Snowfall Recap 3 : Bite the Hand

When asked about agent Grady Williamson's sudden disappearance and Teddy's unexpected return during a meeting at the club in episode three, "Lions," Franklin Saint tells his staff that "lions occasionally eat their young." 

Franklin uses the animal realm as a metaphor to try to calm the team down by stressing the CIA's missions are not sentimental. When a lion or lioness' offspring becomes a liability to the perilous effort of survival and sociality, they are most compelled to slay, eat, or leave them.

Franklin may have led "the Family" to believe that Grady was nothing more than a sickly unsuitable cub with little possibility of recovery in Teddy's eyes, but true fans of the program know better than to conflate intelligence operatives' aggression with the intimacy of infanticide. 

Teddy isn't even paternal, and his relationship with Grady was purely governmental, not familial. Even if it had, Teddy is definitely more of a Scar than a Mustafa. Teddy is not only partly to blame for the death of his own brother, but also for the disappearance of Franklin's father, Alton. Franklin, the Simba of South Central, is counting on his capacity to defy Teddy's power over his and others' lives.

Franklin's wit under fire seems to promise a fight rather than a fall as anxiety washes over him this episode. However, the question of who will be crowned King of Crack Rock remains unanswered. 

Franklin quickly discovers that their drop (which took place in an empty lot outside an abandoned warehouse) was planned by an omniscient agent when he meets up with Gustavo for a normal supply exchange, which he humorously dubs "quality time." Franklin peeps game in the middle of his conservation and deduces that Teddy chose their meeting site and is likely listening to and watching over them. Teddy observes the two guys from inside one of the buildings, perched above his pawns.

Franklin appears to be ecstatic with Teddy's homecoming in order to persuade him of his lack of interest in learning the truth. Franklin follows through on the ruse and even promises to buy Gustavo a new jacket to replace the shearling brown suede coat he's been sweating in for several seasons. Franklin should get El Oso a decent coat, in my opinion. After all, if the Feds are watching, one should be "fresh as hell," as 2 Chainz put it. Franklin, despite saving face, is still trembling in his boots (internally) now that he has to start watching his back around the man who used to cover it.

And it just so happens that now is the season for questioning and reevaluating allegiances. 

After losing both his daughter Tianna and his wife Khadijah at the end of Season 4, it appeared as if Skully, the leader of the Bloods and a thorny business partner of Franklin's group, had no loyalty to anybody save God himself. Skully's faith in his people is put to the test as he reappears on this week's episode. Skully's flair for the biblical and theatrical has only grown stronger as his sorrow has become increasingly Old Testament. In some ways, it's unsurprising that a man who crucified one of Manboy's underlings only last season would continue to rule his people according to a divine mandate of harshness.

In “Lions,” after one of his men fails to follow instructions, Skully brandishes a sword and cuts off the man’s ear in front of witnesses. “Listen close next time,” he tells him before making him clean up his own blood.

When Louie and Jerome go to a drop site to do an exchange with one of Skully’s henchmen, Melo, an arrogant acolyte who has grown anxious about Skully’s grief-stricken antics, offers the couple $100,000 to kill him. “No one will shed tears of his death,” he explains. Incredulous, Louise is resistant to the deal. 

I “So you gon’ take the throne?” she asks. To answer, he lays out his master plan of mutiny: Louie and Jerome follow Skully when he goes to see a psychic on his late daughter’s birthday and kill him while his defenses are down. Once the hit is completed, Melo can become the new boss of the Bloods, and the three of them can begin dealing at the rate of “12 for a key.”

Louie and Jerome drive up alongside Black Diamond and Dallas (or, as Jerome calls them, "Thing One" and "Thing Two") as they drop their kids off at school (Bestie alert: Black Diamond and Dallas have a son and a daughter, and they carpool to take them to school!). 

Despite the fact that their observations and strip-club connections are vital to knowing about Melo's irresponsible behavior, Jerome is wary of them after their united abandoning of Khadijah for money and Black Diamond's shooting of Louie. He complains, "They're only loyal to the greatest bidder." Louie, on the other hand, is uninterested in nursing a grudge against the girls, and instead offers to help them put their pasts behind them in exchange for their help.

Black Diamond even apologizes for shooting Louie. “I’m glad you didn’t not make it,” she says (aw?).

In the end, these traitors help Louie and Jerome snuff out another traitor. On Tianna’s birthday, when Skully arrives at his psychic Mama Mambo’s blue home, Jerome and Louie corner him with guns pointed. Later, when Melo arrives at Louie’s club asking for proof of the hit, the couple gives him Skully’s necklace (his daughter’s locket) as evidence of his assassination. 

But then, Skully appears, alive and angered by his disloyal lackey, and proceeds to snap Melo’s neck. (Life comes at you fast!). “Through God, we shall do valiantly for it is he that shall trample down our enemies,” Skully exclaims. Grateful but confused by Louie and Jerome’s show of loyalty, Skully looks to the couple for answers. 

You know it’s a cold game when pain made me doubt your loyalty. Why didn’t you take the shot?” he asks. “It is a cold game we in Skully, but somehow we found warmth in that hospital,” Louie responds, recalling their moment in season four when Louie, while vulnerable and recovering from a gunshot wound, talked down a gun-wielding Skully by explaining that violence will only beget more violence. 

“We owe you honor,” Jerome explains, giving Skully back his daughter’s necklace. “You know, we are our own persons. Ain’t nobody controlling us. You let me Angel be a reminder to you of that,” Skully responds, handing the necklace back to Jerome before he leaves. After all the day’s work is done, Louie cleans up the mess from Melo’s death, sits down in her chair, puts her feet up, and smiles.

In the face of uncut pricing and a drug landscape in which “Colombians got the game sewed up,” Louie’s smile is short-lived. For starters, Teddy refuses to budge on the price. “My price? Right at market levels,” he tells Franklin.

 “I think the problem here is the prices that Jerome and Louie are paying you, right?” Stirring up trouble once again, Teddy’s stubbornness exposes strife between Franklin and the Family. 

When Louie and Jerome meet up with Franklin and Peaches, Franklin tells his aunt and uncle that they are the source of the problems they face as they insist on breaking off from him and going off on their own. Franklin offers to split the profits with them if they agree to close ranks and end their ventures in Little Rock. 

What he does not anticipate, however, is Louie’s unwillingness to budge. “What would you like, Queen Louie? What’s gonna make you happy, cause nothin’ seems to do it for you!” Franklin asks. “How about not being under anybody’s thumb, nephew?” she retorts. 

In Louie’s answer, we see what Jerome dubs “lions fighting over sheep” turns out to be a freedom struggle rather than a scene of feline aggression. It’s neither Franklin’s hot breath nor Louie’s hothead that looms over them but the horror of CIA ties. Breaking up with the state is messy business. He just won’t let go.

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