(Photo from HBO)
The on again, off again dynamic between Issa and Lawrence has been the primary dramatic fulcrum of Insecure. But there have been hints that Insecure is ready to give the Issa and Lawrence storyline some time apart, and “Hella Questions” suggests that storyline might be tabled for a while.
It is the day after Issa and Lawrence finished their 21 strokes of makeup sex and Issa is asking Molly what she should do next. While Issa is over-analyzing the post-coital text message exchange between her and Lawrence, Molly is trying to work out her very legitimate issues of being underpaid and underappreciated at work with her therapist.
When Molly’s therapist asked “If your shoulds didn’t come to fruition, would you be open to your life looking a different way?” I wanted to throw money at my television screen like it was a collection plate. Like most real talk, it’s not exactly what Molly wants to hear. Her therapist is trying to get Molly to better understand her current wiring that is causing her so much anxiety, but all Molly wants to do is learn how to break into the boys club at her law firm so she can get paid like her white male counterparts. Both Molly’s reluctance with her therapy sessions and her problems at work have space to develop into something more and I hope the show continues to do so.
Meanwhile Issa’s having her own issues at work. The after-school program her and Frieda are trying to get off the ground might get pulled if there isn’t more student participation, so the two of them ask for help from one of the school leaders, Vice Principal Gaines. He has no problem giving Issa and Frieda a hand by appointing them a new faculty advisor, but he also has no problems speaking what’s on his mind. When he founds out their current faculty advisor is “Miss Alvarez” he shakes his head in disapproval, apologizes for letting their program fall through the cracks, and jokes the school may need to “build a wall” because it’s so overpopulated. This makes Issa and Freida both uncomfortable, but Frieda more so. Later when they overhear Vice Principal Gaines make another offensive comment to a group of Latino students, Frieda says she wants to flag it up to their boss. Issa makes a half-hearted attempt to stop Frieda from letting her liberal white guilt get in the way of all the progress they’ve made, but she also knows Frieda isn’t wrong, especially later when Issa ends up alone with Vice Principal Gaines and he lets his not-quite-nice feelings on the Latino kids fly. Now Issa has to figure out who she is going to protect: A xenophobic vice-principal with whom she doesn’t entirely disagree or her white coworker who is just now learning all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.
The episode reverts back to its rom-com groove when Issa and Molly meet Kelli and Tiffany at a special event. That’s when Issa spills the tea to everyone else about her and Lawrence’s brief reunion, but Kelli has some tea for Issa and it’s about Lawrence and his rebound girl Tasha. Naturally, Issa is surprised and reluctantly begins the standard social media lurking a lot of us are guilty of when we find out the ex is getting their life together. Issa needs to know everything from what Tasha looks like to where she works, but most of all Issa needs to know what Tasha means to Lawrence.
In typical Lawrence fashion, he doesn’t know what Tasha quite means to him either, which continues to be his most obvious flaw (more on this in a minute). Last night’s episode was the strongest case that Lawrence isn’t as bad as some people want him to be. Every single flaw people have tried to use to make Lawrence seem like he ain’t shit was accounted for in this episode. He told Tasha the truth about what he did with Issa, proving he isn’t ready to be a savage in the streets. He went with Chad to go look for an apartment of his own, proving he’s ready to sleep in his own sheets and not on his boy’s air mattress. When Chad chastises Lawrence for telling Tasha the truth about what he did with Issa, Lawrence reminds him he isn’t the type to lead women on, at least not on purpose. Later when Molly does some reconnaissance to track Lawrence down and find out where his heart is at about Issa, she asks him two questions. The first question is if he hates Issa. He doesn’t. The second is if he would ever take her back and the answer to that question is answered indirectly. While Issa is outside of the bank where Tasha is working fantasizing about knocking Tasha out, Molly calls Issa to break the news to her: “Lawrence said that he’s done,” says Molly.
Whether or not this is true is very suspect since we never actually see Lawrence say this to Molly, but later we see Lawrence come back to Tasha to apologize for what he did and tell her it’s over between him and Issa. Does that mean he cares about Tasha? I’m not convinced. What Lawrence really cares about is doing what he thinks is the right thing with everyone, which never works out well. He doesn’t want to hurt Issa and he doesn’t want to hurt Tasha because both outcomes will hurt him. He is a man is too nice not only for his own good but to other people as well. Tasha may learn that lesson the hard way, just like Issa did.
Malibu! For now, Issa and Lawrence are done, at least it seems that way when the episode ends with Issa responding to a guy on Tinder with two words: “Tryna fuck?” The credits roll before we get to see the response but the response doesn’t matter, the message is clear: Issa and Insecure are ready to move on. For now.