“Look at your boy Jason. Without Jesus in his life… piece of shit Bobby Brown reject-lookin’ mothafucka. Look at him. He’s given up.” “Nigga you know I can hear you?”
Hey, everyone. RobBarracuda here, and it’s time to talk about this week’s episode of Black Jesus, the season finale/holiday special “A Very Special Christmas In Compton”. Everyone’s excited for the holiday and is ready to celebrate… everyone except for our Lord and Savior.
The episode starts with Jesus walking down the sidewalk and passing by Lloyd in his old box. As it turns out, he and Vic had another fight and kicked Lloyd out of the apartment. He’s somewhat relieved to be out of there, as he complains about Vic behaving tyrannically like a mayor of some kind (remember the mayor thing. It will be important for later). He offers Jesus some food, mainly leftover hot dog buns and fries, and then he proceeds to ask Him about gifts for Christmas. Jesus gets annoyed by this, asking Lloyd to take it up with Santa Claus and not him, and then he proceeds to complain about Lloyd begging him for stuff when it’s Jesus’ birthday and he should be getting stuff.
Ms. Tudi visits the food truck where Jesus and Jason are napping, and she brings Jesus a gift for the season. He opens it excitedly, only to see that it’s a small baggie of weed. She promises more for him if he comes to her Christmas party, but he refuses, apparently having already been asked about this before. Ms. Tudi begs Jesus to come, especially since she had already sent out invitations promising he would be there. Jesus again complains about being exploited by Tudi, bringing up an unpleasant photo-op thing that she forced him into long ago. She tries one more idea to convince him to come: a live Nativity scene, one that will naturally feature Jesus. He turns this down, and Ms. Tudi leaves in frustration.
In the apartment complex, Vic catches Jesus walking through, and the two end up talking about Lloyd’s exile from his apartment. Vic proceeds to offer Jesus a “gift from God”: he begins reciting biblical passages about the worship of false prophets and ends with the threat of Jesus burning in Hell for being a “false prophet”. Jesus heads up to Fish’s apartment, upset about how everyone’s treating him on his birthday, venting to Boonie, Fish, and Jason. They’re all aware of his complaints about Christmas, and they decide to cheer him up in the best way they know how: Fish offers a nicely rolled blunt, and Boonie takes of his sweater to reveal a shirt that says “Happy Birthday Jesus!” He takes a few hits of the blunt before someone comes knocking at the door. Jason answers and sees it’s Dianne who’s come to drop off some mail that was addressed to him. Jesus invites her to stay behind, but she refuses, and Jesus tells him that the two of them are meant to be together for Christmas.
Later, Maggie, Boonie, and Jesus are roaming around the mall, and Jesus mouths off rather condescendingly to a kid asking him for stuff. Maggie seems put off by Jesus’ negative attitude, and they proceed to argue about for a bit, with Jesus even declaring that he doesn’t even feel like being Jesus anymore. A nearby security guard immediately takes notice of this and asks Jesus to leave the mall, but this just sets him off further, and he goes on an even angrier tirade, fed up with the consumerism of Christmas and demanding peace on Earth as what he wants for his birthday. He then proceeds to destroy the Santa Claus display he’s standing in and runs away, getting ambushed by the security guard. He slips, rams into a display of decorations, and he gets knocked unconscious.
Jesus wakes up in a hospital bed where the doctor (played by Donnell Rawlings, best known as a recurring cast member of Chappelle’s Show) informs him that he’s in decent condition for the most part, reminding him that it’s still Christmas Eve. He asks Jesus to sign some documents before he leaves… and oddly, the doctor addresses him as “Fred”. Jesus is confused by this until the doctor presents him with a driver’s license with his photo, confirming Jesus’ name as “Fred Bethlehem”. After getting out of the hospital, Jesus prays to God for some clarification, and he accidentally kicks Lloyd’s box… or so we think. As it turns out, the box is being inhabited by Jason, who is homeless for some reason. He recognizes “Fred” and is completely overjoyed to see him, offering him a bottle of Darby. Jesus is bitter and confused wondering why Jason is suddenly homeless and dirty, but this is interrupted by the doctor from earlier showing up to deliver a package. Jesus puts two and two together and calls out this man as an angel of some kind, to which he immediately confesses. The angel begins to talk about what happened, explaining that without Jesus in Jason’s life, he gave up and became homeless. Jesus thinks this is a test from God to teach him a lesson, but the angel informs him that God just granted his wish: Jesus felt like not being Jesus anymore, and his divinity was taken away from him. As this discussion goes on, Lloyd suddenly approaches and begins to berate Jason for his homelessness and filthiness, and Lloyd takes the package from the angel. He tells Jesus that without him around, Lloyd never became a filthy bum, instead ending up as the owner of the apartment complex. The angel leaves, but not before Jesus asks what Vic is doing with his life if Lloyd is now the complex owner. He tells Jesus simply that Vic is now the mayor of Compton. Meanwhile, Lloyd heads up to his apartment where the walls are adorned with hateful images of Vic, mumbling that he has a surprise bullet planned for him.
If the following thought popped in your head, then you are indeed correct: Black Jesus is doing its own spin on one of the most classic of Christmas stories: It’s A Wonderful Life.
