Made for Love Season 1 Episode 7: I Want to Feel Normal Recap

Made for Love S1Ep7 Judiff & Herb

In episode 7, Hazel starts a job at the bowling alley, but Byron is still on her mind. Herb asks Hazel to give him and Diane some privacy for their anniversary, but remembering the way Byron forced isolation on her in the Hub, Hazel pushes Herb to take Diane out to dinner. Feeling forgotten, Byron searches for a way to get Hazel to notice him again.

Recap

Hazel’s new job as a maintenance worker gives her joy as she imagines how grossed out Byron must be by what he sees as she dusts and scrubs her way through Shangri-Lanes. She stops to speak directly to him to rub in how disgusting the urinals in the men’s room are. She’s caught by her coworker Jay, who can’t figure out who she’s talking to, since she appears to be alone. He brought her some extra cleaning fluid, just in case she needs it and apologizes for their boss, Jerry, assigning the worst jobs to her.

Jay might be interested in her, but Hazel doesn’t notice. She’s too preoccupied by the idea of what Byron is seeing. Instead of looking at Jay, she looks straight into the mirror and tells Byron that she’s happy to do the gross jobs, “all day, everyday.” As Jay leaves, confused about what just happened, princessy harp trills play in the background. Cinderella has figured out where she can put in the required hours of physical suffering and oppression so that her mental and emotional suffering will finally be taken seriously.

Herb stops by Judiff’s house since she’s left a vase of flowers out on the front porch. He brings them inside to her, so she plays coy and pretends he bought them for her. In reality, they’re her signal that she needs to talk to Herb about Hazel.

Once they’re settled on the couch with tea and scones, Herb tries to let Judiff down easy, in case she thinks he wants to get back together with her and is using Hazel’s issues with Byron as an excuse to see her. I mean, who can blame him? She’s wearing makeup, not in her nun’s habit while she’s at home and serving scones.

Judiff gives him the stink eye for equating civilized behavior with aggressive romantic pursuit, then jumps right into the actual reason she needs to talk to him. She tells him that Byron’s surveillance of Hazel through the chip is illegal, since Hazel didn’t consent and California is a two party consent state (legally, everyone involved in a conversation must consent before it’s recorded). According to Judiff, since Byron recorded Hazel, it’s now legal for her to record/surveil him.

I assume the idea is that Byron gave consent by recording himself and Hazel, and legally Judiff is acting as Hazel while she’s investigating, so they have reverse two party consent to record him. Or else, since she’s a private investigator, Judiff is now allowed to surveil Byron as part of her continuing investigation of his criminal activities, which she can now prove to a judge.

Judiff wants Herb to help her lure Byron out of the Hub so she can record and catch him. Herb tells her Byron almost never leaves his HQ.

But as we know, Byron has already been lured out by Hazel’s refusal to come back. Thanks to the paparazzi that follow him everywhere, he’s already on the news and the cover of magazines. He’s even pictured with Bennett in a magazine photo spread titled Byron Gogol, Regular Guy. Byron laments that at this rate, he’ll never be able to prove to Hazel that he’s a regular guy.

To cope with this disaster, he turns to his addiction, the Hazel cam, which he made Bennett hide and promise not to show him. Bennett is the most devoted yes man who ever made his boss’ dreams come true, so this puts him in a terrible position. Even more terrible than all of the other terrible positions and ethical dilemmas Byron has put before him before.

Bennett caves within seconds and tells Byron that the Hazel cam is in his room. But it’s okay, because Byron says he’s not actually planning to watch it. He wants Bennett to watch it and describe what he sees. I’m sure that’s not any kinkier or more illegal than going over Hazel’s mediocre orgasms with her in detail or helping put Fiffany in the pasture cube, so it’s all fine. FINE.

I sense a few cracks showing in Bennett’s facade. This hotel room cube doesn’t have as many hiding places from Byron where he can take breaks as the Hub does, so he’s getting a bit of the Authentic Hazel Experience.

Hazel comes home from work, grabs a beer and goes through the mail, where she finds something from the Twin Sands Community Center Cancer Support Group. Herb left her a note saying it’s his and Diane’s anniversary, so he wants her to find something to do away from the trailer for at least 3 hours this evening while they celebrate.

I just can’t even. 3 hours seems like an overly optimistic amount of stamina for a man of Herb’s age and general level of health, even with an inanimate partner.

Hazel notices Diane quietly hanging out in the living room on the hand truck.

