The battle between Adrian and Leila becomes more intense in this episode, as more real world
players characters are drawn into their fight. Several Red Pill members meet for the first time in the real world, with varying results. Adrian’s plans continue to include violence, death and isolation. Even when his victims see through his machinations, like Leila, they are often powerless to stop him from manipulating and hurting people.
At the beginning of the episode, Tess has been gone for 4 days after the argument she and Leila had at the end of episode 3. Leila is hoping she’ll come back soon. Tess left her phone behind and Leila answers when it rings. It’s Adrian calling, of course, and he thinks it’s Tess that answers, or pretends to. When he finds out that it’s Leila who’s answered and that Tess is missing, he drops all pretense. Leila asks if he’s going to kill Tess when he finds her. Adrian insists that he “never kills anyone. That would be so unsubtle.” Lord knows, we wouldn’t want to lose the subtlety points when the judges score the game.
Leila asks why he doing this, but Adrian just says, “Let that emerge.” He leaves her with a challenge, “Who’s going to find her first?” Then he hangs up. Leila doesn’t want to be part of Adrian’s sick games, but she also won’t walk away from people who need her. Adrian is counting on that. Leila takes the bait, and tells the phone, “Me.”
Jonty wanders in and asks if Tess is coming back and what happened. Leila says she doesn’t think so, since they fell out, then leaves the room. Jonty looks concerned.
Force and Adrian meet in Red Pill on a cliff overlooking waterfalls and a gorge. Adrian is in full manipulation mode. He’s sending Force a plane ticket to London so that Force can use his special qualities to help Adrian. While he’s in London, Force may or may not be able to see Jocasta, since she’s so shy and the timing has to be right. Adrian will talk to her, when Force has done what Adrian is asking him to do. Shadowfax has become a dangerous threat to all of this beauty, and, even though Adrian has encouraged Force to keep himself under control in the past, now there is a pure use for his talents. Force can’t resist the chance to see Jocasta. They jump off the cliff and both turn into hawks.
Leila takes the bus to Tess’ family home. Her younger sister, Olivia, answers the door and tries to slam the door in Leila’s face, but Leila insists they talk. Olivia doesn’t hear a word Leila says. She goes through the same litany of complaints about her sister as Tess’ tired friend and ex-roommate did.
Then she takes Leila into the next room to meet her disabled father. He’s completely immobilized from a stroke. Olivia takes great pride in being the good daughter, as she names herself to Leila. Both girls are adopted. Tess was in her room and stoned out of her mind a few years ago while her mother and sister were out. Her father had the stroke while he was outside in the garden. Tess, who was in her room and stoned, didn’t notice, so she didn’t call an ambulance. Now Olivia spends all of her time taking care of her father.
Olivia thinks that Leila wouldn’t understand what that means. When Leila says she does, Olivia dismisses her.
Leila doesn’t argue with Olivia’s dismissal, even though she could. Olivia wouldn’t hear her anyway. She asks if Olivia knows of anywhere Tess might be. Olivia tells her to get on with her life and forget Tess, bit Leila can’t, at least not until she gets Tess out of Adrian’s clutches and back to living a safer life.
Marion, Tess’ mom, comes home, laden down with shopping bags from expensive clothing stores and the like. She’s happy, smiling and looks great. Olivia introduces Leila as her own college friend. In shock over the whole situation, Leila leaves.
Jonty gets another phone call from Adrian, who’s still pretending to be Leila’s father. Adrian gives Jonty the idea that he and Leila could be more than friends and roommates, and that Jonty should keep closer tabs Leila. He implies that Leila will only remain mentally healthy if Jonty becomes responsible for her care.
Jonty hangs up when Leila comes home. She runs upstairs and logs into Azana, but she’s locked out and suspended. She surmises that Adrian can’t find Tess either, and says that to him via the omniscient computer camera. He retaliates through obnoxious feedback noises.
Leila changes her shirt, and Jonty pops into the room when she’s only wearing her bra. He wants to make sure she knows that she can talk to him about anything, anytime. She tells him that the people around her get hurt, which seems a bit overdramatic, but Jonty replies that he wouldn’t mind, if it helped her. Tess isn’t the only one interested in being subbed, but let’s not dwell on that.
