Episode 4 was a short one, but it is an important episode. In this episode, they dig a little deeper into Journee’s story and we witness Malachi embark on a new venture. I believe Episode 4 is one of the best episodes so far (even though it’s hard to compare ’cause I love them all).
Let’s get into what all went down in episode 4 of Giants.
Episode 4 opens with Malachi visiting his lightskin cousin. As Malachi is touring the lightskin cousin’s lavish apartment, he asks what he’s been doing for work. After a few ambiguous answers, lightskin reveals that he bust down white women for money. Married white women at that.
Lightskin explains that the majority of his clients are wealthy white couples. “The wife wants to get dicked down by a mandigo, and the husband gets off by watching.”
Look, I’m not one to stand between someone and their coin, but this is heavily problematic. The fetishization and the degradation of the Black, male body seems to be a theme, but that’s another discussion for another time and place.
Anyway, Malachi asks the question that we were probably all thinking at this point, “Does the husband ever join?” Lightskin gives the typical cishet, “I ain’t with that gay shit” response. After thinking it over, Malachi asks to get put on.
The rent ain’t gon pay itself.
The next scene we see Journee visiting her rude ass sister who doesn’t know what Tinder is. Journee is there to borrow said sister’s flat iron. After Journee’s sister pressing her about straightening her hair, Journee admits that she wants to look her best for Stranger Danger Tinder guy (Lawrence).
So then the sister asks how work is going, even though she already knows that Journee has been fired. Journee tries to explain to her that her depression is a real illness and not a phase or a temporary feeling. It is a chemical imbalance that renders her immobile from her bed some days, which is why she was terminated.
Mental illness has been largely stigmatized in the Black community. We rarely talk about it or see it exhibited in art created for and by Black people, aside from a raggedy-ass Lee Daniels drama. And if we do talk about it, it’s rendered as a weakness or a lack of faith or an “excuse,” as Journee’s sisters put it.
Furthermore, Black women are often seen as superhuman. Always having to be strong. Always having to keep everything together. Always at forefront of the movement. Always holding everyone else down, while everyone else fails repeatedly to do the same for them. So when we discuss mental illness within the Black community, specifically to Black women, we must take into account that they are oppressed by 3 (or more) different angles.
This scene in Giants forces us, as a community, to have an honest conversation surrounding depression and how it affects our lives, relationships, and careers.
Now back to Malachi.
It appears that lightskin made that call for Malachi, because we next see him on the doorstep of his… Jane? John? John and Jane? I don’t know, he’s at his first gig as an escort.
He knocks on the door and a white man in a wheelchair answers the door. Malachi’s face sinks knowing that he’s about to have sex with the wife of a disabled man. The white man, whose name is Pete, invites him in. Malachi has a very brief internal struggle that I’m sure went a lot like, “Am I really gonna do this? I can’t do this. I could leave right now. But I’m broke. Shit, lemme go do this.” And he goes inside.
Pete offers Malachi (who introduced himself as Tony – smart) a drink. I think Pete wants/needs it just as much as Malachi might. They proceed to have small talk while they wait. It’s evident that Pete is uncomfortable, and would probably rather not have another man lay with his wife, but according to Pete, “Love doesn’t fit in a box.” Which has been ringing in my head since a watched this episode last week.
I’ve been trying to make sense of “love doesn’t fit in a box.” While I partly agree with the sentiment, something about it gives me pause. I agree that there is no set pattern or formula to love, it’s not an A+B=C type deal. Love is unpredictable. A lot of the time what we have in mind of what love is, or what loving someone is (Pete and his wife were married 20+ years), is not at all what it actually is or once was. And because of the temperamentality of love, it requires a certain level of adaptability. But when does being adaptable in love become being aberrant in love? I guess that’s what gives me pause, because judging from Pete’s body language, he seems to be uncomfortable with the arrangement him and his wife have set up.
I don’t know, now I’m just rambling.
I guess I can contribute my lack of understanding with my lack of experience with the honesty and transparency and sacrifice and vulnerability that comes with love and romantic relationships.
Maybe I’ll learn what Pete meant one day.
After Pete’s advice, Malachi chugs his drink and enters the bedroom where he finds Pete’s wife. They don’t speak, but they proceed to get undressed. The wife starts and Malachi, who seems slightly embarrassed, maybe a little ashamed, follows.
The meekness soon escapes Malachi when they begin to kiss. And from there, Malachi sets Operation Bust Down White Woman into full effect. And from the looks of it, he completes his mission with flying colors. All pun intended.
Malachi gets paid and leaves.
But because James Bland just can’t let Malachi be, as Malachi is walking home, two dudes pull up on him and start to rob him at gun point. They snatch is Beats and his book bag, and tell him to empty his pockets. Now staring down the barrel of a gun, Malachi trying to hold on to the money he desperately needs, refuses to empty his back pockets and that’s where episode 4 ends.
These damn cliffhangers, man. You gon stop playing with my emotions, James!
Things I loved about this episode:
- They reveal more about Malachi and Journee’s friendship (which I was hoping they would). We find out they have been friends since at least college.
- We learn a little more about Journee. We now know that she led a protest for a Chick-fil-a on campus, she went to grad school, and that she has been diagnosed as a manic depressive.
- Honest content surrounding serious conversations about mental health, marriage, love, and sex work
Episode 5 drops Wednesdays, February 22nd on YouTube!