The Season 03 premiere of MJB was two episodes. Not two hours. 2 new episodes. I'm not complaining, but it's kinda weird, not just to make it one long 2 hour show. I'm gonna assume this has something to do with contracts and commercial ads?
Anyway, this is the recap of the second episode, which aired on the same night as the first one.
Good news: Mary Jane should be ready to return to her job in about three weeks.
Bad news: The network hasn’t made a decision about whether they want to keep her. There was alcohol involved in the accident, cameras in the office have revealed that MJ keeps tequila in her desk and “she likes to knock back a few drinks before she leaves the office. The network wants to complete their in-house “investigation” before making a final decision about MJ. But they’re leaning toward “no.”
“If you want to fight hard for someone, you don’t pick a middle aged black woman with a drinking problem,” says the network counsel. “She’s not worth the risk.”
MJ is at home completely losing it. She hasn’t heard from her attorney and she’s mad SNC isn’t begging her to come back and taking it out on the dishes. She’s so mad that she knocks her iPhone into the dishwater. She spazzes, but there is no level of spazz that is inappropriate for an accident of this magnitude.
The doorbell rings. MJ has an unexpected guest. It’s Loretta Devine aka CeCe! Cece got MJ’s address from the personal check she wrote to her at the hospital. In exchange for a Celine purse to one of the nurses, she was able to obtain MJ’s lab results from the night of the accident. That combined with the check MJ wrote and the apology in the memo line, sound dangerously close to an admission of guilt and combined are enough for a likely win if there was a civil suit.
MJ reminds CeCe, who describes herself as “a classy lady” and “a woman of moral fiber”, that CeCe signed a non-disclosure agreement with SNC. Cece points out that it protected the network not MJ personally. Sh--. And that she didn’t even realize the power she held in this situation until SNC made her an offer to go away.
Cece has decided that MJ is her "blessing". Does she mean second blessing? Because she just got 100k out of the network. Anyway, after CeCe describes the PR disaster that will happen in the lab results leak, MJ goes from balking at CeCe’s extortion to thinking about it. “I can help SNC or I can help you,” CeCe says. “I’d rather keep our dollar in the Black community.” No, no she didn’t go there with it like she’s down for The Cause.
MJ says she needs a day to think it over. Cece says she’ll be back the following day for her money.
Also, I would like to take back my comment in the 0301 review about Loretta Devine always being typecast. This is a whole ‘nother lane for her and she is SHINING!!! Mara is giving her the Viola Davis treatment, taking an immensely talented woman whose made a living for the last two decades out of lackluster material and finally giving her something to sink her teeth into. Devine, of course, rises to the occasion. I don’t like CeCe at all, like at all. (It’s a testament to the writing and the acting that I’m having a visceral reaction). But I LOVE watching her on screen and can’t wait to see what she’ll observe next. #hateCece #teamLorettaDevine
Another thought: I don’t much like MJ. She reminds me of a lot of my weaknesses and it makes me uncomfortable, and over-analytical, which is the point, I think. I still root for her though. That said, even though she’s being extorted, I like that she’s being held responsible for her actions. And again, while CC is wrong, MJ does bear some accountability for driving while almost intoxicated. Usually, anytime anyone tries to have a conversation with MJ about her real sh--, she deflects and weasels out of it. Cece isn’t letting her do that.
Over at the network, the ratings for MJ’s show have dipped. Her initial replacement, Ted, ain’t working out. Upper management charges Kara with coming up with a replacement, a Black woman who is “the next best thing” to Mary Jane.
Mary Jane’s lawyer calls her at home and relays his version of events from the meeting with SNC earlier that day. He spins it so she won’t freak out, which is already happening if her meltdown while washing dishes is any indication. He tells her that the longer she’s out, the more the audience will miss her and this can work in a favor.
Um, sure. MJ wants to believe it so she does.
She follows up with a question about being financially responsible for the accident and what would happen if her blood results got leaked. Her laywers says that without an admission of guilt—like say, a check with an apology in the memo—she’s fine. Why she doesn’t just tell him about CeCe is beyond me. I mean, he’s her lawyer.
“Mr. Gonzalez” of the National Council of La Raza has shown up to talk to MJ’s boss. Each year, they give the networks grades on their diversity, especially their inclusion of the Latino population. More of less, Mr. Gonzalez threatens to give SNC an “F” in diversity for their lack of coverage on Latino issues and on air Latino talent and because they have one Latino producer that they tout.
