“The fuck I look like hangin’ out with a nigga wearin’ dirty women’s night clothes?” “…This was the shit in Bethlehem, bruh.”
Hey, everyone! RobBarracuda here, and it’s time to talk about this week’s episode of Black Jesus, “Never Say When”: an episode that’ll make you really thirsty from some fine J. Darby. Thankfully it’s only $9.99 a bottle… why can’t all fancy alcohol be that cheap?
The episode starts with Jesus hunting down Lloyd to give him some good news from God, but Lloyd isn’t really in the mood to hear it. Jesus goes on anyway, telling Lloyd that he needs to love himself and get his health and life together, but Lloyd just tosses his bottle of J. Darby away and walks off. He walks by a liquor store and notices a sign in the window: the company responsible for the alcohol brand J. Darby is hosting auditions for a new spokesperson, an audition which also promises free Darby (so of course he’s gonna go for it). Lloyd takes a flier and immediately tracks down Jesus, who’s eating bread and doesn’t seem interested in dealing with him. Lloyd, in a vaguely rude and backhanded manner, asks for Jesus’ blessing in helping him succeed in auditioning for the role of Darby’s official spokesperson, to which he agrees but only if Lloyd promises to make important changes to his life. Jesus prays to God for Lloyd’s success and lets him have a piece of bread before the two go their separate ways. Lloyd goes to the audition center where a man named Tim directs him on what to do. He describes the kind of person they’re looking for to be the face of their product (an oddly specific description which, of course, fits Lloyd perfectly) before letting him do the audition as instructed. Later at Vic’s apartment the phone rings, and Vic tells Lloyd to pick it up. He takes the call and becomes excited at the news he’s given during the conversation. After getting off the phone, he lets Vic know that he got the part in the audition, suddenly realizing that Jesus appears to have come through for once in his life. Vic is of course doubtful, but Lloyd is still excited and wants to seek Jesus’ help again. Vic intervenes, offering to be his manager to protect him from the viciousness of stereotypical showbiz types.
Later, Vic is seen at the set of the Darby commercial shoot, where Lloyd meets up with him, also bringing Jesus along as well. Vic isn’t too happy about this, but Lloyd says he needs Jesus there to give the two of them spiritual guidance. Tim, the commercial director, meets up with Lloyd and presents him with a new product in the Darby line: J. Darby Purple Label.
Vic tries to get some contract stuff straightened out with Tim, but it doesn’t work, as Lloyd manages to sign all the necessary contract documents before Vic can get a single word in. Tim leaves Lloyd with a check and the bottle, and Jesus and Lloyd celebrate, but Vic is annoyed by what just happened, believing that his authority was undermined, but Lloyd and Jesus just walk off, leaving Vic alone as various crew members walk past him.
The commercial starts filming, with a woman pouring a shot of Darby for Lloyd, who’s dressed in a rather sophisticated manner. Tim thinks the current take is perfect, but Vic steps in to assert his authority and pressure another take.
Lloyd goes up to Vic later and tells him he’s fired, but he gets really defensive about this, even though it does nothing. Later at the apartment complex, Vic kicks Lloyd out as Jesus is watching this conflict. He asks Lloyd about what just happened, suggesting that getting paid may not be worth sacrificing his friendship with Vic, but Lloyd brushes this off and offers praise to God and Jesus. He reminds him of the promise he made to God about getting his life on track and making major improvements, like improving his diet and stopping with the frequent drinking, but Lloyd bails, praising the Lord on his way. Two weeks later, Vic’s in his apartment and happens to see Lloyd’s finished J. Darby commercial on television. He walks out to Jesus’ truck to let him know that visiting hours are over before suddenly going off about Lloyd’s supposed corruption by Hollywood. Concerned about the friendship between the two, Jesus lets Vic know where he can find Lloyd: at a party being thrown at the Tate Hotel in Beverly Hills. Jesus suggests the two of them try crashing the party, which they end up doing.
Jesus runs into a friend of his (Nick Young, the current shooting guard/small forward for the L.A. Lakers) who, after Jesus asks, lets him know that the party is being thrown entirely for Lloyd. He shows up at the front of the line and, after spotting the two there, says that Jesus is allowed but Vic is not. Vic promises that he’s just there to party and not do anything else, so Lloyd changes his mind and lets the two in. During the party, Lloyd rubs his success and new friendships in Vic’s face, and he tries to reason with him, but he’s not having any of it, remembering all the times Vic talked down to him and insulted him for every possible reason. Vic just decides to go “fuck it” and bail on the party but not before getting in several fuck you’s at Lloyd for how he’s changed. Jesus tries to be supportive of Lloyd’s new life, but once they get to the VIP area, he once again brings up the promises he made to God. Lloyd just asks belligerent and condescending, claiming he has made some changes, which are ultimately only superficial in Jesus’ eyes. Despite his best attempts to reason with him and help him out, Lloyd just tells Jesus and God to kiss his ass before storming off angrily, instructing Nick to kick out Jesus. He walks down to the ground floor, through the lobby (even saying “cutie pie” to a group of women as he walks through them… I guess he’s still got a bit of Robert Freeman in him), and finally out to the hotel entrance. A group of paparazzi photographers are snapping pictures of Lloyd, but he angrily tries to shove them away, eventually pissing his pants and vomiting, with footage of the incident showing up on TMZ.
Lloyd ends up getting fired from the job, much to the delight of Vic, who’s basically reveling in some hardcore schadenfreude when he sees the news. He goes downstairs to the apartment entrance, running into Jesus on the way, and he catches Lloyd at the front gate, laughing directly in his face. Lloyd tries to beg his way back into the apartment, claiming fame made him lose sight of the important things in life like their friendship… and mutual hatred of Jesus. Jesus intervenes, claiming that Vic was envious of Lloyd’s fame and trying to sabotage him so that they wouldn’t lose their friendship. Lloyd tries one last measure to get in the complex: he pulls out the money that Darby paid him to quit his position as spokesperson, and he immediately has a change of heart, shoving Jesus out the front gate and helping Lloyd take his stuff in. The episode ends with the two bonding once again over their hatred of Jesus, as he tosses Lloyd a bag of trash that he accidentally left behind.
One of my favorite things about Aaron McGruder’s writing is his skill when it comes to character relationships. The Boondocks and Black Jesus both show that he has a knack for crafting interesting characters and really funny dynamics between them. In “Never Say When”, we get an episode dedicated solely to the fascinating and generally unstable dynamic between Jesus, Lloyd, and Vic. Lloyd gets caught in between the two this week during his tenure as J. Darby’s spokesperson, which is interesting because while he generally is distrustful of Jesus, his “friendship” with Vic is something he frequently questions, especially when Lloyd finally becomes a big celebrity and realizes just how much Vic generally treats him like shit. Vic tries to be supportive but comes across as overbearing and insincere in his attempts to “protect” Lloyd, and while all this is happening, Jesus is trying to be as legitimately supportive as possible but has to deal with Lloyd’s refusal to fulfill the promise he made to God about getting his life together. The interplay between the three is the best thing about the episode, seeing how they all have to deal with each other when Lloyd finally starts having things go his way. There’s a subtle undercurrent of Vic wanting to retain a “friendship” with Lloyd, but he doesn’t want to come across as sincere and chooses to remain his typical hardass self, which is something that Jesus sees right through. All of that makes for a great and highly rewatchable episode. I look forward to next week, which looks like it’ll get the entire gang back together (Fish included) to watch some Pay-Per-View fights off of leeched satellite television.
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