Katori Hall Talks P-Valley Episode 7, ‘Jackson’

P-Valley has continued telling timely, relevant, relatable stories that show taboo topics from an alternate lens. This week’s A-plot found Mercedes and her daughter Terricka in an all-too-timely scenario in our post-Roe world, traveling hours away from their hometown to secure abortion access.

The timeliness of the subject matter hits hard for Katori Hall, P-Valley creator and showrunner. When it first became a topic in the writer’s room, the team was understandably naive about what was to come for America’s women, particularly those living in Southern states like the characters in fictional Chucalissa, Mississippi.

In S2 Episode 7, “Jackson,” Mercedes (Brandee Evans) deals with the fallout of her daughter Terricka’s newly discovered pregnancy at 14 while having flashbacks of how her mother treated her around the same age. She proactively drives her over an hour out of town to the nearest abortion service provider and pushes her to examine her options before it’s too late.

“When we decided to tell the story of Terricka getting an abortion, it was
just around the time that the case was being pushed up towards the Supreme Court,” Hall tells ESSENCE exclusively about the process of writing “Jackson.”

“Obviously, in the writer’s room, there were a lot of us who were like, ‘no, this will never happen. They’ll never overturn Roe vs. Wade.’ But the fact that we were writing an episode that was about that organization, The Pink House, and the fact that even at that moment, in the yesterday of our fictional Chucalissa, abortion was restricted [is timely]. Terricka is 14 weeks and some change pregnant. Even then in Mississippi, you couldn’t get an abortion after 15 weeks.”

The show’s Jackson arc is timely indeed, as Mississippi’s sole standing abortion clinic is actually located in Jackson in real life. Hall says that though the circumstances are unfathomably unfortunate, she is glad that the writing team was able to speak to such an important topic and provide a humanizing perspective of women who need these healthcare services.

“We already knew that we were dealing with a moment where women were being pushed up against the unthinkable line. [The Pink House] closed its doors today. We were able to look at the current moment and be able to articulate why choice is so important.”

“Terricka is so young, and in the current day, she would be denied the choice to really take control over her life, over her body. I’m very distraught over what is happening in our country and the fact that it feels as though we are at war with women. We’re using their bodies as a battlefield in regards to politics.”

It is Hall’s hope not only that P-Valley viewers who relate will commiserate, but those who don’t will understand the issue of abortion access with a fresh set of understanding eyes.

“I hope that people can watch that episode and see why having access to this type of healthcare should not be a political issue, but an individual issue. It’s an issue between a woman’s partner or guardian. It’s a choice that she should be making for herself.”

Pivotally, Mercedes gives Terricka the keys to her car and lets her drive herself to whichever destination she chooses. Her daughter could either take them home to Chucalissa and prepare for life as a teen mother, or back to Jackson to make the difficult choice to end her pregnancy. The gift of choice is one Mercedes never had from her own mother when she found herself in the same situation at age 16.

“The episode, I think, really shows how emotionally complicated, particularly within Southern Black communities, that choice of bringing a life into this world can be. Mercedes, when she’s walking past those abortion protestors, she says something that I think a lot of Black people feel: ‘Y’all don’t care anything about the baby after they’re born.’”

“All women are now being put in an impossible position. And we are now living in a country where abortion is not going to stop, but the fact that there are going to be women who are not allowed the healthcare that they need is pretty tragic knowing that we’re living in 2022.”


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