Big Bro Patrick is across town at basketball practice with his youngest daughter, D’Asia. Her mom shows up to watch and an excited D’Asia loses focus and goes over to her. The kid notices Mommy’s home monitor on her ankle. Lawd. The parents don’t explain.
Mom tells Patrick that it’s going to be hard meeting her obligations to D’Asia because of the house arrest curfew and her lack of a car. Dad offers to pick her for D’Asia’s first game. As they watch D’Asia back at practice, Mom intertwines her pinky with Dad’s. Like holding hands, but not. The look on Patrick’s face says everything, which is he ain’t feeling it. But he also doesn’t move his hand. Is that compassion? Or mixed signals? Or both?
MJ is pacing through the house trying to figure out how to come up with the 25k for CeCe. She’s on the phone with her accountant who says he can get her 5k cash— not for shoes— the following day. Kara calls to update MJ on her replacement at the network. Kara tells her the truth: Ted is out, ratings are down, and the network is flipping. SNC has demanded she find a new Black woman ASAP.
Kara leaves out the part about the pretty, much younger Latina that’s being paraded through the office. She asks if MJ needs food. MJ asks for fried chicken and pancakes, red beans and rice, pizza, crawfish and 7Up cake. Apparently, MJ likes to eat when emotionally distressed or bored. I can relate.
When Kara shows up at the house, MJ says she’s insulted that the network thinks any Black chick can do what she does. She goes into a rant about not understanding why bad things are happening to her. She cut people out of her life who were bad for her and focused on her career. She says she was happy before the night the accident occurred.
That is some revisionist history if I ever heard it. No, boo. You were miserable before and you’re still miserable. MJ reminices on how good it felt to be “wanted and appreciated by SNC.” She wanted the validation. “Everything I fought for and sacrificed for is evaporating,” she says. “I lost my best friend, I lost my man, I can not lose my job.”
Pause. This is more revisionist history. If MJ was the main character in Catcher and the Rye, she would be referred to as an “unreliable nararator”. She and Lisa were not besties. She could barely stand her. And David has a pregnant live-in boo. That was not MJ’s man. Not by a long shot.
And still, I appreciate the last part of her rant, the bit about her job. I would argue that despite what she said on the last episode about “putting all my eggs in one basket” when it comes to David, that it was actually her job she did that with. Things weren’t working out on other fronts, so she threw herself into work to get that feeling of accomplishment. And she became really good at it, because that’s what happens when you set something as a priority and work hard towards it. She’ll get over losing David soon enough. Her job though? That’s another story.
MJs plan is to telling Kara to hire an actual ugly black woman and break the prettier barrier on TV. Kara tells her she’s crazy. “It’s starts out as racist, and it ends as highly offensive.” Eventually, she gets on board though.
Across town, Patrick and his youngest child’s mother and his parents have shown up for D’Asia’s first basketball games. The passive aggressive shade between his Mom and the kid’s mom is killing me softly. After D’Asia scores two women come over to compliment Patrick on D’Asia’s on court skills. It’s not clear if they’re flirting or just making small talk, but Kid’s Mom feels a way. She tells the women that D’Asia gets her skills from her mother.
Mom feels away about not being introduced so she’s claiming her territory. Um, what? She and Patrick aren’t back together. Why is she claiming him exactly?
Mom abruptly announces that she has to leave in order to make it home by curfew. Knowing that Mom being around means something to D’Asia, he offers to give Mom his car so that she can stay longer. Nice gesture, but mom has a suspended license. Womp, womp.
She’s still in her feelings about Patrick’s mom and the women who came by and that Patrick has the luxury of a car and that he can stay through the end of D’Asia’s game. She wants Patrick to know that he’s no better than her. “No matter how much money your family has, you’re still an addict,” she hurls at him.
Look, I’m all for a good read when one is deserved, but Patrick has done nothing to this lady. And didn’t he bail her out of jail?
When that doesn’t get a reaction, she reminds him of all she’s done for him. “I guess I smoked all that crack by myself,” she muses. “I blew people to support us.” Whoa!
I feel for the lady, I do. It’s got to be hard being separated from your kid, and your man’s mother shaming you, and watching next chick’s approach your ex in front of you and watch someone that lived the same life as you clean up easier because of the support system he has in place. But Mom doesn’t have any thing to stand on here. She’s dead wrong at coming for him… in the middle of her daughter’s basketball game…. that he happens to be coaching. She walks off, and Patrick’s face leaves us to surmise that what she said really got to him.
