Insecure Season 3, Episode 3 Recap: "Backwards-Like"

Photo: Merie W. Wallace/HBO.
There are so many little things that make HBO’s Insecure good. For example, the writers have mastered the art of pacing the show so that viewers feel fully immersed and invested in the lives of Issa (Issa Rae) and her friends. Those same writers also know to pull a damn good prank. Case in point: the opening moments of this season's “Backwards-Like.”
I still don’t know if I should categorize the opening scene from this episode as a dream sequence or a fantasy that was taken directly from my own personal subconscious. Daniel (Y’lan Noel) and Issa playfully debrief their new sleeping arrangement — in the same bed — and it quickly turns into him performing cunnilingus while she enjoys a bag of Flamin Hot Cheetos. I never thought of myself as having any food fetishes, but Insecure may have tapped into a part of my sexuality that I need to explore more. But I digress, this beautiful, romantic scene is actually just Issa daydreaming next to Daniel. At least we know she’s thinking about sleeping with him. After all, he is still fine AF, despite growing increasingly annoying. But more on that later.
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At work, things seem to be progressing as well. Just last week, Issa was in hot water with her boss Joanne (Catherine Curtain) for taking initiative about the racial insensitivity at We Got Y’all. This week she is teamed up with Freida (Lisa Joyce) to recruit and hire another person of color at the organization. Apparently her suggestions to Joanne didn’t fall on deaf ears. The pair of them post up at a job fair, and Issa gets inspired after watching an impromptu dance performance from members of a youth music program called The Beat Crew. She’s been working at We Got Y’all for five years and hating it most of that time, so the allure of a shiny new job with an artistic component looks good to her.
Molly (Yvonne Orji) has also started her new job at an all-Black law firm, and she’s a little disappointed that it isn’t fancy enough. They don’t keep an offsite storage facility, she has to use a courier to send signed documents back and forth, and she has to bill her own hours by hand. The horror of first-world problems. And because Molly is Molly, she isn’t taking any of it in stride. She keeps mentioning what things were like “at her old firm,” and it's having the same effect on her new co-workers that constantly bringing up your ex might have on your new fling. I really hope sis goes back to therapy for her control issues. But on the bright side, Dro (Sarunas Jackson) was nowhere to be found in this episode.
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Let’s talk about Daniel and his fragile male ego trying to ruin everything. After begrudgingly agreeing to work with Khalil (Aaron Jennings) — a man who actually has a music career producing for rapper Spyder (Roshon Fegan) and is trying — Daniel is struggling to be flexible with his sound. He’s really into jazzy instrumentation, but Khalil knows that Spyder likes heavy bass. Daniel actually pouts when Khalil tweaks his beat a little bit, and it would be cute if it wasn’t so childish. Daniel is staring his big break in the face, and he’s pressed over some drums. And that’s not the only thing that has me side-eyeing Daniel in this episode.
Issa interviewed for the property manager position she got a call back on. The apartment she’d live in leaves a lot to be desired, but it’s only $750 a month, and she won’t be tempted by the thought of oral sex and Flamin Hots anymore. Daniel doesn’t want her to leave, though. He thinks she’s taking on too much work, and that they should just keep things the way they are. Now listen: I know I’ve been harping for weeks about why Issa should have slept with Daniel long ago. But sex is one thing. Dumping all of your petty music gripes onto a woman who has fallen on hard times and trying to influence her housing decisions is out of bounds. Check yourself, bruh.
All of this — Molly’s new job and Issa’s evolving situationship with Daniel — is on the docket for girl talk with the two best friends plus Kelli (Natasha Rothwell) and an annoyingly pregnant Tiffany (Amanda Seales). Here are the takeaways from their dinner:
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1. There is no consensus on whether Molly’s new firm is unrefined because they are Black owned and operated; or if she is being too hard on them because they are Black owned and operated. Sometimes our issues are internalized. The final thought is that she needs to make the best of it since she worked so hard to get there.
2. After Issa drops the bomb that she and Daniel have not only been sleeping in the same bed, but that she may stay with him even longer, the three other women kick into intervention mode. Living with him to avoid homelessness is one thing, but she shouldn’t too comfortable, and she certainly shouldn’t have her hopes up that they may end up together. Too much has happened between them. I don’t know about you, but when my friends say ‘nah’ in unison like this... it’s a nah.
It takes no time for Daniel to prove Molly, Kelli, and Tiffany right. Things go south for him at the studio when, instead of playing Khalil’s version of his beat for Spyder, he puts on his preferred jazzy one with lackluster results. Khalil and Spyder scrap the song altogether, and Daniel pouts some more. Later, he takes it out on Issa. She has somehow scraped together some money to treat Daniel to a nice dinner. It’s the least she can do since he’s been letting her stay at his place. She also announces that she’s taking the property manager gig and moving out. Good girl. Daniel takes the news in stride and changes the subject to fill Issa in on his faux pas with Khalil. Issa thinks Daniel should trust Khalil. Daniel thinks Issa is unqualified to give career advice when she isn’t passionate about her work. The latter is a low blow. Not even the apologetic head he tries to give Issa later in the night can make up for it.
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Ugh. Daniel is making me hate him.
What I would have done if I was Molly: Run back to my therapist, ASAP. She dove headfirst into a new gig and isn’t satisfied with it. These are the perfect conditions for some sort of existential crisis on Molly’s part. She is going to have come to a place of acceptance about it. I also would have reminded my homegirl Issa that Daniel isn’t the one for her.
What I would have done if I was Kelli: I, too, would have called Issa a “dumb bitch” for thinking she stood a chance with Daniel.
What I would have done if I was Tiffany: It’s still a no for me on Daniel. But I would have been less annoying about it.
What I would have done if I was Issa: I know that I have been a strong champion of Issa leaving We Got Y’all, but I’ve been tempted by the allure of something new without doing my research before to disastrous results. Issa needs to take the Beat Crew guy out for coffee to find out if the organization is actually where she should be, or if it’s just pointing her in the right direction elsewhere. Regarding Daniel… I obviously would have slept with him a long time ago before he had the chance to get all sassy with me. However, now that he’s been showing his true colors, it’s clear that Issa’s made the right decision to move on. Always listen to your homegirls.
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