Sunday, June 26, 2022

REVIEW: 'P-Valley' - Racial Justice Protests Disrupt Lil Murda's Tour and the Extensive Renovations to The Pynk in 'Demethrius'

Starz's P-Valley - Episode 2.04 "Demethrius"

While Keyshawn's glow-up continues, Big Teak struggles with life on the outside. Back in Chucalissa, The Pynk is visited by a surprise guest.

"Demethrius" was directed by Christine Swanson with story by Jocelyn Clarke & Patrik-Ian Polk and teleplay by Jocelyn Clarke, Patrik-Ian Polk & Katori Hall

The people of Chucalissa appreciate The Pynk. Their dreams come true. They can act out their wildest fantasies. When the business is in danger though, no one comes out to rally support. It's expected to always stand as an institution in this community. People don't provide its stability. Instead, it offers the perception of prosperity. In reality, it can all fade away quickly. It embodies a lifestyle meant to be celebrated. Pop culture is always trying to mimic what's so foundational to the Black community. It takes ahold of those values without offering the recognition of where they came from. It's appropriation without appreciation. People should absolutely still be protected in these spaces. It's dangerous when a sneeze is directed straight at a customer. It offers a COVID exposure. It's only in that moment that the hammer comes done. The Pynk was allowed to thrive despite the business restrictions during the pandemic. People saw it as offering an essential commodity. When that illusion breaks down, it's easy to only see the harm being done. That binary choice is so apparent in people's actions. Whatever happens in life has to have either a good or bad connotation. When it stops being one, it then has to morph to the other regardless of how complicated the situation actually is. The Pynk has a family willing to come together to upgrade the building. It's still not good enough. People are putting all their resources into making this business a success. Hailey is mostly holding onto it because she sees how valuable it is in the eyes of those looking to develop the city. She found a place to belong. She has no genuine attachments though. She wields the power. She gets to dictate the outcome. Clifford has rules the girls must abide by. He quotes them off with such ease. The girls start fighting when the rules appear to be broken. Clifford understands others having to embrace whatever hustles they can secure. He's not expecting everyone to be loyal to his business and nothing else. He sets a certain standard. He doesn't want people coming to the club expecting sexual services. Those rules are being ignored. It's a conversation happening. It's not some quiet behavior that has gone unnoticed. People speak up. They demand it. It's not what Cliff wants. Nor does he condone that behavior. He expects people to appreciate what has become possible for them because they found a home at The Pynk. He didn't have to open these doors. He expects people to give back when they can. He knows not everyone can do so. It's only dawning on him that people's lives are growing in diverging ways. That's taking them far away from Chucalissa and The Pynk. Meanwhile, he's still stuck in place with nowhere to go and at the complete mercy of those who don't carry his same values. That hasn't changed one bit.

This hour presents America at a racial reckoning. It depicts the racial justice protests of 2020 in the wake of George Floyd's murder. It inspires some people into action. Patrice's campaign for mayor gains legitimacy because she speaks to the ongoing concerns of the community. Acting Mayor Kyle only sees pointless anarchy. The world is being destroyed because some people can't control themselves. And yet, people are acting out demanding to be heard. They are speaking with a collective voice against the violence and injustice. Personal agency can still be found in every corner of this world. That doesn't stop simply because people are coming together under the same message. It's horrifying for Diamond as he returns to The Pynk for the first time since Murda Night. He deals with the trauma of stepping into the room where Montavius was killed. That lingers in his mind. He can't move beyond it like others have. He's been spiraling since that night even though countless others still depend on him. Plenty don't have the option to wallow in the past. They have to keep moving forward. They still must recognize the power of history. Otherwise that only leads to more destruction. Big Teak is entranced by the news. He recognizes the power of the moment. He sees something different happening on the streets. He's confronted by indifferent individuals who only see the same story. They even buy into the opposing arguments that the violence was necessary somehow. It takes true humility to see a person in pain and reach out to help. That has long been elusive. They even target themselves and threaten to tear it all apart. Progress is built slowly over the years. Murda and Keyshawn are largely focused on their careers. The protests are a disruption to their tour. It's much more significant than that. Murda is allowed a moment to connect with Big Teat. It's raw and loving. It's also sex being used to provide comfort and distraction even if it comes at the expense of personal accountability. People want clarity and safety. They may never actually get it. Those at The Pynk thought the building was saved thanks to Hailey. And now, she's turning her back on them by considering selling. That was always her priority. It was never about the business or the life it can provide to the employees. The pole allows Mercedes to demonstrate her athleticism and beauty. It's intoxicating to anyone who witnesses it. She has to be careful with that intimacy and the emotions it stokes in others. It's healthy to encourage from time to time. It can all be seen as a business transaction though. It's nothing personal even though it's exposing these people to their absolute core. They reach out hoping to find empathy. They aren't always given it. It's chaotic because the world seems against them at every turn. They still fight to survive because it's the only thing they can do. That's inspiring too even though it requires people to be aware of their lives beyond their existence within it.