Something I have yet to mention in this recap, but feel extraordinarily strong about: Star really needs to work on its opening credits. "Bring Me" may be Star's best song (fight me on this one) but for a show so committed to the spectacle, it could do better than this super basic opener. That's one of my biggest hopes for season 2, which Fox promised is happening.
Anyway, I digress — we have bigger fish to fry, after all. Star served up major drama this week, and finally brought back some plot points we almost forgot about. How Simone (Brittany O'Grady) and Star (Jude Demorest) didn't think that Otis' (Darius McCrary) murder would immediately circle back to his MIA foster daughter shows how short-sighted these two are, but hey: they're also teenagers, and teenagers tend to be pretty dumb, even when they're not fake-murdering-then-really-murdering the evil adults in their life.
Here's a breakdown of all the issues Star brought to the table this week:
The Jahil, Eva, Star Triangle
When we first see these two, Eva (Sharlene Taulé) is grinding up on a ballet bar to a (surprisingly great!) song that Jahil (Benjamin Bratt) wrote. When Jahil confesses that he's the songwriter behind the track, Eva presses him about why he never released it. He admits that he thought the song, which features Spanish lyrics, would be too difficult for a white girl to sing. However, now he's realizing things might not need to be done "the great white way" any longer. Not only can Eva sing and dance just as well as Star, she can help Jahil discover his Latino roots.
...But does Jahil really want that? After spending the entire episode straight-up ignoring Star, the diva-in-training finally confronts her so-called manager. (And pulls Eva's hair.) She finally lays it down for Jahil: he can either pick her or Eva. He doesn't get to have both. In an amazing moment of wordplay, Jahil replies with "Eva" — then pauses for dramatic effect and finishes with "I'm gonna have to go with Star."
Savage. Savage. Savage.
Cotton & Carlotta's Mother/Daughter Struggle
We quickly learn that Cotton (Amiyah Scott) has quit Carlotta's (Queen Latifah) salon after that extremely problematic situation with Pastor Bobby (Tyrese Gibson), and has moved out of her mom's house as well. Things are still going well with Elliot (Jack Yang) though, who praises Cotton for "living her truth" — until he learns that she's still engaging in sex work.
Shortly after Elliot leaves, Carlotta begs Cotton to come home, and apologizes for everything. Carlotta tells Cotton that her heart breaks knowing that Cotton has turned to prostitution, and Cotton admits that it "makes [her] skin crawl," but it's all she's ever really known — she's been doing it since she was 12. Now my heart is broken for Cotton.
While Cotton's gender identity has clearly been difficult for Carlotta to come to terms with, it's not the only thing that has driven a wedge in the pair's relationship. In flashbacks it is revealed that Carlotta robbed a convenience store as a young woman in order to pay for an abortion — an abortion she never actually went through with. Cotton was born months later, when Carlotta was in prison. Who took care of Cotton while Carlotta was behind bars? In a full-circle moment, we learn that Star's mom Mary (Caroline Vreeland) was the one who stepped up to the plate to temporarily raise Carlotta's child. While Cotton clearly has some resentments about Carlotta investing so much in Simone and Star, the reveal makes it pretty clear why Carlotta feels the need to be their surrogate mom.
Simone's Otis Problem Gets Put To Rest (Maybe?)
Child Protective Services comes for Simone, and pretty soon the cops are interviewing Carlotta about, uh, why the heck she allowed a runaway to crash at her house for months without saying anything to CPS. Simone tells the police that she was the one who killed Otis, which, apparently, she believes she did. Star quickly steps up to the plate and tells the cops that she actually killed Otis, which we know is also a lie — and so do the police. Apparently it wasn't Carlotta's gun that killed Otis, because that gun was never fired. So... who really killed Otis? Was it Jahil? Cotton? Will it all be revealed in the finale?
Things We Really Need To Talk About
—Is Star really going back to Hunter (Chad James Buchanan) just like that? While she hasn't let him off the hook for hitting her, she also tells his mother Arlene that she "really likes" Hunter. As Arlene (Nealla Gordon) puts it, "The fact that you can put up with this says a lot about you." Sadly, abuse is something Star seems too used to dealing with, and that really sucks.
—If Jahil turns out to be Star's father after the show keeps talking about how much Jahil "wants" Star (vomit vomit vomit) I will lose my shit.
—Who else got Chicago flashbacks from Carlotta's appearance in that prison-set dance number?
—Are we not going to talk about Star's weird, half-eaten sweatshirts? Is this what the kids are wearing?
—And speaking of what the kids are wearing: why the newsboy cap, Simone?