Hi there! Welcome to our recaps of Season Two of Woke, the comedy inspired by Keith Knight‘s comix. Last season, Keef (Lamorne Morris) unintentionally became an activist after police attacked him. He resisted at first, but with the help of his trusty talking Marker (JB Smoove), Keef got into the role. Obviously, this recap contains spoilers for the Season Two premiere, “A Knight in the Park.”
“Without the black lines, the white page is nothing”
Season Two opens on a white lady (Cara Mantella) waking up. She’s got anti-racism books on her bedside table. A poster proclaiming “Say Their Names” above her headboard. The lady says, ‘”Breonna Taylor,” like it’s a mantra. She’s got a signed picture of Vice President Kamala Harris, post-its up to remind her to remember her privilege. All the while, Lizzo‘s “Good As Hell” plays in the background.
This lady walks through the Castro — San Francisco’s gayborhood — literally hopscotching, ’cause she feels so great about being woke. Then, she sees two cops — one white, one Black — walk by her.
She turns around, flips them the bird and yells, “F*** you, pigs!” She feels great about herself. Then,
the l ady The Karen gets on the bus, puts her orange hippie tote on the seat next to her. And c’mon, we all knew this was coming …
Keef sits next to her and sure enough, The Karen looks uncomfortable and moves her bag. Obviously, the two-faced fake ally-ship is the problem here. And aside from the fact that you should never take up two seats on a bus unless you have a legitimate need to … but as a person who’s lived in four major cities and had to privilege to travel to even more, you just don’t expose your belongings like that??? It’s nothing to do with the race/ethnicity/gender of the people around you.
Keef sees what she did. Then, a white guy (Chris Mayers) notices Keef and recognizes him. He loves Keef’s work and is an ally — he still posts black squares to Instagram, y’all. 😒🤢 Then, The Karen’s entire demeanor changes. Unfortunately, she doesn’t remember having met Keef at her store, but he remembers meeting her. She’s obsessed with Keef, you know, calling him an “artivist.”
This white guy recites lines from Keef’s most famous speech like a hungry wolf. The Karen likes the lines, and the white guy sarcastically tells her to add the quotation next to her signed pic of the veep. He thinks Kamala’s a cop. Obviously, neither of them notice that Keef is becoming increasingly uncomfortable, increasingly withdrawn from this conversation. They don’t even notice when he gets off at his stop.
As soon as he gets off the bus, a white cop (Pierce Lackey) stops Keef and warns him to “watch it.”
Oh my! That’s all before the opening credits.
“Black oppression is American oppression.”
After the credit sequence, Marker gives a mini recap of what Keef’s been up to since he was released from jail in the season one finale. He’s been doing a bunch of speaking engagements, his art’s become more political. I really hope he’s been making enough money off this.
Well, he’s still living with Gunther (Blake Anderson) and Clovis (T. Murph). He might wanna reconsider that since Gunther thinks that seven am is an appropriate hour to blast music and fight the power!
Gunther is really proud of Keef because he’s gonna be headlining a protest — is that a thing? I thought you lead a protest. Anyhoo, Gunther’s stoked!
So stoked, in fact, that he’s made “brickfest” just in case things at the protest go wrong and they have to “f*** s*** up!” Keef warns Gunther that this protest is not the sort of mosh pit fantasy he seems to have in his head. Oh no.
“Ab-raham Lincoln, Kareem Ab-dul Jabbar”
Just then, Clovis walks into the kitchen, causing Gunther (and me) to salivate just a little. Not that he wasn’t cute before, but someone’s got a six-pack now. But, for some reason, he’s oiled himself up like an Ancient Greek wrestler.
Clovis wants to go and celebrate his new physique, perhaps by hitting the clubs. Again, Keef reminds his friends that it’s seven am. But Clovis doesn’t want to get his “ass beat by the cops to protest getting [his] ass beat by the cops.” Fair enough.
OK, I call non-SF-shenanigans. Clovis refers to the BART as the train. That’s like someone in NYC calling the subway the metro! Anyway, our trio gets off The BART very far away from the protest location because Gunther says the cops will be lying in wait at the station nearest the protest site.
They come upon a mass of flyers advertising the protest and Gunther asks Keef to sign one. So he can sell it on eBay after the government takes him out, which in his estimation, is gonna be soon.
“What is this? A protest potluck?”
Our friends arrive at the protest, and there are signs for everything from tax equality to legalization of all drugs. Some cute ladies say hi to Keef, but they use a little hand motion meant to emulate his flick of water at the cop last season.
Upon seeing all the attractive ladies, Clovis decides to open up his shirt, under which he’s wearing a t-shirt with his former body screen-printed on. Keef turns to him and says, “I do believe you have body dysmorphia.” Clovis responds by saying, “I dysmorphed into a swole king.”
