'Wu-Tang: An American Saga' Episode 5 Recap
Julian Elijah Martinez a Divine in Hulu's 'Wu-Tang: An American Saga.'
Hulu

'Wu-Tang: An American Saga' Episode 5 Recap: Who Got The Hype Sh*t

Divine returns from jail and fights his own pride, Bobby's production is making a buzz and Linda is hit with an ultimatum.

Divine (Julian Elijah Martinez) has been the caretaker and head of the Diggs family for years, and after a couple of short months, he’s learning everything in his world can function without him. Following advice from his attorney, Divine pleads down his drug charges with claims of addiction instead of intent to sell. The award-worthy performance works, and the judge shows mercy, granting Divine parole in a halfway house. The first blow to Divine’s ego comes almost immediately, hearing his friend-in-the-game-turned-enemy, Power (Marcus Callender), laughing heartily at his church-testimony schtick from the back of the courtroom.

When Divine gets home, he realizes there may not be a swift return to his idea of business as usual. Even though big brother Divine has pushed Bobby (Ashton Sanders) to step up and handle business and himself since their time visiting family as children in North Carolina, he’s resentful when he realizes Bobby actually did it. The look on his face when Aunt Laurie (Diane Howard) says Bobby paid for the family’s dinner isn’t pride, but annoyance. After dinner, he heads down to the basement to tell Bobby and Dennis (Siddiq Saunderson) that it’s time to get back to “real” work. Bobby points out that the bills are paid; things have been working, but Divine calls Bobby and Dennis’ Wall Street hustle “bullshit.” He’s not happy with simple maintenance; he was working to build an empire, now all of that is gone. When he gets in Bobby’s face in a way that would have quickly backed his brother down before, Bobby holds his ground...and reminds Divine he’s got curfew back and the halfway house. And we...oop!

We’re thrilled Aunt Laurie is still visiting and stirring up exactly the kind of mess we knew she was capable of. She’s flirting with folks at Linda’s job in her fly Pelle Pelle coat (much to Linda’s annoyance), and dolling out gifts like a ‘round the way Santa after her “numbers” hit. Linda (Erika Alexander) is side-eyeing the generosity, though, because she knows her sister stays scheming. Hitting the lotto at the restaurant where Linda works for a mob-affiliated boss seems a little too convenient. Ms. Diggs gets on her sister for doing the most (and, frankly, Linda was hating a little) and Aunt Laurie breaks out. Unfortunately, Linda was right about her sister, but we’ll come back to that.

Divine continues to find his new reality challenging. In his mind, he’s still a boss. But he’s filling out a job application for a pizza shop (a requirement of his parole), getting an expensive Bulova watch from his girl when he’s used to being the gift giver, unable to fulfill his role as family protector when his little brother insists on handling an issue for his mom, and unable to get Haze (Malcolm Xavier) to front him product so he can get back in the game. To add insult to injury, Haze is bigging up Bobby’s music, which Divine thinks is a waste of time.

His girlfriend Nia (Ebony Obsidian) tries to talk some sense into him when he asks her to drive him to a Dominican connect, telling him this isn’t really about him needed to help his family, and no one who loves him can bear the stress of him going back to jail. Divine doesn’t have his position in his household, can’t get a spot back in his organization, and has now lost his girl. But he goes and cops the brick anyway, almost risking his freedom to do it.

After Laurie’s gone, Linda and the family get a surprise visit from her boss Larry (Vincent Pastore) and some undesirable gentlemen. In a scene that was Jordan Peele-level uncomfortable, Linda and Bobby learn that Laurie and one of the restaurant staff member manipulated the lotto, and Linda is responsible for making it right. Linda demands Shurrie (Zolee Griggs) hand over the tickets Laurie gifted to see August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson on Broadway, so she can sell them, telling her they were copped through ill-gotten means. Shurrie’s (understandably) taken aback, since their entire household is held together by drug money, but Linda’s not trying to hear that. Shurrie goes get her culture on anyway - without the company of Dennis.

