Written By: Mekeisha Madden Toby
Welcome back to week nine of Season 4 of HBO’s Insecure.
Episode 9 of Insecure titled “Lowkey Trying,” opens up with Lawrence (Jay Ellis) lovingly looking at Issa (Issa Rae) at one end of the couch at his place and Issa starring back with love and lust in equal measures in her eyes. Kirby’s “Velvet” plays as Issa crawls over to Lawrence on the couch – or should we say bouch – launching a breathlessly romantic montage of lovemaking, cuddling, TV watching, eating, and even working that had us all in our collective feelings. Ah, amore.
“Yo, this is wild, right?” Lawrence asks Issa as they share a blanket and slices of pizza on the couch. The two listen to music and laugh and joke about how irresistible Issa is until the haze of bliss is broken by a singular text. It’s Nathan (Kendrick Sampson), who is asking if Issa is going to be around later in the week to help him move into his new place. Suddenly, Issa has to decide if she wants to tell Lawrence about Nathan or not. She decides to come clean. “Did I ever tell you about my friend, Nathan?” Issa asks.
But Lawrence, who had asked who was singing the song they had been listening to, thinks Issa is talking about the song. Issa clarifies that Nathan is a guy she used to date but now they’re just friends. She tells Lawrence about the moving favor Nathan is asking for but tells Lawrence she won’t help Nathan if it makes him uncomfortable.
Lawrence jokes that he has Issa “turned out” and Issa laughs and assures him that she’s trying to be honest. She doesn’t want to mess up whatever they have now. “What is this again?” Issa asks. Lawrence answers her question with a question. “What do you want it to be?” There are so many questions between these two in this scene. Issa says she doesn’t know what she wants their relationship to be. She doesn’t know if Lawrence is still kicking it with Condola (Christina Elmore). But instead of asking or even saying Condola’s name, she enquires about “loose vaginas hanging around.” So hilarious. Lawrence asks if Issa is referring to Condola and Issa says sure, since Lawrence brought her up. Ha! Remember when Issa and Condola were friends?
Lawrence says he talked to Condola and the relationship is over. Issa attempts to hide her joy but her smile betrays her. Issa then asks if Lawrence is going to move to San Francisco and be a “trolley n*gga” and Lawrence says he has to nail the job interview first. They end the scene joking and kissing to Giveon’s “World We Created.”
The title card pops up and cuts to Molly (Yvonne Orji) at Dr. Rhonda’s (Denise Dowse) office. Molly is complaining about the relationship anxiety she has and how Issa is contributing to that. She says her romance with Andrew (Alexander Hodge) is the longest relationship she’s ever been in and it is harder than she thought it would be.
Molly adds that she thought Issa would’ve respected her best friend’s newest and longest coupling. Dr. Rhonda says that she is getting a strong sense of the stress that Issa, Andrew and Victor (Stephen Oyoung) are causing Molly to feel. Molly says that she feels tense like she is dreading something and she doesn’t even know what. Wow. That describes how a lot of Black people are feeling these days.
Dr. Rhonda asks if Molly thinks that Issa is the root cause and Molly says yes, because Issa crossed the line by going behind her back and asking Andrew for help. Dr. Rhonda challenges Molly’s beliefs and asks if there is anything Molly could’ve done differently in the moment.
Thank you, Dr. Rhonda! But Molly misses the point and says no, Issa has to apologize to her. Wow. Dr. Rhonda then attempts to get Molly to pay close attention to a pattern she sees emerging in Molly’s life. She says that as soon as someone angers Molly, Molly puts up a wall and shuts down. Molly is sticking to her dogmatism. She says Issa was out of line. Then Dr. Rhonda points out that the same could be said about Victor, Taurean (Leonard Robinson), Dro (Sarunas J. Jackson) and Molly’s dad (Gregg Daniel). And then Molly finally has an epiphany. “Do you want to be right or do you want to be in a relationship?” Dr. Rhonda asks Molly. Then the doc goes deeper.
She asks Molly if her relationship with Issa still serves her. When Molly says Issa is her best friend, Dr. Rhonda says, “Given everything that’s happened, do you want to do the work of repairing your relationship?” But Molly doesn’t answer and we won’t find out how Molly really feels until the end of the episode, directed by the amazing Kerry Washington.
