Written by Issa Rae and directed by Melina Matsoukas, “Hella Perspective” is Insecure’s most beautifully shot and structurally ambitious episode to date. The season-two finale is divided into three 30-day vignettes focusing on each of the show’s main characters: Lawrence (Jay Ellis), Molly (Yvonne Orji), and Issa (Issa Rae). The cyclical, nonlinear timeline of “Hella Perspective”—each section loops back to the marathon in which Lawrence and Kelli (Natasha Rothwell) are participating—is central to the episode and strays from the usual format of the HBO series. In lieu of traditional establishing shots, visual and aural cues lead one scene into the next, whether it’s through specific objects, sounds, or even a character’s sightline. These transitions lend the episode a dreamy, albeit rushed, quality.
This experimental format is impressive as a storytelling device but slightly detrimental to the individual stories. By zooming through 30 days’ worth of action and juggling so many perspectives, the episode loses some of the specificity that would otherwise justify or provide context to the characters’ decisions. This is true of Lawrence’s section, which deals largely with his brief relationship with Aparna (Jasmine Kaur). We see that Lawrence’s insecurities run deep, whether it’s in regard to being cheated on or the failure of his app. When he starts acting jealous toward Aparna, she dismisses his toxic behavior and bails. While “Hella Perspective” does its part to recognize Lawrence’s emotional issues, the relationship arc feels rushed, especially when compared to the amount of time we spent with Dominique Perry’s Tasha at the start of the season. Furthermore, I’m not sure that this arc adequately accounts for the self-reflection that leads Lawrence to Issa’s doorstep.
Because more happens to Molly than Lawrence in the episode, her chapter is painted in broader strokes. Viewers have waited nearly an entire season for Molly to return to therapy and here she does so without any deliberation. As such, her and her therapist’s (Denise Dowse) interaction is lacking in the emotional weight that such a decision might have held. Elsewhere, Molly makes great professional and personal strides: She interviews at other firms around town and sleeps with Quentin (Lil Rel Howery), her supportive co-worker. But despite these steps forward, they’re handled hastily, and the episode doesn’t provide much closure. It’s unclear whether she’ll leave her firm or stick around, and she’s last seen rekindling the flame with Dro (Sarunas J. Jackson), thus rendering the end of “Hella Disrespectful” obsolete.
The episode doesn’t leave us with any huge cliffhangers, no actions that are entirely surprising, let alone shocking.
While “Hella Perspective” doesn’t explicitly mention Issa’s trashing of her apartment, it acknowledges that she’s still very much in a dark place. Toward the beginning of Issa’s chapter, Tiffany (Amanda Seales)—in a rather cruel gesture—rattles off the recent accomplishments of her and her friends. She’s pregnant, Kelli ran a marathon (or part of one, anyway), Molly is taking interviews, and Issa is…floundering. She’s broke, in hot water at work, and destroyed most of her belongings. With that, Issa decides to move, setting into motion what will hopefully be a clean slate.
But clean slates are hard to come by on Insecure. Issa’s only moment of closure comes when she and Lawrence share a heartfelt apology. In the empty husk of their former apartment, tears are shed and I love you’s are said. “I’m sorry for not being who you expected me to be,” says Lawrence. Issa replies, “I wanted to be better for you, because of you.” It’s a bittersweet salve to last week’s exchange of bruising invectives, and the finale’s strongest scene. As Lawrence is about to say goodbye, he gets down on one knee and professes his love for Issa. A fantastical montage follows: We see them get married, have a baby, and live happily ever after. But just like the fantasy that opened season two, it’s an impossibility, and Lawrence exits tearfully.
The episode doesn’t leave us with any huge cliffhangers, no actions that are entirely surprising, let alone shocking. There are only characters returning to old habits, making the same decisions in familiar doorways. Lawrence and Issa say goodbye for good; Molly, clad in lingerie, opens her door for Dro; and Issa shows up on Daniel’s (Y’lan Noel) doorstep to crash on his couch. It’s a frustrating finish but one’s that ultimately in line with the behavior of the characters throughout the season. In “Hella Perspective,” Lawrence, Molly, and Issa prove that they’re capable of making good decisions, at least some of the time. Season three will test the limits of whether they can keep them.
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