Never getting over the fact that Herb didn’t even spring for a cheap used wheel chair. Could be a nice anniversary gift.

She starts up a conversation with Diane, reminiscing about her lousy anniversaries with Byron. He insisted they stay home every year, just like Herb. The worst one was when he asked her what she wanted to do, and she told him about a concert the band Warpaint was giving in LA that night that she wanted to go to. She could see he wasn’t interested, so she tried to take the suggestion back, but Byron said they’d go. “I only care about making you happy.”

Hazel got all dressed up and really excited, thinking they were leaving the Hub. But then Byron took her to a cube in the Hub that was set up like a club, where he’d paid Warpaint a huge amount of money to play a private show for them after rescheduling their LA show. He didn’t even include a fake crowd at the fake club, like he did in the fake restaurant where they had their first date.

Hazel was looking for a raw, live rock concert experience and in some ways she might as well have stayed in the bedroom cube and watched a concert video. Warpaint was still live, but she wanted the the energy of the crowd and the shared experience, along with the feel of being in the club instead of her house, with the lights and the rest of the sensory experience surrounding her- including the smells. Come to think of it, there was probably no way Byron was ever going to a concert in a dirty club packed full of sweaty people drinking alcohol.

While Hazel has been telling her story, she’s dressed Diane up and done her hair and makeup. Now she’s putting on the finishing touches of Diane’s anniversary makeover.

Hazel: “I can’t believe I actually thought he was capable of doing something normal. I was you. I was Byron’s doll. That’s why I get you. That’s why I’m gonna make Dad take you out tonight. Which I know he doesn’t like to do ever since he became the town pervert, but it’s your anniversary. And you deserve to leave the house. [Checking out Diane’s new look.] I’m so great at this.”

She gives Diane a look at herself in the mirror and tells her she looks fantastic.

Made for Love S1Ep7 Hazel Cleans the UrinalMade for Love S1Ep7 Byron Gives Bennett an OrderMade for Love S1Ep7 Cancer Support Group Letter

Judiff tells Herb that he needs to come clean with her if they’re going to work together. He assumes she’s talking about Diane and admits that he has a synthetic partner. Judiff waves that off and asks about the bag full of opioids she found under the bathroom sink. She wants to know if he’s sick or an addict.

Herbs tells her he was diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago. So far, he feels okay, but he refused chemo. Judiff asks if he chose Diane over her because of the cancer. He doesn’t want to answer, because she won’t like what he says.

Judiff: “Herb, I know you thought you were trying to protect me, but I could have handled this. I could’ve taken care of you.”

Herb: “Yeah, you say that now, but um…”

Judith tells him she’s still willing to take care of him, then leans in to kiss him. He jumps up and runs for the door. Judiff acknowledges that he’s going home to celebrate his anniversary with Diane. When he asks how she found out it’s their anniversary, she tells him that she bugged the house, audio only, and not in his bedroom. She needs to record any conversations with Byron.

Guessing he doesn’t feel he deserves to be taken care of, after the way he treated his wife and daughter. Or he just doesn’t trust that anyone will actually stay with him without becoming resentful, the same way he felt. Either way, Diane is the easy way out. He can live out some fantasies with a woman who always agrees with him, then go into a care facility once he can’t take care of himself. And he can tell himself he did the right thing by avoiding becoming a burden to Judiff and Hazel, while probably sending both of them cowardly mixed signals the entire time.

Lyle meets Bennett at the door to his hotel room, making threats, wearing a ski mask and pointing a gun at his former coworker’s head. Once Lyle has forced Bennett into the room, he says that the gun isn’t real and asks where Byron is. Bennett still feels threatened and keeps holding his hands up. Lyle treats Bennett like he’s silly for acting like a hostage, saying that the gun isn’t real and Bennett should have known his kidnapper act was just for show. Bennett tells him that Byron probably won’t talk to him. Lyle replies that he will if he believes that Bennett is his hostage.

Which means that Lyle is forcing Bennett to act as his co-conspirator against his will, which is just coercing him into being a more active hostage. As usual, the nuance of the situation is lost on Lyle, who assumes that his choices are the correct ones and doesn’t even recognize that he’s still threatening Bennett, even without a gun. Then Lyle gets distracted by the bags of groceries in the room.

The reason for so many groceries goes unexplained. Does Byron make Bennett fix all of their food so he knows it’s safe?