Cut to Issa and she’s finally back at her place working. Her phone buzzes and it’s Nathan texting again. Issa says she can help him move in and Nathan tells her to swing by Tuesday any time after 3 p.m. Issa stares at her phone. She is desperately seeking advice on her Lawrence and Nathan situation but doesn’t know who to turn to. She calls Kelli (Natasha Rothwell) but gets her voicemail. She then calls her brother Ahmal (Jean Elie) and he’s eating spicy Jamaican food and is nonplused when Issa says she’s back with Lawrence. When she mentions Nathan, Ahmal says he always keeps a light-skinned and dark-skinned boo thang too, but Issa assures him that it’s not like that. She is Nathan’s friend but doesn’t want things to get messy. Issa worries that she’s overthinking things and Ahmal inscrutably agrees. Issa ends the call and thanks him for not helping her at all. “Whatever, you get what you pay for,” Ahmal taunts and hangs up. But we all know who Issa really wants to call. She really wants to call Molly. So she does and when she tells Molly about rekindling her love with Lawrence, Molly promptly cusses her out. Thankfully, it’s not real. It’s just what Issa imagines Molly would and could say.
Full of trepidation, Issa calls Molly anyway – for real this time – and leaves a voicemail message asking if they can meet up.
Issa is sitting at a diner called Pann’s in the next scene waiting for Molly to arrive for brunch. She nervously orders two mimosas light on the orange juice and soon Molly arrives. They hug awkwardly and they chat about Molly’s brother and the child he inherited from his ex-girlfriend and Issa tells Molly about the dine-and-dash divas who broke her heart. “Never trust East Coast hos.” They exchange more pleasantries as Issa picks up the check, much to Molly’s delight, and tell each other they love each other and hug goodbye. It seems like they’ve turned a relationship corner until Molly gets home and tells Andrew that the whole reunion felt superficial. Andrew asks Molly if she brought up the Block Party or the troubles they had leading up to the event and Molly says that it didn’t seem like Issa wanted to talk about it.
Andrew adds that Molly should’ve tried to meet Issa halfway because clearly Molly missed Issa. But Molly says the only person she misses is LaToya from Looking for LaToya and she grabs a bottle of wine and two glasses.
Andrew reminds Molly that his brother Victor is in town and he got them tickets to see the Clippers that night. He teases Molly about saying star player Kawhi Leonard “can get it” and begs Molly to go to the game with Victor because his brother is trying to make a peace offering. Molly tells Andrew he should go and she doesn’t want to get in the way of them having fun. Ugh. Did Molly not hear a thing Dr. Rhonda said? The scene ends with Andrew and Molly snuggled up and watching Looking for LaToya.
Cut to Issa and she’s walking out of a local exercise haunt called Burn Cycling with her assistant Quoia (Courtney Taylor). They’re excited about a wellness pop-up they’re planning and Burn Cycle has signed on as a sponsor. Issa says she will have to learn how to ride a bike and Quoia says she doesn’t mess with bikes because she broke her pubic bone in high school riding a bike and had to wear a diaper cast. Issa tries not to look disgusted with Quoia’s oversharing or when she whips out two Eggo waffles from her purse. Quoia says she’s on a high gluten diet to get “thick for the weekend.” At first Issa judges but then admits that she’d like a piece of Quoia’s purse waffles. Issa wonders how the waffles are still warm and Quoia confesses that she has handwarmers in her purse.
Issa says she is excited about the event even though the wellness pop-up doesn’t have a name or a venue. But Quoia is all about positivity and reminds Issa that they have secured two juice vendors and the cycling folks. Issa agrees and they part ways. Before Issa can get in her car, her phone rings and it’s Lawrence. She calls him Rice-a-Roni because of his job prospect in San Francisco and Lawrence says he grew up in a Hamburger Helper family. They joke and Issa tells Lawrence that she met up with Molly for brunch. He asks how it went and Issa says despite the fact that they didn’t talk about anything too deep, she feels like they’re on the road to best-friend land once again. Issa says it felt good to reconnect and she missed Molly. Lawrence encourages Issa and says maybe they just needed some space. But it seems like they’re no longer talking about Molly but their relationship instead. Awww. Lawrence says goodbye and that he will see Issa soon and attempts to sing the Rice-a-Roni theme song but Issa playfully cuts him off.
