One day after what would have been Sandra Bland's 30th birthday, Star devoted an episode to honoring another black woman who died at the hands of police after a supposed routine traffic stop.
While the woman at the center of this show, salon employee Danielle Jackson, might be fictional, her story is all too real. Like Sandra Bland and so many others before her, Danielle was needlessly cut down before her time.
And like those other men and women, Danielle's tragic death becomes a rallying cry for the black community, especially when it appears that those responsible for her death will go unpunished.
Whatever you may think about movements like Black Lives Matter, you cannot deny that Star Season 1 Episode 7 was a powerful and timely reminder that amidst all of the other issues currently populating the news, racial tension remains at the forefront of American culture.
After Danielle's emotionally wrenching funeral, Derek decided to host a peaceful protest in front of the Atlanta Police Department headquarters to make it clear to the police that they wouldn't stand for any more deaths.
Alex: College Park or Park Avenue, I'm black wherever I go.
Simone: And so am I.
Derek asks Alex to sing at the funeral and show the community that music has the power to unite people. Simone is game to join her, but Carlotta puts her foot down, too worried that the purportedly peaceful protest will turn violent.
Simone has evolved a great deal since Star Season 1 Episode 1. She started out a sad, stoned foster kid and victim of sexual abuse. Now, she's a strong young woman seeking to use her voice to stop injustice.
Now, Simone still has a lot of problems to work through; she should definitely go to substance abuse counseling, and she should spend way less time with her narcissistic sister.
But, she seems aware of these problems, and willing to go the distance to solve them, and for that, I salute her.
Simone was so set on performing at the rally that she went behind Carlotta's back and asked Pastor Harris to convince Carlotta to let her go. Despite Pastor Harris' preference for prayer over protest, he encouraged Carlotta to attend the rally with Simone as a show of support.
That's why our country's in the state it's in. Because nobody will stand up for nobody.Simone [to Pastor Harris]
So, Alex and Simone are set to sing an original song at the rally. But, instead of Star, it was devious Eva who joined them on the police department steps. Surprise!
Alex didn't really want Star involved in the first place, too worried that Star would make the performance about her and not truly understand the importance of the message due to the whiteness of her skin.
Now, Star definitely had a point when she reminded Alex that, as someone who grew up with next to nothing, she has a far better idea of what the downtrodden go through than rock royalty like Alex would.
However, Alex's counterpoint – no matter how much money she might have, she's still black, and still viewed a certain way because of the color of her skin – was a powerful one.
Bitch, I'm everyday people. I wasn't born with a silver spoon up my ass.Star [to Alex]
Simone's similar point – she might only be half-black, but the black is all anyone sees – was almost too much for Star to handle. Simone basically acknowledged that, in some pretty obvious ways, she has more in common with Alex than her own sister.
It's a logical point, but whoever said Star was one for comprehending things like logic?
The entire issue of Star being involved in the performance became moot when Eva convinced Hunter to take Star away for a romantic weekend so that she could sneak in and steal the spotlight.
As Jahil noted, this girl is no victim; she is just as much of a hustler as him. No wonder they have so much sexual chemistry! They're equally terrible people, turned on by each other's terribleness!
Jahil: You're a hustler. I know one when I see one.
Eva: Just like you.
Jahil was up to his own shenanigans in this episode. Determined to get out from under Arlene's thumb, he asked her jailbird husband to sing a pretty tune for him about Arlene's past indiscretions, hoping to hear something he could blackmail her with.
Turns out, Hunter has been on performance-enhancing drugs for years. Jackpot!
Hunter revealed himself to be a pretty colossal jerk in this episode when he threw Star's phone and refused to bring her back to Atlanta for the rally.
In the end, he acquiesced, but clearly he has got some control issues – and you know Star is not a girl who will tolerate that.
Hunter may be blandly handsome, with an absurd number of abs, but between his spoiled attitude and his apparent cheating via use of PEDs – to say nothing of his creepy, controlling mother – he could just as easily be called Big Trouble as the girls.
I know where all the bodies are buried. Don't make me dig them up.Arlene [to Jahil]
Star made it to the rally in time to see Eva singing with Alex and Simone, and the look on her face was pretty priceless.
Will the knowledge that her place in the group is under siege make Star step up her game and actually devote herself to the music, instead of merely the spotlight?
I don't know. Star loves attention, but I don't know if she actually loves singing. It just seems like her voice is the main tool she has at her disposal (apart from her sexuality) to get attention. Ergo, she uses it.
Unlike Alex, who is passionate about songwriting and mixing, Star seems to only be passionate about herself. No wonder Alex didn't want her involved in the rally.
And speaking of that rally: Danielle lost her life, but the cop who killed her didn't even lose his salary; he was just put on paid administrative leave. And then, the very people seeking justice for Danielle ended up on the wrong side of the law.
Derek;s wrongful arrest after he tried to stop members of the crowd from beating a cop was a reminder that, if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time – with the wrong color of skin – you can't win.
We want justice for Danielle Jackson. We want an indictment. And we'll stay here as long as we have to, until the DA and the Atlanta Police Department do the right thing.Derek
Same goes for Alex's arrest after one of those ubiquitous routine traffic stops. My anxiety levels were ratcheted up to eleven during that sequence. Watching it unfold, knowing how similar situations have ended for people in real life, made me feel nauseous.
All of this ripped-from-the-headlines race drama was a far cry from the camp catastrophe that has been most of Star's debut season.
While the tonal shift was appreciated by me, it was also so extreme that I'm starting to think the writers can't decide what kind of show they're working on.
Sometimes I'm jaded, cynical. But I don't want you to become that way.Carlotta [to Simone]
Is it an outlandish, music-fueled soap opera or a straightforward, realistic drama about race relations in Atlanta? In this episode, it was the latter, but one imagines Star will revert back to the former soon enough. After all, we still don't know who killed Simone's foster dad...
What did you think of "Black Wherever I Go"? Will Derek get the justice he deserves? Is Star capable of cleaning up her act and earning her way back into Alex and Simone's good graces? Or will she just play dirty to get rid of new rival Eva?
Remember, you can watch Star online via TV Fanatic.
Lee Jutton was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She went into retirement in July of 2017. Follow her on Twitter.