Something about the stories of Black people and by them, always hits right. There is an earnestness that completely disables our pessimism regarding sentimentality. On the face of it, not a lot happens in the first episode of Black Cake, and we were very likely to complain as to how this should have been fifteen to thirty minutes shorter. Yet, we found ourselves captivated by every minute of the storytelling. We are not yet sure what it is that Black Cake gets so right, but this is a series to look forward to, and this is the recap of the first episode.
What is Eleanor’s real identity?
In the present day, Eleanor is an old woman with an estranged daughter and a son who is a successful Ocean Scientist. One day, while surfing, Eleanor has an accident, and when she is rushed to the hospital, she finds that she has a brain tumor. Baron calls his sister to tell her about the accident and lets her know that their mother is alright. He doesn’t tell her about the tumor, and a year later, when Eleanor passes away, he is angry with her for not returning to the family sooner. Their lawyer has to read the will in front of both the children, and he also shows them a letter left behind by their mother. Baron and his sister put aside their conflict for the time being and decide to find out what their mother had to say to them. She starts by asking them to eat a black cake in the fridge, and secondly, she reveals that she wasn’t an orphan like she told them but had a full family and friends somewhere far away before she started her new life. Her name used to be Covey, and she has her own story that made her who she was.
Why does Covey have to marry Little Man Henry?
Covey is living a good life with her parents, but when she is eleven years old, her mother leaves them due to her father’s gambling ways. Lin continues to raise his daughter, but he has not stopped gambling, and that places him in hot soup. Covey likes a boy named Gibbs Grant, but Lin doesn’t approve of him. There is no particular reason for it except that Gibbs is going to go away to London soon. Meanwhile, Covey has dreams of her own. She is training hard with her friend, Bunny, and they want to excel at surfing to make a future for themselves. But all these dreams and ideas come to a halt one day when a storm hits the island. Most of the goods in Lin’s shop were destroyed, and the rest were rendered useless to him. However, it wasn’t because of the storm but because of the work of the people he owed money to. The Henry brothers had done that when he had fallen behind on some of his payments. Covey is angry with her father, and when she expresses her disappointment that he won’t stop gambling, he calls her a racial slur. This is the second time in the episode of Black Cake that we have seen racism, or the topic of race come up. Lin complains that the people don’t accept him as one of their own, but in that situation, he himself became racist towards his daughter and her mother, expressing that he had always thought of them as beneath him. What is especially upsetting is Covey’s reaction to it. She lives in a predominantly black area, yet the awareness of the racism of the outside world has not escaped her, and even in her own house, that internalized fear and disappointment of the situation have taken their place.
Lin has no choice but to go back to Little Man Henry for the funds, and that is when Covey’s life changes. She was probably aware that the Henry brothers had their eye on her ever since she was with Gibbs, but she never expected that they would make such advances on her and that the man responsible for them would be her own father.
Does Covey kill Eleanor?
Clarence comes to Covey’s house one day and tells her that her father has lost everything and is in debt now. Clarence is clear that he wants to be with Covey, and he won’t take no for an answer. When Covey tells Lin about it, her father tells her that Clarence wants to marry her in exchange for forgiving his debts. Lin did not want to do this, but he was trapped from all sides and had no option. As furious as Covey is, she cannot desert her father. Gibbs offers her to run away with him, but Covey wants to stay back, because if she left with Gibbs, the men would kill her father. She hopes that by the time the wedding date arrives, her father will have made arrangements for the money, and she won’t have to go through with it after all. But despite Covey’s optimism, the day comes around, and her fate looks sealed.
Covey is upset with their housekeeper for making arrangements for the wedding instead of trying to find her an escape from there, but there is nothing anybody can do. On the day of the wedding, as Lin is walking Covey down the aisle, she tells him that once the wedding is over, he will be dead to her. She did not wish to have any relationship with him from then on.
During Black Cake episode 1’s ending, Covey gets married to Clarence, and it is at the reception that she comes to know that she may still have some hope. Her husband falls unconscious after drinking something, and Covey takes the chance to escape. She hides near some rocks in the sea while her husband is declared dead. The police are looking for Covey, but they think that she, too, must have died, so they call off the search. Bunny guesses where Covey might be, and she meets her with some money, clothes, and her papers and asks her to go to London and never return. That also means that Gibbs cannot know about Covey. Bunny says that she, the housekeeper, and Lin all came together to help her escape, and she must make a good life for herself, even if it is different from what they imagined. Covey sets off for England, and when she reaches the place she is to stay at, she finds that her roommate is named Eleanor. Undoubtedly, Covey takes her name later on in the series, but we don’t think she kills her. Covey probably said that as a way of giving a clue as to what is to come next, and we suspect that some people from the island trace Covey, and Eleanor loses her life in the crossfire. The next episodes will tell us that.
It is safe to say that we are invested in the story. While we are quite aware of the ending of the show since Black Cake follows a non-linear format, we still want to know everything that Covey went through and faced in her life, and that is what we look forward to.