Sunday, July 3, 2022

REVIEW: 'P-Valley' - Rome, Woddy and Derrick Offer Keyshawn Protection While Ignoring Her Actual Agency in 'White Knights'

Starz's P-Valley - Episode 2.05 "White Knights"

Sit on down and get ready to learn the history of Mississippi.

"White Knights" was written by Katori Hall and directed by Pamela Romanowsky

A common trait of toxic masculinity is always perceiving women as needing to be saved. Men believe they have something that only they can offer. As such, it would be life-changing if woman accepted that. The very premise is flawed. It's based on the idea that men are incredibly special and deserve whatever they want. This entire episode is framed around the fairytale nature of Keyshawn's life. That's the story she would love to project onto her circumstances. The parallels are striking. However, her life is so much more complicated than those stories. She pursues her own prince charming. She sees Derrick coming to rescue her during her time of need. She needs to escape from a house with an evil stepmother. This narrative doesn't always apply. The darkness still remains. It's inescapable. Keyshawn has genuine talents. It's mesmerizing to see her perform. That has to be showcased at every opportunity. People are jealous of what she can do on the pole. Everyone is tuned in to her social media to see where life is taking her. She's positioned as the person who made it out of Chucalissa. She found a way to escape the limited life at The Pynk. She is going places. She has the support to make her dreams a reality. No one can deny that to her now. She has grabbed that attention and refuses to let go. So much of life continues to weigh her down. It all threatens to kill her as well. That's entirely connected to the men around her refusing to see her as an individual with her own agency. She's always a stripper selling sex. That's not the narrative she wants. She wants to be home with her children. She is earning money to support them. She has fun on the road with her friends. She's concerned how Lil Murda is also handling the spotlight. At the end of the day, so many men simply want to control her. That cannot be avoided. Keyshawn believes that staying in this situation will allow further greatness to form. It was all magical once upon a time. She has to stick with it. The people she knows aren't as bad as their actions make them seem. She has seen the full range of their emotions. They still hurt her. That too is an unavoidable truth. Keyshawn is a woman who needs saving. Clifford recognized that during her entire time at The Pynk. She's not better simply because she left. She has new circumstances that surround the same dynamic. Clifford washes his hands of her. He can't save everyone who comes into his club needing salvation. That would be tiring. That would rob him of his own potential to shine. These women need to save themselves. They need to showcase that desire. It's still so hard and strenuous. They may never be given the opportunities to explore what else is possible. Instead, they are always subjected to the most brutal twists this world has to offer. That's Keyshawn's life. It all rings out with the potential of death. That fate comes for someone on tour. It's not the end of Keyshawn's story. That's encouraging despite all the brutality done to her body.

The audience has long known Derrick abuses Keyshawn. His attraction to violence was present from the first moment they met. She simply wasn't on the receiving end of it. Instead, he was her prince who swept her away from a terrible life. He fought on her behalf. He saw her as special when so much of her own family wanted to keep her down. She never had good role models. Her father was always looking out for the next attractive woman. Her stepmother didn't care about anything she did. She's not one of her perfect, beautiful daughters. Derrick saw her. In a room full of people, he only focused on her. That's special. He only got violent with her after she got pregnant. As a result, she felt trapped. She couldn't go anywhere else. Her choosing to have sex with him meant she had to endure whatever life he expects from her. That's so despicable and sickening. The world shuts its doors because it doesn't want Keyshawn to thrive. She isn't deserving of love and happiness. Instead, she has to settle for this being the best. She has to abide by that understanding. She can't question or challenge it. She has her own power onstage though. That allows her to shine. Those moments of praise are always fleeting. On the pole, she is still mostly seen as a sexual object of desire. Rome believes he too can take whatever he wants. He doesn't care about Keyshawn and Murda's talents. He simply sees clients who need what he can offer. If things don't work out with this tour, it reflects poorly on the talent who weren't capable of making the leap in their careers. It has nothing to do with management. Rome believes his clients have to appease him at all times. That's the only way in which he's going to pump them up. When he's denied, he casts them aside under the belief he has better talents just waiting to go on this ride. Woddy offers Keyshawn a place of refuge. He's looking out for her and Murda. He doesn't want their lives to be ruined because of what a spiteful man can do. He doesn't immediately go in for the confrontation either. He still kills Rome in the belief that it's necessary to save Keyshawn and Murda from further embarrassment. Meanwhile, Keyshawn is back home discovering that Derrick has abused their children as well. That's just something he expects to be able to do. He's no longer apologetic over his behavior. It's him becoming his father. It's how he was told to behave. He was embarrassed at one point. That is long gone. Keyshawn has forgiven so much. She's still terrified about her looks being taken away. She fights for a better life. Her priorities still aren't in the right place. That can be used as a form to criticize her and condemn her to this life. She doesn't need to be perfect in order to receive help. It simply requires people seeing her pain and helping ease it how she wants. Too many are still selfish. Their egos drive the conflict while ignoring the pain that is all too prevalent in this community. It's personal trauma Keyshawn can seemingly never escape. That's incredibly tragic even as the worst doesn't happen by the end of this epic spotlight into her journey.