Jump to small town Tennessee, and a truck driving down a deserted dirt logging road to help a woman whose car has died. She’s happy to see him until she realizes that it’s Kyle, Force in Azana, then she becomes afraid, as if they have some kind of past. Kyle tells her that he’s now working at the truck stop and taking classes. The woman says that she thinks everyone deserves a second chance. The minute her car is fixed, she can’t drive away fast enough. Kyle is creepy and vaguely threatening throughout their interaction.
That evening, Kyle sits in his trailer alone, drawing comic book style drawings of Jocasta to fantasize about. He loads a gun and takes it to the house of the woman that he helped earlier. Her house has as many windows as could fit on the side of a house, and all of the curtains are open even though it’s dark out. The woman moves from window to window, getting ready for bed, but doesn’t close the curtains. Rookie mistake. It’s like she wants to be a target.
Kyle is, of course, sitting outside watching her by now, aiming at her in every window. With the motivation of a plane ticket to London to see Jocasta, he doesn’t pull the trigger.
Jocasta visits Mania’s lagoon, but no one is there. In real life, Jocasta is a teenage boy, named Jack, not the girl he pretends to be online. He lives alone in an expensive apartment, with only a maid, Lizzie, who comes in everyday, to keep him company. His parents are traveling and rarely check in with him.
Leila works with Mr Adams and finds enough evidence of Adrian’s activities to take to the police, but then Mr Adams plays her a TV news report showing that she’s a suspect in Ben’s death. The police are looking for her in conjunction with the video footage of her talking with Ben not long before he died. Since she told Ben to put a stop to things, it looks suspicious.
Leila understands the implications of the video. Mr Adams talks her through developing a new strategy for fighting back against Adrian.
Back at home, Leila rewatches Ruth Palmer’s press conferences. When Jonty stumbles home, she asks for a ride somewhere. Jonty agrees, and even has his own car. They just need a friendly neighbor, some jumper cables, and vaseline. Leila says that she needs to visit a relative, so he assumes it’s Adrian, Leila’s “father”.
Tess logs into Red Pill using someone else’s unexpired time in an internet cafe. Adrian is there the moment she emerges from the water, to give her mixed messages which increase her dependence on him and lower her self-confidence at the same time, while sounding like praise and compliments if you don’t pay close attention. Adrian must have had an alert set up and stayed logged in at all times. He was scared he’d lost her.
They have a beautiful heart to heart in which Adrian twists the truth, and the video record, to make it look like Shadowfax (as Mania) was alone with Calumny when he died. Adrian tells Tess that she’s so special, and so important… here in Red Pill and to him. Because of course his whole motive as a death cult leader is to convince her that the world is cold and cruel and she’s worthless when she’s out in it. He convinces her that friends let us down, and Tess doesn’t need Leila anymore. He’s got something better, someplace rapturous, for all of them, soon.
Leila goes to visit Ruth Palmer, the creator of Azana Planet, who was just released from jail. Now she lives in an isolated home that’s basically modern bomb shelter chic. She’s cut off from the internet, television, radio, phone and interaction with most people.
Leila tries to explain that she needs help with finding someone who has created a secret place and an untraceable avatar within the program, and who’s using them to kill people. Ruth is very coy and pretends that she doesn’t understand what Leila means, and then pretends that she thinks Leila can’t tell the difference between the real world and VR. But it’s clear from the way she also says things like, “I’m safe Leila. You should be, too,” that she understands what’s really happening. After Leila leaves, she asks her wall mural to show her “home”. It shows the same scene, with waterfalls and a gorge, that Adrian and Force met alone in.
Are Adrian and Ruth connected? The way she thanked the gamers when she got out of prison was very strange. Was she talking to Adrian? Is Adrian the one who made Ruth unsafe, and now she’s staying offline to keep him away from her? The news reports didn’t mention that the terms of her release included a technology blackout.
When Leila gets back in the car, Jonty tries to ask Leila how things went with her father, but Leila doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and tells him to be quiet. When they get home, Force is lurking in the shadows across the street, assessing his target.
Adrian tries to call Jonty again, but Jonty ignores the call. He’s finally figured out that Adrian’s lying. Instead, he goes to Leila’s room, saying he wants to tell her something. She’s busy getting drunk. He wrestles the bottle from her, then she asks what he wanted to tell her. It’s not clear what he was originally going to say. Maybe he meant to tell her about Adrian. What he says now is that he’s crazy about her. Sexy times ensue. The production is not coy about showing hetero sex.
