The only consistently negative thing that I have to say about HBO’s Insecure is that we just don’t get enough of it. Eight 30-minute slots is not enough time to really dig into a show that is so jam packed with meaningful commentary about life as a Black millennial. Not to be cliché, but Insecure seasons really do remind me of rollercoasters. You’re giddy after waiting forever to get on the ride, you slowly climb to the high point and experience the drop, just when you finally adjust to the speed, twists, and turns, the ride is suddenly over. Insecure season finales can often feel like sudden stops on a roller coaster and “Ghost-Like” was no different. But that doesn’t mean it was any less great or that I left the episode with any less to think about. Season three has seen the women of Insecure grow up, grow apart, grow wiser, grow out of old phases. Episode eight is giving us a peek at what’s waiting for them on the other side.
Issa (Issa Rae) is hitting a wall with her block party idea. She is overwhelmed by all of the forms she has to fill out, she can’t get local businesses to sponsor or donate to the event. Call me unsupportive but I kind of saw this coming. She hadn’t planted nearly enough seeds to pull off an event like this. But NaThAn MaDe HeR tHiNk It WaS eAsY. Now that Nathan (Kendrick Sampson) has been in the wind for a month, suddenly she’s realized that she’s bitten off more than she can chew. Every once in a while, Issa is so basic that it overwhelms me. But I’m going to be nice because she’s over him, and she’s interviewing at other non-profits, including Beats Crew. Plus it’s her birthday!
I don’t have any scientific data to back this up, but there is some kind of trigger that is activated in male exes when we are happy. No matter how far away they are or how long it’s been since we’ve heard from them, they will choose this as the opportune time to come back into our lives and cause emotional upheaval. This is what Nathan does on Issa’s birthday: he shows up with flowers, ready to ruin. But thank god for friends like Molly (Yvonne Orji). She sees Nathan approach Issa’s apartment and intercepts, because a real friend sometimes knows what’s best for us, even when we don’t. At the bare minimum, they know how to keep the energy clear for our birthday turnup.
Before we get into Issa’s birthday, let’s get a quick update on Lawrence (Jay Ellis). He is also trying to figure his life out. His dad comes into town and he has the quintessential ‘how do I get a relationship like you and mom’s?’ conversation with him. His dad gives him the quintessential ‘relationships take work’ response. Lawrence has to open himself up to women he may have ordinarily overlooked if he’s really trying to take this dating thing seriously. Remember this for later. Now back to the turn up.
Molly and Kelli (Natasha Rothwell) surprise Issa with a screening of The Last Dragon at a cemetery. The event is being put on by one of Tiffany’s (Amanda Seales) friends, Condola (Christina Elmore); the same Condola that Issa met at Tiffany’s baby shower; the same chick that Lawrence kind of made eyes with at Tiffany’s baby shower before he was distracted by Issa. Because the screening is in a cemetery, it only makes sense that the ghosts from everyone’s past show up. Kelli spots no fewer than three men she’s slept with. Molly runs into her old flame Jared (Langston Kerman). If you’ll recall in the first season, she ditched him because he worked at Enterprise and admitted to having a single sexual experience with another man in college. There’s a guy with him at the screening and Molly is sure that she dodged some sort of gay bullet with him.
Lawrence is also in attendance. Him and Issa are quoting the movie together within minutes of greeting one another. Apparently Black nerd stuff is something they had in common. Of course Lawrence is there with Chad (Neil Brown Jr.) and is surprised to find out that he has reconciled with the woman he compulsively cheated on. I am not shocked at all by this. For every trash man, there’s a woman willing to take him back over and over again. But this idea that any relationship can function with a little bit of struggle and work sticks with Lawrence. And when he brings Issa her favorite candy, Raisinettes, he really hears her when she talks about putting her block party on hold and making better decisions in life. He reaches a decision, but I’m not going to tell you what it is just yet. We still have to get through this night.
It turns out that the man that Molly saw Jared with was his brother. They are on a double date with Jared’s girlfriend and another chick. Molly is there with a fresh coat of egg on her face for making assumptions. The haughty energy that Molly has been giving all season — at work, in her relationships, and in her friendships — needs to be regulated and it’s starting here in “Ghost-Like.” Jared is just the tip of the iceberg. When she admits to Issa that she curved Nathan on her behalf, Issa loses it. In what can only be described as an intervention drag, Issa calls Molly out for being negative, assuming the worst in people, and refusing to look past her own petty wants and desires, at work and elsewhere. Perhaps for the first time, Molly is forced to consider to consider that she is on track to secure everything she wants but isolate herself in the process.
And because Molly is the kind of person who needs more than one piece of supporting evidence, the fallout of her shiesty plan with Taurean is bittersweet. The partners tap her to co-lead a project with Taurean (Leonard Robinson). But Taurean has no interest in working with her after she went behind his back to present their ideas, so he leaves her to work on the project by herself since she’s burned bridges with everyone else at the new firm.
Thankfully, Issa understands the power of Black women linking up. Still not ready to completely give up on her block party idea, Issa connects with Condola to figure out how to make the dream a reality. Condola is full of useful tips and the two women really hit it off at a coffee shop. But they have to part ways because Condola has a date. And when Issa arrives home, she has flowers waiting for her… from Nathan.
We’ve now arrived at the pop quiz part of the episode: where everyone reflects on what they’ve learned and makes serious life decisions with the information in tow. Here’s how everyone does: Molly calls Andrew to apologize for blowing up and then blowing him off. He is looking really good with his hair cascading down his shoulders and in season 4, I need Molly to consummate this relationship for the culture. Lawrence isn’t back on the Issa train. In fact, he has decided to let Issa go and instead gives one of the divorced women he’s met a chance: Condola. And as for Issa, she agrees to meet up with Nathan to hear him out. But he doesn’t have any excuse for ghosting her except that he was in a dark place and needed to return to his hometown for a bit. Thankfully, Issa doesn’t fall for it.
“Ghost-Like” ends with Issa finally unpacking and decorating her apartment. She is content with herself and her life in the moment. It’s really all a 30-year-old can hope for in her situation.
What I would have done if I were Issa: The most. For my 30th birthday this year I went to Spain, asked my present and former lovers for birthday money, and drank way too much gin. Issa’s birthday was cute, but not 30th birthday cute. I’m proud of the strides she made with Nathan and her professional life, and she deserves to celebrate it.
What I would have done if I were Molly: Even though I agree that it was an overstep to block Nathan from Issa, I still would have done the same thing and dealt with my friend’s wrath later. At the very least, I would have told him to come back on a day that wasn’t my friends birthday and told her about later that same night. I would never have sat on that kind of information.