P-Valley creator breaks down the game-changing season 2 finale

Warning: This post contains spoilers for P-Valley's season 2 finale.

Chucalissa is entering a whole new era.

The P-Valley season 2 finale ushered in what will be the city's new normal, with the conclusion of the mayoral race — Patrice Woodbine (Harriett D. Foy) won, leaving Andre Watkins (Parker Sawyers) to deal with his wife discovering his affair with Autumn Night (Elarica Johnson) — who ends the episode leaving town with a chunk of cash from the Pynk.

Miss Mississippi's (Shannon Thornton) plan to escape her abusive husband Derrick Wright (Jordan M. Cox) was derailed, and she ends up in jail because of he made child protective services believe she was the one abusing their children.

There were several happier moments in the finale, though: Uncle Clifford (Nicco Annan) and Lil Murda publicly celebrated their love, Mercedes (Brandee Evans) is able to bring her daughter home for good after buying a new studio, and Clifford teamed up with Corbin Kyle (Dan J. Johnson) to avoid selling the Pynk.

We spoke to P-Valley creator Katori Hall about the finale's biggest moments, Autumn's exit, and much more from her jam-packed directorial debut.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The episode features a powerful fractured image of Lil Murda in the mirror followed by his final performance of the season. How significant is that moment to his overall journey and evolution?

KATORI HALL: Lil Murda is a man of many men, and there's so many different versions of who he is as a person that resides inside of him. When he's looking at that fractured mirror there is blonde Murda, blue hair Murda, killa Murda. He has been performing all of these different versions of himself and for the first time he is deciding in front of a crowd to be LaMarcus. So that gesture of taking those grills out of his mouth and pocketing them before he steps out is so emblematic of how far he has come from the trap rapper in the pilot to an artist who is able to stand in his truth and speak his truth. He's just gone on such a remarkable character trajectory.

I think that mirror image really symbolizes how all of us are so many different people; there's so many different parts of us even though upon first glance people are going with their assumptions, when in actuality there's always so much depth to us as human beings.

P-Valley Season 2
P-Valley Season 2

Mark Hill/Starz

Lil Murda's performance also marks Mercedes' return to the stage after struggling with a mental block. What got her back out there? 

[Mercedes] is really good at appreciating and seeing true art because she is truly an artist. What she hears in that song is passion, reflection and regret. It's a song that unpacks the challenges of being a Black person in America and she hears something that resonates with her. Especially because we know at the beginning of the season she had to set seven pounds of pressure extracted from her arm. In terms of pushing past that block, there's something that is really beautiful when you see or hear your own experience in another person's art. She's really inspired by [Lil Murda] in that moment and by the songs, and she decides to step out on that stage and bless the track.

It's this full circle moment because at the beginning of the series we met them in the Mercedes room. He passed off his headphones to her to listen to his trap-reggae-soul song "Sit On My Lap" [in season one] and to her it was some slaw, so for her to give him his flowers right after he gives her her flowers, it's a really really beautiful, powerful full circle moment.

There's something that Uncle Clifford says, it's rule 77: Sometimes you gotta make falling feel like rising up in this bitch. The moment when she falls two stories from the sky and jumps over Lil Murda's head and lands in the split; that's exactly what Clifford is talking about. It's this beautiful moment of release that Mercedes have at that moment. It's a really powerful moment that took so much energy, time, and thought to create. It took us two days to film that sequence. It's my directorial debut, so it was very taxing yet it was all worth it in the end.

Mercedes ends the season leaving the Pynk, taking care of Terricka and with her own studio. This feels like the end of a chapter of her story. What would you like to explore with her moving forward?

It's definitely the end of an era. The fact that she helped Uncle Clifford build this business and she has been striving to be a business owner in her own right. The Pynk is a stepping stone and should always be that for these dancers. It's time for her to start dreaming new dreams and that's what I'm most excited about in terms of Mercedes's future; for her to really stand her ground and not be made to feel ashamed of her talent as a dancer. She initially wanted to turn that gym into a majorette studio, but to see her pivot and embrace the idea of a pole fitness [studio]... It sends a very powerful message that [this] is a woman who has stepped into a space of self worth.

I'm proud of the journey that she has gone on because she has taken so many losses over the course of these past two seasons, but there's this bright future for her in terms of her relationship with her daughter and also possibly mending her very fractured relationship with her mother. At the end of the day, Mercedes is a mama's girl and she wants the love and validation of her mother. That last scene where we see a reset happening between them teases what may be in these two characters' future.

Autumn loses big in terms of the casino deal and leaves Chucalissa with Uncle Clifford's money. Is this the last we'll see of her? Because she says she's one to not look back. If so, why was this the right time to end her story?

It's so clear that the strip club is a revolving door. For Autumn Hailey Lakiesha Savage, the Pynk has been a place where she has dealt with a lot of trauma, has found friends and lost friends. She was a woman who came in on the wind and her leaving on the wind. It's just reflective for who she is as a woman. She saved the Pynk, she did something that Uncle Clifford could not at the time. She changed the Pynk, but she was changed by the Pynk and her relationship with Mercedes [because] she was able to, for the first time in her life, feel like a sister. She has this trial run at love, and having lost a daughter, she was dealing with that grief that was very heartbreaking. The fact that she is leaving with not one, but maybe two babies in her belly is a sign of hope. There are some women who do come into the strip club space and use it as a stepping stone.

P-Valley Season 2
P-Valley Season 2

Kimberly Simms/Starz

Can you talk to me about how you shaped the end of Keyshawn's season 2 story?

We always want to see [Keyshawn] exhaust every single option. In [episode 5], we see her try to escape impulsively and anyone who has been a domestic abuse survivor knows that you have to have a strong plan in order. We felt that Autumn, who unfortunately has this experience of being in an abusive relationship, would be the perfect person who could truly walk her through what it takes in order to get out of this terrible relationship with herself and her kids alive. We know people would be hating Autumn because she tried to sell the Pynk and she's kind of the villain of the first half of the season, but in that moment in the grocery store, we see her empathy. It creates a turning point for the audience when it comes to Autumn, and over the course of the back end of the season we see the passing of birth certificates in order to get passports, we see Keyshawn preparing in so many ways.

To have her escape plan completely destroyed by her evil stepmother is a moment we have been crafting towards because it's absolutely real. That moment where she comes home, and seeing CPS starting their investigation is all fueled and triggering by Derrick. It's a reflection of how he is able to use every piece of control. He's standing in his white male privilege in Mississippi knowing that CPS people are going to blame her and it's a way for him to exert control. He is absolutely the uber villain of the season, and quite frankly, of the series. We know our audience is going to be extremely frustrated by what happens to Keyshawn and the fact that she does not get her fairytale ending.

Now we have to talk about that final sequence! Diamond gets double-crossed by Big Bone and ends up in that trunk. What was that about?

It's something that we layered in from the top of the season. We knew that [Big Bone] has a connection to the Delta Devoted gang, which Montavious was part of. The thing that sends her over the edge is seeing that Keyshawn and Diamond still have this thing for each other, because she sees the big kiss from the last episode. She has been sitting on information for a while because she actually liked him. I think she was falling in love. We really wanted to show how hard it is to give someone over when you care about them. She has to fulfill her duty and makes this connection because it's very clear that Montavious met his end somewhere at the Pynk whether it was through Diamond's hands, which is what her assumption is, or other means.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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