Note from the writer. The review of the first four episodes can be found by clicking here. This write up is for episode 5, Their Eyes Were Watching God. So let's get into episode five, shall we? Picking things up from the last time I saw the crew was easy but this particular episode was a special treat. It should also be noted that although the engine that is "Black On Both Sides" continues to turn, chapter five could actually stand alone even if you haven't watched the previous episodes. I'm not saying to skip anything previous, only that this could almost be a self-contained story. Even if you've never seen the show, there's much to be gleaned from this chapter and knowing the basics of what's happening is easy to pick up.
The introduction in this chapter of a true brown-nosing asshole really got things moving in terms of the overall story here, and for lack of a better few words, a true antagonist for Anansi. Nolan Martin picks up the role of Joseph Ross. A man who feels he is underappreciated and pissed that Anansi has been moving up the corporate chain much faster than he should. The bottom line? Anansi is black and Joseph is white. In his eyes, ability doesn't matter. Making things even more interesting is that although Joseph is a slippery snake and a clear brown noser, he's not presented as an idiot. He's just another dick who happens to be white, and feels that being white alone should give him some kind of power over the Anansi's team and Anansi himself. He's not blatantly racist, but the writing is such that you can definitely see it. In truth, he's just a real snake no matter the color of his prey. I would love to see this man again in the future. Maybe developed as a more direct adversary, perhaps have him find out certain things about what's going on. I also loved how he got played at the end. Nice work.
Other than the addition of the new character, this episode actually focused more on Maya. Her personal struggles, family life and pride. I can't remember if I've mentioned it before but Kiara Woods owns the character, and it was nice to see some real character development here. Especially the whole Charlie Brown allegory of the episode. I'm looking forward to more. Chapter five simply contained some great development. What more can be said? Well, one other thing I enjoyed is the information on sales tactics. I feel I learned what to look for when being sold something - but also again, a ping of shame watching those same great sales pitch tactics. Anyone who will follow the show that happens to be white will get my meaning. I'm writing this as a semi-joke, but it would be cool later to see a segment on sales tactics to a potential black buyer. Perhaps, to tie it into the overall message of the show, we could have the segment featuring Anansi showing black versus white sales tactics. In a semi-comedic way. That would allow the overarching message to remain and allow a slight bit of humor to come through.
And yes reader. I did bring up comedy. Although "Black On Both Sides" is a drama, telling a story with a serious message, I have noticed that an occasional lighten up could really help with the roller coaster. Nothing outright stupid funny, or mocking, but something to occasionally sugar things up and allow us viewers to breath.
I won't go into my technical rant, it's been done to death. But I will write this: There are still some major audio issues, although now it pertains to volume jumping. If this show could overcome the audio/dialog issues... I'll just leave it at that but say that although a pain in the ass, some rerecording/ADR could be the answer. Yes, it's a pain in the ass to sync things up sometimes but the end result will be worth the trouble ten fold. What's left? Not much. This was a great episode and a series I can't wait to post about when the time comes. "Black On Both Sides" just works. And that's not an accident.