TV Review: Bel-Air, 1×9, “Can’t Knock The Hustle”

User Rating: 10

Familiarity breeds contempt. This is the best way to summarize the latest episode of Bel-Air. Will decides whether or not he wants to know his father. Carlton has yet another breakdown while performing at church. Vivian has to determine if she wants to take the artist residency, which involves travel. Will and Lisa develop trust issues. The whole situation with Philip Banks’s campaign to become District Attorney comes to its climax.

This was an excellent television episode, and I’m beginning to see why the show continuously airs on the Peacock streaming service rather than a broadcast network. Bel-Air is allowed to use music and language to fully communicate the environment inhabited by everyone. Based on last week’s episode revolving around Will’s father, you would think he would have the standout moment. The reality is that the aftermath of Will obtaining the information gives us the most significant moment of the entire episode.

When Geoffrey and Philip square off, sharing different ideals about whether or not Will should know information about his father, this is a tipping point in an otherwise strong relationship. Watching these two men challenge each other was both exciting and painful. Jimmy Akingbola as Geoffrey and Adrian Holmes as Philip Banks put on are on their A-game throughout the confrontation. You can feel the history of their friendship in every moment, especially when Phillip forces Geoffrey to go on an extended sabbatical. The entire cast of Bel-Air was on their a-game.

The other exceptional scene in the episode is Vivian explaining why she left her art, and she wasn’t being vulnerable with just anyone. Daphne Maxwell-Reid as Janice and Vernee Watson-Johnson as Helen ran the selection committee. Both women were original members of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and served as board members for the Art Council. This was the best possible passing of the torch fans could have imagined for this reboot. Both guest stars exhibited class and legendary status all the way.

I’m sure many people felt my pain when the dynamic between Will and Lisa changed. From the moment the two of them got together, they felt like they were in sync. To see that completely altered was emotionally shattering. The worst part about it is this wasn’t preventable. Will had been given clear instructions from his uncle, not to mention his actual background, and he’s stuck to that. Audiences have to hope that Lisa forgives Will later on, especially since they were intimate with each other.

The only real shock of the episode beyond the fight between Jeffrey and Phil was Carlton revealing why he took the drugs he consistently used throughout the season. It was no shock to understand that the drugs are used to combat anxiety; the issue with that confession is multiple people now have to lie for him if he ever chooses to use again. This could be used as a plot point later on.

The last big theme of the episode was pride and ambition. I think Philip has been fighting the notion of being that farm boy from Kansas since he became a lawyer. He has constantly been trying to improve himself and neglecting his family because of it. Philip finally realizes his arrogance and puts his family first. Given that he conceded the District Attorney debate so that his competitor could win, I have to wonder what they’re going to do for the finale. Time will tell.

Bel-Air is now streaming on Peacock.

Written by
Chike has been a film critic in Illinois for the last 10 years with Urbana Public Television. Most of his work can be found on their YouTube channel where his show Reel Reviews is posted. The films he enjoys most are the kind that surprise you with characters that are deeper than you could ever suspect. As much as he loves reviewing it’s the stories that are unexpected that bring him the most joy. He lives in Champaign with his parents surrounded by cornfields.

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