Kara’s back at MJ’s house to inform her that MJ’s idea about hiring an ugly Black woman has been shot down by the higher ups. Instead, they are hiring the new Latina that was being shown around the office. Kara shows MJ a picture. She’s a hottie, period. MJ is threatened, but won’t say so. Instead, she launches into a tirade, describing her fill-in as a dress that you buy and wear once and and take back to the store the next day. “She’s a return item”, MJ says. Um, no she ain’t.
There’s a knock at the door. It’s CeCe. To Cara, MJ plays her off as an iPhone repair woman with a “lick her license” (LOL).
Cece’s there for her $25k, but MJ hits her with the facts, she got a “drug addict brother”, a sick mama, and is paying for her niece’s two kids. She ain’t got it. She can give CeCe $5k cash today and that will have to do. CeCe is on some mob ish and puts MJ on a payment plan. MJ will pay her in installments, $5K every two weeks until CC hits her “blessing” of $25k. (MJ doesn’t really agree or disagree, but in commercials for next week’s episode, viewers see her handing CeCe a large, folded stack of bills.) And hold up, how much is MJ making that she can give up ten stacks a month?
While they wait for the $5k to arrive, the women get into a conversation about the “push button generation”, ie, millenials. MJ sys that all these kids bring to the table is “exploitation and entitlement”. CeCe counters that slavery, racism, and a host of other factors beyond people’s control gets them to the point that MJ is complaining about. MJ counters that CeCe has no room to talk, as she’s exploiting MJ. “You’s a lazy ass Negro,” she tells CeCe. Um.. CC is, but she coulda slapped MJ in her own house for that and I would have been just fine with the storyline. But CeCe is unfazed. She’s on that “b---h betta have my money” bottomline.
While they’re talking, Primetime debuts with its fill-in anchor, Marisol. CeCe describes her as “fetching”, then points out to MJ, “she got you shook. There’s nothing worse than underestimating your opponent.” CeCe declares Marisol, “that face of the future.”
This is why I love this character. She showed up to SNC looking unassuming, but she’s shrewd. And she might be extorting MJ, but she’s also helping her at the same time. MJ’s paying her to stay quiet about her lab results, but she should be paying her for advice.
When CeCe leaves, MJ does the worst possible thing: heads to social media to see Marisol’s reviews. They’re mostly positive. And as CeCe predicted, Marisol posted an Instagram picture of herself in MJ’s anchor chair with the caption, “a girl could get used to this.” Body blow.
Patrick stops by the family home just to pick up D’Asia, but the convo turns to his work hours and his unreliable schedule. After years of brushing off his father, he asks his dad to “make that call” for him to find him a steady job so he can be there for D’Asia. His father jumps up and hugs him, then is so emotional that he retires to his room.
Niecy, who only seen briefly this episode, is sitting on the couch witnessing this whole conversation and she isn’t feeling her father’s vulnerable moment.
“How come you didn’t fight like this for me and Naimia?” she asks. “You were always gone—some party, some club, some woman… we could have used a perfect father too.”
Damn. I feel for both of them. It’s been a good 15 years since she was D’Asia’s age and her father has matured as a man, just as he’s supposed to. I see that as an outsider. I also see why Nicey is validly upset. She sees her dad doing for another child with another woman what he didn’t do for her.
CeCe might have pissed MJ off, but it also gave MJ her battery back. At the house, she’s standing in the mirror practicing her intro for her show. Her face is healing nicely, but she still has a ways to go. And too, the focus has been on the physical trauma, but she’s got some new emotional scars as well. As she’s practicing, we see that she’s lost some of her confidence.
Fast forward: MJ has got her swagger, back. Either that, or she’s faking it until she makes it. She struts into her workplace in shades and a (glorious) pink dress to the soundtrack of PTAF’s “I’m a boss ass bitch”. MJ might not be ready to go on-air, but that’s only part of the job. She’ll do the behind the scenes work until her face is healed and she can get back in the game.
She walks into a meeting and promptly bumps a naïve and gushing Marisol from the main chair (with a smile). I don’t even know if the poor thing (Marisol) realized what just happened to her.
What did you think of Season 3, Episode 2?