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Saturday, December 10, 2022

‘Insecure’ Season 5 Episode 3: Slow Start to Fatherhood

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Season 5 Episode 3: Pressure, Okay?!

At the end of the season premiere of “Insecure,” Issa broke up with Lawrence. This week, we take a peek at what his life has been like since then.

Last season, Lawrence landed his dream job. The only problem? It was in San Francisco and his life was in Los Angeles. At the same time he was finally making strides in his career, he and Issa were finally mending their relationship after their previous breakup. Issa even volunteered to move to San Francisco so they could start a new life together.

But then there was Condola. We all started out liking her — she arrived in Issa’s life at a time when Molly was not prioritizing their friendship. She was kind, smart and helpful. Even when Condola had an affair with Lawrence, it wasn’t ruinous. She informed Issa — who took the news with a brave face — and stepped back, freeing Lawrence to set his sights on Issa. We watched the show’s original couple glow onscreen and fall in love again.

Then came the phone call: Condola was pregnant. That is where we left her in Season 4.

Now she has had a healthy baby boy named Elijah Mustafa, like her grandfather, as her sister, (played by Keke Palmer), lets Lawrence know when he arrives at the hospital. It was the first sign that Lawrence might not have as much input into his son’s upbringing as he wanted or expected. There would be others soon enough.

Lawrence seems to have gained the confidence and self-assurance he was lacking professionally in the early seasons — he’s had a bit of a glow up. He’s taking charge on accounts at work and he seems in control of what he wants to do, which has not always been the case. While on a date, he finds out, via text, that his baby has been born, and he blurts out the news to the lady he’s with.

“I guess my baby was just born?” he said, confused.

“Can you imagine?” she says, as if he had uttered an incomprehensible joke.

He drops a fistful of cash onto the table and heads for L.A. When he arrives at the hospital, Condola is holding their son in her arms with her sister and her mother, played by the tremendous Lela Rochon (“Waiting to Exhale,” “Boomerang”), beside her. It becomes clear that Condola’s family has provided most of the support during her pregnancy while Lawrence has been unattached and living his life — the tension in the hospital room reflects that inequity.

Lawrence doesn’t seem to like his son’s name, but he accepts it begrudgingly. When he finally holds the baby, his face is illuminated with an emotion that initially appears to be joy but soon turns into something sadder. Is he disappointed to have missed the birth? Realizing how complicated it will be to stay involved in the boy’s life, given Condola and her family’s feelings about him? Still struggling to accept that his son is named Mustafa?

One thing is clear: Lawrence wants to be there for his son. But what’s less apparent is whether he understands what that actually looks like or what he’ll have to give up in order to do it. While Condola is sleep deprived, breastfeeding and managing her newborn’s schedule, he’s living in San Francisco, working late and going on dates. Flying to Los Angeles once a week is not fatherhood, especially when you occasionally cancel the trip at the last minute and blame work.

More tension arises when Condola and Lawrence go together to Tiffany and Derek’s party for their daughter. Lawrence initially seemed reluctant to go with Condola, but he obliged when she, seemingly extending an olive branch, clarified that they’ll go together with their child.

The party is fly, as can be expected from Tiffany and Derek. Kelli is MCing the event in a tuxedo to match the birthday girl’s, and there’s a Pepper Pig — not Peppa, Pepper (“with the E and R”), played by Kelli’s stoner cousin in a pink pig costume. But things go sideways when Lawrence feeds Elijah what he calls “mush,” alarming Condola.

“I haven’t introduced solid foods yet!” she exclaims, and Lawrence asks her to let it go. She asks him to hand over Elijah (who Lawrence just calls “Jah”) and it quickly turns into a whole scene, with Condola yelling “give me my baby” and Lawrence objecting that Elijah is his son, too.

Even after Derek intervenes, Lawrence can’t seem to articulate his frustration beyond “that’s my baby, too.” He seems to have conflated making a baby with raising a baby, and feels entitled to spend time with Elijah without knowing him or doing much to care for him.

Derek suggests that Lawrence not antagonize Condola or add stress to the situation. It’s solid advice that Lawrence ignores later when things finally come to a head, after Condola rescinds her agreement to let him keep Elijah overnight. Lawrence breaks and lets out all of his resentment toward her.

“I’m going to be there for my baby, with or without you,” he says contemptuously.

Condola asks him to leave and he does, but on the flight back to San Francisco, severe turbulence terrifies Lawrence and the rest of the passengers. It seems a near-death experience can puncture the ego — after he gets home, he calls Condola and apologizes for his behavior. They are tired, and both seem ready to move past the tension and figure out a more cohesive way forward. But what that actually looks like is anyone’s guess.

This episode illustrates that for all of his professional achievements, Lawrence has remained emotionally stagnant. He doesn’t trust Condola and she doesn’t trust him, especially with their son. He also resents Condola for deciding to have a baby without him — as if she conceived on her own — and tells her so. He does not like that she named the child without consulting him and that she won’t bend to his schedule. He tells his friend Chad, a fan favorite, that he is disappointed in how fatherhood has turned out for him.

“This is just not what I planned for my first kid, man,” Lawrence gripes.

“Everybody got a plan until they get punched my guy,” Chad responds, a riff on the Mike Tyson quote. (“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”)

It is sad to watch Lawrence struggle into fatherhood. But I can’t help but be happy for Issa, who made the tough call of not subscribing to this life with him. Here’s hoping that Lawrence can let go of the life that he thinks he should have and learn to embrace the journey in front of him.

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