This week Mara helps a dancer who’s unable to envision her life without dancing, but who’s lost the ability to dance after a devastating bicycle accident. Mara’s patient has gotten lost in her Reverie, reenacting the best parts of her life and the experiences she wishes she could have had. Saving Holly reunites Mara with Chris, the psychiatrist who was her boyfriend before her family’s murders. In her grief, she shut him out. Now, she has to deal with him in a professional capacity, and face the hurt she caused him by pulling away from their romantic relationship 19 months ago.
Holly is a former dancer who is now paralyzed and uses a wheelchair. She lives with her sister, Vivian, who is also a dancer. While her sister runs a dance studio and lives a busy life, Holly spends her days in Reverie dancing in an empty theatre. At the beginning of the episode, Holly spends too long in Reverie and needs to be brought into Onira Tech’s medical wing.
When Mara arrives at work, she’s met by Paul, who tells her that a psychiatrist from LA Metro Medical is waiting for her in her office. Mara immediately gets nervous, worried that it will be Chris that she finds in her office. She stopped talking to him and answering his calls after her sister and niece’s deaths a year and a half ago, and Chris makes it clear that he still isn’t over the rejection. In fact he’s still bitter about it, if his undermining little insults and jabs are anything to go by. And that’s not a cactus, jerk.
You’d think a psychiatrist would understand that with the enormity of what happened to Mara, she needed to shut down for a while as she processed her emotions. But this tragedy was obviously about Chris and his ego, not about Mara losing her family. She was supposed to need him to be the strong man and mental health professional who could save her. She wasn’t supposed to need time alone. That’s not what women do. Even Mara still blames herself for needing time alone.
Mara apologizes twice for abandoning the man-child, and he promises to attempt to be professional from now on. Geez, it irks me that she has to apologize for being traumatized by what happened to her and her family to a PSYCHIATRIST. You’d think maybe he’d be showing her compassion and asking her how she’s doing, instead, like a normal grown up would.
Dude, if she didn’t turn to you during that time, but instead couldn’t even bring herself make contact, you weren’t right for each other anyway. In other words, she just wasn’t that into you. Get over it.
They move on to talking about the reason for his visit, his patient. Holly’s bicycle accident was a year ago. She fractured her T-9 vertebra which left her paralyzed from the waist down. She came to Chris for depression that nothing was alleviating. After they’d tried everything else, she wanted to try Reverie. It helped at first, but then she started spending too much time in her fantasy. Right now, she’s been in there for 16 hours, putting her at medical risk. Mara wants to get in there and get Holly out as quickly possible, but everything continues to be about Chris. He still has some questions that Mara needs to answer before he’ll let her go save his patient’s life. He couldn’t ask Paul or Alexis those questions and let Mara do her job, of course.
Paul asks Alexis about Chris. Alexis doesn’t want to know anything about anyone that she doesn’t have to. Charlie is willing to answer Paul, though. He thinks Chris is a good guy. Chris was a consultant on some of Mara’s cases when she and Charlie worked for the police. As Charlie starts to walk away, Paul asks if they were a couple. Charlie refuses to answer, which Paul takes as a yes. He’s so cute when he’s jealous. Since I’m totally in favor of Paul and Mara as a couple, I approve of this development.
Chris manages to feel threatened by the Reverie, but he does let Mara go so she can get Holly out. He waits around so that he can talk to Mara afterwards.
Mara finds Holly still dancing. Mara explains the situation out in the real world. Holly pretends to be cooperative, then escapes through a door to a different part of her Reverie and locks it behind her.
Mara consults with Chris and Paul as Holly’s body is moved from her apartment to the Onira Tech medical wing. They wonder what the significance of the empty theatre is, and what Holly is hiding behind the locked door. Mara decides to talk to Vivian for more insight.
Vivian packs Holly a bag for the hospital. She gets tired after a minute and has to sit down. Anyone can see that Viv cares deeply for her sister. Mara notices a music box that plays the song that Holly was dancing to in her Reverie. Viv doesn’t recognize it, so she assumes the box is from Holly’s ex-boyfriend, Zeke, another dancer, who broke up with her after the accident.
