Season 5, Episode 5: “Surviving, Okay?!”
We all have a control-obsessed boyfriend. They ask who has been invited to the party before agreeing to attend. They express all reservations. In Insecure, this friend is Molly.
Molly needs to know who, what, where and why before she chooses an outfit. I got better at it as the show progressed, but this week the control freak is back. This episode, directed by Kerry Washington, begins near the end of an attempt, when suddenly Molly’s phone receives a flurry of incoming messages. Her mother, Carol, was taken to the hospital.
Yes, Molly came to the hospital in her awful clothes, but left in a hurry to defend her. After the doctor first confuses Carol with another much older black woman, the family finally finds her. It was a bit farcical – there are plenty of factual reports suggesting that doctors give black patients less attention.
Molly’s mother has had a stroke and is not responding. Molly, Mrs. In Control, was taken by surprise. Throughout the episode, the Carter family waits to see how much the stroke will affect Carroll. Mauli does not leave the hospital, and soon Issa stops to offer support and help.
Issei had just woken up in Nathan’s bed, for a cup of coffee, when she received the news about Carol. She asked Nathan to take her to the hospital, where she was offered to bring clothes more suitable for Molly. In the meantime, Molly gives clothes off her back so she can be more comfortable while taking care of her family – that kind of brotherhood and care is nice to see on screen. (Isa is also a vision in this garment.)
After Molly and Issa exchange clothes, they look at themselves together in the mirror. It’s briefly as if they have become each other – Essa in a prom dress and Molly in a sweatshirt and killer jeans. It’s good to see the relationship reach this level of quiet, shared love, where a gesture and a hug communicate more than words can.
At the hospital, Molly, her siblings, Curtis and Jerome, and her father, David, are shocked to see their mothers in such poor condition. David is unable even to speak to the nurse but Molly picks up the ball and asks the nurse to keep her updated.
Before this emergency hospital treatment, Molly’s parents omitted essential details about her mother’s health, including the fact that Carol had had a stroke before. Molly was shocked and her sense of control took another hit – she didn’t even know what was going on with her parents.
Meanwhile, Issa has her own, less profound problems: She’s lost Molly’s dog, Flavor Flav, while walking. She was distracted by Nathan, having just met her mother via FaceTime, when he released the dog. They proceeded to find him with a strange lack of urgency: they were basically kicking it up and hoping that Flav would get back to them, which I found strange. But he did in the end.
After Issa basically stops her mother, who has been doing the most, she explains to Nathan that it’s okay if he thinks it’s too early for them to meet each other’s parents. But Nathan says no, with that sweet smile. Their relationship deepens and Essa soon learns more about Nathan’s family, although as is often the case with his past, he is very dark. (His father appears to be at least somewhat abusive.)
Once they stop looking for Flav and take a break on a bench, he finds them on his own. (In L.A.?!) Nathan sees an opportunity to borrow.
“Smarter than I gave credit for,” he said to Issa, who doubted the dog would ever come back. But it really speaks for itself.
“Honestly I wouldn’t have done the day without you. You’re patient with me, which is why I love you,” Issa tells Nathan, coincidentally. It’s another unplanned step forward in their relationship and once again Nathan responds positively, this time with a warm kiss.
After Flavor Flav returns, Issa returns to the hospital, where Molly has just been informed that her mother is likely to be at least partially paralyzed due to a stroke. Although the doctor offers to inform the family, Molly volunteers to do so herself. It seemed like an attempt to regain some semblance of control that she used to have.
Speaking to Isa, Molly beats herself up, as if allowing herself to have a good time is somehow connected to her mother’s plight.
“I was calling a random guy when my mom was preoccupied with having a stroke,” she says.
Issa replies, “All of these things are out of our control anyway.”
The truth of Issa’s own words emerges almost immediately, when she unexpectedly glimpses Lawrence with his new family. Heading for coffee, Issa sees him with Kondola and Elijah—they’re in the hospital, likely for a pediatric appointment. Issa looks at the child’s face and then looks at Lawrence’s. It is the image of the life she was once ready for, but far from what it is today.
Lawrence looks up with their eyes closed. (Condola doesn’t notice.) Then Issa slips out of the hall and Lawrence heads to his date. They both saw what could have been and had to get past it, Lawrence with disappointment on his face.
Issa stops when she turns away, freezing from what she has seen until the episode turns black. I hope she is strong enough to look at what could have been and walk towards what is.