It's our first official installment without Callie, and like Mariana, we're hanging in there.
Life moved on during Good Trouble Season 4 Episode 3, as some of the Coterie members faced new life stages and obstacles.
And, of course, the mystery surrounding newbie Joaquin's missing sister looms.
It was a bit of a slower hour, and they scaled back on the primary cast to focus on a few select characters. That way, that's definitely been more prominent across the television landscape amid the pandemic.
It often has its advantages with storytelling, stripping back some of the noise and leading to some tighter focus.
We delved right in with Joaquin, who had a surprising amount of screentime and occupied one of the biggest arcs of the hour. And through him, we got our first introduction to the tragically canceled Julie and the Phantom's star Booboo Stewart as an unhoused man, Luca.
It's a risk by following the departure of a beloved star and staple of the series with this much focus on a certified newbie we know little about here. However, while it's absurd that Joaquin won't simply ask anyone anything about Jenna directly, there's space for his arc to interweave with others.
And in a weird way, it honors Callie some, too. Her compassion for Jarod was such an involved storyline. It's what led her to work with Cathleen in the first place, and it was our first detailed storyline about homelessness in the city, poor living conditions, and financial disparity.
Joaquin doesn't believe that his sister is dead, unlike their mother. Still, there feels like an angle here where his interest in writing a piece on the homelessness in Los Angeles with Luca giving him a bird's eye view of that plight could dovetail into his investigation into his sister.
That's the thing about being invisible. No one cares when they erase you.Luca
Jenna could very well be homeless. And while Malika's interest in working for Lucia pertains to her initiative for single mothers navigating the criminal justice and prison system, she got involved with Will's passion project pertaining to rent control, which naturally connects to homelessness.
If that's the case, then connecting all of those stories is smart and provides a cohesiveness among characters and arcs that sometimes the series struggles at nailing.
It is also a nice substitution instead of making one specific character rise to fill the void of Callie's absence as a character and someone who often had one of the primary storylines.
Of course, it still makes you wonder if the stories and characters will converge. Right now, it's evident that Joaquin's closest dynamic within the Coterie will be this flirtation that he has with Mariana.
Although, they both were able to cast aside some of their hardened reactions to one another and have more vulnerable moments under the cloak of night. Joaquin is attuned to Mariana and can see that she struggles in Callie's absence, and he doesn't judge her.
In those moments over tea and at that bookcase, you can see hints of a genuinely endearing dynamic, whether it's a friendship or evolves into something else.
Joaquin gave into Mariana's pressing questions, and he gave up some information about him. Although, with him, you don't exactly know what's real and what isn't.
And is it too soon to imply that maybe his mother doesn't either? The religious angle of this is curious. It's hard to say whether Joaquin's mother is just a super-religious person or her strong faith marks mental illness.
And with the note that Jenna's Bible was part of the old books on that bookshelf, and she, too, was a woman of faith before her disappearance, it gives off the vibe that there's a mental illness or psychological breakdown amid all of this.
I believe she'd around the age where things like schizophrenic breaks can happen, and if that were the case, her seemingly disappearing off the face of the earth wouldn't be a surprise if she was alone and no one noticed. Luca's words about invisible people being easy to erase hitting that point home.
I don't know how to feel about that. However, it's too early to tell where this arc is going, and if that's the intent, we'll just roll with it for now. He got a lead with a massage parlor and someone else who worked there, so that's something.
Something tells me that Joaquin's experience with Luca will be crucial to understanding his sister better and making sense of her absence.
Davia: Why are you being so nice to me?
Dennis: You said we were better off as friends. So I'm being your friend. Why did you think you couldn't talk to me? Because you still think you're the one who has to take care of me?
Luca's story breaks your heart, but he has such a positive spin on things that it's inspiring. He's been in the streets for a decade, and when you hear his story, you understand the obstacles that would keep him in such a troubling situation.
He can't get anywhere without his birth certificate, and the process of proving he is himself and exists is daunting. Luca is a bright kid with no avenues, and he can't even keep things to his name when the city cracks down on unhoused encampments and destroys all of those people's belongings.
Was Luca in some underground portion of The Coterie or something? By the end of the hour, it appeared as though Joaquin unofficially moved him onto the property somehow. It should make things interesting, that's for sure.
And there's a chance that Malika's storyline could run into Joaquin's a bit, but this time around, it was her first day at the office, and it was a mixed bag.
Working for Lucia wasn't what she thought it would be, but she's adapting well enough. Lucia had a way of making Malika feel special when she met her. However, everyone else is dismissive of her while she's there.
It felt like they gave us more defined personalities with those at Malika's job, similar to Callie and Mariana's. Perhaps we'll get to know some of these coworkers better, and they won't be these nameless faces in the background of scenes.
Will doesn't seem too bad. It's sad and discouraging that his optimism about changes he feels they have to power to evoke is something that the others mock him for, though.
Dana comes across like a real shark, and she's one to look out for in the long run. She has a more cutthroat approach to politics you'd expect. Her Quid Pro Quo advice to Malika, while apt, hinted that she's not on to trifle with and could be problematic sooner rather than later.
