A lot of people watched “Lowkey Trying,” the second-to-last season four episode of “Insecure,” and were drawn in by Issa Dee (Issa Rae) and Lawrence Walker ‘s (Jay Ellis) reignited relationship (more on that problematic topic later). However, Rae has made it eminently clear that the entire theme of the season is an examination of Issa and Molly Carter’s (Yvonne Orji) friendship.
Specifically, season four looks at how adult friendships don’t necessarily stand the test of time because people change and like morphing puzzle pieces discover they no longer fit together.
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I always credit SCANDAL, @shondarhimes and @kerrywashington for piquing the industry’s renewed interest in seeing black female leads on television. So it was such a pivotal, full circle treat to have “Miss Kerry Babyyyy” herself impart her wisdom and incredible direction for this episode of INSECURE. She is a DIRECTOR and it was so dope to see the entire cast, myself included, willingly challenged by the bar she set. Forever a fan!
Before the season four debut, Rae explained the importance of Issa and Molly’s relationship on Complex‘s “Say Less” podcast. Rae explained, “From the beginning of the show it’s always been about Issa and Molly. I think audiences have gravitated toward the love relationships the romantic relationships rather. And obviously they play apart but we’ve always known this is a story at its core about Issa and Molly.
“And I think one of the things we talked about is this transition this season where Issa is going from her 20s to her 30s and Molly is, too, and I think you start to realize who you are and who you’re going to be or who you want to be in your 30s. You start to to act on that. And sometimes the people around you just don’t necessarily align with that. And that can be contrasting.”
Keeping in mind all of the above, this episode more than anything else was sad! Sad because it appears Issa and Molly’s enduring relationship (they’ve been friends since college!) has hit the skids.
Just as sad is the destruction of Molly’s character, who has been painted as the indisputably bad guy since episode five when she lambasted Issa in the midst of her block party for going around her to get ask her boyfriend, Andrew Tan (Alexander Hodge), for a favor. While one could debate whether or not Issa was in the wrong, Molly’s decision to address the issue while the event was ongoing was widely viewed as a major misstep.
The further dismantling of Molly’s character as the plot for the entire episode is set up with her first scene when she tests the patience of her saint-like therapist, Dr. Rhonda Pine (Denise Dowse), by dismissing Andrew’s brother, Victor Tan (Stephen Oyoung), and then goes on to insist that Issa needs to apologize for crossing her.
While Molly clearly is spending time and money in an effort to sort out her relationship with her “best friend” (her description!), her dismissive and entrenched views on Issa and Victor cast a cloud over the entire visit.
Even in the next scene when Molly appears in Issa’s imagination she’s portrayed as angry and intolerant, shutting down her friend in a time of need. The two eventually meet in real life, but only because once again Issa has to break down and be the first to extend the olive branch.
Following a pleasant but superficial brunch with Issa, the writers’ room takes shots at Molly again in a scene with Andrew. Expressing dismay that she and Issa didn’t discuss the root of their problems during the meal, Molly shoots down Andrew when he asks her why she didn’t attempt to introduce more substantive issues. She then waves off a peace offering invitation from Andrew’s brother, who’s in town and has invited the couple to attend a Los Angeles Clippers game.
(Meanwhile, keep an eye on the scene from “Looking for LaToya,” which reveals that the missing LaToya was cheating on her boyfriend….hmmm.)
When the couple reunite following the game, Molly irritates viewers further when she brings home take out Ragoon instead of the Indian food they had agreed upon. Poor put upon Andrew! While masking his irritation over the cuisine switch, Andrew then lets Molly know the game she ducked out of felt awkward because he was forced to make up an excuse about why Molly didn’t attend. Not hearing the substance of his message, Molly instead reacts with irritation, telling him she didn’t ask him to lie to his brother.
Their tense exchange is interrupted by the arrival of Issa and Nate, who are there to finish moving Nate’s packed up boxes out of the house. Clearly, Molly would like them to take their boxes and exit to the left but this time the always affable Andrew wins out and they stay to share a meal.
By this point in the episode, viewers who follow along with the show on social media are already completely fed up with Molly and are either actively calling for Andrew to break up with her or predicting she will soon be dumped.
The eat take out and chill session among the foursome is going swimmingly until Molly accidentally sends Issa a tweet intended for Andrew. Whatever good will had been building until that moment crashes when Issa looks down and reads a tweet that says, “SEE, I’m trying with her.”
The text is innocuous enough but leads to a final, heartbreaking moment of truth between Issa and Molly outside where Molly delivers the crushing line, “Maybe who you are now and who I am now don’t fit anymore.” In tears, Issa responds “Okay,” and when Molly is shocked by her acceptance, Issa adds, “I mean there really isn’t much more to say,” and walks away.
The closing scene acts as an exclamation point on Molly’s bad behavior throughout the episode. By the time a teary-eyed and sympathetic to the extreme Issa turns her back, the transformation of Molly from a supportive, and generous ally in prior seasons into the worst friend ever is complete. Things are so bad, it’s worth asking whether it’s possible to rehabilitate her as a character at this point.
As for the continuation of Issa’s relationship with Lawrence, there were a lot of signs last week foreshadowing a rocky road ahead for the couple and those worrisome signals continued to pop up in episode nine.
Right from the episode’s opening scene when Issa attempts to nail down the status of their relationship, Lawrence responds with ambivalence when he tells her, “I don’t know. What do you want it to be?” At the same time, when Issa mentions she’s reuniting with an ex, rather than express even a modicum of concern (which would be reasonable given her history!) that she’s helping him move into his home, he ribs her for being sprung.
Note also that the couple’s relationship thus far has been confined to Lawrence’s apartment and not even within the intimacy of his bedroom, which, notably, he did share with Condola Hayes (Christina Elmore). All the Issa and Lawrence action begins and ends on the blue couch, a piece of furniture used to symbolize a breaking point in their relationship in season two.
In an HBO season three blog, the couch was describing as representing a person entering into adulthood. According to show writer, Amy Aniobi, Issa gave the couch to Lawrence because “Issa knew she still had some growing to do.”
Lawrence is currently the sole owner of the couch perhaps hinting that Issa still hasn’t reached a place of maturation, and if we’re being fair, her decision to continue playing footsie with Nathan is a sign of that. As show writer Eli Welson Pelton indicated on Twitter, “Issa and Lawrence are back at it. Or at least back at something…”
When Issa attempts to take her relationship outside of the confines of Lawrence’s living room by introducing it to her brother, he is less than impressed and replies dismissively, “Does he know?”
“Maybe you just needed some space before trying again.” Lawrence is talking about Molly…and maybe about Issa, too. #InsecureHBO— Amy Aniobi (@janiobi) June 8, 2020
“Maybe you just needed some space, before trying again…” ok I see u Lawrence with the double meaning #InsecureHBO— Eli Wilson Pelton (@eliwilsonpelton) June 8, 2020
If all of the above doesn’t add up to signs of a gathering storm, Lawrence speaks very clearly when he responds to news of Issa and Molly patching things up by tell her, “Maybe you just needed some space before trying again,” a warning shot confirmed on Twitter by two of the show’s writers.
At this point, it’s just a matter of how and where Issa’s perception of what she shares with Lawrence blows up in her face not when.
Check out a preview of episode 10 below. Who’s Lawrence talking to on the phone??