black monday recap episode 8 season 1 showtime
Erin Simkin/SHOWTIME

'Black Monday' Explores Mo's Backstory With Narration Of '60s Soul Music: Episode 8 Recap

Mo’s origin story begins to take shape, and the show's music selection reveals more than any other Black Monday episode.

For seven episodes, we got glimpses into the past that molded Mo into the savage trader he is. Episode “7042” finally takes us closer to his origin, and apparently, that leads us to Los Angeles in 1968. The Jheri curl is now a blown-out afro, and his ruthless mercantilism on Wall Street is replaced by altruism for underserved communities, as a member of the Black Panther Party. The glimpses into his past — the Church’s Chicken on his birthday, his visit with Jammer — all begin to congeal into one vision of a misguided man.

The domineering Xosha Roquemore plays the role of Candance, the woman who Jammer intimated broke Mo’s heart. Roquemore’s last recurring role was as comedian Dawn Lima on Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here, a short-lived series about the seedy side of stand-up comedy in the early 1970s. Her as Candace is another stellar casting choice. Roquemore was able to speak honey-coated bullets that can pierce any man’s ego in a way that’s both comforting and impactful as a Black woman comic in the 1970s. It’s just as mesmerizing to watch on Black Monday as a Black Panther member in the 1960s.

This arc, while entertaining, seemed to continue an awkward trend in Black Monday: the Black woman bears the weight of the man’s faults. Candace is portrayed as the person who took Mo from thinking of others and drug-free to a staunch individualist who probably has cocaine residue in his DNA. Similarly, it’s Dawn who is the cause of Mo’s Jammer Group being partly owned by the Lehman Brothers in the episode “243,” and the one who feels the obligation to blow up her marriage and future love life to save a risky Georgina Play that Mo involved her in without her say. But, then again, Regina Hall and Roquemore deliver two of the most emotionally jarring performances of the episode and demonstrate two separate, but equally as profound, ways of Black women releasing themselves from the control of men.

Taking Black Monday to the 1960s accomplishes a number of worthwhile feats otherwise unlikely in the 1980s Wall Street timeline. For one, the first 90 seconds of this episode features a wider variety of Black faces than the last seven episodes had, combined. But, more than anything, the new timeline allows for the soul music of the ‘60s to narrate the story.

Music Narrator

Music has always played a noticeable part in the show, but more so as a reinforcement of the time period. In this episode, the sounds of the time guide the audience and take them deeper into the character than what they see on the screen.

In the episode’s opening, soul singer Harry Krapsho lets us know “I don’t care about money too much” and “I don’t have a dollar to my name, and if you don’t mind I’d like to keep it the same” on his song “Don’t Worry.” Those sentiments play as a Black man, whom we don’t realize is Mo, exits a bus in Los Angeles, California. Before we find out Mo wasn’t money-hungry in his past — and formerly known as Roland — the sweet sounds of Harry Krapsho let us know.

Candace deceptively persuades Mo to abandon his principles by smoking weed and going against the Black Panther Party’s wishes, as Sandy Szigeti’s “Make Believe World” scores the scene. After, the plot twist minutes later, the song is a shrewd act of foreshadowing by the showrunners. But, It’s the late, great Nina Simone’s rendition of the 1967 song “I Shall Be Released,” written by Bob Dylan, that expands the Black Monday world.

 

Near the end of the episode, Candace’s true identity is revealed while she’s looking into the eyes of the men and women who seem to have put her in such a position. When Nina’s voice wails out “I remember every face of every man who put me here,” Candace’s motives become more complex. Black Monday lets the music leave you with the thought that Candace may have been compromised by the FBI, and in order to avoid jail time, she would have to turn in her fellow Black people. The steely resolve in her final words to Mo — “I told you, ‘I got you.’”— further complicates that theory and adds an engrossing richness to Candace’s character.

Black Monday could’ve left Nina Simone’s rendition for the climax of the flashback arc and the episode would still be great. But, Nina returns for one last “I shall be released” after Mo sends Dawn packing following her revelation to Mo about who she really loves. The image of Dawn piercing her lips and steadying her gaze on the countryside instead of being shocked into submission by Mo’s thoughtless decision, while Nina belts out her hope for release, is a moment of Black perseverance we would’ve never thought a show like Black Monday would make a focal point in such an important episode.