Herb comes home to find Diane perched on the couch, looking all sexy and sophisticated. The dress she’s wearing belonged to Hazel’s mother, who said it was too nice to actually wear (and then she died- definitely a message there). Hazel explains that Diane wants Herb to take her out to dinner for their anniversary, so she made a reservation for them. Herb doesn’t want to face public criticism, but Hazel insists that he and Diane deserve to live their lives however they want. Hazel plans to sit at the bar and run interference with anyone who tries to bother them.

Lyle and Bennett go to Byron’s room, where Lyle “pretends” to hold Bennett hostage again. At first, Byron doesn’t even notice that Lyle is there, since he’s caught up in staring at paparazzi down in the street. When Bennett tells him, “I’m being held hostage,” Byron thinks the message came from Hazel. He complains that she’s being ridiculously dramatic.

Then Lyle reveals himself, Bennett pretends to be surprised and they all sit down. Lyle sits in the middle, with his back to Bennett, facing Byron.

This is Gogol’s former head of security, folks, and he can’t even figure out not to turn his back on a hostage.

Bennett watches the Hazelcam while Byron and Lyle talk. First, Byron gets Lyle to put the fake gun down. Then it’s revealed that Lyle warned Byron about Fiffany’s defection so that Byron could stop her. Lyle had to know that Byron would do something drastic, like put Fiffany in the pasture cube. But he wanted to use the information regarding Fiffany to buy his way back into Byron’s good graces.

Byron took advantage of the tip off, but he has even less respect for Lyle now and isn’t interested in forgiving him.

Byron: “You were my first hire, Herringbone. It was me and you in the beginning and you betrayed me at my lowest point.”

Lyle: “Look, now I know how wrong I was, so here I am, right? Sir, you, the Hub, the work that we do- that’s my life! I am nothing without you! I am nobody out there.”

Byron agrees that Lyle is nobody, since they wiped his identity. Lyle continues to beg for forgiveness, claiming he’s owed it since he’s only made one mistake over many years. He rhetorically asks how many mistakes that idiot has made, gesturing back to Bennett. Bennett signals that he has made zero mistakes.

Which is obvious, because Byron doesn’t tolerate mistakes. Plus, Bennett is a treasure. But Byron doesn’t appreciate what he has while he’s got it, so Bennett isn’t safe either. The day will come when Byron needs a whipping boy and Bennett is the only one available.

Holding up the hand that’s missing fingers, Lyle tells Byron that he’s paid a fair price for the mistakes he’s made. Byron says that Lyle is saying the things that he wants to hear Hazel say.

What’s ironic is that Byron has heard several people say these things to Hazel, about her, but Hazel knows she didn’t do anything wrong. She wasn’t one of Byron’s henchmen and she generally wasn’t allowed to have enough information to make informed decisions about her actions when she helped Byron with the business, unlike Byron, Lyle, Fiiffany and Bennett. She was told what to do and when to do it, but overall she had less information and agency than the shareholders and press she was talking to, since they went back out into the world on their own after meetings.

Hazel’s mistake was agreeing to enter the back of that truck on their first date. The moment she did that, she became Byron’s toy. He betrayed the promises he implicitly made her, though he probably explicitly worded everything such that no promises were made. An objective lawyer might have caught the loopholes. That’s why Byron made sure she was isolated from the moment the date started.

Lyle offers to help make Hazel see reason. He just wants to be part of the team again. Byron asks if Hazel has noticed that he’s not in the hub. Bennett says she’s busy with her dad, so probably not. Byron asks Lyle to find out if the restaurant has TVs and then set up a live press conference with the press who are waiting out front.

Hazel rushes into Luisa’s Mexican Restaurant ahead of Herb and Diane to tell the hostess to pretend Diane is real and to warn the rest of the staff. Then she sits at the bar within sight of their table, as promised, while Herb and Diane take their seats. The rest of the customers stare at them. Hazel was so busy with Diane’s makeover that she forgot to change out of her work clothes.

Herb sets Diane up with a menu and the waiter comes right over to take their orders. He’s confused about where to look while Herb orders for Diane, though it’s not that odd for a gentleman to give the order for himself and his female companion. After the waiter leaves, Herb carries on a one-sided conversation with Diane.

Hazel is joined at the bar by her new coworker, Jay, who teases her about still being in uniform. Then he asks how her night is going and if she wants to gossip about work. It takes her a second to tune into what he’s saying, but then she agrees.