Tess, the prodigal daughter, returns home, with the good news that she’s going away with her cult leader, to someplace where she won’t need her medication because she’ll just be fixed. She needs funds to pay for the trip, say ￡1,000. Marion and Olivia are understandably not impressed with this magical plan. Olivia turns unnecessarily cruel, and offers Tess ￡1,500, if she’ll get out of their lives forever. Marion doesn’t intervene to stop one daughter from banishing the other from the family, so Olivia gets her wish. She won’t even let Tess say goodbye to her father.
Did this family ever fight for Tess’ mental health and safety, or did they just write the therapy checks and otherwise leave her to fend for herself?
When Leila goes to work, Azul tells her that she has a friend waiting for her. She hopes it’s Tess, but it’s Force/Kyle. Adrian told him where to find Leila, and to watch her until it’s time to go to the happy place. Adrian wants to make sure that evil Leila doesn’t interfere with anymore of their plans.
Leila asks if Kyle realizes that she’s not the evil one, and he agrees with her. He says that Adrian thinks he’s dumb, but he saw how Adrian whispered at both Denier and Calumny, then both ended up dead. Leila asks for help with Mania, but Kyle can’t do anything obvious against Adrian until he’s met Jocasta. She won’t meet him until Adrian says it’s ok. Then Adrian will give him her address.
Kyle says they can meet up tomorrow to figure out the next step, which would be Leila’s death. As he walks away, he says that Adrian won’t see her coming. Leila tries to process this new information.
Once Kyle is back in his truck, he tells Adrian that it’s all set. Adrian texts him Jocasta/Jack’s address.
Leila comes home from work and finds flowers and a sweet note from Jonty, who’s not at an audition. She calls his phone and leaves a message saying that she thinks she loves him. Jonty has left his phone behind. It rings a moment later, and Leila answers it. It’s Adrian. Adrian asks Jonty how the audition went, showing that they have an ongoing relationship. Leila threatens Adrian, then hangs up and scrolls through Jonty’s history. She’s shocked to see how often Jonty and Adrian have spoken.
Jack gets out of the shower just as the door buzzes. Since the maid is due soon, he unlocks the door to let her in. It’s Force, who asks Jack where Jocasta is. Jack quickly tries to explain that he meant to tell Force the truth, and sometimes he thought Force knew and was okay with it. He tells Force that it can still be okay, and begs him to let it be okay, because they were happy in Red Pill, and love is love… Force definitely didn’t know, or even begin to guess. By the end of Jack’s speech, he’s standing close to Force and holding his hand.
Leila tosses all of Jonty’s belongings out the window, onto the sidewalk, which is where he finds them when he gets home. He hollers upstairs to her that he was doing it for her. She’s been messed with too many times lately to try again with him right now.
In the morning, Jonty’s gone. Leila finds that a package from Ruth Palmer has been delivered, containing a piece of tech. She takes it to Mr Adams’ house. When they hook it up to the system, it gives her access to the Azana Planet code, including Adrian’s code.
Mr Adams, as always, wants to take over and do the work for Leila. She tells him no, and jumps right in, literally, putting on her VR gear and going inside. She’s in a storage grid, where the Red Pill members appear in shadowy form, then die. Eventually, many other avatars besides those that Leila knows appear. Just as Leila reaches the point where she can’t take seeing any more, one of the avatars turns into Adrian, who walks away looking satisfied.
While Leila was in Azana, Force broke into Mr Adams house and quietly confronted him. When Leila comes out of VR, Mr Adams is no longer in the room with her. Leila finds her teacher in his upstairs office, strangled with electronic cable. He’s dead.
When Lizzie, Jack’s maid, arrives at his apartment, she finds the carpet covered in blood. Jocasta’s avatar floats in space around the Azana Planet. She’s in the fetal position. It looks like she’s sleeping.
Leila walks home. Force is waiting for her in front of her house. He tells Leila that he’ll tell Adrian that Leila slipped and fell into the river while they were taking a walk. Leila asks about Jocasta. He says that Jocasta went out of her mind when she saw him. That much is true. Kyle says that he told Jocasta to go lay low for a while.
