June and Harry meet another shapeshifter in episode 5, the passionate amateur who left a comment for June at the end of episode 4. The new shapeshifter lives a very different lifestyle from what the teenage couple had in mind. When she tries to manipulate June into breaking up with Harry and joining her party crowd, their friendship goes wrong. There are consequences for Harry and June as well.
At Sanctum, tensions continue to grow between the three women. Elena begins to gain control of her shifts. Sigrid prepares to move back into the world. Runa grows more unstable. Ben prepares to bring June into the fold. It’s hard to imagine that incorporating June into this powder keg will go well.
Elena has already made progress in her therapy. Her overall emotional trigger is love, which explains a lot about her life. Ben has created a slide wheel that’s tailored to her triggers, filled with images of mothers and children, sex and death. Elena watches it, and tells a story from Ryan’s childhood, when he was chasing butterflies down a path.
She’s panting and close to entering shift state. Ben tells her to let the memory flow, but to bring her mind to the present moment, here in the room with him, where everything is safe. Clever of him to include himself in the image of safety, to help make subjects emotionally dependent on him.
Elena avoids losing control. After the session Ben watches her sleep.
Harry has a job interview for a greeting card company. He emphasizes the love letters he used to write, and how easy it was to put the words down on paper.
June is at the hostel she and Harry are staying at, chatting with other residents. Some of them are going out that night and invite her and Harry to go with. She declines, saying they’ll want to stay in and celebrate.
Some of the other residents are watching the video of June shifting into Lil. She notices, and is shocked to see herself on the internet. Later, she shows it to Harry, and they notice the comments left by the Asian man, Passionate Amateur. June replies to the comment. She gets a response right away, with a time and place to meet. National Portrait Gallery, Room 11, 5:00 PM.
Christine examines video of Harry and June/Deborah leaving the hospital. She finds June’s image reflected in a window. She goes back to check footage of Lewis walking down the street on the night he was injured, and finds Elena in his reflection. She tries to call John, but he doesn’t answer, as usual.
Since John is ignoring her, Christine picks him up on false DUI charges and brings him to the station for questioning. Is it an abuse of power? Yes. Do I feel sorry for John? No. He’s ignored and lied to her every step of the way. Now he didn’t tell her that he saw the kids in London and messed up the visit, forcing them to runaway again.
When June and Harry arrive at the museum, the same Asian man is telling visitors about one of the paintings. He says it looks like a regular painting, like you and me, if you look through the peephole. Harry asks to join the tour, but the man says he’s just a passionate amateur. He takes June to look at another painting, and shows his (female) shifter reflection inside.
The shifter, Kam, shifts back to her own form in the museum restroom, then they have a drink in the cafe. June is amazed that shifting is so easy for Kam. Kam says she shifts back and forth where and when she wants.
Kam offers to let them stay at her flat while June learns about shifting. Harry asks how they know they can trust her, when meeting new people has gone so badly so far. Kam says it’s a risk for her, too. She leaves them with her phone number and address, instructing them to let her know if they want to stay.
Christine questions John alone in an interrogation room, breaking several rules. She wants to know about his and Elena’s whereabouts on the night of the Penines 5. There’s video of his Land Rover near the canal, where 2 of the victims were found. John claims he was out looking for her.
That sounds unlikely, since he threw her out of the house.
Chris shows John where Elena was- with Lewis, in a sense. She pulls up the video image of Lewis on the street, with Elena’s image in his reflection. She says this was the last minutes of life as he knew it.
Interesting side note- he’s wearing women’s clothes. They are Elena’s, because it’s really Elena wearing Lewis’ form, but no one seems to think it’s important. The shapeshifters inevitably end up a bit gender fluid if they embrace shifting, but there’s been nothing before this to suggest that Lewis is anything other than a straight married guy.
Christine thinks Elena is standing inside the shop and can be seen through the window. She assumes her placement where Lewis’ reflection should be is coincidental.
Doug storms in and drags Christine out. He reads her the riot act, then suspends her. She definitely got carried away, but he’s way too invested in stopping her investigation. Either someone above him is hiding something and putting pressure on him to stop her, or he’s got something to hide. He mentions that he won’t be able to keep protecting her if she doesn’t stop. Is he protecting her from more than just their superiors?
