The last time we saw Simone, she had collapsed from a cocktail of pills (pilfered from Miss Bruce) and booze after singing her heart out in church. Would Star dare to kill off one third of its lead trio after only two episodes?
Of course not, silly. Even Lee Daniels draws the line somewhere.
Simone spent most of Star Season 1 Episode 3 in a hospital bed, under a psychiatric hold as a result of worries that she may have been attempting suicide when she swallowed all of those pills.
I believed Simone when she said she wasn't trying to die. She was just trying to numb the pain of everything she's been through in her life. But, she has to get help, and from someone other than her sister.
Admin: Any history of psychiatric problems?
Carlotta: I don't think so, no.
Admin: You don't think so?
Carlotta: She's a teenager, they all crazy.
Star loves Simone, there's no doubt about that, but her obsession with their music is getting in the way of her sister's health. Simone needs time to live a normal life, surrounded by (relatively) positive influences like Carlotta and Pastor Harris.
Brittany O'Grady's performance as Simone is wonderfully rough around the edges; one can see she's damaged, but one can also see that beneath that damage lies the soul of a surprisingly young girl who never had a chance to enjoy her childhood. She was forced to grow up way too quickly.
Let me tell you something. Star way too complicated for a guy like you. I see you with a more agreeable, Asian-type girl.Miss Bruce [to Hunter]
Simone deserves the chance to enjoy being a regular girl now, and she won't get that pursuing pop stardom with Star.
Speaking of which: in one of the episodes more outlandish plot points (but not the most – we'll get to that later), Star somehow managed to sneak Simone out of the hospital so that the girls could record a demo with Big Boi, guest-starring as himself.
Big Boi ended up getting scared away from the recording studio by all of the girls' drama, especially after Carlotta showed up and started tearing into Star for being irresponsible (which is true). So Star accused Carlotta of not being there for the girls when they were young (also true).
And then, Simone told them both to stop talking about her like she wasn't there, because she was capable of making her own decisions about what she wanted to do (not entirely true. As we've established, Simone is a mess.)
We could be like those real life stories, you know? The ones that inspire people. We're gonna be on Good Morning America when we're famous.Simone [to Star]
Fortunately, they ended up being able to record the demo from the hospital after Simone was sent back to continue recuperating. But, before all that went down, something even more insane happened.
I'm talking about Jahil's madcap misadventures in the world of human trafficking. That's right, it turns out the job Maggie hired Jahil for wasn't drug smuggling, it was human smuggling. Pretty sizeable difference, no?
Apparently even a desperate lowlife like Jahil draws the line somewhere, because he ended up faking a car-jacking and freeing the van full of women and girls he was supposed to be transporting.
Jahil: Star, this guy's a buddy of mine, so no shenanigans.
Star: Fresh out of shenanigans.
Considering that the show had set Jahil up as a pretty ruthless character, I was surprised at this sudden soft streak in him. Honestly, I was more shocked that he was morally above human trafficking than I was that the show decided to introduce it as a plot point in the first place, and let me tell you, I was shocked enough about that.
Clearly, this is going to be a disastrous decision for Jahil; the real estate kingpin he crossed by "losing" the women (and the profits they would have brought in) is clearly going to seek revenge. This entire subplot seems wholly unnecessary and I hope it gets killed off as soon as possible.
You''re a bad liar. And that's disturbing, because you're a manager. And part of being a good manager is being a good liar.Star [to Jahil]
One storyline I was definitely glad to see more of in this episode was Cotton's struggle to get Carlotta to accept her as a transgender woman. Amiyah Scott continues to impress in the role of Cotton, her performance subtle and sensitive but not lacking in true toughness.
To survive as a transgender street hustler in Atlanta, one cannot be a pushover, that's for sure, but at the same time, Cotton is clearly a person of great feeling. She's no stereotypical "strong woman." Indeed, one could see the pain in Cotton's eyes every time Carlotta insisted on calling her by her given name, Arnold, and referred to her as boy.
The scene in which Cotton confronted Carlotta about pretending that Simone was her daughter, and revealed her intention to get bottom surgery – an expensive operation paid for out of her own pockets – was the best part of the episode.
Cotton: I need my outsides to match my insides.
Carlotta: But why would you pay someone to mutilate what God gave you?
Cotton: God gave me me, Mama. And it's not mutilation.
One thing about that scene made me very anxious. Cotton mentioned that she had already saved up ten grand for the surgery. But, earlier in the episode, the hospital administrator warned Carlotta that without health insurance, Simone's care would cost upwards of five grand.
(As an aside: As talk of appealing the Affordable Care Act gets increasingly heated the closer we get inaugurating our new president, I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the heavy-handed Obamacare reference in this scene. It felt very timely, even if the scene was likely shot months ago.)
I'm a black man in America. I gotta keep my head down, my mouth shut and my hands in my pockets just to make it home alive.Derek
Considering the dismissive way Carlotta treats Cotton and her intention to live as a woman, I wonder if Carlotta will try to convince Cotton her to use her savings to pay Simone's bills. Or – even worse – steal the money to do it.
I can't really see Carlotta stealing from her own daughter, however little she may think of Cotton's reasons for saving the money. But, if Star found out Cotton was sitting on all that cash, I can totally see her stealing it to pay her sister's bills. Can't you?
After all, Star has next to no compunction about throwing other people under the bus to get what she wants, coupled with enormous loyalty to Simone. I admire this attitude in some ways, such as when it leads to her stabbing her sister's abusive foster father, but I want to slap her for it in others, such when it results in her attempting to sleep with Alexandra's dad. Screwing over Cotton would definitely fall into the latter category.
Either way, I have a feeling Simone's medical bills and Cotton's savings will both come back into play at some point soon. Otherwise, there's no real reason for them to have been mentioned in the first place.
What did you think of "Next of Kin"? Do you think the girls will make it into the music festival? What do you think the consequences for Jahil's actions will be? And, do you think Star is stupid for playing hard to get with a legitimate celebrity like Hunter? (Not to mention, for someone so fame hungry, it seems incredibly out of character.)
Remember, you can watch Star online via TV Fanatic.
Lee Jutton was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She went into retirement in July of 2017. Follow her on Twitter.