The P-Valley ensemble grew larger as its sophomore season became more ambitious in taking on COVID, gang vendettas, political backstabbing, and racist police brutality. Numerous cast members dug into weighty arcs — like J. Alphonse Nicholson’s Lil Murda and Shannon Thornton’s Keyshawn struggling to balance growing fame with their very different romantic relationships (the former fulfilling, the latter abusive) back home in Chucalissa. But of all those fantastic performers, Brandee Evans stood apart (in sky-high platforms, no less) as a narrative grounding force and dynamo of physicality, vulnerability, and compassion. Mercedes’s characterization expanded in exciting ways this season — from her unexpected affair with a long-term client’s wife to her attempt to be a better mother to her teen daughter and wondering who she’ll be if she leaves dancing behind. P-Valley asked a lot of Evans with these subplots, but every time, she rose to the occasion with an amalgam of sensuality, authority, fierceness, and dignity. Her work in “Jackson,” the season-two episode in which Mercedes learns that her daughter is pregnant and encourages her to consider an abortion and prioritize her right to choose, is standout stuff. —R.H.

Photo Credit: Kyle Kaplan

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