I felt a little guilty laughing at that one, but I guffawed. I can only trust that T. Murph felt comfortable with these jokes. Going through his Instagram, he seems really proud of his weight loss, and I hope that the preoccupation with Clovis’s fitness story is a reflection of the actor’s personal journey.
Next, Ayana (Sasheer Zamata) meets up with our bromantic throuple to give Keef a hard time. Keef does not take to the ribbing well and panics, then comes dangerously close to declaring something akin to “All Lives Matter.”
Ayana is aghast — Killer Mike, Stacey Abrams and Luna Johnson are all present to speak! Keef’s all No way? Really? at my protest? Ayana warns him not to speak on things he doesn’t know about because activists can be vicious.
Also, Ayana’s on a roller date, which Gunther thinks is “cute as f***!” Then, Clovis actually tries to hit on Abby (Megan Robinson), Ayana’s date, by telling her his nickname is also Abs. Oh, Clovis, remember when you were a queer ally? OH! He belatedly realizes she’s with Ayana and therefore, not about his abs atm. He and Gunther move on.
Abby stops Keef before he can skedaddle. She’s impressed by his art/activism, but neither Ayana nor Abby are impressed by Keef’s use of the phrase “artivist.” Same same.
Abby asks if Keef knows Luna Johnson. He acknowledges that he’s familiar with SF’s poet laureate. Abby luvs her because Luna recently acknowledged that San Francisco is the ancestral home of the Ohlone people. Keef makes the fatal mistake of saying he totes agrees.
Abby is so glad he mentioned that because while Keef has called out so much oppression, he’s essentially ignored that faced by indigenous folx. Side note, when I visited SF this past winter, I noticed that land acknowledgments are now extremely popular, especially in theatre venues. I wondered, though, if that’s much different than posting a black square to Instagram. Acknowledgment isn’t the same as returning land, just as a black square isn’t reparations. This article by Wallace Cleaves and Charles Sepulveda is a great start to understanding more on the subject.
Keef says he didn’t acknowledge land acknowledgment because he’s been saving it for his speech at this protest. Ayana is thrilled for the hot mess she’s about to watch. I, on the other hand, might die of secondhand embarrassment.
“I know more about quantum f***ing fusion than you know about the native people.”
Umm. Next, Clovis and Gunther are eating mango in cups, but where are the chamoy and Tajin? SF-authenticity fail #2.
Anyway, Keef is telling them about his revised speech that will include the native peoples of the area. How hard could it be? After all, he knows oppression. Oh, Keef. Clovis also has little faith Keef can do this justice.
Keef’s determined not to be a one-hit-wonder. Umm … all right then. Because that’s totally the same thing /s. Keef has very generously dedicated his life to raise awareness and be an activist. While it’s important for everyone to acknowledge the privileges they do hold, he’s not responsible for ending all the oppression (even though I understand the impulse).
Then, a local caricature artist (Miguel Pinzon) asks Keef to sit for him, and when Keef tells him he doesn’t have time right now, the artist stands up and declares that Keef doesn’t support local artists. So, Keef relents. Yikes. It’s too true that it so often feels like the wrong people are on the edge of “cancelation.”
Tomás, aka Tommy, the caricature artist, chats with Keef as he draws him. Tomás goes by Tommy because more people are willing to sit for him when he uses that name. Keef says he gets it, and that he himself used to draw caricatures.
Tomás is all, what and now you’re better than that? Keef protests, insisting he meant that capturing people is hard. Tomás says he’s got Keef’s number; he hates the police and koalas. LOL.
Keef will never live the Kubby incident down lol. He agrees that, yes, though, he hates systemic racism and police brutality, but he’s learning to speak on other issues, such as land acknowledgment.
Tomás rips him a new one for having solved police brutality and moved on to “performative BS.” Keef insists that oppressed groups must work together instead of focusing on their individual problems — in unity, they are dangerous. Tomás isn’t looking to be dangerous, just to get by. On that note, Keef owes him $15.
Tomás has drawn Keef as being weighed down by homelessness, racism and land acknowledgments, while a taco on a fishhook is dangled above him. The caricature comes to life and says, “Help me, I’m drowning!”
“Whatever, Sigmund Freud, gimme the damn mic!”
Next, Marker pops out of Keef’s bag to beg the cartoonist to let him give the speech. Keef’s not too keen on that, considering he still believes Marker to be a figment of his imagination. I mean, I guess he is.
Back with Clovis and Gunther, Keef asks his buds if his work is “performative BS.” Clovis prefers the term “horse s***,” while Gunther points to Keef’s Wikipedia page, which calls his work “accessible, yet subversive … and annoyingly passionate.”
They finally arrive at the protest, where Gunther and his plaid PJ bottoms immediately join a drum circle. That means Clovis is left to listen to Keef’s brilliant plan to call the protest “Take Back the Park.” Clovis wonders who Keef is gonna give the park back to.
