by Janday Wilson
“Being Mary Jane” Season 1, Episode 5 Recap
The bleakness of last night’s episode of Being Mary Jane was made all the more dark because of the few ephemeral, bright moments that occurred. As a viewer, I was almost wishing that the characters could get everything their hearts desired, but it feels like they already made their deals with the devil. So unhappiness is the price that they’ll have to pay.
Like the opening scene for example. If you forgot for a second that Andre is still a married man, it was really sweet to watch him and Mary Jane make their plans to be together. He already told his wife that he is moving out and is ostensibly moving forward with the divorce. The hiccup in the plan is that his loft is not ready, so Mary Jane offers her place for his temporary, one-month limbo state.
Yay! They get to cuddle every night and morning without him having to sneak back home. He can bring her tea in bed (a full breakfast would have been more baller, but oh well) and they can talk about their workdays at the dinner table. Andre even encourages Mary Jane to put up her affirmations in a really heartfelt moment that shows he won’t judge her for her idiosyncrasies. Too bad her home is a prison of sorts for their relationship. She doesn’t want her neighbor and colleague Mark to know that Andre is there, so she makes him hide. And Andre can’t be her date to the Jack and Jill gala because he is still recognized around town as a married man.
We finally get to see more of Paul Jr.’s life. He is doing really well in his internship for a design firm and is studying architecture in school. But he is also selling drugs on the side. That seems to be working for him, especially since Paul Sr. accidentally received his account statement and freaked out when he saw that his son had $78,000 in the bank. The only problem is there’s likely an 85% chance that the deal Paul Jr. did in this episode is going to lead to trouble. And we learn that he is also involved in an affair with a married woman who won’t even acknowledge him when she sees him at the gala.
Then there’s the curious case of Terrence Mitchell, a journalist played by Ludacris. (It’s always so good to see Luda in a role, right??) It has come out that the groundbreaking, career-launching articles he wrote about corruption in the prison industrial complex, which led to reform in Iowa, were based on lies. Of course, the networks are hungry to break the story and you already know Kara is pressuring Mary Jane to snag Terrence for an interview, especially since the two are former classmates and friends. Initially, the reports of his ethical breach were not completely proven to be true. When Mary Jane says she does not believe Terrence lied, Kara comments, “The longer I live, the more I realize we’re all living big fat lies.” And is this not the essence of the show? Oh, and it turns out that Terrence lied.
Mary Jane’s mom Helen is a whole other issue. Now that she’s feeling better, she wants to be out and about doing everything, and there’s nothing anyone can do to keep her from enjoying herself while she’s in good health – and showing out for the Joneses of Atlanta society. Though her family is currently not living at the high standard they were previously accustomed to, she insists that her husband buy the family a platinum table at her charity’s gala. It’s really for a great cause – the United Negro College Fund – but the expense of it all is causing Paul Sr. unnecessary stress.
In a really uncomfortable scene, the wanna-be-husband-stealer Katherine, Helen’s frenemy, lingers by their platinum table after greeting the Patterson’s, and it turns out that she traded her platinum table with Paul Sr. for a dance with him. So essentially Helen allowed her husband to be pimped out for some society shine. Eventually, she gracefully swoops in to dance with her husband, and they look lovey-dovey, but that moment of happiness cannot erase the ugliness of that scene.
Helen also made the gala uncomfortable for Mary Jane. During her speech she broadcasts to the room that she wants David (aka Mary Jane’s former paramour), who is attendance, to marry Mary Jane. Mary Jane must have wanted to die on the spot when her mother giggled, “We’re not getting any younger David.” It’s clear to everyone who is sitting at the table with Mary Jane and David that they have some sexual and romantic tension going on. Mary Jane essentially admits to her friend Dr. Lisa that she still has feelings for David.
That night he is her Prince Charming when he rescues her from some random angry black man trying to get buck at the gala over her segment on Terrence Mitchell – “Well, I should be thanking you for being one more black woman to bring down a black man” – and they share a few dances as they reminisce about their younger days of coupledom.
For a moment it looked like “it could all be so simple,” as Lauryn Hill once said. They look so good together on that dance floor. Like a gorgeous black power couple who could give the Obamas and the Carter-Knowleses a run for their money. It was clear that they were both feeling…things. But he would rather make it hard. In that moment, he tells Mary Jane that he is seeing someone and it’s getting really serious. She ends the dance and goes home to Andre. It’s pretty sad, and telling, that she is so down about David when she has a man at home.
Andre senses her discontent, sits beside her and holds her hand as she mopes in her bathroom. He tells her, “Sorry I couldn’t be there tonight. I promise next year it’ll be you and me. I promise.”
Despite the fact that the two of them are in that scene together, Mary Jane looks so alone.