June and Harry decide to stay with Kam after all, in her posh high-rise flat. They meet the real Andrew, who is Kam’s boyfriend.
Kam has studied shapeshifter lore extensively. The 9th century Viking beserkers were shapeshifters who wore animal skins so they’d shift into bears or wolves. They were fathers and sons, but since then, somehow the trait has transferred to mothers and daughters.
June is impressed and enthusiastic about their new friends. Harry is cautiously optimistic, but still skeptical.
When John gets home from the police station, he throws a chair at the kitchen wall.
Seriously, this guy has abuser written all over him. Or maybe we’re just supposed to think he’s the strong, silent, loyal til the end of days type, like a dog. Bad writing, if so. He treats women like objects or possessions and men like rivals. He thinks of Ryan as a combination of possession and apprentice, so Ryan’s on the same team instead of being competition.
Since Christine is going to figure out the shapeshifting any minute now, John finally decides he has to tell Ryan the truth. Ryan remembers that Elena would disappear for days at a time and he’d be taken care of by strangers who seemed to know him as well as a parent would. Now he realizes it was Elena all along.
He saw strange things the night Elena left, but he never said anything because he needed to make John the villain. He needed to believe his mother didn’t have a choice about leaving. John confesses that she didn’t have a choice. He says he should have told Ryan and June long ago.
Ryan explains that his agoraphobia grew out of that night. He decided to stay safe and stay home, but he ended up just like Elena, locked away inside himself. Ryan thinks that John cares about them and Elena doesn’t, but John defends Elena. He says that Elena loved Ryan and June, but she was different. He blames himself for not being able to help Elena or June, then he has a manly cry about it.
There are a lot of manly tears on this show, where one or two fat tear drops artfully fall from a tragic male face, leaving his masculinity firmly in place.
Early the next morning, June tells Kam about Elena running away, and that now Elena is sending for her to come to Norway. Kam thinks Elena is a bad mother who can’t be trusted. June shows Kam the first part of Elena’s video message. Kam reacts a bit strangely, but once she’s sure that June wants to find Elena, she shares some information.
Kam recently found a story about a nun who collapsed and was left unconscious, with vibrating eyeballs. She spontaneously recovered before long. Another nun went missing on the same day. The story has a photo of the missing nun. It’s Elena.
Harry enters the room, and the girls lie about their conversation, since he didn’t want June to talk to Kam about her mother. Now June is keeping secrets from him.
June asks how Kam shifts so easily. Kam and Andrew decide to give them a demonstration.
Steinar gets drunk and uses a phone booth to phone home. He’s in rough shape, still covered in blood from his fights with Alf and June. Ben picks up immediately.
Steinar: I messed up, but listen to me. June’s not like the other women at Sanctum. She can get into your mind, your memories. She’s everything you’re looking for.
Steinar has to confess that he’s lost June, but she has his phone. Ben tells Steinar to stay put, and he’ll get back to him.
Harry, June, Kam and Andrew gather on the couches for a shapeshifting lesson. Kam explains that first you need to know what your emotional trigger is. June has already figured out that hers is fear. Kam’s is pain.
Kam says that once you understand how shifting works, there’s nothing to be afraid of, but June looks a little ill. Kam stops and tells her that they are unique creatures with nothing to be ashamed of. They need to embrace it.
She and Andrew turn toward each other. Kam lights a cigarette and uses it to burn her leg for the pain to trigger her into shift state. She and Andrew kiss, then she gently lays him back onto the couch as she turns into him and he falls unconscious. Kam/Andrew turns to them and says, “See how easy it can be, if you have complete trust?
Giving herself an intense burn like that, which will last days, and leave a scar, is disturbing. Couldn’t she just give herself a hard pinch? And it seems like Andrew is in her thrall or something similar. What does he get out of this relationship?
Harry is disturbed by what he saw, both the burn and the way it seems like Kam is using Andrew. June insists that it’s all fine. This is something completely consensual that they do together. She needs to learn from Kam, so she’s willing to live and let live for the time being. Harry wonders what else Kam is capable of.
