Behind the hedonistic neon lights, slow-mo montages and nudity, there really isn’t a lot of substance to P-Valley. This much is especially evident in episode 2 as our various slice-of-life sub-plots trickle along slowly. This is certainly a shame because this drama has a lot of potential and interesting characters.
The episode begins with Mercedes and the other girls doubling their efforts to rake in the cash. In the midst of dollar bills raining down, Clifford’s nephew Corbin arrives to greet his Uncle. This is no time for a family reunion though as Clifford continues to struggle with financial issues – something that sets him back an eye-watering $55,000.
That pressure is made even worse by so many people around him relying on this job. One of those happens to be Big L, who learns about Clifford’s woes. After asking incredulously how this happened, he urges his boss to get it under control.
Away from the others, Autumn gets dressed privately in a cubicle. As we find out later in the episode, she’s hiding a scar across her belly that looks like it may be from a C-section. Autumn runs into trouble on the way out the door though when Uncle Clifford demands she show some ID. Up until this point she’s managed to fly under the radar but now, Clifford wants some answers. She promises to give him some in time and slips away.
Mercedes’ Mother continues to spin her web of deceit. She phones her daughter and asks for another “contribution.” and, as we soon find out, the Pastor at the church is also hungry for this money. So much for money being the root cause of all evil.
Mercedes ignores the call and brings her dancing girls to a building with a big ‘For Sale’ sign across the front. It turns out she’s bought the place for them to perform from now on. Their celebrations are short-lived though when two men ride past and start shouting at her.
While Autumn learns the identity for the recovered ID cards she found with the flood, Andre works on his presentation. Dubbed the “Promised Land Casino and Resort”, it pictures moments from the strip club. Soon after, he heads down to a house and gets two men there to sign a contract. Despite getting their signature they point him toward the real person calling the shots. “Where can I find him?” Andre asks, as the two men point to a sign for P-Valley.
Meanwhile, the Club’s Annual Soak Down gets underway. The Mayor shows up and it’s clear there’s some bad blood between him and Clifford. That bad blood stems from his rules surrounding the club. Eventually Clifford caves and agrees to wash the Mayor’s car. Midway through however, Autumn suddenly starts panicking as flashes from the past involving a submerged car come back. Clearly she’s suffering from some serious trauma but for now, that remains a plot for a later episode.
Mercedes takes Autumn home but she’s clearly embarrassed over her living arrangements. She quickly slams the door shut in her face and buries her head on the solitary mattress on the floor. Later that evening Autumn loads up the computer and proceeds to transfer $9000 to Lakeisha Savage.
Uncle Clifford and Big L work in the kitchen together at the club until Lil Murda arrives with a new song. After receiving some home truths over his mixing, Lil Murda gives some advice of his own. He encourages Clifford to use cannabis in the cooking to add some extra flavour.
Out the front, Andre arrives to speak to the owner about the lease – that owner happens to be Corbin. While they discuss business, Autumn arrives and begins dancing for them both. As she twists and turns, she listens to them talk about the casino. Andre is only there to facilitate a sale but Corbin clearly has other, more ambitious plans. He wants to lease the land rather than sell, believing this could bag millions in the long run.
As he pitches Andre his idea, Corbin encourages him to join in this business venture. Andre refuses to bite though and defiantly rejects the offer. Defeated, Clifford instead pays for a “ride” from Autumn and leaves.
That evening, Mercedes speaks to Clifford about his finances and learns how bad his problems actually are. In the wake of this, the night draws to a close but Autumn and Mercedes fall out. Eventually Mercedes leaves but this conflict is far from over.
Autumn hands over the ID for Lakeisha but Clifford sees straight through this and realizes it’s a fake. When Autumn mentions the casino, Clifford uses this to his advantage. Leveraging his position as her employer, he tasks Autumn to get some answers about what’s happening in town otherwise he’ll go to the sheriff.
Mercedes returns home and confronts her Mother over the money she’s been taking. Squaring up to the woman, she demands the 20 stacks back by the end of the week. Meanwhile, Andre receives a call from Autumn and hangs up on his lover to speak to her. Autumn starts breathing heavily and encourages him to have phone sex.
In the morning, Clifford enters his car and finds a mix-tape from Lil Murda, which is where the episode ends.
The Review Write-Up
Clifford’s big financial issues look like a dark storm-cloud hanging over this series as his club faces the very-real possibility of being shut down. Aside from that, and a couple of intriguing sub-plots, there really isn’t that much substance to this drama. Instead, we’re graced with a lot of nudity and explicit content.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, the lack of deep characterisation thus far has been a bit disappointing. Keyshawn barely features this week too while the casino being built sets up Clifford’s business as the underdog we’re going to root for to come out on top. We’ve seen this story play out numerous times before and it’s a shame because there’s definitely some promising parts to this well-oiled machine.
Autumn’s back-story in particular is fascinating and hopefully we learn more about what happened to her in the past. For now though, P-Valley delivers a slow moving episode that sets up the foundations for – hopefully – some dramatic and deep characterisation going forward.