We’ve made it to episode ten of Queens, and all I can say is this was effortlessly one of the top three episodes of the season! After the season one finale, I will provide my top three episodes and why they deserve the top three spots later. But for now, let’s review and discuss this pivotal and poignant episode.
Last week the queens came together to tackle the patriarchal establishment entrenched within the music industry. With the ink dry on the contract and the conception of Nasty Girl Records becoming a reality, the ladies set forth to show the world that women genuinely run it.
Emotions were high, and excitement was bouncing in the air as Lady Z prepared to perform at her first comeback show alongside her formal rival, turned business partner Xplicit. Just as the crowd fully embraced her performance, Z spotted an unpleasantly familiar face peering down at her. Frank Black. In the previous week, the narrative behind her exit from the game was explored. Having been alone with the predatory music producer/exec, Z was assaulted and arrested for fighting back in the same evening, leading to the demise of her promising rap career and ultimately extrication into a new life.
Naomi was upset at the blatant harassment toward Z, so she ambitiously searched for more women that could come forward to bring Frank Black before the persecution he’d long evaded. And it is at this point; I would like to pause from the storyline recap and just state that this episode was beautifully acted, written, and produced.
The first nine episodes featured great sequences, music, acting, etc. However, the common link was that they focused on each queen individually as they navigated this new world and a new chapter in their careers.
Yet, in episode ten, this was, in my opinion, the first full-length episode that showcased all of the women collectively supporting the cause and mission. I’m unsure whether it was planned intentionally with the season or introduced after the exit of one of the main characters. Episode ten served as the pivotal change from the queens, a group of women actively reliving their old dreams, to women with a renewed focus, new ideas, and goals.
Aside from the marital spat with V and Tomas, this episode showcased the connection that each of the women shares towards the other and women’s empowerment. For Naomi, it was her determination for answers and seeking justice for the women disgraced by the industry and the predators prevalent within it.
Although I was concerned initially, Muffin’s portrayal during this episode was necessary. She finally felt free enough to release the past trauma of being assaulted by Frank and how it shifted her career. (Sidenote: I cried hard tears while she shared her story with Zadie. It was powerful and also inspiring to witness her strength within being vulnerable. This combination is rarely visible for black women, whether in reality or fiction. But that’s an entirely long tangent I’m not willing to get into right now.)
I was so happy that Lady Z realized that she indeed wasn’t alone. She was courageous for standing up back then, and even though it seemed as though she made a mistake by coming forward again, it was worth it. In fact, it’s ALWAYS worth it.
Valeria and Jill had some involvement with the women’s movement surrounding Z with support and performing. However, their experience with empowerment manifested in other ways, making their stories parallel beautifully with the topic of sexual assault this week. Jill’s interaction with her father was highly triggering but once again necessary.
Aside from the character development, it was essential to showcase parental relationships or even non-parental relationships that center around damaging and abusive power dynamics are real, and it is often within these dynamics that people can be conflicted and complicit for years.
(Sidenote: Jill’s scenes with actor Brian Coats were award-worthy. The whole show was award-worthy, but…I have nothing else to add here. BRAVO.) After enduring two specific incidents shown during the episode, Jill finally stood up to her father’s abusive ways by declaring that she would no longer stand for it or him.
And lastly, for V, Tomas stepped in and stepped up to her by insisting that she stop self-sabotaging her happiness and proclaiming herself so damaged that being a “bad” person was inevitable. (Sidenote: And it was sexy when he did so.) Sometimes it takes outside sources and even others for personal empowerment, and in this case, her newly-wed husband of ten minutes finally broke through.
Overall, this episode featured powerful messages, and pervasive issues found today in and out of the industry. You can read, watch, or hear about sexual assault against women at any point during the day. Usually, the same ideologies and tactics are brought forth to justify the abuse or diminish its importance and impact. Movements, education, and, more importantly, accountability is key to tackling this issue within our community. It will not occur overnight and certainly won’t’ be a catch-all for every situation. But it’s a solid start towards a safer and more impactful industry and life.
Digressing back to the episode’s main plot, Naomi found a former femcee to discuss her account with the infamous Black. This account broke my heart because it was clear that she was left with both emotional and physical baggage from the encounter. (Sidenote: I wonder if they have considered making Naomi like a counselor within the new company? She’s naturally nurturing, and I feel it would be perfect for exploring her character more.)
Although the young woman shared her story with Naomi, she wasn’t willing to go to the national stage to put Black on blast. Naomi persuaded Z to sit down for an in-depth interview to strengthen the case against Black. (Sidenote: The moment I realized that the people behind Black had bribed the interviewer, I was livid. This was SO real. ) The interview backfired, and its ramifications threatened to derail Z and the new label. But in the end, perseverance and new receipts, courtesy of Muffin Esquire herself, served as the final blow to knock down Goliath for good. (Sidenote: My favorite part, in the end, was the last performance with all of the ladies and seeing Black escorted out of the concert by police.)
As you can see, I got my routine life with this episode as I have with all of the other episodes. However, the one thing that stood out like a sore thumb was Eric’s apparent neutrality in the situation. If he claims to be a part of the mission, he will need to pick a side. He can’t remain in the middle, especially if you expect change to happen. And besides, I think Naomi will expect him to be more definitive towards her beliefs and decisions.
This week, it looks like we will get the opportunity to see a moment where Naomi and Eric will have to pick clear sides based on a revelation brought on by JoJo. Check out the episode preview below, and be sure to catch Queens, Tuesday night 10/9c and the next day on HULU!