P-Valley season 1, episode 5 recap – “Belly”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: August 9, 2020 (Last updated: February 11, 2024)
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P-Valley season 1, episode 5 recap - "Belly"


“Belly” balances its reveals of long-held secrets with mysterious new players in a game that’ll inevitably determine the future of The Pynk.

This recap of P-Valley season 1, episode 5, “Belly”, contains spoilers. You can also check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.

After last week’s dramatic ending, P-Valley episode 5, “Belly”, continues in large part to focus on Mercedes and Patrice, who are both confined to the same packed cell in the police station waiting for their bail to be posted. But among all this, a number of other compelling character-based subplots are weaved, including more information about Autumn’s past, more of Keyshawn’s complicated relationship, more of Uncle Clifford’s low-key affair with Lil Murda, and a recently-divorced patron of The Pynk who ties the whole thing together.

“Belly” opens with that woman splashing her divorce settlement at the club, getting so turned up that she eventually starts sobbing to Keyshawn and passes out. Keyshawn makes a good shoulder to cry on, but only if you don’t have a large wedge of bills that need looking after – she takes the remainder of the settlement for herself.

The next we see of this woman she’s being escorted out by Uncle Clifford, who has left Lil Murda asleep. The Pynk has been slapped with a foreclosure notice, and it’ll be auctioned off if enough money isn’t accumulated in the next 14 days. It’s the first money problem of “Belly”, but not the last. Autumn has the next – a change in banking policy prevents her from continually depositing $9000 into her account. The drunk, divorced lady is transferred to the same lock-up as Mercedes and Patrice, where a lot of P-Valley episode 5 plays out.

We’re introduced, very briefly, to a shadowy new character who calls himself Montavius Hill, but we see nothing of him again until the end. He’s in the police precinct too, looking for his missing wife and child. Clifford arrives as he leaves, asking about the foreclosure, his on-going palm-greasing deal with the cops, and then, when he learns she’s locked up, Mercedes. He demands to see her, and he does, though due to the foreclosure Mercedes instructs him to keep the money he was willing to post for her bail. He clashes with Patrice, as does Mercedes; their issues are long-running, deep-seated, and show no signs of ending any time soon.

It’s Gidget, of all people, who Mercedes turns to for help, and it’s an especially tough sell given the testy exchanges about financial responsibility they’ve had in the past. We see the token white girl’s home life isn’t exactly simple either, but she promises to do what she can to help her colleague.

That entails going to the rest of the girls at the Pynk, but their efforts are in vain since Mercedes’s bail is set at 5K, rather than the two she advertised. Autumn has that kind of dough, obviously, but she keeps it to herself as Patrice turns the jail cell into a pulpit for an impromptu singalong sermon that gets everyone on-side except Mercedes, who’s presumably immune to this kind of hucksterism by now. When Mercedes finally tells her mother that she’s dead to her, despite the crowded setting, P-Valley episode 5 makes the moment quiet and personal, and lands with a thud that keeps Patrice on her knees, though not in prayer.

Mercedes finally exhibits this emotional toll when Autumn picks her up, and she breaks down to her nemesis. Speaking of nemeses, Uncle Clifford confronts the mayor and Andre about the foreclosure and their interaction is bitter but causes a potentially useful rift between the mayor and his son, who is obviously to blame for Clifford’s possession of confidential documents.

Clifford has a lot on her plate in P-Valley season 1, episode 5 – as well as facing imminent foreclosure, The Pynk’s books are upside-down and Lil Murda seems determined not to keep their relationship a secret, however many examples Clifford gives of local, violent homophobic incidents. Violence in relationships is, of course, nothing new to Keyshawn, who has assumed a more central role in The Pynk’s line-up, and in “Belly” she has a face-to-face meeting with her baby’s abusive father, Derrick, a fairly soft-looking white guy. Diamond looms in the background of this scene, presumably to keep his relationship with Keyshawn in the audience’s mind, but he never gets involved. Derrick mentions that he has seen Keyshawn’s video from when she took Mercedes’s spot, and it’s difficult to gauge how she takes this.

Autumn, meanwhile, confesses the tragic, watery loss of her daughter, and the new lease of life – which she believes on some level was divine – offered to her by the floating suitcase. She reveals to Mercedes her stacks of cash, a wedge of which she offers Mercedes with the promise of more, just so long as Mercedes helps her get around the change to banking policy. Autumn’s bank statements provide the closing image of the episode, as we see Montavius Hill surveying them, still in shadow.

With this new arrival, P-Valley provides a new layer of mystery to proceedings, just as truths were beginning to emerge. How this will intertwine with the casino plot or the various character-based storylines remains anyone’s guess, but this stylish and distinct show has had no trouble thus far in keeping its audience engaged.

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