Harry tells June to get Kam to actually help her with her mom, then they’re leaving. And he wants June to promise that she’ll never shift into him. June says that she would never do anything to him that he didn’t want her to, ever.
Which isn’t really what he asked her to promise. There’s quite a lot of wiggle room in that wording.
Runa discovers Ben packing for London. She panics when she finds out that he’s leaving. Ben tries to calm her down, saying he’ll only be gone for 2 days, and they may not get another chance to help June and put things right.
What do they need to put right? What does it have to do with June?
They both sit on the bed, and Ben tries to kiss Runa as he reassures her. She pulls away, but then kisses him, and accepts that he’s leaving.
Ben reviews the recording of Sigrid’s final session, specifically the part where her father said he was leaving, but it didn’t mean he would love her any less. Then he finds Sigrid and tells her about his trip. She’s upset, because he was supposed to be focussing on helping her move on. He says, “Obviously I can’t be here all the time, but that doesn’t mean I love you any less.” Sigrid makes a face. Did she recognize the blatant attempt at manipulation?
She offers to stay while he’s gone and look after Runa. She can organize her new life after he gets back. Ben is pleased.
The two couples are dancing in Kam’s living room.
Kam: Life is all about choices and you are in control. We choose our lovers. We choose our friends. Why can’t we choose our own mothers or sisters? Or twins of the heart?
June: Yeah, but a friend can’t be a mother, too.
Kam: Why not?
June: Family is where you come from.
Kam: Maybe I could be your family.
Andrew: I haven’t seen Kam this happy in ages.
Kam suggests they all go to Tribus, which turns out to be a sex club where Kam used to work. She and Andrew met there. As soon as they enter, Kam grabs June to go off on a girls only excursion. Harry and Andrew sit down to drink and wait.
Harry tells Andrew that he had a life all set up in London for him and June, then that got exploded when she started shifting.
Well, first, welcome to real life, Harry. Second, that’s rather patriarchal of you. Perhaps June has a few ideas of her own for how she wants to live her life. Right now, you don’t sound much better than her stepfather.
June asks Kam if she enjoys shifting and wearing someone else’s form. Kam doesn’t answer. Instead, she wonders why June wants to know, so June asks her real question. What does Kam feel when she shifts? June explains that she feels what’s in the other person’s head, sometimes in a scary amount of detail. Kam gets an evil smile and tells her that she can do that, too, but it’s a rare talent. Most shifters can’t do it, and it makes the two of them very special.
It would also make them attractive to anyone who might want to exploit them. Is Kam one of those people? Is Ben?
My money’s on Ben.
Harry thanks Andrew for letting them stay. Andrew reminds him that it’s not permanent. He remembers what it was like, when he first met Kam.
Andrew: Once you’re in Kam’s orbit, I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing, but the rest of the world kind of disappears. I remember being like June. Totally enthralled. I’d never met anyone like her.
Harry: What are they up to, anyway?
Andrew: Who knows? They could be anywhere. They could be anybody.
He watches Harry’s face drop for a moment, then bursts out laughing. Harry is not having fun.
Andrew: They’ll come find us when they’re ready. That’s how it works. Better get used to it.
So he is at least a low-level thrall. Wonder if Kam understands that’s what she’s doing, creating loyalty that’s actually addiction.
Kam asks June what she wants to feel next, and leads her through the rooms of the club, where a buffet of kinks is on display, from body worship to bondage and pain. June stares at all of it. She’s somewhere between fascinated and sickened.
They find a male dancer who’s covered in dark blue makeup from head to toe and stop to watch.
While they watch, Kam talks.
Kam: Sex is one thing, but being that person is so much more. Wouldn’t you like to, one day, explore how it really feels to be a man?
Kam takes June’s hand and reaches out to touch the dancer.
June: No, I don’t want to.
Kam: I’m not asking you to shift. I’m asking you to think about his body.
Kam withdraws her hand, while June’s hand remains on the dancer’s chest.
