In episode 8 we jump headfirst into the dreaded ex file. Last week, Mary Jane Paul (Gabrielle Union) met boyfriend Lee’s (Chiké Okonkwo) two kids. Aside from an explicitly awkward encounter with his son, MJ made it out safely and with good reviews no less. This week, we meet Lee’s ex-wife, Zoe.
We already know from a few episodes ago that MJ has done her research; she’s a journalist and regular human dating in 2017, after all. She knew that Zoe was a gorgeous free spirited woman. What she didn’t know is that dinner with her and Lee would make her feel less like his girlfriend and more like a third-wheel on someone else’s date.
“Lee was just telling me how you met. Well played!” Zoe says within the first 10 seconds of meeting MJ. Remember, Lee and MJ met under the premise of a one-night stand. MJ is flushed with embarrassment. “We tell each other most things,” he says to MJ. No shit, sir.
Our leading lady is still stressed from last week’s tension-filled episode, which left her and Justin suspended. The two remain in an unlikely alliance as they continue to dig deeper into the McCallister scandal. Kara (Lisa Vidal) is busy and now partnered with Ronda (Valarie Pettiford), though she’s made it clear to Queen Ronda where her loyalty lies.
Meanwhile, MJ’s baby brother PJ continues to underestimate Ava, the boss’ daughter. As suspected, the ever-plotting Ava spied on PJ’s sexual escapade last week in her mother’s empty condo and she has the photos to prove it. She threatens to show the sexy photos to her mother if he doesn’t give her access to the condo so she can throw a massive party. He says “go ahead,” he’d rather deal with the backlash than be blackmailed. That’s when Ava drops a bomb: “My mom is in love with you,” she says. Didn’t see that coming. Though it all makes sense, “You really think that Rolex is about your business potential? If I show her those photos, it’s over.” Ava ultimately gets her way. And after the party predictably goes awry, PJ discovers Ava was telling the truth. He severs ties with her mother.
Back in the Land of Awkward, Mary Jane and Zoe come to see Lee for one of his sets. Of course, being a comedian, Lee uses bits of his personal life for comedic material. Duh. MJ is not impressed when her family and their personal life are the butt of a harmless joke, especially in front of his perfect ex-wife. Which is the real problem, let’s face it. MJ confronts him after the set, and the conversation takes an unexpected turn. She learns that Lee is anti-marriage but, ahem, very “pro commitment.”
Lee’s attitude toward saying “I do” is merely the newfound philosophy of a spurned man. Zoe cheated on him, and MJ is convinced that they both still care for one another.
But you know what? She’s right. Lee and Zoe have loads in common, they’re British, they both have a wry sense of humor, and oh yes, they raised two children.
MJ’s insecurities fall to the wayside when she discovers that Zoe cheated on him with another woman. And just like that, with MJ's fragile ego back in tact (whew!), a bond is formed.
In the office, everyone is still trying to figure out who Justin’s source is for the controversial Judge McCallister news. Mary Jane figures it out, but not before Justin catches wind. And so, despite being on suspension, the two break the rules and continue working on the story in secret. A wrongly-convicted man comes forward, and his side of the story checks out.
After MJ’s interview, she tells Justin that all the work they’ve done is in vain. “You know Garrett’s gonna give this story to Ronda,” she says.
Justin, like the rest of us, has no time for this defeatist chatter. “You know you’ve got to stand up for yourself,” he says.
“I need this job,” MJ responds.
“What do you need more? A job or a seat at the table?” he asks MJ. “Whatever you choose I’ll back you up.”
The two take their story to Garrett (Ashton Holmes) who, although displeased with them for going against the suspension and working in secret, is excited about the “bombshell” of a story.
As predicted, he brings Ronda (and Kara) into the office. “It’ll be a major scoop which reverberates throughout the congressional committee,” he says. “And Ronda will present every word.”
Um *record scratch* what?
Even Kara, who’s now Ronda’s producer comments on how awkward this is. Mary Jane responds with a soft, “No.” They simply put too much work into this story to hand it off without a fight.
“You don’t have a choice!” Garrett says.
“I do have a choice. If you give this to Ronda, I resign immediately,” MJ says.
For a second time, Justin rallies behind his team member. If she goes, he goes.
It works, and the story is an all-around success.
Later, while on a professional high from a successful day at work MJ, Lee, and Zoe meet for a final dinner before Zoe flies back across the pond. Everything is going along perfectly until Zoe asks — respectfully, in front of Mary Jane — if Lee will be a sperm donor for her and her new partner.
Because, you know, who doesn’t want to give DNA to their cheating ex and her new partner?
Ahh Zoe, ever the free spirit. I can't wait to see how this plays out.