Our good ole’ friend the justice system, right? It’s one of the cruelest jokes in American history. Cottonmouth was arrested at the end of episode 6. Misty Knight’s crooked partner, Scarfe died after being shot by Cottonmouth, but not before he did one last good deed. Scarfe’s ledger detailed a plethora of crimes that Cottonmouth was involved in, but the justice system released our favorite Harlem gangster, proving the evidence was inadmissible. So, we’re back to square one.
This episode showed the best development of Cottonmouth yet. I didn’t have a problem with him at all up until this episode, but he was a typical gangster. It wasn’t until this episode that I noticed the connection between himself and Luke, and how deep he is as a character. Cottonmouth is a talented musician. It’s what drove him to succeed when he was young. It’s the main reason throughout all of the nonsense going on in the show, that he won’t sell Harlem’s Paradise. He couldn’t care less about Mama Mabel or Mariah. His love for music trumps everything else.
My favorite part of this episode was the flashbacks we get in regards to Cottonmouth and Mariah. We see that he’s always been talented, but Mama Mabel, the family leader, doesn’t care. Cornell is a boy who likes to play music, not beat people up in the streets. He’s a gentle soul, but back then they called you soft for it. We see a young Pop too during this flashback. Mama Mabel is ruthless. She doesn’t want any part in the drug game. The young man who stopped by the house with Pop is forced to stay after. Mama Mabel cuts off the young man’s finger with a pair of pliers because he went behind her back to sell drugs. It’s a brutal scene. She insists that Cottonmouth be the one to finish the boy off. Uncle Pete, one of Mabel’s associates, protects Cottonmouth and tells Mabel he’s not ready for anything like this. Once again, Mabel implies that the boy is soft. After they take care of the boy, it’s evident that Cottonmouth is struggling to keep it together.
In the present, Cottonmouth blackmails Luke. Shades recognizes Luke from Seagate and tells Cottonmouth his real identity. This is one of the best scenes in the whole show as we see what connects these two even more. Cottonmouth abhors the fact that Luke thinks he’s so much higher than him, when in reality, Luke is just another nigga. Two black men, vying to be the “real nigga” on the block. It’s something that goes on with black men today in our country. This mentality contributes to what the media calls “Black on Black” crime.
Shades is running his own operation. He’s trying to convince Mariah to run the Stokes crime family. Shades is one of the worst parts of the show. He’s not intimidating and I don’t like his acting.
In the past, Mama Mabel realizes that Uncle Pete has gone behind her back. He’s been making side deals with the Puerto Ricans. He has to pay for what he’s done. Who has to kill him? Well, Cottonmouth of course. He has to kill the only man who ever believed in him. Uncle Pete reminds him of his talents. Reminds him that he can be better than everyone in the family. It’s then revealed that Pete molested Mariah as well. Cottonmouth slowly pulls the trigger twice, killing his own family
This episode ends with a melancholy bang, no doubt. Cottonmouth and Mariah have their final argument. Their two pasts clash at Harlem’s Paradise. The flashbacks have been playing in Cottonmouth’s head too. Mariah brings up Mama Mabel, and he laughs at her name. He tells Mariah that Mabel always protected her, never him. That’s where their divide is strongest. Pete molested Mariah, but he was the only person who ever believed in Cottonmouth.
Their fights ends when Cottonmouth says that Mariah wanted what happened to her regarding Uncle Pete. She loses her mind, pushes Cottonmouth out the window, and crushes his bones with a microphone stand. Cornell Stokes is dead.
The last scene shows Claire and Luke walking down the street. They are talking, when Luke is suddenly shot by s sniper. The bullet penetrates his skin and he falls down in pain.
This episode was one of the best, alongside episode 4. I’m extremely disappointed they decided to kill off Cottonmouth. There was potential there for him to maybe turn his life around and turn on Mariah and Shades. He didn’t want the life he had. It’s Mariah’s turn to step up now, let’s just hope the show gives her a little more depth as a villain (still not a fan of the acting on her part or Shades at all. Both really annoy me, and I feel like almost anyone else could’ve pulled these roles off better. Not them. The characters themselves are fine though. Acting is a bit atrocious.)