Meanwhile, Harry has had enough of decadence and sin. He really just wanted to recreate a middle class lifestyle in London with his girlfriend and more independence than he had at home, not explore the far reaches of human experience. He gets up and goes searching for June, looking shocked and definitely sickened by what he sees. He’s on a collision course with June and Kam.
Sure enough, he walks in just as Kam pulls away, so all he sees is June touching another man. He pulls up the dancer, who’s just doing his job, and punches him. Bouncers grab Harry and toss him out the back door. He hesitates a moment, then says, “Forget this,” and walks away.
June gets up to follow Harry out. Kam tries to get her to stay, but she has no reason to choose Kam over Harry. June catches up to Harry and asks what’s going on with him. Harry says that Kam isn’t going to help her find her mum, she just wants June to be exactly like her. “But you’re you, June. So start thinking for yourself and figure out what the h–l you want.” He walks away from her.
Sadly, what he means is, start acting like she belongs to him and doing what he wants her to do. The words were very pretty though. He would have done great at that greeting card company.
June pulls out Steinar’s phone. Ben answers, and starts talking, but June cuts him off, asking him to put Elena on the phone. Ben is taken aback by the encounter with a strong, confident shifter, but he’s trying to hook her right now, so he’ll do whatever she wants. Time enough to bring her to heel once he’s got her safely isolated at the cult compound.
He runs the phone over to Elena’s cottage and forces her to talk, even though it could trigger a shift state. Getting June to Sanctum is important enough to both of them to risk it. Elena convinces June to come to Sanctum so they can be together and she and Ben can help her. She tells June that Ben is a doctor and can be trusted. June should stay in London and keep her phone. Ben will come get her.
Once Elena hangs up, Ben walks out without a word, leaving her to deal with her triggered condition alone. She’s not the golden child any longer.
June goes back to Kam’s flat, where she finds Kam, Andrew, and another woman drinking and doing drugs. June asks Kam to talk to her privately, but Kam thinks June should join the party. June goes to her room. Kam is worried that she’s losing June, but the others convince her that June will come around.
June falls asleep on top of the bed, still in her clothes. When Harry returns, he does the same, facing away from her. It’s a sad night in London.
In the early morning hours Ben braves the mist and takes off in his boat to go to the Bergen airport. Runa, Elena and Sigrid stand on the dock to watch him leave.
In the morning, Harry has shed his clothes. He cuddles up to June, kissing her and playing with her hair. June wakes up, saying his name. Since she’s receptive to his advances, he roles over on top of her. He looks at her a moment, then roughly grabs her wrists and bends down to kiss her, in very unHarrylike way. June looks at the mirror beside the bed and sees Kam’s reflection instead of Harry’s. She says no and tells Kam to get off her.
Kam slides back off of June, mocking her. She won’t tell June where Harry is or leave his form. Kam even tells June that Harry was disappointed in her when they had sex and their relationship won’t last. June knows Kam is lying, and tells her so.
June finds Harry stuffed into a closet, lying on the floor like dirty laundry. Kam still won’t give him back. Andrew stumbles out into the hall and orders her to let Harry go.
She shifts back and Harry wakes up, asking what happened. June says they have to leave. Once they’re out on the street, June realizes that she forgot her phone. Harry refuses to go back for it. June tells him about her phone call with Elena.
Harry has had enough and puts his foot down. Enough craziness. He’s not doing it anymore, and neither is she. He turns and begins walking away from Kam’s again.
June won’t leave without the phone. They are at an impasse. June is determined to see her lost mother and figure out her condition. She says that if Harry doesn’t want to do that, then she’ll do it without him.
Harry is outraged that she wants to ditch him after he’s stuck by her through all of this life threatening insanity. He asks what just happened at Kam’s. June says she doesn’t know.
Harry: No, you do know. I’m not stupid. Someone shifted into me.
June: That shouldn’t have happened.
She doesn’t seem very upset about it. Harry looks like he’s just come to a terrible realization, which he basically has. She’s not the girl he exchanged love letters with any more. A week ago he couldn’t imagine himself asking this question.
Harry: Was it you?
She doesn’t answer, just looks down and away, which makes her look guilty.
Harry: June, just please tell me, was it you?
She still doesn’t answer, just looks him in the eye. The fact that he would even think that she was capable of that means their relationship is already broken.