While all of this is happening, there’s a music battle building in Shaolin, and we’re getting closer to Wu-Tang actualization. Bobby and Shot Gun have a joint that’s blazing through the neighborhood - this is when going viral meant getting play in local record stores, blasting from boom boxes on the streets, and dubbing tapes for your friends. Bobby’s getting props for his beats, finally, and Shot Gun (excellently captured by Dave East. He has Meth’s whole swag down) is feeling himself. Bobby stocks up on blank tapes to keep up with demand: bright yellow cassettes with black trim that Shot Gun likens to killer bees swarming the hood (foreshadowing!). When Bobby passes a tape off to Dennis, Dennis does the typical Dennis ish and gets offended. He doesn't understand how Bobby could get behind what he perceives as a diss track to Stapleton. Bobby’s been pushing Dennis to take his talent seriously, and his rage behind Shot Gun’s perceived disrespect finally gets him into the booth to lay down a track of return fire. This makes Sha (Shameik Moore) the last rap holdout - and Shot Gun was close to reeling him in - then the hating ass (but kinda cute) cop broke up his hallway rap battle. But now Bobby is seeing that his passion can net real results. Holding down his family while his brother was inside plus his music hitting in the streets has his confidence on 100. While Divine was in jail, Bobby became a man.

--

What The Episode Got Right: The neighborhood record store as the location to learn about, hear and discuss new music filled us with nostalgia for the days before digital music. We also really loved reminiscing on the days of dubbing friends’ tapes.

What The Episode Got Wrong: Some of Linda’s behavior felt out of character this episode; specifically her seemingly having a problem with Shurrie being encouraged to do something just for Shurrie. But considering how much responsibility the sole Diggs sister carries in the house, maybe we just weren’t paying close enough attention.

What We Could Do Without: Whatever that “ni**a” song was, it was a lot. We know it was supposed to be a lot, but it was a lot.

What We Have Questions About: Haze. He’s the most civil, normal, measured, polished street dude in all of Staten Island. What’s his story?

From the Web

More on Vibe

Getty Images/Dimitrios Kambouris

Zoe Kravitz Lands Catwoman Role In 'Batman'

Zoe Kravitz is the latest bombshell to become Catwoman. The 30-year-old will play Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman alongside Batman (Robert Pattinson), CNN reports.

This new role is a major milestone for Kravitz, who’s most known for her role as Bonnie Carlson on HBO’s Big Little Lies. The actress was congratulated on her new role by her step-father, Aquaman actor Jason Momoa on Instagram.

For Kravitz, it’s always been important to make her presence known in Hollywood outside her parents' influence on the business (her father is Lenny Kravitz and her mother is Lisa Bonet). To get these coveted roles, she admits to, ironically, having to work harder than her counterparts just to prove her success isn’t just a product of nepotism.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I’m so proud of u zozo bear. On and off screen OHANA. DC WB ohana Lola and Wolfies big sister is CAT WOMAN😍😍😍 Unbelievable so freaking stoked. Your going to have so much fun Aloha P bear

A post shared by Jason Momoa (@prideofgypsies) on Oct 14, 2019 at 6:21pm PDT

“If I don’t have [the next] job lined up, I get nervous,” she told Elle. “It’s irrational, maybe. But also good. When I was in high school, if a girl didn’t like me, the first thing she’d say was, 'You think you’re so cool because of your parents.' That carries into later life, like, 'Oh, you just got this part because your parents are this and that.'

It’s important to acknowledge that I got in the door easier because of them. Some kids work their whole lives and they can’t even get an agent to call them back. That part was handed to me,” she continued. “People are always going to think that maybe you are who you are because of your family. So it’s my responsibility to work harder.”

Continue Reading
Nickelodeon

How 'My Brother And Me' Resonated With A Generation Of Young Black Men

In terms of cultural impact and influence, the '90s ranks as one of the defining decades for black entertainment of the past century. This proves particularly true in the realm of television, with a number of landmark programs debuting that reflected the life and times of blacks in the urban community and beyond. While the '80s produced groundbreaking sitcoms like The Cosby Show, A Different World, Family Matters, 227, Amen, and Frank's Place, all of which featured predominantly black casts, these shows were few and far in between.

However, the arrival of a new decade coincided with an influx of programs starring black leads, with shows like Martin, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Living Single, Hangin with Mr. Cooper, Roc, Thea and South Central all making their debut. While these shows were hits across various age groups, they all starred and revolved around actors of age, in some form or fashion. One of the first programs to divert from this formula and place the focus squarely on adolescents was My Brother and Me, a sitcom that often gets overlooked when listing the pivotal shows of its era.

Making its debut on October 15, 1994, My Brother and Me was among the first live-action series to air on Nickelodeon and the first to feature a predominantly black cast. Created by Ilunga Adell and Calvin Brown Jr., and directed by Arlando Smith and Adam Weissman, the show centers around brothers Alfred "Alfie" Parker and Derek "Dee-Dee" Parker, the two youngest children of parents Jennifer (Karen E. Fraction) and Roger Parker (Jim R. Coleman) who experience the typical growing pains of pre-pubescent young men that are coming of age.

