written by Kiara Williams
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
CONTENT WARNINGS: rape, incest, colorism, effects of trauma.
Phew…so you guys know what I’m gonna talk about in this review, huh? A small chunk of this episode covers several issues that are prominent in the black community.
Colorism is discrimination against members of the same race with darker skin. It doesn’t just occur within the black community; East Asia and the Indian subcontinent are also well known for discriminating against their own race because of darker skin. Skin bleaching creams, even though they are known to cause cancer, are found all over the world. Because dark skin is ugly, and light skin is beautiful. As a dark-skinned black woman, I’ve heard my fair share of insults from my own people because of my dark skin. It sucks, to say the least.
It hurts when you get teased by the other kids around you, but it’s even worse when it’s your own family. Home is supposed to be a safe place, so where do you go when you when your family is the one that hurts you? Especially when you’re a child and your other family members do nothing to help? Or make it worse? I’ll get back to this in a little while, because we’re going to find out more about that “worse.”
Meanwhile, in the A-plot, Bushmaster is still chasing after the Lucas-Cages and the Stokes-Dillards. Million-dollar bounties have been placed on Mariah and Tilda’s heads, and the bounty has apparently drawn out the cooperation of a very specific police officer. The “Nandi Is Shady As Fuck” subplot is finally starting to come to a head as she goes to Bushmaster and reveals Mariah’s location after overhearing it from Misty. Why are you like this? Misty could die and you’re okay with that?
Bushmaster, even without the nightshade, rolls up on Luke’s hideout spot, asking for Mariah. Luke, being the Greatest Good Boy, doesn’t give her up, of course. He handles Bushmaster pretty easily now that 1) he’s prepared for him and 2) Bushmaster doesn’t have a way to cheat like last time. Heck, Papa Lucas’ other fist could’ve beaten him in his state. Bushmaster gets hauled off in a police truck and that’s all we get out of him for now.
My issue with Luke coming to terms with his anger towards his father is because he was being pushed to do so by a third party, and that isn’t fair. Claire’s not even in Harlem at the moment, so Luke is able to naturally come around to making peace with his father on his own. I am very okay with the way this played out. Luke and his father are able to have a calm moment and a normal conversation to talk about their issues. Let a person make peace when they’re ready, and don’t force them even if they’re never ready. Not every relationship is meant to be healed. I’ll still donate to the “Fix Claire’s Wall” GoFundMe, though.
Now that Luke has started healing his relationship with his father, it’s really nice to see the two of them laughing together and talking of old memories. It gave me feelings of home when our family gets together for the holidays. I had forgotten that Luke and his family are from Georgia, and I’m from South Carolina, so that just strengthened that mental connection for me. It gave me a fuzzy.
Before we can celebrate Luke’s victory, Bushmaster uses a bomb to blow up the police truck and escape. (And ha! That was a nice setup for the bomb earlier in the episode.) At the very end, the Stylers are in Mother’s Touch and force Tilda to help Bushmaster, as he injured himself using his bomb to escape. And Tilda? Darling? Why would you go back to where the Stylers can find you? They know that’s your store!
But! This actually plays into Tilda’s plan. She mentioned that she needed a sample of Bushmaster’s blood in order to make a mixture to counteract the nightshade. And well, blood’s all over him, huh? Shouldn’t be hard to grab a bit…
Bushmaster’s luck keeps going down, now that Shades has Anansi. He’s being closed in from all sides, even if he doesn’t know it, and it won’t be long before he starts cracking. Getting back to Tilda, though…
It’s no wonder Mariah was so secretive about the identity of Tilda’s father. It was more to bury Mariah’s trauma rather than to protect Tilda, however. That “worse” I mentioned earlier? It turns out Mariah’s Uncle Pete raped her repeatedly, eventually getting her pregnant. Her grandmother didn’t allow an abortion, likely because of her Christian beliefs. Mariah doesn’t go to church, but considering how she talked to Luke’s father, she clearly knows black church culture. So Mariah was forced to carry the baby of her rapist.
MARIAH (to Tilda): “I never wanted it. And I never wanted you. I tried to love you. I tried. But I don’t. That’s the truth. ‘Cause every time I look in your face I see Pete.”
As much of a monster as Mariah is, my heart breaks for her. “Family first, always” unless it’s Mariah, apparently. Her family protected her uncle over her, her cousin rubbed her trauma in her face, her family tore her body apart on multiple levels to make her carry Tilda to term, and all this while having “Black Mariah” hurled at her constantly. All this from “family”. I don’t think the word means much to her, and for good reason.
It doesn’t help that black Americans have a habit of denying ourselves therapy, even when it would be best. Black people, especially black women, often don’t see therapy as an option. Therapy’s for “weak people,” “we don’t go to therapy, we go to church,” “it’s expensive,” etc. Hell, the idea of going to a therapist was never even a thought in Mariah’s mind, I suspect, even when she could afford it. So she has decades of balled up trauma and pain. She’s been closed off, an iron fortress, for way too long. Black women have to be the strong ones in spite of everything. Black women often support everyone around us; it’s expected of us. It’s no surprise to me that many, if not most, of major civil rights movements in the United States were headed up by black women. We’re raised to hold up under the worst of times, even when we’re rotting, decaying, collapsing internally. It’s what we do.
So when Mariah coldheartedly tells Tilda who her father is and walks off in the face of her tears, I was hurt but unsurprised. For all the times Mariah’s been closed off, hurt, torn apart and crushed, a few tears likely don’t mean anything to her. “Family first.” And as far as Mariah is concerned right now, she’s all the real family she’s ever had.