Being Mary Jane Season 4, Episode 1 Recap: New City, New Job, New Beef
Not only were we sitting front and center in front of the television for the president’s farewell speech last night, but we stayed in front of it in anticipation of the return of Being Mary Jane. Fans of the show had been waiting quite some time to find out what’s next for Mary Jane Paul and her family, more than a year to be specific. And if you’ll recall, quite a bit went down in Season 3, including the suicide of Lisa, the arrest of Cece (Loretta Devine) for blackmailing, and of course, Niecy being tasered by a police officer in the season finale after a traffic stop gone left. So how do we pick up in Season 4 without Mara Brock Akil and a new showrunner in Erica Shelton Kodish? Here’s what happened.
Mary Jane lost her job on Talk Back.
As it turns out, we don’t pick up where Season 3 left off — not necessarily. In true BET fashion, we actually jump forward (remember when The Game returned in such fashion?), but only by a year. When we pick up, MJ and Kara have left Atlanta for New York. While Kara’s choice to leave was voluntary, MJ actually got the boot from SNC’s Talk Back after using her platform to get blunt about police brutality following Niecy’s arrest.
So she takes a step back, accepting a correspondent job on a Today show-like series called Good Day USA in the hopes of one day having anchor status on a mainstream show seen all over the country.
Mary Jane is putting her love life in someone else’s hands.
The last romantic situation we witnessed MJ in was with a White guy. Now in New York, she’s serious about finding something lasting. Or is she? As the first episode opens, she finds herself trying to not only get hooked up with Mr. Right by a matchmaker, but also desperate to scratch an itch with a guy she calls London (because she’s not interested in knowing his name). Despite considering him a fling, she has moments of regret even before they get in bed. After he asks a detached MJ what she wants, she asks him to say “I love you” as they prepare to have sex. The moment was as ridiculous as it sounds.
I guess it makes sense, though. She is and has always been confused. Because despite wanting to get laid, MJ has also spent $20,000 in an attempt to get a matchmaker to help her get her love life in order. More on that later…
Meet Ronda, MJ’s idol turned competition.
But as for work, you know MJ can hold it together in this arena. She may not be crazy about some of her new assignments on the show, including interviewing rapper Dave East, as they aren’t Pulitzer prize-winning opportunities, but it’s a new chance for her to work her way up to anchor status. But to do that, she’s got to wait for current anchor Ronda (Valerie Pettiford) to go. It’s clear pretty fast that these two are going to find themselves dealing with competitive rancor, especially after Ronda glares at MJ after finding out she’s the one who set up the anchor’s in-depth interview with Senator Corey Booker. But Ronda plays nice initially, setting MJ up with her stylist and coming off as charming and welcoming.
London shows up at MJ’s job…
Despite Mary Jane’s attempts to treat her encounter with London as a one-night stand, he didn’t see it as such. In fact, he sees it as fate. While doing a segment outside with Good Day USA fans, Kara instructs her to talk to a handsome guy with broad shoulders — it’s London. This cat has showed up to her work!
He flirts with her on-camera and proceeds to try and seal the deal when the cameras are off, but MJ is not interested in taking things past one night. However, he leaves a card with info about a stand-up comedy show he’s doing in the hopes that she will have a change of heart.
For someone willing to pay $20,000 for a matchmaker to find her a good man, MJ was sure going out of her way to avoid one…
Kara finds out that MJ could be anchor sooner than later.
After feeling as though Ronda is hiding something, Kara bribes the anchor’s stylist for the inside scoop. As it turns out, he heard that Good Day USA hasn’t renewed her contract and isn’t 100 percent sure if they want to do so. They’re keeping their eyes open for fresh talent, and Kara sees this as an opportunity to get MJ in the anchor seat sooner than either of them expected.
Kara tells MJ that executive producer Garrett wants to do lunch to talk about her future, and both are hopeful that she will find herself advancing big time, making the jump to NYC all worth it.
Niecy is still struggling after being assaulted by police.
During a traffic stop in Season 3, Niecy was tasered by a police officer right in front of her children.When we pick back up with the family in Atlanta, her father, Patrick, is trying to write a statement on behalf of Niecy for the media. He does so in the wake of news that the officer who assaulted Niecy would be returning to work. He’s writing it in place of MJ, who was taking on such responsibilities before leaving for New York. When he asks Niecy to read over the statement, she says that she doesn’t want to relive the harrowing experience. And while others are worried about cash settlements (like her baby daddy), she just wants to move forward while feeling like everyone wants her to keep reliving the incident.
It takes Patrick’s letter, which her grandparent’s force her to hear him read out loud, that helps Niecy. In it, he opens up about his own missteps as a father to Niecy before addressing the need for justice for his daughter. It’s what Niecy has been waiting to hear for years, and comes right on time.
The matchmaker dumps Mary Jane.
You know you’re a mess when you pay someone a hefty amount of money and they can’t even fake an attempt to find you a man. Instead, they would rather offer you a refund. Mary Jane’s matchmaker calls her to let her know that after reading the profile she filled out, MJ has quite a bit of emotional work and self-acknowledgement that she needs to do. Basically, she needs to get her house in order before they can even talk about finding someone. MJ is baffled by the decision — and somehow sees it as a sign she should go find London…
Meet Lee, formerly known as London.
After showing up at his comedy show, the two finally stop tip-toeing around one another and just try to enjoy each other’s company. He introduces himself, finally, as Lee Truitt, and they hit the town together. After dancing in neon lights at a party MJ pulls him into, the pair find themselves in bed once again. This time though, when MJ has to get up at the crack of dawn to go to work, she leaves him a note telling him to “make himself comfortable, but not too comfortable!” Clearly she’s the one feeling comfortable…
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Is Good Day USA looking to pit Ronda and MJ against each other for ratings?
When MJ gets back to work, she has a meeting with EP Garrett and is told that they want to put her at the anchor desk and are already getting the ball rolling on making that happen. She’s excited and celebrates with Kara, only for Ronda to come out of nowhere and burst her bubble. After inviting MJ into her office, Ronda informs her that Garrett has no intention of putting her at the anchor desk and instead, wants to create contention between them for ratings. Ronda says that after she signs her new contract she will be the lead anchor for another five years. As for MJ? She’ll continue to do fluff stories and have to talk to fans in the cold.
MJ doesn’t believe it until she runs into Garrett afterward. When she reiterates her excitement about getting the ball rolling on that anchor opportunity, he starts playing games. He tells MJ that they have to wait things out past her probationary period and will see how things go then. And just like that, she knows that she wasn’t being groomed for anything but drama.
All in all, I will say that based on episode one of Season 4, with its new city, new job and new showrunner still manages to have some of the same drama. That’s not saying it’s a bad thing. Mary Jane can’t seem to get it right romantically, her family is still trying to overcome major bumps, and there’s always someone trying to come for her spot professionally. But it all still makes for a relatable show, because who of us truly has it all together in every realm?
I’m excited to see what other love prospects may be in the works for MJ (Lee is charming, but bland), to see what Michael Ealy will bring to the show, how Niecy will react when she gets this settlement money and just how low Ronda will go. I hope the story continues to improve though, because to be honest, it seems as though we’re watching MJ regress, as opposed to make progress.
What did you think of the season premiere?
Images via BET, Instagram