices and hustle their way to this point? Not to forget, when it comes to Simone, keep trying to keep her from juvi and other places?

Well, that’s over now because Star, thanks to a massive push by Maurice, goes solo. Albeit to the detriment of his career but with Ayanna screwing over her dad, Maurice cheating on Carlotta and Ayanna and Carlotta growing close, it was bound to happen. Oh, and speaking of growing close, after the death of Karen, Simone finds a love interest in Angel. Actually, more than a love interest but husband. Something that might have began to keep her out of juvi but evolved into a real relationship. One that, when Angel gets deported, it seems Simone may follow after him. Especially since she has really come to the point where she doesn’t care about hitching a ride on Star’s dream anymore, she wants a life of her own. Plus, she is tired of Star’s shenanigans.

As for the rest of the cast? Well, Brody is killed by Arlene’s sister, which Star still doesn’t know, Jahil is killed by Carlotta’s sister, Cassie, by accident, who was trying to shoot her now ex-Andy, on purpose. Cotton we learn has a son who, after Jahil dies gets his kidney, and Derek chases after Alex despite him dating some girl who is not Soraya.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. What happened to Jackson? Is he not becoming a love interest?
  2. Where was Christine while Cassie was making all these moves without her?
  3. What kind of partnership was Cassie planning with Derek?
  4. Is Ayanna still pregnant after being shot?

Highlights

Alex Became An Equal to Star

Alex coming to realize she is repeating a pattern in her life and coming to terms she needs to break up with Noah.
“I’m trying to fix you just like I tried to fix my mom.”

For most of the series, for one reason or another, despite Alex having the more recognizable name, and her last name getting them access to different people and opportunities, she played second fiddle. However, through Noah, and later pursuits, she got on Star’s level and arguably surpassed her. She became the breakout star of Take Three, the Beyoncé and got to the point where maybe she did prove to her dad she could make it on her own.

Simone’s Growth

Due to Simone’s trauma, she has been all over the place throughout the series. She can talk in this really mature, “I’ll murder you if you respond to me” tone and then whine like the minor she is. Yet, there was more consistency this season. While she still went off the rails sometimes, between Ayanna and Angel, it is as if she actually went to see a therapist and was prescribed something to help balance her out. Making it where, while she still had triggers dealing with what Otis did and his murder, it seems she has found herself. Especially once she seeks out something beyond the music business and the hustle and breaks out of Star’s shadow.

Star Finally Went Solo

Star after a successful solo performance.

No matter how you look at it, Star was the only one consistently about the group and being in top form. She would practice more than anyone else, rarely, if ever, show up late, was willing to put herself out there, sexually or otherwise, and tried to minimize situations which could affect Take Three. However, there just came a point when Star had to look out for Star. Something that, unfortunately, Maurice had to point out but whose name is the title of the show? Clearly, sooner or later, she’d have to go solo.

Which may lead to one of the most interesting storylines yet. How will Star, who spent a good part of season 2 dealing with the guilt of helping her mom OD, deal with having no one? For with Alex quitting and jetting off to NY, maybe dying in a plane crash, then Simone going to DR to be with Angel, who is going to look out for her? Carlotta is now head of the label and Noah is into drugs, which Star does not wanna be around. So it seems we’ll finally see what happens when the dream is realized and if Star truly wants the prize she has worked so hard for.

Simone and Angel

When it comes to many of the relationships on Star, while the relationships have been cute, they largely represented the unresolved issues each character had. Alex’s relationship with Noah mirrored the one with her mom and arguably her relationship with Derek brought out her unresolved issues with her father. Especially in terms of cheating on her mom. For Star, abuse which never got too detailed was the focus of her relationship with Hunter and her short tryst with Noah dealt with another issue of her past being with dealing with those with addiction problems and who wouldn’t claim her.

Simone and Angel kissing.

With Simone though? Rather than repeat past mistakes of falling for people troubled and stagnant, she got with Angel. Someone that, originally, let us not forget, flirted with Simone just to mess with her head. However, Andy never squealed and that led to them having one of the best relationships we’ve seen on the show. Not just in terms of how cute they were in the lovey-dovey moments but also the various storylines they tackled.

For whether it was Angel being undocumented or the rather delicately handled storyline of Simone being a sexual assault survivor desiring to be intimate, this was the most complex relationship yet. One made to do more than show the desirability of each actor and character but really push their narrative forward as well. After all, it is Angel that makes Simone realize there is more to life than the hustle and he is part of the reason she quits Take Three to be with him.

The Show Touching More on Mary’s Final Day

While the only thing really missing is Mary going from up and comer to her downfall, what we also didn’t see is her final days. Much less, fully understand how Brody played a role in that. But we come to find out he really didn’t, Star gave her mother extra “medicine” and it killed her. Leading to Star really having to deal with the issues she had with her mother that have been festering within her since the first season. Maybe not to the point she fully owns who her mother was and has completely reconciled, but at least when it comes to Brody, before his death, she forgave him. As for forgiving her mom for getting on drugs and things of that nature? Well, that might be explored in season 3.

