Sunday, August 9, 2020

REVIEW: 'P-Valley' - Mercedes and Patrice Continue Their Ugly Confrontation While Clifford Fights Against Foreclosure in 'Belly'

Starz's P-Valley - Episode 1.05 "Belly"

Two foes find themselves trapped together for a weekend under unlikely circumstances. Keyshawn reaches new heights. Lil' Murda glows up big time.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Starz's P-Valley.

"Belly" was written by Katori Hall and directed by Geeta V. Patel

Mercedes and Patrice both possess the ability to get a crowd on their feet proclaiming their salvation. Mercedes does so through her dancing on a poll. Patrice does so through her preaching. It's a visceral experience from both of them. They both run hot. Their passions exude from being on at all times. It makes their clashes so combustive. Mercedes' last dance was built up as this big event. It was the celebration that could potentially save the Pynk from foreclosure. Instead, Mercedes was distracted by her own financial troubles. Mother and daughter land in a jail cell together. They are still fighting too. Patrice stole the rental space out from underneath Mercedes. She did so believing her work as a pastor will touch more souls in this community than Mercedes' idea for a personal gym experience. That's the condescending tone that Patrice takes with everything regarding her daughter though. Mercedes views her mother as a monster. One who has destroyed her life time and time again. Patrice wants to be praised because of all the sacrifices she made. But she also preaches about a loving and forgiving God. She justifies every action she has taken up to this point by saying that God has already forgiven her for her various transgressions. She argues that if he could do that than everyone else shouldn't have a problem doing so either. It's forgiveness without atonement. She can put on a show in the jail cell. She can get all the women wrapped up in the experience believing that salvation has finally come to them. It doesn't matter what mistakes they have made that landed them in this position. All they have to do is be willing to embrace God's love. Patrice professes it as so. She is also desperate for her daughter's love and affection. Patrice only has this opportunity because Mercedes saved her money. She has a dream in her life. It has now been ruined. It extends so much deeper than just opening a gym as well. Mercedes viewed that as the first step towards her getting custody of her daughter once more. That's the ultimate goal. It's what she desperately clings to. That's what her passion and fighting spirit is all for. Patrice sees herself as a good mother solely because she didn't give her daughter away. As such, Mercedes can never measure up to her because she made a different choice. She allowed someone else to be a mother. That means she doesn't have the right to proclaim maternal instincts and importance. Mercedes still feels them though. As such, she condemns her mother. She doesn't want her in her life anymore. It's so personal and devastating for her. Her hopes and dreams are crushed by the one person who is suppose to protect her. She has to be uplifted by others who don't naturally understand her life or perspective. Clifford has been treated like an outsider his entire life. He is afraid to be public with his affection knowing that it could easily get him killed. He lives forever in that terrifying mindset. It confines his potential relationship with Lil Murda before it can truly get started. That's the pattern of his life. This love is good for a moment. It's sexual passion and desire. That's all it can be though. That's all he can let it be. He has to focus elsewhere. He has to fight back against the forces trying to destroy his business. He may not be a smart or capable businessman. Any respectable community doesn't see a strip club as a vital service. Clifford still professes the vitality of the found family amongst this group though. They rely on each other. Sure, the girls can't raise the money to post bail for Mercedes. The money they make can only cover the basic costs of living for each of them. This isn't a community given the opportunity to prosper. It's oppressed by forces that what to write it off for its depravity and economic slump. Mayor Ruffin campaigning for change means a radical upheaval of the identity of this town. He made history with his election. And now, he's betraying the soul of this place. It's a selfish desire. And yes, those instincts inform so many characters in this narrative. Autumn believes it's retribution to steal from her past life to pay for her new one. She is the only one with the money to get Mercedes out. She does so which reveals that the two of them are kindred spirits despite them constantly butting heads. They both personally feel responsible for losing their daughters. Their talents on the stage can't eclipse that part of their identities. They yearn for more. They aspire for greatness. And yet, the past continues to rear its ugly head determined to keep them down. They can't have more than what this life has presented to them right now. That's horrifying but it's how so many people are forced to make due. Those friendships can thrive. But it's also fueled by the perpetual fear that one bad decision could uproot absolutely everything.