We’ve been schooled, we’ve been served, and now we get judged. In last week’s episode Lee met Mary Jane’s (Gabrielle Union) family, and flexed his muscle in a Black and boujee version of Roadhouse. Lee (Chiké Okonkwo) threw jabs for the sake of defending his woman’s honor and his woman soaked it up. But most importantly she also approached the supreme court justice nominee, Judge McCallister, and he agreed to do an interview with MJ for Great Day USA.
This week we’re back in Manhattan. Gone is the cozy Patterson home and that adorable “meet the parent” moment. We’re back in home-tel and we’re meeting Lee’s children.
Lee’s two kids, a daughter named Catherine and son named Aiden, are coming over to hang out in MJ’s fancy hotel pool and vet dad’s new bae. They’re also middle school-aged. Meaning, the billions of inflatable pool toys — swans and turtles etc. — filling her apartment will be more than likely be ignored in favor of doing cool teen stuff like looking at their phones all day.
This effort is definitely part of the new and improved MJ. Before this season, she would've dropped London immediately after hearing the words, "I have children." It's great to see her have a little faith. Aside from some initial awkwardness, they all hit it off.
A bit later, while the kids are off doing their own thing around the hotel, MJ runs upstairs to grab something. Assuming her suite is empty, she opens the bathroom door only to discover our beloved, innocent-faced Aiden holding a pair of her black lacy undies...jerking off. Ugh!
Then again, this is totally normal behavior, right? To him she's hardly yet a stepmom. His dad is dating his celebrity crush.
Later, as the new family is saying goodbye, Catherine leans in to give her dad's new lady a warm hug. Aww. Aiden grins awkwardly and begins to walk away. "Don't be rude!" papa Lee chimes in. "Shake her hand.” Aiden obliges dad's command and hesitantly shakes MJ's hand with his action hand. Both parties are mortified.
In the office, Mary Jane finds herself and queen Ronda (Valarie Pettiford) embroiled in a scandal. Someone from the inside leaked to the press that Ronda and Mary Jane Paul were bitter rivals and not getting along.
Our fairy godmother Ronda is labeled the saint of this situation, while poor MJ is the wicked witch. "Should I have them paint a white stripe in my hair and paint my face green" she says to Kara (Lisa Vidal).
MJ thinks Ronda leaked the story, but Kara squashes that. Later in the episode Kara discovers the leak came from the top. Was it a lowly bitter intern? No. A jilted employee? Nope. It was their very own chief marketing officer. Because if there’s anything a.m. television needs, it's a catfight between two female anchors. Marketing 101.
All that takes a backseat when Justin comes to MJ with some news. It seems Judge McCallister's spotless political record has a major smudge. Justin did some digging around and a source told him that McCallister pinned evidence on an innocent Black man in a past case.
Did you get that? The man who is soon to land the lifetime appointment of the highest court in the land sent an innocent man to jail. So much for a fluffy, lighthearted interview about the guy's favorite foods and all. MJ has now been called upon by the mighty journalism gods to perform a duty. Did Justin recently watch Spotlight on Netflix? He reminds Mary Jane that it was journalists who broke the Catholic church sex scandal and the Flint water crisis. Nothing like a little altruism to light a fire under a skeptical anchor’s ass.
MJ’s brother, PJ (B.J. Britt) has turned a new leaf. He’s making a killing in real estate and has a boss who believes in him. In fact, she believes in him so much that he’s now like some kind of unofficial babysitter for her daughter. Ava is 22, rich, privileged and mom has clearly had some trouble controlling her baby girl. PJ is aware of this. Though he's not laying down the law in terms of boundaries.
After unexpectedly running into an old college crush, sparks fly between PJ and the woman, and he’s stoked for the night of their first date. So dear Ava tracks him down and shows up unannounced. PJ is angry and his date is wary of her. Later, Ava suggests to PJ that he take his date back to her mother's empty condo, and slyly slips him the key. "Your place looks like a frat house. She's a sophisticated woman," she says. "Seal the deal." He does it. And I’m confused. Buddy, have you not seen Basic Instinct?
After a steamy night with his date, he awakens that morning — in a very small pair of striped boxer-briefs, jussayin — to find his crush snuck out a bit early. Oh, and his prized Rolex is also missing. Later he meets his crush and accuses her of stealing. He then realizes he made a mistake and discovers Ava snuck in and stole it while he was sleeping. This is beyond shady, it’s creepy.
Meanwhile, MJ and Justin are officially allies. No more bullying. They’re on the same team and Justin is determined to win. However, Ronda is an icon to MJ. She's studied her interview style to the point of imitating it. Those Oprah-like lean-in-and-listens, that nod, it's all Ronda. Yet with their rivalry circulating the gossip sphere, it's time for MJ to find her own identity and Justin is adamant about pulling it out of her.
"Talk to him, not at him!" he commands during a quick-fire practice as they prep for the judge. "You need to develop your own style otherwise you'll always be a cheap knockoff of Ronda's."
The judge and his wife finally arrive to the station. But who takes them on the tour of the station? Good ole Ronda. McCallister may be there to be interviewed by MJ, but queen Ronda swoops in like the predatory hawk she is, encroaching on Mary Jane's territory who is visibly annoyed with her coworker.
MJ's interview with McCallister goes from fluff to murky waters as she slowly begins grilling him about racially motivated injustices. Ronda and the judge's wife are sitting cozily in the greenroom watching it all unfold on the screen. The wife gets heated. She then bursts into the control room to yell at producer Garrett, who then urges MJ to cut to commercial. MJ’s new ally, Justin, comes to bat for his team member. He urges Garrett to let her keep going. Garrett cuts to commercial.
McCallister is clearly shaken, and the whole crew — his wife, Ronda, Garrett, and Justin — run out to the stage and everyone lambasts MJ, except for Justin. Instead he whispers to MJ that she did a great job and they "have enough."
Everything is going as expected until Garrett informs MJ that the interview will finish, but Ronda will sit in and take the lead. Ever the newly reformed, level-headed character, MJ is pissed but looks to the endgame. This could be just the thing that ends all that "rival" talk floating around with the public. The interview ends on a light note about the couple's grandchildren.
Afterward MJ confronts Justin, under the assumption that he told Garrett she "went rogue" in the interview. She assumes he didn’t defend her or make it clear that it was his nobel idea. She was shocked to learn that he also put himself on the line and it was clear soon after.
In a final scene Mary Jane, Ronda, Garrett, Justin, and Kara all come head-to-head. Garrett demands Justin hand over his source and gives him and MJ an ultimatum: give up the source or he and MJ get suspended.
What do you think: Should Justin give up his source?