Mara is watching old videos of Holly dancing professionally when Chris visits her office again after checking on Holly. Mara asks him to share any information that he can that would help her get through to Holly and save her. Mara understands that HIPAA privacy restrictions limit what he can tell her. Chris confirms that there’s a lot he can’t tell her, but suggests they have dinner together and talk about the information that he is allowed to share.
In reality, with Holly in a coma, Vivian would be making her medical decisions and would probably be able to give Chris permission to share information with Mara, who is acting as a medical professional in this case. The idea that he would withhold potentially life saving information from another professional and let her die instead seems a little silly. He shouldn’t share Holly’s secrets with her sister Viv without permission, but he should use them to save her.
Really not a fan of Chris, or his moustache, even though I usually like Sam Jaeger. Let’s send him back to Handmaid’s Tale where he can lure Serena to her coconuts and treason.
Chris runs into Charlie in the hallway. Charlie warns Chris to be gentle with Mara since she’s still healing.
At dinner, Chris and Mara discuss why Holly dances alone and has a locked room. Mara thinks that Holly is protecting something. Mara theorizes that Holly has been through so much that she needs a space of her own, where she can just be herself and not have to be angry.
Mara felt the same way after her sister and niece died. She barely managed to survive and couldn’t manage anything more. She didn’t mean to hurt Chris.
Mara brings Chris home with her after dinner so that she can return a borrowed book. They almost kiss, but decide that they shouldn’t and he goes home.
Something Chris says gives Mara an idea, and she calls Paul to ask him to help her.
The next day, Mara waits in Holly’s theatre wearing dance workout clothes. She talks Holly into giving her dance lessons. They talk as they dance. Holly says things with Zeke were complicated. Then there’s a knock on the locked door and Holly forces Mara to leave. She even shoves Mara onto the floor.
Mara visits Zeke to talk about his break up with Holly. Viv made it sound like Zeke couldn’t get away from Holly fast enough once she was paralyzed, but Zeke says that Holly broke up with him. He didn’t want to break up. He told Holly he wanted to stay together after the accident.
Mara consults with Paul about how to get into the locked space. Paul says that Reveries often end up turning back in on themselves, so chances are that she can find another, unlocked, way into the secret space. She just has to start looking. Reveries don’t follow the normal rules of space-time, so the door won’t be in a logical place.
Holly’s medical situation becomes a crisis, so Mara needs to hurry. She tries doors that lead in odd directions until she finds one that leads to a perfect fairytale house. She discovers a little girl drawing pictures inside.
The girl is an avatar of the baby that Holly lost when she fell off the bike. She hadn’t even told Zeke that she was pregnant yet. He didn’t want kids anyway. She bought the music box as a present for her real daughter, who she planned to keep. The accident left her unable to have children.
The two most important things in her life were having a child and dancing. In a moment, she went from having them both to losing them both. Reverie gave her both of them back. In the real world she’s just a burden on her sister with nothing to live for. Mara reminds Holly that she’s dying in the real world, which means she’ll die in Reverie, too. Holly decides that she’d rather spend the time she has left in Reverie, living her dream life, and then be done.
Mara explains Holly’s situation to Alexis and Paul, who have divided opinions about how to handle it. Paul feels that since Holly is an adult who’s making an informed decision, they should let her go. Alexis doesn’t want Reverie turned into an assisted suicide machine. She wants to disable Holly’s BCI and pull her out.
When Mara started at Onira Tech, they told her it wasn’t possible to force someone out of a Reverie. Now Paul and Alexis explain that they’ve never done it, because they haven’t wanted to risk the possible brain damage that could result. Alexis feels that it’s better to leave one person brain-damaged than to start a suicide trend.
Paul brings up their standard consent issues. They don’t have permission to do something like that, because they’ve never had to before. Alexis stands firm in her belief that Reverie is meant to make people’s lives better, not end them. Mara, ever the peacemaker, decides to do a little more research and then go back in to talk to Holly one more time.