The episode also ends with an uncharacteristically sentimental Mo reverting back to his selfish ways at the same time Ms. Simone sings about “release.” And just like that, one four-minute song helps set up the emotional stakes at hand in the final two episodes of Black Monday’s first season.

From the Web

More on Vibe

The late Nipsey Hussle and Kobe Bryant are projected onto a screen while YG, John Legend, Kirk Franklin, DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, and Roddy Ricch perform onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Nipsey Hussle Honored By DJ Khaled, John Legend And More At 2020 Grammys

Hours after Nipsey Hussle was posthumously awarded with his first Grammy, the awards ceremony honored him with a heartfelt performance by an all-star roster of John Legend, DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Roddy Rich, Kirk Franklin and YG.

Meek Mill began the performance with an emotive, unreleased verse that served as a letter to Nipsey, with Roddy Ricch singing a chorus. [Update: The song, "Letter To Nipsey," was released to streaming services later that night.] That led into a rousing performance of "Higher," the song that appeared on DJ Khaled's album Father of Asahd.  John Legend played the piano and sang the chorus while backed by a choir, which was directed by an energetic, adlibbing Kirk Franklin, as a video of Nipsey rapping played on a big screen. YG joined the stage in a red suit, speaking to the gang unity between Crips and Bloods that Nipsey endorsed with his music and his life. The performance ended with an image of Los Angeles legends Nipsey Hussle and and the recently deceased Kobe Bryant, with Khaled paying tribute to them both.

Nipsey Hussle's debut studio album, Victory Lap (2018) came after an epic mixtape  earned him a nomination for Best Rap Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. He died on March 31, 2019, after being gunned down on in the parking lot of his Marathon Clothing store in Los Angeles. The music and business worlds reeled from his loss, with his rap career on the upswing and his work as a businessman and community leader inspiring many.

Before Sunday's (Jan. 26) ceremony, Nipsey Hussle was awarded a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance for "Racks In The Middle," the last single that he released in his lifetime. The song features a guest appearance by Roddy Ricch, and is produced by Hit-Boy.

Continue Reading
US singer-songwriter Steven Tyler (L) and guitarist Joe Perry (R) of Aerosmith and Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC perform during the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards on January 26, 2020, in Los Angeles.
ROBYN BECK/AFP

Run-DMC Joins Aerosmith To Perform "Walk This Way" At Grammys 2020

With the accomplished rock band Aerosmith earning kudos from The Recording Academy this month at the MusiCares Person of the Year Gala, it's only right that they called on Run-DMC to perform one of the biggest songs of both their respective careers.

After an introduction by Common, Aerosmith began their performance with “Living On The Edge.” Afterward, Run-DMC kicked through a stage wall, and both groups teamed up to perform "Walk This Way," their 1986 hit that helped push rap into the mainstream and peaked at no. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Jam Master Jay's son manned the turntables in the absence of his late father.

Watch the performance below.

Continue Reading
Usher performs onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Usher Delivers Prince Tribute With Sheila E. And FKA Twigs At Grammys 2020

Prince is universally regarded as one of the most important musicians of all time, known for his genre-pushing creations and for advocating for the rights of all artists. The Recording Academy chose to honor his legacy with a tribute at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards with a performance by Usher, Sheila E., and FKA Twigs.

The performance began after a heartfelt introduction by Alicia Keys, who thanked him for allowing him to sample his song "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore" for her own hit in 2001. Usher was then revealed on the stage, performing Prince's hit "Little Red Corvette" in a shimmery tux. He would go onto perform "When Doves Cry" and "Kiss," with FKA Twigs dancing alongside him, and frequent Prince collaborator Sheila E joining the two on the drums.

Before his death in April 2016, Prince won seven Grammy Awards from his music career, for his album Purple Rain and songs like "Musicology" and "Future Baby Mama," along with the Grammy President's Merit Award in 1985.

Continue Reading

Top Stories