This season of P-Valley is already putting Mercedes through the wringer.
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Warning: Spoilers ahead for P-Valley season 2, episode 2, titled "Seven Pounds of Pressure."

Mercedes (Brandee Evans) is having a rough start to season 2 of P-Valley.

Coming into the new season, the Pynk's headliner had a lot on her plate. Her retirement plans were ruined when her mother stole her money, the shooting during Murda Night is still deeply affecting her, and now we learn she has a hurt shoulder. When Autumn Night (Elarica Johnson) makes the choice to bring in new dancers, viewers find she and Mercedes are butting heads about the club. During the Pynk's reopening, Mercedes falls off the pole and all the problems she has compound on one another. In the end, she tells Autumn to move out of her house and begins a journey to take care of herself.

We spoke to Evans about where Mercedes' head is at, the pole dancing scenes of season 2, how her own injury informed her work, and more.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Mercedes has been deeply affected by what happened in the season 1 finale. Where is she at mentally at the start of season 2?

Brandee Evans: There's so much. The money situation with Patrice [Harriett D. Foy] stealing the money from her, then the pandemic, Mercedes not having her daughter. Even be in the club with her arm hurting, so it's multiple things compounded. Then let's go all the way to the point that Mercedes is religious. Y'all, [she might be] doing her thing at the Pynk, but she loves the Lord so she's thinking, "I have killed someone. Am I going to Hell?" Remember that, because that's going to circle back later on in the season. Mercedes believes that this is the worst thing to do, but she also felt like she had to save everyone. She loves Uncle Clifford [Nicco Annan], Autumn and the club.

P-Valley
Credit: Erika Doss/Starz

Mercedes and Autumn have such an interesting relationship. From your perspective, what do they mean to one another?

They have this unshakeable bond. Now it's like a love-hate relationship, but when you spend so much time with someone, like in a pandemic, you either love them or hate them. At this point they have no choice but to love each other. I mean, Autumn is in the room that Mercedes said she worked for years to decorate for her daughter. No one's supposed to sleep there, so she does love Autumn and that's why it hurts her that these things have happened between them.

They have that big fight at the end of the episode. What is it like shooting those tense scenes with Elarica?

I love Elarica. It feels safe and comfortable because we're really friends, so we had time to rehearse those scenes at the house and we broke down what Autumn and Mercedes are feeling. Are they friends, or does Mercedes feel like she's in debt to [Autumn]? We broke that down together. That's my home girl!

Mercedes realizes she loves Mercedes, but she needs Autumn out of her house because Mercedes isn't able to grow with her. Sometimes you grow apart.

Whisper and Roulette shake up the energy at the Pynk. How does their introduction impact Mercedes?

I love Gail Bean and Psalms Salazar. They have come in to shake it up. Last season, Mercedes and Autumn had a big issue, and this season Mercedes isn't intimidated by them, but she sees her young self in them and knows she's getting older. You know she's hurt. Mercedes picks her girls, so she know who's in charge, but it's more like she's looking in the mirror and remembering when she first came [to the Pynk]. I don't think she's jealous, but knows it's time to dream new dreams and do something else.

We've seen Mercedes' sparkler heels and the new equipment at the Pynk. How do the pole dancing scenes this season compare to the first?

Oh my gosh, they are more elevated. You saw what happened in episode 1. Our choreographer, Jamaica Craft, told me she was bringing in Royalty, who is infamous for her fire heels and I remember looking her on the internet thinking she's amazing. I had to get my body back together after two years. We've been sitting around eating and in the world just relaxing. We had to elevate the trick because we don't want the fans to get bored. We've already seen the Trinity routine, the trio stack. Wait until you see what's coming. Katori [Hall, the series creator] has some amazing new equipment coming in. We're like Cirque du Soleil this season.

What was it like to shoot Mercedes' falling off the pole?

It was just as dramatic as it looks, because I actually hurt my back this season when we started training. I honestly used that pain, so the tears and all that were real because I just transferred the pain. I would tell my choreographer the same thing, like, "I don't know this body." I remember being at the top of the pole and then they were dropping me down. It was surreal because it's the OG falling and it just kind of broke my heart.

P-Valley
Credit: Kyle Kaplan/Starz

Diamond [Tyler Lepley] helps Mercedes with her the pain in her arm. What was shooting that scene like?

I remember when Katori gave me the script and thinking, "how am I supposed to access this?" I remember laying on my floor in my apartment in Atlanta and trying to feel the pain in my back. I wasn't educated on that type of healing, so I had to do my research on it as well.

If you pay attention in episode 1, I'm carrying my bag on my left shoulder because the right one is hurt. It's all the different nuances like grabbing the pole with my left hand sometimes or you might transfer your weight to your legs more or to your arms because a part of your body is hurting. I just tried to remember all that when filming, it was surreal.

We haven't seen Mercedes with her mom this season even though we get that "Where the Blessings Reside" commercial moment. What's in store for them this season?

I cannot say much, but I will say that you don't see them together too much because Mercedes is still angry. She is trying to figure out how to do this without her mom because she shunned her and shut her out. It's a very interesting storyline. I will say I can't wait to see what the audience thinks about Patrice's story. I think it's a wonderful shift.

In season 1, Mercedes wanted to retire. What does she want now? Have her goals shifted or changed since last season?

Right now, Mercedes is trying to get all the dreams that she had in season 1, which is to retire and try to get her daughter back. She is still trying to do that, but now she's got to think in more innovative ways to achieve them.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

P-Valley airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Starz.

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P-Valley (TV series)

Welcome to The Pynk, a Mississippi strip club where the drama is real and the dreams are big.

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