(The Root) — Last night's Single Ladies episode, "Ex Factor," was for everyone from the bourgie, Boule-going folks to the Magic City rainmaking connoisseurs. The episode opens with Raquel's first strip-club experience. While April is mesmerized by a stage performance by Jack, Keisha fights off daydreams of her exes as she makes it rain on Darkness, a hard-bodied cowboy who seems to be Malcolm (D.B. Woodside) at one moment and her ex-fiance Sean (Terrell Tilford) in the next. April seems to get her mojo back as she steps to Jack to tell him how much she enjoyed his show.
The episode quickly jumps from talk about Jack the Stripper to Jack and Jill types, after Raquel's father convinces her to attend the event of the season, the Kappa Boule charity ball. Keisha, of course, agrees to attend with the intentions of meeting a new, rich man to help get her mind off Malcolm.
April agrees to attend, too, just before she hurries out of the office to go to the gym, dressed in her best first-date attire (in five-inch heels, mind you). But what better way to skip a workout than by going on a date with her stripper boo, Jack, who arrives on his motorcycle to pick her up?
Upon arriving at the Boule, the ladies tease April about dating a stripper. And although they conclude that there's nothing wrong with a boy toy, Raquel hopes that April will hit it off with Reggie Westfield, who quickly makes a play for April when they step into the ballroom. "It appears you're single," he says. "If I have my way, not for long." But more on them later.
Raquel runs into her ex-fiance, and he tries to tug at her heartstrings — just before his girlfriend shows up to interrupt. Keisha and April come to console her, and Keisha doles out a few words of advice: "Never let your ex see you sweat."
And not two minutes later does she end up needing to have a woosah moment herself. The queen of the night walks into the ball with Malcolm on her arm. Keisha is able to keep it cool, at first, as Malcolm introduces her to Taylor. Ever so uppity, she tells Keisha that the minimum donation is $10,000, and in a power move, Keisha pledges $15,000 like it's chump change. Keisha quickly turns her attention to the closest cutie, Randall, whose family owns the local bank. (Now, that's big money!)
They also run into Shelly (Lauren London), who, last season, was the woman Val's (Stacey Dash) ex, Quinn, left her for. She was also the daughter of Jerry, who broke Val's heart. (Stay with me!) She's dating James (Flex Alexander), who's vying to become the next Barack Obama.
Just when you thought Keisha was holding it all together and keeping her poker face on, she breaks down after Taylor announces that her boyfriend, Malcolm, donated $100,000 to the charity. Yes, her boyfriend. In an act of desperation, Keisha kisses Randall the banker before running off to hide her tears.
For the umpteenth time, Raquel's mom tries to convince her to take back her ex, Victor, even after he's cheated. "I know your intentions are good, but please don't try to convince me to settle," Raquel tells her. But her mother's "reality" comes as a shock when she finds out that her father once cheated on her mother.
So back to April and Mr. Westfield. They bid on a Bacchanalia gift card and agree to go out on a couple of dates. But all night the siddity-in-the-city folks were side-eyeing April, and it comes to a head when Reggie's mother puts her on blast for sleeping with the mayor. "If you don't want a scene, then you shouldn't be over here consorting with this home wrecker!" she tells her son. But then, out of nowhere, Josephine (Margaret Avery) comes to April's rescue, calls the woman a wench and slays everyone at the ball with her fab-after-60 presence. (Avery, 68, who played Shug Avery in The Color Purple, looks phenomenal in the episode. Kudos to Single Ladies for this guest appearance.)
Another cutie alert! Raquel briefly talks with Charles, a man who appreciates the art of meditation, just before she has the first dance of the night with her father. He admits that he regrets the mistakes he made in the past, but also warns her that some men make mistakes, don't learn any lessons from them and aren't worth her time.
After the father-daughter dance, Raquel finds Keisha crying in a corner, finally breaking down after a night full of testy moments, and they quickly exit stage left.
And no Single Ladies episode is complete without an unannounced appearance. Malcolm shows up at Keisha's door to apologize about Taylor's announcement that they were an item. Then Sean swoops in to check on his calla lily delivery. Although he also showed up unannounced, his timing couldn't have been more perfect, as he embraces Keisha while giving Malcolm an "I got ya girl now" smirk. And although she scolds him for showing up unannounced, it's clear that she could use a friend after the Bourgie Ball Gone Wrong.
At the boutique, Shelly shows up to get some "first lady" attire, just before Raquel confronts her about an alleged sex tape that's on the rumor mill in Atlanta. Well, looks like Shelly's going to need the help of an Atlanta version of Judy Smith if she's really trying to be like Mrs. O. (We'd love Columbus Short, our favorite gladiator in a suit, to make an appearance! Wishful thinking?) April also brings in Jack the Stripper to announce that she's dating him no matter what anyone else has to say!
This episode leaves viewers on the edge of their seats after Taylor shows up to pick up her check from Keisha. Taylor rattles off her new address to Raquel, and to Keisha's dismay, Malcolm has already moved her in. Will this end in a battle royal between uppity Taylor and keep-it-funky Keisha? Or will Keisha keep it movin' and give in to Sean's advances? If this roller coaster of an episode is any indicator, there's no telling what twists and turns will happen next.
Erin E. Evans is a writer in New York. Follow her on Twitter.