P-Valley’s Hailey Colton/Autumn Night: A Character Study (SPOILERS!)

The second season finale of P-Valley aired Aug. 14, 2022, and it was everything! In all honesty, the entire season rocked. There wasn’t one episode that didn’t miss. My initial plan was to write a review about this epic season, but I figured that since I already reviewed the most current season of Stranger Things (read about part one and part two whenever you have the chance), and I’m already hella late on the reviews I owe y’all for the last season of Pose (I haven’t forgotten about that), I should write a character study on one of the P-Valley characters that’s always intrigued me: Ms. Hailey Colton aka Autumn Night.

By the way, I realize I’m hella late with this character study too, but still feel free to read on!

Hailey/Autumn’s Story

***WARNING:  THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SEASONS ONE AND TWO OF P-VALLEY!  IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE PAST TWO SEASONS IN THEIR ENTIRETY, THEN 1) I SUGGEST YOU STOP READING THIS POST NOW, AND 2) I ALSO SUGGEST YOU GET OFF YOUR RUMP AND WATCH THE SHOW!  YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.***

Hailey Colton’s past is sketchy at best.  Even her P-Valley wiki page has hardly any information listed.  In all fairness, everyone’s wiki page on that site has sparse info, and nearly all the characters have an air of mystery when it comes to their background (Roulette definitely comes to mind).  However, Hailey’s past seems to have more unknowns than the other current inhabitants of Chucalissa, MS.  We learned that she never knew her birth parents and was raised in foster homes.  Now, I’m inclined to believe that the foster families she lived with didn’t treat her worth a damn, seeing as how she’s slow to trust people, refuses to plant roots, and is willing to crap on folks close to her if it means she can get ahead. 

Hailey went on to have a baby girl named Autumn and later entered into a relationship with a gangster named Montavious (Montavious was not the father of Hailey’s daughter, by the way).  By Hailey’s own admission, she felt as though she had everything she ever wanted and needed, but Montavious ended up proving Hailey’s motto to be true:  Trust no one.  Montavious ended up being an abusive monster, and either out of fear for her and her daughter’s life, fear of losing her luxurious lifestyle, or maybe a little bit of both, Hailey didn’t leave the relationship right away.  However, like most battered women, Hailey finally reached a point where she was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and she decided she wanted out.  Sadly, when she made the choice to leave, a massive flood hit Texas and although Hailey escaped the disaster unscathed, baby Autumn drowned.

A traumatized Hailey went into hiding, catching a bus heading east.  When the bus stopped at the little town of Chucalissa, MS for a bathroom break, Hailey (wisely) opted not get back on, allowing her trail to go cold in case Montavious decided to go searching for her (which he did).  This is where Hailey’s story at The Pynk officially begins.

While employed at The Pynk, Hailey—now known as Autumn Night (her stripper name), or her other alias, LaKeisha Savage—didn’t really open up to anyone, and she struggled with the trauma of losing her child. One of her biggest critics was Mercedes, who I honestly believe felt threatened due to Hailey being competition. We now see that Mercedes had no need to be so nasty to Hailey in the beginning because the latter was no competition. Hailey couldn’t really dance, and she didn’t really master the pole, but she could twerk and had a bit of rhythm. Just a bit. That and her pretty face managed to get her rent paid. Hailey also made money thanks to a little check wiring scam she had going on.

While Hailey was in Chucalissa, she did make one friend…Andre Watkins. Andre was one of the few good men Hailey ever encountered, and he was certainly the only one that was genuinely nice to her. Montavious showed his true colors the minute Hailey officially became his woman. We never know what became of Autumn’s father or even who he was; Hailey never mentions him. Even Uncle Clifford—who I LOVE—blackmailed Hailey into providing her information once she learned the LaKeisha Savage ID was a fake. Andre, on the other hand, never disrespected Hailey. With Andre, Hailey was comfortable enough to slightly let her guard down.

Eventually, Mercedes found herself in a jam, thanks to her own mother (the unscrupulous Mayor Bishop Patrice Woodbine). Patrice bought a commerce space she knew Mercedes wanted and used Mercedes’s own money to do it! This led to mother and daughter getting into a public brawl, and subsequently, arrested. When Uncle Clifford and the other girls couldn’t help or didn’t want to be bothered, Hailey took it upon herself to bail Mercedes out of jail. It was then Mercedes’s attitude toward Hailey changed and they became friends. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t last.

After Hailey was no longer able to wire the money on her own, she and Mercedes teamed up, bought some fake wigs and ID’s, and started wiring it together. They hit multiple cities, and Mercedes used her cut of the money to buy another space for her gym. Unfortunately, this alerted Montavious to Hailey’s location (it was his money Hailey was wiring), and on the night that Hailey was supposed to leave town, he found her.

