FOX’s explosive new musical drama series "Star" returned on Jan. 4 with the riveting new episode, “The Devil You Know.” In it, Star (Jude Demorest), Simone (Brittany O’Grady) and Alexandra (Ryan Destiny) rely on Jahil (Benjamin Bratt) to fund their dream of stardom while Carlotta (Queen Latifah) warns him to stay away. Meanwhile, a huge secret is revealed that could blow the girls apart before they even get started and Simone battles demons from her past with potentially deadly consequences.
Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
So far, the only thing good we can say about Jahil is that he’s easy on the eyes. Sure, he seems to believe in Star and her girls. But, he’s also shifty, self-serving and definitely down on his luck. Carlotta may be right in warning him to stay away from the girls. After all, he frequents strip clubs and is addicted to cocaine. He promises to help the girls win a contest to perform in a music festival. But, it turns out his brother drained his bank account dry and none of his reputable contacts will loan him money to produce a demo.
And, it appears he and Carlotta have a lot more secrets buried in their shared past. Most importantly, she blames him for getting Star’s mother Mary hooked on drugs. Benjamin Bratt and Queen Latifah’s heated exchanges serve up some of the best moments in the series so far. We know, though, Jahil has no intention of backing off. So, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of mess (or magic) his defiance eventually brings.
Dark Secrets Breed Destruction
Alexandra left a privileged life in New York in hopes of making her own kind of music. But, her past quickly catches up to her when her rock star dad (played superbly by Lenny Kravitz) and her alcoholic mother (played by Naomi Campbell) storm into the salon and demand she come home. Everyone is understandably shocked, especially Star and Simone who first, feel betrayed and second, wonder why Alexandra won’t use her dad to help them launch the group.
We all know, though, family dynamics are often way more complicated than they seem. Alexandra’s mother has a drinking problem and her dad expects her to be the one to reign her mother in. Star, on the other hand, grew up in the streets and uses the only thing she knows – her body, to try to persuade Alexandra’s dad to help them. We cringe inside when we see this beautiful young girl in a bathtub in Roland’s hotel room. And, Alexandra and her mother are both furious she is there as well.
Alexandra is disgusted Star would sink low enough to seduce her father and she’s resigned to pack it in and leave the group. Thank God Star didn’t actually follow through with sleeping with Roland and Carlotta talks Alexandra into cutting the troubled teen some slack. Alexandra throws her parents’ credit cards in their face and declares she’s staying put. Roland is convinced she’ll come crawling back after a taste of living the hard way. We’re not so sure – and for the sake of the group, we hope she’ll dig her heels in and prove them wrong.
Path to Self-Destruction
Star and Simone carry the biggest secrets of all. They killed a man who raped Simone. Simone is terrified he’s not really dead and he’ll come after them. She has nightmares and begins using drugs and alcohol to cope. The only full-fledged musical performance in this episode shines through like a beacon when Simone sings "It's Alright" at church for Carlotta. The number is inter-cut between the church and Star and Alexandra in their bedroom and it’s brilliant! But, our joy is quickly squashed as Simone drops to the ground due to overdosing. She's rushed to the hospital as Carlotta prays she'll pull through.
Side note: Tyrese Gibson is spectacular as Carlotta’s pastor and it looks like they have deeper ties than a religious relationship. Could these two rekindle a romance? Raise your hand if you’re in favor! We are!
The worst part comes when we realize Simone’s worst nightmare may actually come true. It turns out her foster father is alive and looking for her. Oh no! Say it isn’t so!
Overall, this episode is slightly better than the pilot, as we continue getting to know these characters. Queen Latifah continues to anchor the cast with brilliant emotional complexity. Ultimately, we’d like to see some more music to get a deeper sense of what draws outsider Alexandra to Star and Simone as people. Will dark secrets destroy a dream in the making? We'll have to wait and see!
“Star” airs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/8C on FOX.