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‘Insecure’ recap: Love in a time of gentrification, glass ceilings and Carl Thomas sweaters

Issa and Lawrence might be soulmates. They might be meant for each other. But that doesn’t mean they’re meant to be together.

Season 2, Episode 8 | “Hella Perspective” | Sept. 10

There are a lot of ways we can go about breaking down Sunday night’s Insecure season finale. So let’s just go through some.

Gentrification. We’ve all seen it firsthand. Areas that were once majority people of color are suddenly lined with juice bars and Harris Teeters. Not that it’s a bad thing in the most technical sense. But the technical sense fails to account for the history of an area, the people who inhabit said area and what that history means to those people. It’s baldly noticeable as Issa walks down the street at the beginning of the episode. It’s subtly noticeable as a white woman jogs in front of Issa’s complex.

Tiffany and Derek. Anyone else put one and one together? So check, when Lawrence, Chad and Derek are all in Lawrence’s semblance of a living room, the latter two tell Lawrence why Aparna having sex with a co-worker multiple times is bad for business. Chad agrees, but Derek absolutely agrees and tells the story of how he had to get rid of one of Tiffany’s old co-workers for the same reason. One, you can’t give Lawrence advice like that because he’ll not only take it, he’ll implement it at the absolutely wrong time. Case in point: bringing it up in the car to her, thus leading to an argument, Aparna getting out and leaving Lawrence 0-2 in post-Issa situationships. But what’s really intriguing here is Derek says Tiffany (who is pregnant now) went to Issa’s apartment to watch Due North. Yet, when the scene shifts to Issa’s, we find out Tiffany can’t make it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Derek-Tiffany dynamic play out more during next season. They’ve alluded to issues in the past. Maybe season three is when we find out that baby isn’t Derek’s. It’s Work Bae’s. Just something to ponder.

The Untouchables. Which brings me to my next point. Insecure is a show where everyone catches a proverbial bullet, except these three: Kelli, Chad and Thug Yoda, aka The Neighborhood Blood, were the only ones not to take an L all season. They provided a sense of relief and lightheartedness for a show that can stress you out. Hoping they have more screen time next season.

Maybe season three is when we find out that baby isn’t Derek’s. It’s Work Bae’s. Just something to ponder.

Molly’s therapy and Issa’s job. Issa is essentially being demoted — and Freida promoted — to new director of student outreach. At the same time, she’s moving out of her apartment in one of those hellish collisions of professional and personal life that hit all of us at least once (or 38 times) in our lives. Life has a way of humbling you when it wants. We knew the way Issa was handling her gig would come back to haunt her. She was essentially running a segregated after-school program. As for Molly’s therapy, it was nice to see it return. Given everything that’s going on in her life right now, talking to a professional will be more important than ever.

Molly’s glass ceiling. The conversation that Molly, Issa and Kelli had regarding Molly’s future — working for black people vs. working for white people — is a common one. It’s been frustrating to watch the glass ceiling Molly runs into at work. That “Rising Star” certificate? A piece of paper doesn’t pay the bills. They gave Molly a participation trophy and patted her on the head.

Some feel the finale was a bit of a letdown. And that’s because it didn’t pack the one signature moment — like Tasha calling Lawrence a “f— n—–,” Lawrence’s threesome, Daniel and Issa’s couch scene or last weekend’s dinner party from hell — and it left doors unopened and questions unanswered. All of which may be true.

In a season full of over-the-top antics, it came down to decisions for Molly, Issa and Lawrence. For Molly, it’s simple. People return to where they feel most comfortable, even if they know the situation isn’t in their best interest. Ask yourself how many times you’ve seen this in person. Ask yourself how many times it’s been you.

This is the type of decision Molly makes when it comes to dudes. Actually giving Quentin (LilRel Howrey) a chance, a guy who vibes with her on an authentic level, outside of work or professional motives, would’ve been foreign territory for her. She’s just not willing, at this time, to give herself that opportunity to find peace. Until she does, we’re going to see her walk through the revolving door that is love with all the wrong people.

Dro, on the other hand, is going to play this as long as the rules allow. How much does his wife, Candice, know? Molly’s brilliant and is deserving of a lot more than what her current gig is offering her. But because of that chaos, she’s doubling down on the chaos in her personal life.

If any moment resonated, Issa, Lawrence and Lawrence’s vintage Carl Thomas sweater reunion was the show’s axis.

But if any moment resonated, Issa, Lawrence and Lawrence’s vintage Carl Thomas sweater reunion was the show’s axis. Sans last week’s episode and the argument that followed outside the restaurant, the two hadn’t spoken to each other, or been in the same room since the season opener. Issa and Lawrence both hurt each other. Issa’s transgression was just more blatant. Lawrence’s complacency was more below the surface and a gripe that built up over time until the consequences became inevitable. But Lawrence’s admission that the shortcoming in his own ambitions had more far-reaching ramifications than he realized was and is a very real ego check. It was the most honest moment he had all season. The conversation is one to which the entire series has been building. Both are struggling to establish themselves professionally while barely keeping their heads above water outside the office. Both needed the secure blanket that the other provided.

It’s part of the reason Tyler, The Creator’s “Boredom” song played such an integral role in the finale. Find some time to do something/ Find some time to do something, the hook suggests. As it turns out, that “something” is exactly what Lawrence and Issa needed, the one thing they’ve avoided all season: an honest conversation. And one that absolutely needed to be on TV in the manner it was.

Speaking of the musical direction, the one dope part of Issa’s elaborate daydream that included her and Lawrence not only getting back together but also getting married and having a kid was the song selection of Daniel Caesar’s “Blessed.” The standout from the Toronto’s Freudian project was tailor-made for the moment. But I’m glad Issa was daydreaming. It rarely, if ever, happens like that.

Issa and Lawrence might be soulmates. They might be meant for each other. But that doesn’t mean they’re meant to be together. One of the hardest lessons love teaches is knowing when to let go. Letting go of someone or something that was such a large part of yourself, your vulnerability and your strength is a lot to accept. It’s hard to remember life before their impact, and it’s even scarier to imagine a future without it. The thing they don’t tell you about love is that not everybody gets to keep it.

What this means for next season, I couldn’t tell you. With Aparna out of the picture and Lawrence seemingly taking some time to himself, might we see less of him? How in the world does an Issa/Daniel living arrangement even begin to work? And we’ve already addressed the 6 million WTFs that keep Molly running back to Dro. For now, we all need a break. Perhaps the most accurate part of last night’s episode was its title: “Hella Perspective.” That much is for sure.

Justin Tinsley is a senior culture writer for Andscape. He firmly believes “Cash Money Records takin’ ova for da ’99 and da 2000” is the single most impactful statement of his generation.