Additional core cast members include Alfie and Dee-Dee's older sister Melanie Parker (Aisling Sistrunk),, Alfie's best friend Milton "Goo" Berry (Jimmy Lee Newman, Jr.) who has an infatuation with Melanie, Melanie's best friend and Donnell's older sister Dionne Wilburn (Amanda Seales), Dee-Dee's best friend and Dionne’s younger brother Donnell Wilburn (Stefan J. Wernli),, Dee-Dee’s other best friend Harry White (Keith "Bubba" Naylor), and local comic book store owner Mrs. Pinckney (Kym Whitley).

Set in the suburbs of the west side of Charlotte, North Carolina, My Brother and Me was the Nickelodeon's answer to Sister, Sister, a sitcom on ABC starring identical twins Tia and Tamera Mowry that had debuted earlier that year. With a beat writer for the local newspaper for a father and a school teacher for a mother, Alfie and Dee-Dee enjoyed a stable living environment in which they could thrive academically and socially while simply being kids. A middle-class family with access to all of the basic amenities, the Parkers' economic situation was in stark contrast to the usual scratching-and-surviving, rags-to-riches themes often associated with sitcoms geared towards people of color.

While removed from the harsh realities that often accompany life in the inner-city, the Parker boys were drawn in by the allure of street culture, with Alfie and Dee-Dee both being avid fans of hip hop music, fashion, and style. This love affair would be the driving force behind various episodes, most notably "Dee-Dee's Haircut," during which Dee-Dee allows Goo to butcher his hair after marveling at fellow student Kenny's "Cool Dr. Money"-inspired haircut. Going as far as handpicking designs out of a rap magazine Donell borrows from his sister Dionne, Dee-Dee goes to the extreme in an attempt to mirror Kenny and Cool Dr. Money, a testament to the influence hip hop holds over him. His affinity for the culture is also reflected in the "Donnell's Birthday Party" episode, during which the impressionable youngster mimicking dance moves from a rap video in hopes of tightening up his dance skills.

Alfie and Dee-Dee may have been the intended stars of the show, but to many viewers, the most memorable character from My Brother and Me was Goo, who stole scenes with his humorous wisecracks and mischievous hijinks, often at the expense of Dee-Dee and his friends. From showering Mrs. Parker with disarming compliments to masterminding various plots and schemes in an attempt to get himself and Alfie out of trouble, Goo proved to be the most entertaining member of the show, exuding swagger and confidence that are palpable to the viewer and as hip hop as it gets. On the other hand, Alfie, who is not as overtly demonstrative in his rap fandom as his younger brother or Goo, reps his allegiance to the culture more subtly, with his haircut, backward caps and boisterous mannerisms.

While race was never a prevalent topic on the show, if one was to look closer between the lines, My Brother and Me was unapologetically black and pridefully so. Take, for instance, the various nods to HBCU culture throughout the show, including Roger Parker's various North Carolina Central University sweatshirts and hats, Alfie's Morehouse fit, and insignias from various black fraternities. One other common thread of the show was its incorporation of sports, starting with the Parker household's fandom of Charlotte's local professional franchises on full display, as Charlotte Hornets and Carolina Panthers memorabilia are all visible throughout the household. Cameos also included appearances from NBA stars Kendall Gill and Dennis Scott, the latter of whom teaches Alfie, the superior athlete of the Parker brothers, a lesson in selflessness and teamwork by cutting him from the school basketball team in "The Basketball Tryouts" episode.

Of all of the aspects of My Brother and Me that made the show a game-changer, the fact that it was one of the first times young black males saw themselves in characters on the TV is the most enduring. While plenty of shows and networks fixated on coming-of-age storylines centered around the privileged youth of white America, My Brother and Me provided the alternative, promoting the bond of brotherhood and family values with each episode aired. Preceding shows like Kenan & Kel and Cousin Skeeter, both of which implemented overt comedic or fictional elements, My Brother and Me was a realistic glimpse at the life of the average black boy in America without the overarching narratives of impoverishment, temptation, and despair. For many young black men born in the '80s, the show left an indelible impact on them and holds a place near to their heart a quarter-century later.