Harry: I don’t even know who you are anymore.
He turns to walk away again, but turns back when she speaks. He doesn’t want to leave.
June: No, but you know what I am, don’t you? So go. Go home.
We all knew this was coming. Running away with June was Harry’s fantasy of a perfect life, to replace the broken life he has with the family he loves, and who love him. But the fantasy has turned into a nightmare, with the girl he loves shifting into not just someone he doesn’t know, but possibly anyone, at any time, including him. With violent maniacs chasing them and everyone they meet trying to corrupt them. Now June wants to go further down the rabbit hole and away from the life they’d dreamed of together. His loving but faintly oppressive and boring family is looking pretty good again.
June doesn’t have the luxury of going home to safety. She has to pursue whatever options she has for understanding and controlling her ability. She is changing, because she needs to incorporate this into her self-image and she needs to change in order to learn to live with it. It’s inevitable. Then there’s the home life she was escaping, which wasn’t just boring and full of chores. I don’t think it’s safe for her to go back to living with John. He was already going to move her to an island. What will he do now? Lock her in a cave? She has no choice but to keep moving forward.
Deep down, Harry knows this, but since they ran away, they’ve both also been through experiences that are life changing in and of themselves. That takes time to process. They were trying to see themselves as a single unit, with the same needs and desires, which will never be true, but especially isn’t at this age.
Harry, in particular, has gradually fallen back on ordering June around and viewing her as a possession or a pet who’s obligated to do as he says. He’s lost track of her as a separate person who’s having extraordinary experiences of her own, and who needs to finds ways to process those experiences that might not involve him. He’s stooped to moving her from the Madonna to the Whore category in his mind, suggesing that her moral judgement can’t be trusted, only his own. Shockingly, that prediction came true, and she started lying to him to try to keep the peace between them.
I don’t like seeing this side of him, and I hope it isn’t the real Harry. They were basically equal when the show started, unlike all of the other relationships on The Innocents. I’ve pointed it out, but haven’t complained, because there are specific plot reasons for the sexism so far.
I still don’t like it. Ben is in charge of the shifters, John ruled Elena and June, Doug is Chris’ superior officer. It seemed like Kam was in charge of Andrew, but in the end he shamed her into following his orders. Instead of the strong, independent, sexually free shifter we were introduced to, she became the loose, immoral woman who needed a strong man to teach her right from wrong. That’s an overarching theme of this show (and our culture), though my hope is that the shifters will realize their strengths and overthrow the oppressive men in the end.
The male shapeshifters were the beserkers who were admired and feared as legendary warriors. The female shapeshifters are out of control and mentally ill and need men to train or contain them. No misogyny there.
I am so proud of June as a character. She’s stood tall and proud through everything that’s happened to her, even Kam’s violation of her body and trust, and Harry’s betrayal. She hasn’t allowed anyone to guilt or shame her into doing things she doesn’t want to do or believing things about herself that aren’t true, not even Harry. Harry was supposed to be hers, the one person, other than Ryan, that she could trust no matter what, and he turned on her because of things that are outside of her control.
I think that June didn’t tell Harry that Kam had shifted into him because she knew how devastated and betrayed he’d feel, and because she was embarrassed about how wrong she’d been about Kam. She also was dealing with an attempted rape, in her boyfriend’s body, which has got to f–k you up. If she hadn’t forgotten the phone, they might have been able to get to someplace where she could give him some sanitized version of the story and kept things from getting much worse. Neither Kam’s apartment nor the sidewalk were the places to do that.
This is the guy who’s so jealous right now that he punched the dancer last night because June touched his chest. I suspect he transferred his anger at Kam to the dancer, but still. Imagine if Harry knew, in that moment, that June had almost had sex with Kam, using his body. He’s just not prepared to deal with that concept at this moment in his life.
It was better for June to let him go, so he had time to calm down, than to give him more to be angry about. Especially because he would have blamed June as much as he blamed Kam, not seen her for the victim she was. She didn’t need that put on her right then, and they didn’t need to go there in their relationship.