First she visits Chris, who is useless beyond telling her he’s sure she’ll do the right thing. He brings his own baggage back into the discussion and can’t get past it to discuss the case. It’s unprofessional, but Mara’s a hostage negotiator and knows how to sift through self-absorption to find something she can work with. He tells her that it’s not okay to give up on the people who love you the way she did with him. That gives her an idea. She thanks him and leaves.
Mara visits Viv at her dance academy, which is very busy since they’re at the start of a new session. Viv almost faints as Mara is asking where they can talk. Once they’re settled and Viv has revived again, she explains that she has a mild form of MS, that may or may not eventually progress to a more severe form.
She was only diagnosed a couple of months ago and hasn’t told Holly about it. She needs time to come to terms with it herself. She thinks Holly isn’t the caretaker type anyway. Viv doesn’t want to pressure her and make her feel worse. Mara insists that Holly needs to know that Viv needs her. It could save Holly’s life.
Holly is shocked to hear that Viv has a chronic illness. She echoes Viv’s words about her and says that Viv has never needed anybody. Mara says that after Holly’s accident, Holly was smart to turn inward and take care of herself, since she had nothing left for the people around her.
Mara continues, saying that now Viv needs her, and she doesn’t know how to ask for it. Holly dances to express her feelings, but not everyone can do that. By staying in Reverie with her fantasy, Holly is abandoning the real people who care about her.
Holly is still torn. The world she’s created in Reverie is so fulfilling for her, and she can’t do it as a part-time hobby. It’s all or nothing. Mara is compassionate and patient, giving Holly a little time to come to terms with what she knows she needs to do.
Before they leave the Reverie forever, Holly and her daughter, Sadie, perform together for Mara. When they’re done, Holly says goodbye to Sadie. Then she exits Reverie and goes back to her real life. Before long, she’s teaching classes at Viv’s dance academy, helping her sister and finding new meaning in life.
Paul and Mara chat in front of the elevator at work and he nonchalantly tells her that he likes Chris. Paul thinks Chris seems “solid”. Mara says that Paul doesn’t have to say that. Paul says, “But I did.”
That was interesting.
Mara goes to Chris’ office. She tells him that she misses him, and he’s still her favorite person, but that’s why she doesn’t want to try again until she’s sure she’s ready.
Or maybe with Paul instead.
Mara: My whole life blew up in front of me that day, and I’m trying to put the pieces back together, but I’m still not there yet. There’s still some unfinished business.
Mara is in tears by the time she’s done talking. Now that he’s made her cry, Chris can be nice about it. I hate it when guys do that.
Chris: Yeah, I know.
Mara: You said I quit.
Chris: I shouldn’t have said that. I…
Mara: You were right. I did but I’m not quitting on my life now or the people that I love. I need you to know that.
Chris: I do.
Mara: There are things that I still need to do.
Chris: Whenever you’re ready, call me.
Mara: I will.
They embrace. Mara leaves and goes to a hospital, where she visits a patient in a coma and on life support. A nurse tries to throw her out, saying that, “No visitors are allowed for this patient, only family.” Mara says that she’s the patient’s sister-in-law. Ray, her sister’s husband and murderer, is still alive.
Alexis is probably right about the suicide machine scenario. Reverie could end up like the euthanasia room in Soylent Green, a place to make your suicide not just painless, but pleasant, or even exciting. But, you have to admit, it’s not a bad way to go.
You’d think that Onira Tech’s lawyers would have come up with some kind of blanket consent form and medical records release form by now. They should be making clients get a physical anyway. That’s a good way to bring up the medical consent and records release. A consent form to other situations just makes sense when they don’t know what they might have to do to get someone out.
Notice how Paul isn’t derailing every conversation to make it about his potential love life with Mara and whether or not she’s paying enough attention to it, or him? Notice how he’s there for Mara and the client?
I’m so glad that they’ve stuck to the policy of letting the client decide when to leave Reverie. It probably won’t last forever- the brain damage question begs to be tested- but for paying customers it’s the right thing to do. These are consenting, informed adults. It’s nice to have one show where compassion and negotiation are the answers to getting people to change their behavior, instead of violence and force.
Images courtesy of NBC.