Ruby

Ruby calling Derek an ungrateful bastard.

While mostly a source of comical relief, you had to appreciate Ms. Ruby when she got real with Star over why she disliked her so much. That and her moments in the sun when dealing with Derek. For even if Ms. Ruby just gets a few lines and makes the best out of it, she remains a welcome recurring character. One who really pushes you to wonder when is Lee Daniels going to give actress, Juanita Jennings, her own show?

Low Points

Miss Bruce Never Got A Storyline

Considering Derek’s disparaging comment against Miss Bruce earlier in the season and how terrible their life seemingly was to become when they jeopardized Carlotta’s business, you might have thought we’d get to know them better? Nope. Unlike Miss Ruby, Miss Bruce remained purely a comic relief with a quick quip or shady comment. Nothing more, nothing less.

Soraya Disappeared In The Second Half of Season 2

Star Season 2 Episode 6 Faking It - Soraya

Despite Soraya leading to Derek’s first boner since the accident and her seeming like a bridge to him getting back into activism, Soraya disappears in the second season without a mention. Which was quite a shame since, combined with Angel’s storyline dealing with his DACA application being denied, and getting deported, could have covered multiple hot-button issues at once.

Christine Never Returned, Just Cassie

While Cassie can grow on you, Christine, Patti LaBelle, was a far more compelling gangster. One which Cassie spent most of the season trying to hide her new solo venture from yet she never got involved. Heck, there wasn’t even a phone call alluding to she was catching onto what her daughter was doing. But the true loss is that you know there are stories between Christine and Carlotta and we barely scratched the surface. So, hopefully, taking note her great-grandson just escaped death and likely she’ll have one daughter dead, she’ll reappear for something long term.

On The Fence

Cotton’s Storyline Was All Over The Place

At times, it is like the show is unsure what to do with Cotton. On one hand, there is so much that can be done. Taking note how rare trans characters are, there are a plethora of things to explore from, as shown, dating as a trans woman and the complications of being accepted. Yet, be it dating Omari and Elliot, finding out about having a son before transitioning, and so much more, for every step forward there was a bit of a step back. Mostly in the form of just not letting Cotton’s storyline not go from 0 to 100 within one to two episodes.

Take her son, Jaden’s, situation. No sooner does she get one on one time with him does he end up foaming at the mouth and is in need of a kidney. There is no pursuit in reconciling or even handling the idea of Cotton, when Arnold, being with a woman. We go straight to the dramatic soap opera storyline and bypass anything with a sense of nuance.

Ayanna’s Storyline

Ayanna thanking her dad after she blackmailed him.

Ayanna went from a redemption storyline to being ousted by her father, being reinstated in her father’s absence, triggering a #MeToo movement, getting pregnant by Jahil, and just being a mess. Which kind of sucked since, during her proving herself stage, she was actually interesting. Especially as she sort of took Simone under her wing and acted as some kind of maternal figure who got it. One who didn’t present prayer and religion, or even working as a solution. It seemed someone would have finally pushed therapy into this show.

Carlotta Becomes A Bit Of An Afterthought At Times

As characters got added, time and development in Carlotta got subtracted. When it came to Mary, that was all Star’s storyline and the past, largely, wasn’t touched upon with Carlotta. Yes, when her sister and mom came about, there is mention of the scams and jobs she used to do. Also, it is revealed to us Carlotta and Jahil were still married when he died.

However, as for new stuff which pushed the character forward? Until the end when she gets a major promotion, she is a supporting character without much to contribute besides a wakeup call or some tears. Yes, making a situation more emotional, but you aren’t crying for her as much as the situation.

So Many Deaths That You Have To Question Future Impact

Carlotta speaking at Jahil's funeral.
“That’s my ride or die”

Speaking of crying, Star has kind of become the Game of Thrones of network TV with how many, and arguably often, it will kill off or write off characters. Which makes sense sometimes, because Arlene overstayed her welcome BIG TIME. Yet, with Brody, Jahil, and even Karen being killed off, it sort of lowered the bar a bit. Though, another issue is nearly every mid-season and season finales are always about someone dying. It’s becoming a card played far too often and it is killing the impact.

The Music

This could be a matter of personal taste but, in the second season, it just seemed that Take Three’s issues with controlling and getting to focus on their music showed. The songs, in the beginning, weren’t as catchy and while the shows towards the middle and end of the season were popping, they weren’t necessarily the kind worth purchasing. Yeah, you may have wanted to put them on a Spotify playlist but there was no reason to download it so that you could hear it even when you didn’t have a signal.

And part of the reason might be that the music kind of became secondary. It was all about the drama of each group or artist and while sometimes they sang to express their feelings, they weren’t the kinds of songs that stayed with you. They were a good bop for the moment but that’s it. I guess pushing how talented Jahil, and the actual producer of season 1, were.

Cassie & Andy

Cassie and Carlotta having a standoff.
“You know I always got your back, Carlotta.”