Then, Clovis loses interest ’cause he sees Ayana in the drum circle with a woman who is not Abby. He wonders how it is that she’s got more than one date and he has zero! Keef quips that maybe it’s because she has multiple interests and hobbies.
“She ain’t a boomerang, OK?”
Clovis thinks Keef shouldn’t be talking since he hasn’t gotten with anyone since his last girlfriend went back to
Australia New Zealand (’cause of COVID). But, Keef’s lack of a love life isn’t the problem here. He tells Clovis that maybe, just maybe, women don’t go for men who are flexing in the park. Maybe they want to go on dates and stuff. That inspires Clovis and he runs off.
Gunther replaces Clovis at Keef’s side, but now he’s wearing a dope cannabis-leaf design hat someone gave to him. But also, the drum circle people think Keef’s speech needs to be about releasing people still incarcerated on weed charges. They say that is the real oppression.
“It’s all the real oppression. That is the damn point,” says Keef, finally fed up.
“F*** the designated hitter, bro”
As Keef is rewriting his speech, words pop up all around him — from housing issues to reparations and transphobia, the list is endless. Voices and people tell him what he needs to care about. But does Keef know anything about these things? In the end, he decides not to listen to all the conflicting opinions and just stick to the rivers and the lakes that he’s used to.
LOL. Finally, we’re at the protest and hahahahahaha Keef’s comics have been turned into selfie stations. Britta (Kimberly Maxwell), a white hipster lady, checks him in and calls the protest a “Mimosa March.” Apparently, people are supposed to just stop by after brunch to take selfies, post them online and raise a bunch of money.
Keef double-checks that she means to say this protest is an online protest in the park. She says yes! It’s so much more convenient for all involved! Thousands of people are watching the live stream! 🙄!
As for Stacey Abrams, Killer Mike and Luna Johnson, they’ve all Zoomed in! Luna Johnson’s just finished, and currently, they’re re-streaming Keef’s famous Juneteenth speech, which is where the whole “Without the Black lines, the white page is nothing” thing came from. Oh crap.
Britta can’t wait to know what Keef’s got up his sleeve next. So, obvs. in a peri-COVID world, the idea of a Zoom rally is not a bad idea, but clearly, all of this should have been communicated to Keef. Also, Britta accuses Keef of stealing the “beer flick” from her — it’s kinda her YouTube sign-off.
While Keef is freaking out, he sees Ayana with yet another date (Cherie Danielle). He rats Ayana out, but her date doesn’t care ’cause she’s cheating on her own girlfriend anyway. Anyway, Keef needs Ayana’s help because of oh, everything. She’s not helpful, because he’s kinda damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t
“Yeah, it’s exhausting. Why do you think I need a day off?”
Then, Ayana runs off because Abby catches her still at the park when she’d lied and said she’d had to ditch her for a meeting.
Now it’s time for Keef to give his speech. He tells Marker to do it instead, but even Marker’s no longer interested in this no-win situation. He suggests they both GTFO. So, Keef makes a run for it.
Keef finds Clovis, who’s on a tandem bike, chatting a girl up, but before Clovis can get her number, Keef climbs onto the back of the bike. Clovis wants to know what’s really bugging Keef. Umm, everything that’s happened in this episode?
But, no. Actually, he doesn’t want to go back to feeling like he did before. Before he felt empowered. Ohhhhh.
Clovis lets Keef in on his secret — when he feels out of his depth, he goes “full Common.” Which just means “going up on stage and saying a bunch of vague, uplifting s*** in a weird cadence, like [he’s] at a poetry slam.”
I mean, Keef does it. It’s a thing that happens.
“I thought it was gonna be like the purge today.”
Back at the apartment, the boys plus Ayana bemoan the suckiness of the Mimosa March. Gunther’s pissed there were no cops. He thinks the movement’s over. Ayana tells
him us the movement isn’t over, it’s just changed. The initial protest wave is over, but now we’ve got to organize, mobilize, learn our history and do the work.
Keef interrupts her to tell everyone that Common retweeted his speech. Now, Keef has 15,000 followers (12,000 more than that morning). Ha. Nice touch that it’s still a realistic number.
Clovis says that Keef ought to profit on his newfound fame, but Keef demurs; he actually wants to change things, not just make money. He’s gonna figure out how to do his own thing.
Then, he’s got at least 300,000 followers. He starts a live stream. Keef thanks Common for his support and acknowledges that that’s why his new followers are there. But, Keef says, his new work isn’t gonna be about BS fame. Who are they gonna take down first?
Woo. This episode had lots to say, and it did set up where we are going this season. However, it felt a little plot-lite. There were many fun times to be had and truths to tell, but by the time we got to the 15-minute mark, its thesis was clear; I didn’t need more evidence, I just needed to know where the episodic story itself was going. Still, I’m assuming things will get better as the season goes on.
Thanks for joining me as I recap Season Two of Woke here on Geek Girl Authority!
Season Two of Woke is streaming on Hulu now.