In spite of its critical acclaim and popularity, My Brother and Me only aired for one season, as it was canceled after airing its final episode on January 15, 1995. The network would air reruns into the early 2000s before returning briefly during The '90s Are All That block on TeenNick in December 2013, the last time the show would appear on television. In June 2014, Nickelodeon released My Brother & Me: The Complete Series as a two-disc DVD, giving a new generation of viewers and longtime fans of the show an opportunity to relive the magic that the show captured during its short, yet unforgettable run.

In the years following My Brother and Me's cancellation, many of the actors and actresses from the show would fail to find their footing in the entertainment industry, resulting in their acting careers fading into obscurity. Arthur Reggie III scored a few additional credits, appearing in the TV shows Sliders and C-Bear and Jamal, as well as the 1998 film Bulworth, but later transitioned into a rap career, performing under the name Show Bizness. My Brother and Me would mark Ralph Woolfolk's last appearance as an actor, as he decided to leave the industry behind and focus on his education, pursuing a degree in English at Morehouse College in Atlanta, while also attending law school. He is also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and currently serves as a police officer for the city of Atlanta. Jimmy Lee Newman, Jr. scored bit roles in the TV shows Sweet Justice and Sister, Sister in the subsequent years after the show, while Aisling Sistrunk, Stefan J. Wernli and Keith "Bubba" Naylor would never act professionally again.

However, a few members of the cast were able to sustain viable acting careers well beyond My Brother and Me's cancellation, most notably Amanda Seales, Karen E. Fraction and Jim Coleman. Seales would rebrand herself as Amanda Diva and become a successful media personality before transitioning back into acting, last appearing as Tiffany DuBois on HBO's "Insecure." In 2019, Seales debuted an HBO Comedy Special I Be Knowin', and was chosen as the emcee for NBC's comedy competition, Bring the Funny. Jim Coleman has kept himself busy with various roles over the past two decades, last appearing in "The Council," and continues to receive steady work. Karen Fraction would add a few additional credits to her resume after "My Brother and Me," but passed away on October 30, 2007, after a five year battle with breast cancer. She is survived by her two children, Lauren Elizabeth Jean and Lawrence Wm. Morris, and her husband Lawrence Hamilton. And last, but not least, Kym Whitley would enjoy a fruitful career on television and on the big screen, appearing in dozens of shows and films throughout her lengthy career, with her latest role being Mrs. Malinky in the Netflix animated comedy Pinky Malinky.

In the time since the debut of My Brother and Me, a lot has changed in terms of the presence and representation of black youth on television and beyond. A number of black actors and actresses have had the opportunity to shine in a big way, including Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris) Zendaya (Shake It Up), Kyle Massey (Corey in the House), Keke Palmer (True Jackson, VP), Miles Brown (Black-Ish) and Alex R. Hibbert (The Chi) all among the more prominent child stars making major waves on TV over the past two decades. That said, 25 years later, the fact remains that My Brother and Me was ahead of the curve as one of the first instances of seeing ourselves in a positive and uplifting light on the small screen.

Continue Reading
Brad Barket

Ava DuVernay And 'Netflix' Sued For Portrayal Of Interrogation Technique In 'When They See Us'

Ava DuVernay and Netflix have been sued over their portrayal of the Reid interrogation technique of the Central Park Five in the Emmy-award winning series When They See Us, according to a new report by Hollywood Reporter.

According to the report, John E. Reid and Associates, a company that trains police on how to interrogate, claims that When They See Us sheds a negative light on the procedure, and implies that it involves coercion.

“Defendants intended to incite an audience reaction against Reid for what occurred in the Central Park jogger case and for the coercive interrogation tactics that continue to be used today,” the suit reads. “Defendants published the statements in 'When They See Us' in an effort to cause a condemnation of the Reid technique.”

The lawsuit also refers to a specific scene where the alleged Reid technique was badly dramatized.  In the final episode of When They See Us, a district attorney's office employee confronts a detective in the case, saying: "You squeezed statements out of them after 42 hours of questioning and coercing, without food, bathroom breaks, withholding parental supervision. The Reid Technique has been universally rejected. That's truth to you."

The detective responds:

“I don’t even know what the fucking Reid technique is, OK? I know what I was taught. I know what I was asked to do and I did it.”

Reid and Associates also claims the program has caused harm to the company's reputation, and the firm is seeking actual and punitive damages.

When They See Us, directed by DuVernay, tells the story of the Central Park Five, a group of young black men who were falsely charged with the rape and assault of a jogger in 1989.

Continue Reading

Top Stories