Then he tells Leila that she needs to get into his car and go find Mania with him, because he figures that’s all she’s got. Leila knows he’s right, but this is also blackmail. As Adrian did with Denier and Calumny, he’s tied her to the scene of Mr Adams’ murder. Mr Adams was also the only other ally she had left who knew about Red Pill. She gets in the car.
Without her mother, Leila needs someone else to take care of, and a new family. Tess is her new person. Jonty would like to be as well, and Leila could use his steadiness, but he made a huge mistake by going behind her back and continuing to talk with Adrian. Leila has acted without Tess’ consent, too, but with more justification, not that it makes her interference in Tess’ life okay.
They all need to shake off Adrian’s influence and ideas if they’re going to develop a healthy dynamic, starting with agreeing that they’re all equal adults and shouldn’t go behind each other’s backs or solve each other’s problems unasked. And agreeing that they shouldn’t expect the others to save them from themselves. Since no one can do that, it just leads to resentment and failure. We’re already seeing that with Leila and Tess, which is no doubt what Adrian planned.
Olivia isn’t going to let anyone interfere with her title as the queen of suffering and the only child who cares about their father. The family is obviously wealthy, and could afford to hire help with the dad. Olivia has chosen her martyrdom, in order to scapegoat Tess and cement her own place in the family. Tess was probably the favorite child growing up, and Olivia couldn’t wait to find ways to knock her down.
I’m not condoning Tess’ drug use, but this appears to be a classic dysfunctional family. Marion is out shopping or complaining about how much Tess has ruined her life. She was probably never very responsible or devoted. Olivia is the hero child who is the actual adult in the house and probably always controlled as much as possible. The dad is a silent center of attention that Olivia revolves around, seeking his approval. He was probably always distant and always the one she wanted to please.
Everyone has transferred all of the family’s issues onto Tess, who had a tendency to act out to begin with, making her the obvious scapegoat. That doesn’t excuse the damage Tess has done to herself and the people around her, it just helps explain how she became the person that she is.
Jonty has 6 sisters, is a tap dancing champion and has a mole the shape of Tunisia on his butt. This is probably TMI, but it could be important someday. You never know when a map of Tunisia could save your life. The 6 sisters explain his easy-going nature. They trained him well.
Kyle is unpredictably and easily violent, has trust issues and no one else who’s his but Jocasta, just like Jocasta supposedly only had Kyle. Adrian knew all of this when he gave Jack’s address to Kyle, but not his phone number, and didn’t give Jack any warning. There’s no way that Adrian doesn’t know who Jocasta really is. So what was his motive for messing up their relationship while he still wants to use Kyle? Was it to get rid of Jack and convince Kyle that Adrian is the only one he can trust?
This is one of the most evil things we’ve seen Adrian do, because he knows how violent Kyle is, and even says that he wants to use that “talent” for a “pure” purpose. He sent Kyle to Jack knowing how it would turn out, thus taking two people who thought they loved each other and making sure that there was no way for them to work out the giant obstacle that stood between them. Kyle is so violent that the odds were that he was going to abuse Jocasta eventually, no matter what, so even the wisdom of bringing them together as a couple at all is questionable.
Jack uses the argument “love is love” on Kyle to try to convince him not to be upset that Jack is not what Jocasta presented herself as. I want to point out here that Kyle only tells us that he had no idea that Jocasta wasn’t a girl. He doesn’t say that he could never be with a boy.
Obviously beating Jack nearly to death was a terrible, criminal response and Force needs to be stopped. We just aren’t clearly told what his motivations are for the beating: the lies Jack told, which led to broken trust between them, discovering that Jack isn’t who he said he was and is someone who Force could never date (if Force is straight), or just plain homophobia. Or all 3.
Jack probably had Adrian whispering in his ear, telling him not to say anything to Kyle. The lie gave Adrian leverage, which increased the longer it went on, as did the likelihood that Kyle would react to the truth with violence. But why did Jack pretend to be a girl to begin with? Was it just a lark, at first? Is he trans? Is that why his parents are MIA?
Jocasta/Jack is played by Misha Butler, a trans actor, so there’s some blurring of the gender lines going on in the real world of the characters as well as in Red Pill.
Ruth Palmer is hiding something. I think she knows exactly what’s going on and who’s behind it. Adrian is her enemy as well.
Image courtesy of Netflix.