Before the next scene kicks off, viewers are treated to aerial shots of a number of beautiful murals all over downtown Los Angeles. Issa is then shown at Nathan’s gate. He buzzes her in and she’s talking to herself trying to decide how to platonically address Nathan so that he knows they are just friends. “Hello, Nathan” makes her sound like a serial killer but “Hey pal” makes it seem like Nathan is a white child. When Issa gets to Nathan’s door, she settles for an over-the-top “My, n*gga,” which shocks and confuses Nathan. He tries to give her a hug and she dodges him like a disease. Issa tells Nathan to put her to work. While unpacking books, Nathan gets too close for Issa’s comfort and she gets squirrely and quickly moves away to another box. She asks what’s new and Nathan says that the owner of the barbershop he works at is retiring and he and his coworkers are buying the shop. Issa tells him that’s incredible and Nathan says Issa inspired him to do big things like her. He walks over to her to get closer and flirt and Issa get squirrely again. She decides to tell him about Lawrence. Nathan says cool and walks away from Issa. “The one you cheated on?” Nathan asks. Issa says yes but it’s still new and they’re figuring it out. Nathan chuckles. Issa asks what’s funny and Nathan says, “I thought you were over that sh*t. He seems sometime-y.” Then Issa defends Lawrence. “He’s not. We talked it out and we’re in a good place.” Nathan says he hopes Lawrence keeps his “sh*t together this time” and Issa snaps. “At least he knows how to use his words and doesn’t disappear,” she retorts.
Moment of truth time. Nathan says he didn’t just disappear. He thought he was depressed but got diagnosed as bipolar. Issa apologizes that Nathan went through so much and that she didn’t see it. Nathan says he didn’t know how to talk about it and was afraid people wouldn’t understand and would think he was crazy. He adds that after he sorted through things, he got clarity on the kind of people he wanted in his life and that includes Issa. He tells Issa he appreciates her and Issa says she appreciates him too.
Over at Nathan’s old place, Molly brings over Chinese takeout and Andrew says that the Clippers game was dope. He says he was sitting next to one of the Migos – that’s how good their seats were – but he’s unsure of which Migos member it was. Andrew adds that things felt awkward with his brother Victor because Molly wasn’t there. To make things less uncomfortable, Andrew lied and said Molly had to work. Molly says she didn’t ask Andrew to lie. Andrew argues that Victor is his brother and wonders if Molly is ever going to see him again. Molly says she doesn’t understand why Andrew would ask her to do something that makes her feel uneasy. “You could at least try,” Andrew says before Nathan and Issa walk in the townhouse and interrupt the conversation. Sensing that Molly and Andrew were talking about something heavy, Nathan apologizes for arriving early. They’re just there to pick up boxes and bounce. But Andrew urges them to stay and have some food and Molly agrees and Nathan and Issa, who are starving, decide to take a break and stay and eat. Over dinner, Issa, Andrew and Molly tease Nathan because he’s from Houston but has never had guacamole. He says it looks like baby food and they all laugh and sip wine. Molly asks him about the new place and Nathan tries to downplay it. Issa tells him to stop being modest and asks Molly if she remembers her first apartment, which was smelly and small. Issa and Molly chuckle and reminisce about a carpet stain that kept growing and resembled Suge Knight.
Molly says she remembers all the silly games and wine downs and they mention a game Issa created called “Celebrity Heights.” It’s a drinking game where you have to guess a celebrity’s height and if you get it wrong, you take a swig. Molly looks hesitant but Andrew encourages her by lovingly rubbing her arm until she gives in. They play and start with former Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. This is especially funny because Sampson, who plays Nathan, is a Bernie supporter in real life. No one guesses correctly so they joke and drink. They run out of wine and Andrew goes to get another bottle out of the fridge. Molly chooses Niecy Nash and sends a text. She thinks she’s texting Andrew but the wine has her slipping and she accidentally texts Issa instead saying, “See? I’m trying with her.” Ugh. Issa texts back: “I don’t think this was meant for me.” And then Issa says she has to go.
Nathan and Andrew are completely confused because they don’t know about the texts and stare as Molly runs after Issa, who is ordering a Lyft. Molly says she’s really sorry Issa saw that and it wasn’t meant for her. Issa says, “No sh*t.” Molly says the whole get together feels forced. With visible tears in her eyes, Issa says she was trying to get their friendship back to where it was but didn’t realize it was so hard for Molly to be around her. Issa says even though Molly says she’s trying, she feels like the only one putting in any effort. Molly says brunch and drinking games aren’t the answer. Issa says that they should talk about the Block Party. But Molly says their inability to reconnect is bigger than the row at the Block Party.
Issa says she knows they were off-center and that’s why she reached out and says she can’t be the only one trying to make it work. “Maybe who you are now and who I am now just don’t fit anymore,” Molly says, hammering the final nail in the coffin that was their friendship. A heartbroken Issa fights back tears and manages to say a simple, “Okay.” Then Molly repeats the “Okay” like she’s disappointed. Huh? What does she want Issa to say in that moment? Like, for serious Molly? Issa says there isn’t much more to say and gets in the Lyft, which drives away. What is it going to take to bring these two back together? We’ll find out during next week’s Season 4 finale.
Insecure airs Sundays on HBO at 10 p.m. ET/PT. See you again next week!
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