Big Teak was introduced in episode 2 of the second season of P-Valley as a black man looking to adapt to life following a ten-year stint in prison. We saw Big Teak (John Clarence Stewart) struggle for stability in a world that’s prejudiced against him; we also saw his relationship with Lil Murda (J. Alphonse Nicholson) blossom.
The idyllic scenes at the start of episode six sharply contrasted with the horror at the episode’s dying minutes. We saw Big Teak get a haircut and get food with Lil Murda. However, by the end of episode 6, Big Teak was dead, having committed suicide in front of Lil Murda.
Big Teak witnessed the murder of his family as a child
Big Teak’s perception of the world changed when, as a seven-year-old, he witnessed his mother murder his family. His layers of depression are anchored on that profoundly traumatic experience.
Twitter user @SimplyMNicole claimed Big Teak’s childhood story comes from the real-life tale of Shanynthia Gardner, a mother who murdered her four children in cold blood. Gardner’s oldest child witnessed the tragedy and escaped.
A Texas court rejected Gardner’s defense of insanity, declaring that though she had a mental illness, she understood what she was doing was wrong. The court sentenced her to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 51 years.
“I feel like a lot of the times we acknowledge scars that we see on the skin,” John Clarence Stewart told ESSENCE. “There’s not a lot of language and not a lot of compassion for scars that are in the heart. Teak is just a man with a whole heap of scars on his heart.”
Big Teak also grew up hiding his sexuality
Part of Big Teak’s trauma comes from hiding his sexuality throughout his life. Many viewers couldn’t believe Big Teak and Lil Murda, two seemingly cisgender and heterosexual men, harbored romantic feelings for each other. Stewart continued:
“With these two characters, these men who move in this hyper-masculine way through the world, there is a softness and an intimate quality that they exist between each other that feels almost, to some people in our community, that seems almost forbidden. And I think that’s really sad and unfortunate.”