‘Black Cake’ Episode 5 Recap & Ending Explained: Who is Mabel Martin?


Some boring things are essential, and this episode of Black Cake is exactly that. The entire series is about a family’s search for their identity and all that comes with it. Things they know and things they don’t all play a part in shaping who they are and the choices they make in life. Perhaps that was best illustrated in this episode, despite us calling it ‘slow.’ Eleanor has revealed the name and details of her first daughter, and as we see her story, we have to question what privilege actually means when it comes to shaping one’s life. This is the recap of the episode.

Spoiler Alert

How does Eleanor discover Mabel?

When Eleanor had her accident a year before her death, it was because she had been trying to commit suicide. The secrets had been too heavy for her, and she did not want to deal with them anymore. But Eleanor was saved, yet the moment she learned about it, she wanted to be able to live. The clarity of what she had been seeking hit her, and she was ready to make some changes. As she started looking for recipes for a healthier lifestyle, she came across a video by Mabel Martin and immediately knew that she was the daughter she had given up. Eleanor had her investigation and confirmed what she had suspected. She wanted her three children to listen to the last tape together, and that is why, unless Mabel showed up, Byron and Benny could not know their mother’s last words.

Benny is devastated by this revelation because she feels that this is why her mother has always been so dissatisfied with her. It was because she was being compared to her other daughter. While it is likely that Eleanor thought of Mabel every time she saw Benny, thinking that her dissatisfaction came from a comparison may be far-fetched. However, Benny has struggled with self-esteem, especially since it was exacerbated by her relationship with Steve; therefore, it is unsurprising that her thoughts have taken such a turn.

Why does Byron’s girlfriend break up with him?

Byron is in denial that he is facing racism at his workplace. On paper, he is given a lot of importance and is one of the leading researchers at the lab. But behind closed doors, he is being denied deserving promotions, and all of his success is simply a way for the organization to claim its inclusivity. Byron’s girlfriend sees that, and she keeps telling him to speak up about it. But Byron doesn’t want to disturb the waters. He is aware that his girlfriend may be right, but Byron is terrified that if he speaks up, he will lose everything he has worked for. Essentially, Byron had to swim hard against the tides for his success, but at this stage, he has to swim with them to maintain his position, even though it is far from what he deserves. Byron’s girlfriend is upset because she believes that he has changed as a man and that his fighting spirit, which she initially fell in love with, is lost. Therefore, she breaks up with him, saying that she cannot respect him. Byron is obviously a little confused about this, but his girlfriend has made her choice.

Who is Mabel Martin?

Mabel is an ‘ethno-food guru,’ and to her credit, she is equally embarrassed by the title and claims that her PR team came up with it. Mabel was adopted by white parents and has been living like a white woman all her life. She was a foodie from the beginning, and when her husband passed away, she decided to write a book about the link between history, culture, and food. Sadly, Mabel is a white woman, and despite her intentions being right, she misses the crucial fact that the microphone needs to be in someone else’s hands. That causes her to get canceled on social media, but Mabel is finding solace in her parents, who are equally privileged and ignorant in these aspects. Then there is her son, who wants to quit school and travel the world because education doesn’t seem to be for him. If we compare him to Benny, both made similar choices regarding school, but Benny had a far more concrete plan than the boy. It is interesting to see how economic privilege operates within different races.

Does Mabel Find Out The Truth From Her Parents?

Mabel doesn’t agree with her son dropping out, and in the meantime, she gets a call from one of the people in the interview asking her out for dinner. Mabel is excited about it, and even her mother is happy, as she disapproves of Mabel’s ex-husband. Mabel has told her son that his father has died, but there is something else that she is hiding because her mother’s words seem to suggest that the man had left her instead or something similar. Mabel may probably still be hung up on him because she is adamant that what they had was love, and it was enduring.

When Mabel goes to dinner, her date suggests that she should consider doing a TV show in addition to her book. Admittedly, it is more money, and Mabel is tempted, but just then, Mabel gets a call from Mitch, and he tells her that she is adopted, and her dead mother has left behind an estate that they need to discuss. Mabel had no idea that she was adopted, but once she heard this, something seemed to click for her. When she asks her mother, she finally admits that it is true, and they couldn’t tell her for her own benefit. While the parents’ intention to save their children from unintentional grief is understandable, perhaps there was more to this in Mabel’s case. After all, Mabel’s adoptive parents are quite blinded by privilege, and Mabel’s biological mother was a black woman. Maybe they felt that the truth would open up Mabel to more discrimination. But if they had, Mabel would have known at least why she was so attracted to food, considering her mother was from the Caribbean and her grandfather was Chinese.

At the end of Black Cake Episode 5, Benny goes to Steve’s house, and she destroys the sculpture that he had made of her. She doesn’t want to sell it, and neither does she want to share it with him. Benny tells Steve that his abuse had made her feel like less of a person and was the reason she couldn’t meet her mother or ask her everything she wanted to know. Steve is apologetic, but he is playing the victim card to try and bring back Benny. She may not fall for it, but Byron is furious at seeing him and lands a few punches on his face. It is unarguable that Steve deserves it.

Final Thoughts

Mabel has a lot to discover about herself. She is not only the daughter of a black Chinese woman but also the result of a sexual assault. This probably overlaps with whatever happened in her own past, and we need to see that.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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