Thankfully, with Mercedes, Uncle Clifford, and Diamond’s help, Montavious was killed and Hailey was spared. A few days later, when The Pynk was supposed to be auctioned off, Hailey bought the club with the $250,000 she wired from Montavious.

Sounds like a happy ending, right? This is P-Valley, bitches.

From this point, Hailey’s character took an interesting turn. After she bought The Pynk, she and Uncle Clifford officially become partners, and they butted heads from the very start. Not only that, Mercedes and Big L became wary of Hailey’s business practices as well.

After Chucalissa ended the COVID-19 lockdown, Corbin and Andre approached Hailey and Uncle Clifford with negotiations to buy the club. Hailey made it clear that she wasn’t willing to let it go for anything less than $10M. Once Corbin heard that, he couldn’t help but call Hailey everything but a child of God. This behavior pretty much continued for the rest of the season, mind you. Again, most men that meet Hailey tend to treat her with disrespect, regardless of how well they know her.

Mercedes and Hailey’s relationship further deteriorated due to the former suffering from PTSD after shooting Montavious, albeit in self-defense. Mercedes’s guilt caused her to have pain in her shoulder from the seven pounds of pressure she had to use to stop Montavious from killing her, Hailey, and Uncle Clifford. To make matters worse, her shoulder gave out during The Pynk’s grand opening, causing Mercedes to fall several feet from the pole. Not only did the fall shake Mercedes’s confidence, but she freaked out after Diamond (with his cute self) had to perform root work to remove the actual seven pounds out of Mercedes’s shoulder. After that, she wanted nothing more to do with Hailey, and threw her out of her house (following the shooting, Hailey moved in with Mercedes on a “temporary” basis).

Hailey shacked up at The Pynk—unbeknownst to everyone—and later revealed to Andre that her real reason for buying the club was not to be an angel investor, but to flip the property and sell it for a higher profit, hence the $10M figure. Unfortunately for Hailey, Uncle Clifford and Mercedes heard her conversation with Andre, and she effectively made enemies out of them both.

One thing about Hailey…that child set her mind on a goal and stuck to it. She was adamant about getting her $10M, and no matter what offers Corbin or Promised Land (the company that wanted the land The Pynk stood on) gave her, she stood firm on her figure. In the meantime, she ran into Keyshawn aka Miss Mississippi again, and saw that she was still being abused by her no-good ass baby daddy. Hailey always had empathy for Keyshawn and her plight, so while she was making plans to sell The Pynk, she also made arrangements for Keyshawn and her kids to escape her abuser.

Those plans were never realized.

Derrick’s no-good ass managed to outsmart Keyshawn (thanks to her equally no-good ass stepmother), and in the meantime, Hailey underestimated Uncle Clifford’s business acumen as well as her ability to wage war. Uncle Clifford and Corbin made a deal behind Hailey’s back, with the former giving the latter advice on an alternate way to build the Chucalissa Casino without The Pynk being affected, and in turn, Corbin paid $250,000 to Uncle Clifford to cover the amount Hailey previously put down on the building.

Needless to say, Hailey was livid. Uncle Clifford offered to buy Hailey out with the $250K, but Hailey demanded interest. Big L and Diamond—armed with a chainsaw— reminded her that they helped her get rid of Montavious’s body, so that was interest enough. Hailey had no choice but to take the money and leave with her tail tucked between her legs, but she ended up getting the last laugh. Hailey used her wiles to take an additional $42,000 out of The Pynk’s bank account, leaving Uncle Clifford and the others $24,000 in the hole. We last see Hailey disembarking a bus somewhere in Chinatown, donning a blonde wig, her clothes and $292K in cash in a trash bag, and pregnant with Andre’s twins. Did I forget to mention that Hailey skipped town before she told Andre she was having his child/children? Just scandalous, honey!

My Analysis

From what we know of Hailey, it looks to me like this woman was treated horribly by nearly everyone she encountered in her early life. It’s possible that her biological parents may have abandoned her (either that, or they died, leaving her an orphan), her foster parents abused her, and she continued to be abused and mistreated by the father of her child (possibly) as well as her last boyfriend. Losing her daughter—the only thing she truly loved—deeply traumatized her. As a result, when Hailey finally encountered a place she could call home and people that could be her family, she pushed it all away, due to fear of losing people she loved, or to permanently close her heart off so she wouldn’t become a victim again. As Uncle Clifford said it best, “This bitch ain’t got no friends…or framily!” Those words were harsh, but true.