We then cut to Ms. Tudi’s house, where Tudi is getting drunk and Vic is getting ready for an important event, threatening to beat Boonie’s ass for some reason. Boonie shows up to the house with Maggie (who’s his girlfriend in this world), and Ms. Tudi confronts him about a blunt she found belonging to him. This is when Vic delivers on his promise of beating Boonie’s ass with a belt (even when Jesus isn’t around, Boonie is still a fuck-up). Jesus and Jason show up to the house, and Jesus manages to piece together that Vic and Tudi are together now. The angel shows up again (this time as a photographer) and fills him in on what’s up: without Jesus around, Ms. Tudi took to alcoholism instead of smoking weed, and Vic was able to take all the energy he would normally expend on hating Jesus and channel it into a successful mayoral campaign. They both notice Dianne outside the front entrance (she works as part of Vic’s private security force), and she ends up noticing the two of them. Dianne berates him for showing up unexpectedly and hanging around with a bum as she almost declares their relationship over (I guess “Fred” and Dianne were dating in this world). Vic, Ms. Tudi, and Boonie all get into a car to go to the park to speak to the people of Compton, and while this is happening, Jesus tries to convince them all that he is in fact their Lord and Savior, but no one bats much of an eye to this. When they leave, Jesus begs to be divine again, but the angel can’t help him. Jesus then starts to wonder about Fish and asks Jason about him, and he fortunately recognizes who he’s talking about. Unfortunately, Fish is dead, having been gunned down by police for selling pirated DVDs.
The two of them visit Fish’s memorial site, and Jesus has a bit of a breakdown, apologizing to God for shit-talking Christmas. The angel suddenly appears and tells him that Jesus was the one responsible for keeping Fish from diving all the way into wholly illegal activities. He also warns him that another life is about to be taken: Lloyd is planning on assassinating Vic at the Christmas in Compton celebration, having turned to radical libertarianism without Jesus in his life.
Told you the mayor thing would to be important later.
Jesus is sorrowful and in disbelief as he begs for some kind of sign from God, and he gets one: amongst the memorial and its miscellaneous signs, he finds a crucifix with a decent substitute crown of thorns. Now filled with confidence and joy, Jesus and Jason head off to find Vic.
At the park, Vic is giving a speech about the dangers of marijuana, which of course includes throwing Boonie under the bus for smoking it in addition to declaring that the usage of it will remain permanently illegal in Compton. While he’s speaking, Lloyd sneaks through the crowd, and Jesus and Jason show up as well. Lloyd suddenly pulls his gun out and aims at Vic, prompting him to pull out his own gun as well. The two fire a couple of rounds at each other, with Vic hitting Jesus and Lloyd, but Lloyd manages to land pretty fatal hit on Vic. Lloyd also fires a few rounds at Boonie, and in the ensuing chaos, Jesus is left delirious and dying… although this is the point where he wakes up from his hallucination. He looks around to see that everything is back to the way it should be, and he is filled with overwhelming joy.
On Christmas Day, the gang is back at Fish’s apartment celebrating the good times, as Jesus narrates over the proceedings about the importance of togetherness and friendship during the holidays. Ms. Tudi shows up as well, and with everyone at the apartment, they drink and smoke eat good food together. Vic comes out to see Lloyd and offers to invite him into his apartment for Christmas dinner. Jesus narrates over this as well, saying that Christmas is a perfect time for people to get over their stupid beefs with each other, and this is also accompanied by a scene of Jason and Dianne embracing each other and kissing romantically. The episode ends with Jesus narrating some more about the most important part of the holiday season: himself. And fuck Santa Claus.
It’s important to look at this episode not just on its own merits but also against the entirety of season 2. The key running storyline of the season is about Jesus’ frustration towards those who love and claim to need him the most. All throughout the various episodes, people have been ignoring his holy word, hating on him, taking advantage of him at ever conceivable turn, and just straight up lying to him about various things. We get a pretty good condensation of this motif in the first five minutes, with Lloyd begging Jesus for gifts and Ms. Tudi trying to bribe him into making an appearance at her party. These are made worse because of how close they are to his birthday, and let’s be honest: whether you’re his Holiness or just some schlub from Florida sitting on his couch, I don’t think ANYONE would like being taken advantage of on their birthday, especially by their friends. That’s just the textbook definition of “being a dick”. The episode of course goes down the predictable route of paying homage to It’s A Wonderful Life to communicate to Jesus how important he actually is to those around him, and while it is pretty cheesy, I thought it was fairly well-executed. The highlight for me was when Jesus came across Fish’s memorial, the one member of the cast who arguably needed Jesus more than anyone else, and he proceeds to just break down in tears and sorrow.
Speaking of this, I always liked Slink Johnson and his performance as Jesus, and this episode shows him at his best, encompassing the entire range of emotions capable by a more humanized version of his Holiness: the extreme anger at everyone’s obsession with Santa, the joy of being with friends who care about him, and the aforementioned emotional breakdown. He still remains the MVP of the series cast. It was also nice to see everyone eventually make up and resolve their beefs at the end, especially Vic and Lloyd. It was even nice to see Jason and Dianne get over some of their hang-ups with each other, although I’m kind of upset that we didn’t really see much of what happened to make these two make up. All of that adds up to a greatly enjoyable episode and a wonderful way of celebrating the holiday season. As for some parting thoughts on the season as a whole: I thought it was pretty great overall, and just as good, if not better, than season 1. The jokes and character work were improved significantly, the observations about religion and faith were much sharper and interesting, and the episodes were paced better than season 1, with very few awkward cliffhangers and ending points for episodes. I liked the introduction of Reverend Cleveland to the main cast, serving as a solid recurring antagonist for the season, and I thought Bernadette made a pretty interesting addition to the cast as well, especially how she screwed with Vic and Lloyd (metaphorically and literally). I hope we see more of Cleveland in the future (assuming that happens) because there’s definitely more story to tell with him around. One last thing: will we get a season 3? I really hope so because this show’s too good to let it end or get cancelled at this stage in the game. So until next time, this is RobBarracuda, and I’ll see you later. Peace out!