Cassie is the type of character you either love, love to hate, or just makes you happy that Brandy is acting again. For like many a character introduced, there isn’t this idea she is made to stay for the long term. As if, at the end of the season, the actor can drop out so they are trying their best to make as much use of her so that they’ll feel too guilty to leave.

But what made Cassie really an iffy character is because she was connected to Andy more than Carlotta. Which became more and more of an issue because, at best, Andy had a smart mouth that you wanted to see popped in the lip. Also, a Black male with two white parents seeking validation. However, with that never really being explored, outside of one or two episodes, ultimately he was just used to piss Cassie off enough to make her accidentally kill Jahil.

And in the end, that sort of sums up the only thing these two can really be noted for. They are the reason Jahil’s dead. There isn’t much else to make note of for even when it comes to Andy’s music career, weeks since the finale, I can’t think of one song he did off hand. All I can think of is him going in on Star like a little kid with a crush.

How Mental Health & Trauma Is Handled

With the exception of Simone and Cotton, when it comes to mental health on this show, arguably what a character has gone through or going through often is a plot device. Take Star finally facing being part of the reason her mom overdosed. In the long run, it seems that was just supposed to build up to Maurice using that to cause the fracture needed for Star to go solo. For with Simone kind of hunching it off, after her seriously being distraught over not having her mom for most of season 1, it just seemed anticlimactic.

Mary asking Star if she is having fun?

Which isn’t to say, with Star now solo and living the dream her mother didn’t get to have, there won’t be guilt and other issues addressed. For there is so much to explore here. The question is, will they explore it?

An issue which also applies to Noah for while his issues with alcohol have been established since the get-go, there again is this uncomfortable feeling of how much was this about presenting a complex person vs. setting up a dramatic and entertaining storyline? Which isn’t to downplay his alcoholism and his descent into drugs and now contemplating suicide. It’s just, the tone of this show is very unpredictable and sometimes things feel like they happen for the sake of keeping the character relevant. So be it Star being haunted by her mom, as Alex’s star rises, or Noah bottoming out as Alex drops him, it is like the only time some characters have their deep-seated issues addressed is when they are losing steam.

Angel’s DACA Storyline

I appreciated Angel’s DACA storyline for it is a topical subject matter and also because it was made into an arc which touched on the fears many DREAMERS have. However, there is this strange need to address how weird it was that one day he learns his dad isn’t his biological dad and within a few months he is deported. Something about that just seemed so weird and off.

Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)

Star saying,
“Old habits are hard to break, right?”

While Star is maturing as a show, it still is dealing with a lot of growing pains. Primarily in how to craft something entertaining, but not coming off a bit desperate at times. For with consistent deaths, so many strong personalities which flare and clash constantly, and only really addressing a character’s trauma when they are being brought off the bench, there is some inconsistency. Yet, drama, of the soap opera sort, is what Lee Daniels is becoming known for.

Hence the Mixed (Stick Around) label. Does Star do many things well? Absolutely. With characters like Simone, seeing Star go from nothing to something, Alex proving herself, and so much more, it shows the writers can handle their three leads well. Also, when it comes to supporting characters like Cotton and Carlotta, they can make them strong supporting character with their own lives of interest.

The issue is, in retrospect, staying consistent and not abusing cliffhangers. That is, alongside not cheapening the possibility of characters dying and not making each character’s mental issues be introduced when it is convenient. If not when they seem like they started to fade to the back and need a quick jolt to jump front and center.


Has Another Season Been Confirmed?: Yes


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Episode List

Episode 1
5 months have passed since Star: Season 1 ended and damn! Wait till you find out all that has happened since then.
Episode 2
While Star understands the struggle and hustle, her peers are letting setbacks bring them down and get distracted.
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. Be it due to another’s person or through reminders of recent failings.
Episode 9
Star leaves us with the kind of cliffhanger which seems like a desperate move for ratings vs. for the betterment of the story.
Episode 10
The show returns, the drama continues, but now there is a secret of what happened in the 10 days since the mid-season finale.
Episode 11
The drama begins to rev up as old memories and characters begin haunting our leads, as well as possible new love interests.
Episode 12
Brody’s past comes to haunt him, as Star learns the truth about what happened the day her mother died. Alongside this, Simone finds a way to even things up with Angel.
Episode 13
Clearly, everyone at Midtown needs a few rounds of therapy. For between using sex and alcohol to cope, there is going to come a moment when someone doesn’t get to be so lucky.
Episode 14
Many of the relationships end up in jeopardy as third parties try to get involved. But, at least with one new third party, it seems everyone’s career may be moving forward.
Episode 15
Sexual assault, LGBT issues, alongside Ayanna making a triumphant return is featured. Alongside your usual relationship drama.
Episode 16
Things have been kind of holding together, but falling apart for a while. But, as Alex’s star rises, and she begins to really leave Take Three behind, Star finds herself making some moves.
Episode 17
The characters of Star all go through so much this episode that even trying to figure out what may happen in the finale will depend if the writers will get their foot off our necks.
Episode 18
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for many on Star. But ain’t a single person feeling good about the cards given to them.

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