Instead of building lasting relationships in Chucalissa, Hailey settled for a myopic focus on getting money by any means necessary. However, money isn’t everything, and it doesn’t buy happiness. You think Hailey would’ve learned that from her past relationship with Montavious. She once lived the lap of luxury, but due to Montavious’s abuse she couldn’t enjoy it, at least not in peace. In her mind, obtaining the $10M would honor baby Autumn’s memory, but like Uncle Clifford told her, the baby is gone. That money wouldn’t bring her daughter back.

Hailey could’ve learned a lot from Uncle Clifford. Part of the reason she was able to beat Hailey at her own game is because she had a support system around her to back her play. She and Corbin were childhood buddies, and once she noticed they shared the same dislike for Hailey, she got him on her side. When Hailey refused to leave the club without being paid interest, Big L and Diamond were there to make sure she left with no more than what she entered into the partnership with (too bad they didn’t watch The Pynk’s bank account a little more closely). To quote one of my favorite movies, “Every now and then, it helps if people like you.”

And now we take a break from our regularly scheduled post to see an example of how likeability can work in your favor…even when what you’re fighting for isn’t the best course of action to take.

I remember P-Valley writer Katori Hall (I wanna be her when I grow up…I need to step up my doggone game!) tweeting that The Pynk gave Hailey life in every way it could. Not only did Uncle Clifford and Mercedes save Hailey from Montavious, but her short time with Andre blessed her with the gift of motherhood again, which is something she always wanted.

My only thing is this…single motherhood isn’t easy, especially with twins. Just ask my younger cousin. Hailey’s DTA (Don’t Trust Anyone) attitude won’t work for her in the long run. Sure, she’ll probably run a more successful business scheme/scam and flip that $292K into a few million and hire a nanny, but she’ll still need a support system. Her “never plant roots” mantra has to go, too. It’s one thing to be on the run by yourself and never pay rent; it’s another thing to jump from city to city and town to town with two babies in tow. Children—namely infants/toddlers—need stability and familiar faces. It’s time for Hailey to settle down and start letting people in. Sure, it’s scary, and there’s a lot of toxic people out there, but everyone isn’t out to get you. Hailey could’ve had the genuine support system she needed and a man that loved her (and would’ve loved those kids) if she stayed in Chucalissa and just ran the club the way it was meant to be run. Instead, she decided to burn every bridge she built. Doggone shame.

In spite of all this, I don’t believe Hailey is an evil person. She went out of her way to help Mercedes, and she did the same for Keyshawn. Although Hailey did Uncle Clifford dirty in the long run, at the same time, I really do believe she wanted to make sure Clifford received her fair share of the $10M. Hailey was definitely a champion for battered women, also. She was the only one that stood in Keyshawn’s corner when Uncle Clifford, Diamond, and Mercedes wrote her off, and we learned early in the season that one of Hailey’s favorite movies is What’s Love Got to Do With. Of course, her favorite scene was the one where Tina fights back. Again, Hailey’s downfall is her lack of trust and seeing the worst in everyone, including the people that have her back.

From a writer’s standpoint, I assume that Hailey’s character took the turn it did due her not resonating with the fans. The viewers never liked or trusted Hailey, and I never understood why. She was clearly traumatized thanks to abuse and loss, so I had empathy for her. Most P-Valley fans didn’t feel the same way, however, and I’m thinking Katori and the other writers decided to make Hailey a villain to give the fans a reason to hate her. On top of that, since Hailey fractured every single relationship she had in Chucalissa (even her thing with Andre ended, as his wife came to town and caught him and Hailey together), the writers also decided to give her a somewhat unceremonious exit, as there was no further need for her character in the eyes of public opinion. Personally, I would’ve loved to have seen a redemption arc for Hailey, and I feel like P-Valley won’t be the same show without her.

Whenever I think of characters—from books, movies, or TV series—I always imagine what life holds for them after the final credits have rolled. For Hailey, she has her money and her babies gestating in the womb, but that’s all she has. One might think that’s all she needs, but that’s not entirely true. Ms. Hailey Colton aka Autumn Night has to start building real relationships with people and not tearing down people that actually care about her. If she doesn’t, things will never get truly better for her, and she’ll find herself in the same situations time and time again.

—Written by Nadiya

So, to all my P-Valley fans, what did you think of Hailey Colton aka Autumn Night? Did you despise her character or were you a fan? Did you have empathy for her and her situation, or did you feel like she was just shady and untrustworthy? Were you sorry to see her leave the show or are you happy that she’s gone? Did you want Hailey to have a redemption arc, or see her return to the show as a series regular? Let me know in the comments section!

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