The heat turned up for Mary Jane Paul (Gabrielle Union) on Being Mary Jane this week, as her co-worker Ronda Sales (Valarie Pettiford) made it clear: We are not friends.
The journey to land at this conclusion took up nearly the entire episode, filled with ki-ki sessions that all felt disingenuous. Well, disingenuous to her producer, Kara Lynch and us, the audience.
In the first act of the episode, MJ’s youngish senior producer Garrett (Ashton Holmes) burst in her office to assign her the job of covering a humanitarian gala in which the Ronda Sales New Hope Foundation will be honored. This so-called ‘bigger than Oprah’ foundation provides education to girls in Kenya and was started by its namesake, anchor Ronda Sales.
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Soon after, Ronda sits down with MJ to let her know she specifically asked for her to cover the gala so they can show the network that two Black women can work together in harmony. She then proceeds to romance MJ with a rack full of dress choices for the gala. Now, most of us would gush at the chance to pull everything from Cavalli to Chanel, but at this exact moment, we knew something wasn't right. Nonetheless, MJ continues to snuggle up to Ronda and simultaneously push her British boy-toy away. In classic MJ fashion she invites him to said gala, and then rescinds the invite after telling Ronda he's a comedian.
Oh, did we forget to mention the kids?
We probably forgot, because Lee (Chiké Okonkwo) forgot to share that information as well, claiming he wanted to “see where their relationship was going” before he made the big reveal. For those of you who need his stats at this point: Lee, 40-something single British-Nigerian with a 12 and 14-year-old boy and girl, ex-girlfriend-baby-mother and burgeoning comedy career.
Automatically, he’s less appealing to MJ, which makes Corey the head of Ronda’s foundation, all the more appealing. His stats: 40-something very single Black man, no kids, with a brownstone in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. Again, something doesn’t feel right about the exit of Lee for the introduction of Corey. But who is MJ to see glaring red flags?
The gala begins and you would think Ronda is the Whitney Houston-Fairy Godmother to MJ’s Brandy-Cinderella. She’s introducing MJ to her anatomically perfect family, takes tequila shots with her, encourages her to schmooze with her rich friends, and of course, makes sure she gets a ride home from Corey. Uber wasn't good enough.
But not before Kara tries to stop her from getting too caught up.
"Every time she [Ronda] talks, I hear your cliche little Post-It notes,” Kara warns.
MJ ignores and the stage is set for disaster. The cherry on top was Lee seeing MJ walking up to her hotel-home with Corey after the night of bougie blackness. "You certainly are a riddle Mary Jane,” Lee says to her as Corey waits behind them. “From where I'm standing your life looks pretty good to me. Yet you're running away from the exact things you want."
Ah, duh! Have you not been watching this entire series, Lee?
In the end, MJ and Kara find out Ronda’s husband is using foundation funds to house his white model mistress on the Upper East Side. They plan to tell the network as a way to usurp Ronda, but MJ’s generous heart decides to give Ronda a heads up before taking the news of corruption to their boss. Ronda, who’s ridden this rodeo before, intercepts by placing the blame on Corey while on-air (don’t worry, Corey was paid off), says she’s stepping down from her foundation and somehow finds the time to hire MJ’s arch-nemesis, Justin Talbot (Michael Ealy).
We told you, girl.
The only redeeming moment is when MJ grovels back to Lee and they start up their love affair again. We just hope this one sticks.
Back in Atlanta, the focus continues to be on Niecey (Raven Goodwin) who’s reunited with her first baby daddy, Dante (Cesar Cipriano). If his timing seems odd — since we haven't seen this dude since Season One — it probably has something to do with that big settlement check she has coming from her excessive police force case. After sexing her down, he convinces her to buy him a whole entire car so he can finally be a man, go to work and provide for his daughter. And the sad part to this scam is that all it took was him playing in the front seat of a $45,000 too-small-to-fit-kids car with her son (by another man) to convince her to buy.
Listen. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. And a glaring connection between MJ and her niece, Niecey, is to beware of those who get too close, too fast. At this point MJ is clear who her enemy is, but we hope Niecey realizes her true enemy sooner than later.