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Insecure season 5 episode 1 recap: no time to be insecure

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During the first episode of the final season of HBOs Insecure, we meet Throwback Issa, the college version of Issa looking at her in the bathroom mirror.

This time, Issa is not rapping in her reflection. Instead, they catch up and she looks endearingly younger at herself. I forgot how cute I was with twists, Issa said to her reflection. And the younger version of herself is struck by who she has become. Issa ?! Is it me? she asks.

After spending a minute admiring their teeth, they cut each other awkwardly, as if they were both thinking and doing the same thing. In this tango you can tell that even though Issa doesn’t look like she is now, she has a more auburn hair color and doesn’t wear braces, she really is the girl she was, in substance.

Throwback Issa was the most literal reflection on the past in an episode set in Issa and his LA teams reunited for 10 years at Stanford, their former stamping ground. The crew looks as good as ever. Kelli and Tiffany in Gucci? Yes. (Tiffany wore only pink and green the entire episode). Issa and Molly in Stanford graded sweaters? An aesthetic to which I can subscribe.

It was a weekend that involved a lot of time traveling. We saw the college Issa admiring but also slightly disappointed with the current Issa. Later, during an alumni panel, the current Issa worries about the time she will have to do the things she wants to do. Molly finds herself rethinking her younger, more optimistic self. Kelli flies too far into a future where she no longer exists and doesn’t like her legacy. The characters look back to see how far they’ve come and learn where they want to go.

The episode also picked up the pieces of the more recent past. Last season, we left Issa in conflict with Lawrence, who recently found out that her ex, Condola, was pregnant. At the time, Issa was considering moving to San Francisco with Lawrence, who had just found a job there. Pregnancy was a brick thrown through their relationship window.

Issa and Mollys’ relationship, the one that viewers tune into, was on thin ice and the heaviness of their love life threatened to shatter it. Their dream scenes were gone now, there was only embarrassment.

This week there has been movement on each of these fronts. Issa and Molly agree on what they want: to move forward, to overcome the obstacles that stand in front of them. They’ve finished trying things, they know more about who they’re not and what they don’t want in their life. I know you’re a great lawyer now, said Issa thoughtfully. No, I never really wanted to be a lawyer, Issa replied today, with a certainty that escaped him when he was younger.

During the panel, Issa is joined on stage by a filmmaker, a start-up founder and the advertising artistic director of Coca-Cola, all alumni. Issa was invited as an entrepreneur and founder of The Blocc, we don’t know much about the company (and it’s not clear if she does either) but I like it for her.

When the moderator asks the panelists when they have found stability in their lives, Issa has no answer. She is honest with her audience and tells them that she is not sure and that she may be wasting her time, but also talks to herself. It’s as if hearing about her latest business leads her to understand the risks associated with it in a way that she didn’t have before.

Throughout the episode, Issa is so focused on her future and her past that she is unable to be present. Every time someone asks her what her company name means, she stammers, unable to remember. She might have her own business now, but she still manages apartments and drives a Lyft. It all seems difficult for Issa to reconcile, but I have a feeling she will eventually. It’s not Game of Thrones.

Back in the quad, Molly, three months after breaking up with Andrew, tries to be a good friend to Issa because that’s what Molly needs from her. After last season’s struggles, Molly now seems ready to sort out the friendship, asking Issa softly: Are we okay?

Molly also appears to be caught in a flashback on campus. On a walk with Issa, she remembers the confidence she used to have. First year, we thought we had it all figured out. The fire that defined her, her tenacity and her ambition, is absent. But I doubt it’s gone forever.

Kelli, on the other hand, is believed to have died by reunion organizers, was marked as deceased in the program and even appeared in an in-memoriam video. (Stanky Legg by GS Boyz plays in tribute when her face appears.)

At first she thinks it might be good for her to get off the grid, but something else sets in. Kellis’ modus operandi has generally been to go with the flow, but maybe it’s time to swim upstream.

When the girls are on their way to Reggae Gold, an old Oakland hangout, Kelli isn’t as excited as the other girls. She is visibly disturbed and interrupts a chant to The-Dreams I Luv Your Girl, a ritual on the way to the club, to let them know why she doesn’t feel the party vibe. She was quickly fired. Maybe pretending to be dead has struck her too close to home for her.

The next morning, in a restaurant, they pay Kelli a fitting in-memoriam tribute. When they leave, Molly and Issa walk past three laughing young girls, one of whom carries a poster that says take action. The girls apologize for crossing them. Issa looks at them as if they seem familiar, it is like seeing their youngest walking past them. As these girls disappear behind them, Issa and Molly tell each other that they want to move on.

Then Issa does so. When she gets home, Lawrence is waiting for her at LAX in a black hoodie, looking sorry and feeling sorry. (Yes, I’m still mad at Lawrence for getting Condola pregnant by trying to fix things with Issa.)

What’s different about Lawrence’s Pity is that Issa doesn’t want to participate in it anymore. She breaks up with him and he understands immediately. The breakup took place quietly without argument or shock, just an understanding between two adults. It was a more mature and cleaner breakup than their traumatic first breakup.

Time is running out for Insecure and maybe too, the premiere seemed to suggest, for maybe and half steps as the characters reflect on the direction of their lives, beyond adulthood. There isn’t much time left to be insecure.

Sources

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2/ https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/24/arts/television/insecure-season-5-episode-1-recap.html

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