Dana's reaction to Malika when she found out that she was an activist was a curious one. And it makes you wonder if her interest in digging into Malika's background is more about how she can use it to her advantage over genuine concern over how it would affect Lucia's campaign.
But the job is already affecting Malika and Angelica's fledgling relationship. It's an awkward setup already that Malika is working for Angelica's ex.
It's made worse when Malika talks about her day, and she cannot stop discussing Lucia. She seems to idolize the woman a bit, and Angelica does not. It's hard for them to move forward in their relationship when Malika's job factors in the way that it does.
And bless the girl, Malika could not stop talking about it. Angelica was sympathetic in that scenario, and it hit almost instantly how little we know about her yet.
Dana: Let me give you some advice. The three most important words in politics are Quid pro quo. Find out what Will wants, get it for him, and then collect by getting what you want.
Malika: Thanks for the advice.
Dana: Another word of advice. There is no free advice. I'm a powerful ally, I'll be of help to you as long as you're of help to me.
Hopefully, a mark of their relationship won't be Malika sharing all of her experiences and life with Angelica in this role as support and listener. It's always about the balance.
But despite that, the two of them took their relationship to the next level, and it was a nice, seductive scene. Malika was comfortable expressing that it was her first time with a woman, so she didn't know how to approach things, and she confessed her need and desire for Angelica to take the lead.
Angelica did without an issue and reassured Malika that it's all about what feels natural and good to her. These are the things that the series always does well, emphasizing that there is no right or wrong way to be what you are.
It's no playbook on polyamory for Malika no more than it is for her figuring out what she desires while having sex with a woman for the first time.
Malika: I think I've been taking it slow because I've never been with a woman before. I'm just not exactly sure what to do.
Angelica: All you have to do is whatever feels good and right for you.
Malika: I think I might need you to take the lead.
Angelica: I can do that.
Hopefully, we'll get to spend some more time with these two. Zuri Adele and Yasmine Aker's chemistry is different from Adela and Odelya Halevi's, so it requires some adjustment.
Davia will require some of that in her life, too, now that they've officially fired her.
It sucks to see it happen, but it was inevitable that she was on borrowed time at the school because of all the good trouble she was getting into while there.
The real downside is that we won't have those meaningful scenes and connections Davia shared with her students. Andre and Jessie are some of the best recurring characters we had during that arc.
My heart shattered when Andre tracked Davia down at the Coterie and told her how much she meant to him. She can rest assured that she made a difference in his life and was crucial to him reaching a turning point no matter what happens.
A good teacher can change a child's life trajectory forever, and their relationship often highlights that well.
Dennis can be a mess sometimes when it's his life, but you cannot deny he gives the best advice to others. It's one of the reasons why Davia's need to withhold things from him in an innate desire to protect him doesn't bode well.
He knows her too well, and he's always been one of the few people who gets through to her and tells her the things that she needs to hear.
It is a turning point in her career, and this could be a sign that she should pursue something new and advantageous to her.
I'll admit, I didn't have Davia tries out Burlesque on my 2022 Bingo Card, but hell, let's do this.
Emma Hunton is such a talent, and she looked gorgeous doing her number. We'll see where this bit goes!
Admittedly, it's hard to determine where Mariana's arc at Revitalize is headed.
It remains difficult to process overall or have any real investment in here. It doesn't help that one's opinion and interest in the Fight Club girls if there were any, soured some time ago.
What is the most outrageous, exuberant I am Davia Goddamn Moss thing you can imagine?Dennis
Mariana is pouring her all into helping her friends, and by now, it seems pointless and unnecessary.
She has an impossible mission ahead of her, and this hour showcased why when Liza, warned by Jackie, no doubt, couldn't hide that she doesn't trust Mariana as far as she can throw her.
They all know where Mariana is coming from, and even at her most dubious, her morals regarding something like stealing other people's work remain intact.
Of course, they'd have her sign a non-compete that bars her from practicing in a similar field for a couple of years. And a big company like that would be smart enough to change enough about the app to pass it off as their own.
I don't foresee Mariana successfully taking down an entire company on her own from the inside and getting to return to Bulk Beauty afterward. I can't buy into this storyline in any way.
And Evan's constant association with problematic cohorts has put a damper on the two of them reuniting romantically again.
However, Mariana's off-the-clock time as she goes through the stages of grief after Callie moved away is compelling. She did well putting on a strong and supportive face for her sister, but now she's allowing herself to be hurt and angry, even if it's only in the confines of their empty room.
We have this version of Mariana, who doesn't have anyone there to bounce things off of or confide in at the end of the day, and that's the first time the audience gets to see that.
We know she went off to college on her own, but she probably had close friends and roommates then. Right now, it's the first time we get to see Mariana alone.
And maybe that's why she's throwing herself into this crusade. It's giving her something to do and directing all of her attention, so she doesn't have to face the void Callie left.
I'm curious as to what relationships she can explore and develop further to compensate for what she no longer has with her sister gone.
Over to you, Good Trouble Fanatics.
Are you intrigued by Joaquin's investigation? What's your impression of Malika's new job? How do you feel about Mariana's uphill battle with Revitalize?
You can watch Good Trouble online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.