P-Valley The second season is steadily improving, cementing its place among the most entertaining dramas on TV. Although this week’s episode was written before the news broke, the timing is impeccable. Autonomy and agency are two themes that lurk beneath each episode, driving the motivation and actions of many of its characters. Usually, P-Valley explores this through the lens of sexual consent and exploitation, but in this episode, which takes place mostly completely outside the club, Terricka’s pregnancy explores a different kind of self-reliance.
As women, being able to decide what we want to do with our bodies is a privilege, no matter how far we have come in terms of political liberation. The Overthrow of Roe c. Wade marked a moment in history that validated what we had known all along: women’s bodies are treated as vessels for public consumption and debate. What I appreciate P-ValleyTerricka’s pregnancy management is that she focuses on her personal choice and not on an overarching political or moral agenda, like all abortions should be treated.
Staying at Mercedes while Chelle dries up, Terricka’s stomach steadily expands with no sign of her making a decision to move forward. Throughout the episode, Mercedes never tells Terricka what to do about the baby, only urging her to make a choice quickly, as time is of the essence in getting an abortion. As Terricka thinks they’re going to TCBY, the two leave town to go to an abortion clinic so they can at least get more information about her options. In the car, after Terricka unironically signs with WAP, Mercedes tells her that next time she’ll decide to slip in to let him know so she can get her Plan-B. Terricka responds, “Oh, so now it’s okay to talk about sex?”
As Terricka told her mother, for too many black girls, sex talk is all about “closing your legs and leaving the boys alone.” Black women have historically been hypersexualized to the point of robbing us of our humanity, so some parents overcompensate by demonizing sexuality when we are young, continuing a cycle of misinformation and ignorance. As we age, we find ourselves without tools to navigate our early romances and sexual urges. But, as Mercedes points out, pregnancy is life or death for us. This year, the CDC reported that black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. The consequences of pregnancy, especially for teenage girls, are compounded by the effects of systemic racism.
When Terricka notices Mercedes passing TCBY, she realizes she’s being driven further for a consultation, which literally makes her vomit. She says she feels ambushed, but Mercedes points out that abortions are urgently needed. Terricka is frustrated by the mention of abortion, saying her friend Jelissa said their friend Taylor’s mother claims abortions cause cancer. Thank goodness Mercedes debunked this, stating that they can’t put two brain cells together between Jelissa, Taylor and Taylor’s mother. As they continue their journey, Mercedes has a flashback while Terricka takes a break in a restaurant bathroom. We see a teenage Mercedes and a younger version of Patrice in a restaurant where Patrice discovers condoms in his daughter’s wallet. She continues to beat Mercedes at the restaurant – even though moments earlier it looked like she wanted her daughter to sexually solicit herself to cover the bill – another example of how black girls learn to be sexual beings is morally incorrect.
On the road, Terricka tells Mercedes about her baby’s father, Kelon. The two are in love with the idyllic days of teenage love and lust. Kelon apparently wants to keep the baby even though they are both fourteen; an idea that Mercedes scoffs at. In Kelon’s defense, Terricka tells Mercedes that she is jealous of their love, prompting Mercedes to punch Terricka in the face, stepping into the mother she swore she would never become. They end up going to the clinic, fending off the pro-life protesters, where Mercedes unknowingly sees her own mother. The date reveals that Terricka is 14 weeks pregnant, just shy of the deadline for an abortion.
Later, at a hotel, Terricka continues to ponder her decision as Mercedes grows increasingly irritated by the inaction. The tension escalates into a conversation between a mother and a child who constantly feels abandoned. A’zaria Carter, who plays Terricka, delivers a powerful performance, embodying the pain, anxiety and sadness of feeling rejected and the confusion of being a baby having a baby. Mercedes tells Terricka that all she ever wanted was for her to have a choice, which she didn’t always have. The next day, Mercedes gives Terricka the keys to the car, figuratively and literally, allowing him to make his own decision. Terricka takes the keys and drives them to the clinic.
While Mercedes and Terricka are away, Uncle Clifford is back in Chucalissa to deal with Autumn Lakiesha Robyn Rihanna Fenty and her plan to sell the club by any means necessary. The episode opened with a vignette of the club in the past; Grandmuva Ernestine performs on stage over the decades as we see the evolution of Miss Ernestine’s Juke Joint room into what we now know as The Pynk. There’s even an appearance of baby Clifford with his late mother, Ernestine’s daughter Beulah, with the toddler holding a Gucci handbag. Uncle Clifford tries to make Hailey understand the importance of the Pynk in her family. Telling her that the club is filled with “hauntings and unsung melodies”, Cliff reminds her that the club is the only tangible part of her ancestral heritage. Hailey is deadpan, fully motivated to buy millions in a crusade to help her mourn her daughter.
Meanwhile, Ernestine, sick with COVID, struggles to hold on, seeing visions of Beulah inviting her to the other side. Murda stays with Cliff after Teak’s devastating death, and her gentle person takes care of Ernestine with the level of sensitivity that I would want someone to take care of my own grandmother. Uncle Clifford and Murda lean on each other in respective times of need, leaving the widest smile on my face as the president of the Cliff & Murda fan club.
Clifford’s youthful Gucci handbag emerges as she changes clothes for Murda, leading to a conversation about Clifford’s gender identity. She tells us more about her mother, saying she was a strong advocate for her child’s propensity to carry handbags. Discovering that Uncle Clifford has always been gender nonconforming, Murda bluntly asks, “What are you?” to which Clifford replies, “I am Uncle Clifford; What are you?” Solemnly, Murda tells him that he is “what the world won’t let him be,” providing a small window into his struggle with his own sexuality. Their conversation shifts to a discussion of their relationship and on how Murda being locked up led to their breakup Clifford explains how even asking “what she” is “is a loaded question and how to have an identity that confuses people, an identity that is not capable of” pass”, is alienating. She says, “People don’t understand how lonely it can be to shine so brightly. That’s why I understand why you did what you did on Murda Night. You weren’t ready to stay in the sun. Oof, dozens at all levels for the P-Valley writer’s room.
Ernestine’s illness becomes too much for Clifford and Murda to handle after she wanders to the part of the Mississippi River closest to their home. She screams about having to get to the water, calling Beulah’s name, telling Clifford it’s time. She passes out, her fingers blue, so they call an ambulance to take her to the hospital. Murda is able to cheer Clifford up with a Sisqo dance party and then things get intimate with the two. ultimately make love again, with LOVE by Kendrick Lamar. play in the background. Yes!
• I love how Terricka wears a light powder blue while Mercedes wears a bright crimson during their trip to Jackson, emphasizing Terricka’s innocence against Mercedes’ experience.
• Derrick’s abusive control over Keyshawn’s life worsens with the episode. On a trip to Piggly Wiggly, Keyshawn meets Hailey, who wonders why she hasn’t yet used the weapon she lent her to break free from the relationship. Later, Hailey appears at Keyshawn’s doorstep (dressed in red, of course), offering her a burner phone and telling her to call when she’s ready to swim.
• Water symbolism was used extensively in this episode. Cut from Ernestine heading for the river in her COVID-induced delirium to Mercedes and Terricka dipping their feet in the pool is a great depiction of how water symbolizes both birth and death.