Kam is an especially twisted and damaged narcissist who lives outside of the rules of society, even the rules of friendships and relationships. You have to wonder what her history is. What got her to that point? What she did to Harry and June was just so loathesome. She started out honestly wanting to keep June as her sister, but then she overplayed her hand. She couldn’t understand June’s position at all, and went for petty revenge.
I really, really hope they don’t ruin June in the last three episodes, but they probably will. Television, and British television in particular, tends to go with the theme that a woman needs a strong male influence to keep her on the right track. And western culture is certain that teenage girls are idiots, which is really funny when you actually look at statistics. Hate to break it to y’all, but girls know what they’re doing. It’s boys who are the idiots.
June doesn’t need Ben’s program. She knows what her trigger is and has made good progress toward controlling her shift states all on her own. All he’ll do is try to manipulate her natural process into something unhealthy and ruin her self-esteem, while her preps her for whatever way he plans to exploit her. What she could use is a community of supportive women, since she’s been surrounded by and raised by men. She might get that on the island.
I believe that Kam will turn out to be Runa’s daughter, Freya, mentioned earlier in the season as lost. She reacted strangely to Elena’s video because she recognized the farm in the background. If you listen closely to everything she says, she’s trying to figure out how much June knows about Ben, then she’s trying to warn June about him. Much of the rest of her ideas are reactions to Ben’s strict shifter abstention and isolation program.
The ability to create thralls (enslaved humans who are addicted to their powers) opens up a whole new side to things and explains a lot about Lewis. Elena was using his form, and he keeps saying, “Take me with you.” His mind is still attached/enthralled to her in some way.
It also explains why Ben refuses to chance being used by a shifter, and what probably happened to Steinar. Steinar must have become accidentally enthralled to either Runa or Freya, and it affected his mind. Now he doesn’t want to give shifters the chance to shift into him, so he tries to sedate them immediately.
Ben wants to exploit the shifters for personal and professional gain, so he stays near them, but he doesn’t want to become enthralled, so he’s turned Sanctum into a cult with him in charge and the shifters all submissive to and dependent on him.
Freya is a dominant, independent shifter, so she challenged the stability of the cult. The remote, isolated farm would’ve never been enough for her. Either she escaped, or Ben and Steinar drove her out and told Runa she escaped, the way John did with Elena.
I theorize that she became a high-end hooker at Tribus, using her shifting ability to learn what customers want and to enthrall men who would support her until she made enough money to take care of herself in a comfortable style.
Is it part of the shifters’ nature to create thralls as a matter of course? Or is it a defense mechanism they instinctively turn to when they feel threatened, so that they’ll always have ready camouflage on hand? Would the natural state be for a female shifter to have a harem of thralls of both genders, if they completely gave into their instincts?
I’ve wondered if shifters would frequently be pansexual, since they have the ability to become any gender and sleep with any gender. They are natural human chameleons, and it seems unnatural for them to not incorporate that into their sexuality. Freya seems to be an example of that. The women at Sanctum are so repressed and damaged that it’s hard to tell what their sexualities are, but there was that moment when Sigrid admitted to enjoying being kissed by a woman while in a man’s body. She, at least, is sexually open-minded.
June hasn’t had a chance to do any sexual or shifting exploration yet. Harry is extremely monogamous, but given time he might be open to sexual experimentation between the two of them. He’s been asked to deal with a lot at once right now, including huge things that should be impossible. He’s pretty optimistic and openminded overall, so I expect they could work something out in the long run. I do wonder if June will need to go through a period of the kind of no holds barred experimentation that Kam has been doing.
I don’t think the shifters are truly gender fluid, though some become comfortable wearing a male form. I think they take on male personas as a form of role-playing (when they do so by choice) rather than because they feel male or that they are men. They have all, other than Sigrid, who is more neutral in her gender presentation, expressed very clearly that they are women and that the roles and legacies of being a woman are important to them. Sigrid identifies closely with her mother as a woman and aligns herself with the women of Sanctum, so I feel safe in saying that she identifies as a less feminine woman.
Amazing new entries into the sweater collection this episode. And Ben got a sweater! Does that mean he drank his own kool aid?
Images courtesy of Netflix.