When Herb and Diane’s food arrives, he quickly decides that she made the better choice of entree. He’s not only pretending she’s real, he’s pretending she has agency, just like we pretend women are treated equally and make their own choices in real life. Then Shane pulls up a chair and says he doesn’t want to cause trouble, he just has a question- where did Herb get Diane.

I don’t know about all of you, but I recoiled when Shane asked where he could get his own fake woman, as if he was asking to traffic a live woman. Let’s face it, if these two guys thought they could do what Byron did to Hazel, including adopting his inability to feel guilt or admit wrongdoing, they’d do it in a heartbeat. They’d both love to have a woman who couldn’t leave or complain or even make them acknowledge they’d trapped her.

Hazel and Diane are supposed to be grateful for the lives of leisure and luxury they’ve been provided, with household chores taken care of by others. That’s the illusion Diane provides- the illusion of the passive sex slave, who can take on whatever personality you want, accept whatever you want to do to her physically or emotionally, and always seem to enjoy it. Or hate it, if that’s what you want to pretend.

Herb says that he got her online, from a place in LA. Next Shane wants to know how Diane feels. Or, actually, how Diane feels to Herb. Neither cares about what Diane feels.

Does Byron seem like he’s taking Hazel’s feelings into account, beyond trying not to cross the line where she’ll stop cooperating completely? Byron is pretending to change to meet Hazel’s needs, while he’s actually trying harder and harder to mold Hazel to fit his own image of what his wife should be, just like Diane was literally molded in a factory to fit Herb’s specifications.

Herb balks at revealing the intimate details of his sex life, but Shane says he’s interested in getting a Diane of his own. Since Shane has revealed himself as part of the misogynists’ club, Herb answers.

Herb: “She feels almost real. It’s good enough. But it’s more than that. She’s my companion.”

Judiff is actually real and very willing to be Herb’s companion. Diane doesn’t respond to Herb in any way- her facial expressions don’t even change. Whatever he gets back from her is a literal narcissistic reflection of himself. This is not at all about companionship. This is about fear and control.

Shane asks how much Diane cost. Herb says he paid $6000, which he raised by selling the plot to his dead wife’s grave. Shane is shocked at the cost of a fake woman. Devoted, durable long-term companions don’t come cheap, whether they’re fake or live. Guess it was worth it to Herb to purchase a companion who would never leave him or argue with him and who wouldn’t care when he eventually left her behind. And whose face and body type he could choose, knowing she’d never age and her weight would never change.

Truly, the perfect woman. 🤯

Jay finishes telling Hazel his story- he was in a band, then he quit and now he’s staying with his cousin, sleeping on a leaky air mattress. He wonders what Hazel’s story is, since she appeared out of nowhere, just like Diane. Maybe she was in a cult. He thinks it’s a cool idea to join a cult at least once in your life.

Hazel tells him she’s there chaperoning Herb and Diane. He recognizes Herb the Perv and digs himself into a deep hole trying to explain how he doesn’t think Herb and Diane’s relationship is that bad and that Herb seems nice. Hazel isn’t really offended, but she does turn around and notice that Shane is at the table with Herb.

She starts to excuse herself to intervene with Shane, but then she sees that Byron’s press conference is on TV. Byron credits Hazel with pointing out that he’s secluded himself inside the Hub and become an observer, letting screens come between him and life, just like many other people. He looks directly at the cameras when he says he’s put the screen down. He says to keep an eye out for exciting new developments from Gogol. “You’re going to start seeing a lot more of me soon.”

Hazel forgets all about Jay and runs over to Herb’s table, telling him that Byron is out of the Hub, as if he’s an escaped zoo animal who might eat them. She joins Herb, Shane and Diane at the table to discuss her next move. The first thing she wants is a moment to feel free and alone, based on the chance that Byron was telling the truth and he really isn’t watching. She looks at Shane when she says this.

She wants to fly Herb’s old plane solo for 20 minutes or so. Shane asks what happens when she gets up there and doesn’t want to come back.

And she flies off into the wild blue yonder? Where does he think she’ll go in a tiny plane that can barely get into the air?

Herb offers Diane as collateral.

So Herb doesn’t really think of Diane as a person. Or he thinks of women as objects to be passed around. We’re likely meant to see this as a touching moment when Herb finally puts his daughter’s needs above his own, but the show is trying to have it both ways. You can’t spend 7 episodes using Diane as a metaphor for the objectification of women, trying to convince us that she deserves decent treatment, then expect us to be touched when Herb is ready to toss her aside the same way he tossed Hazel and her mom aside when they became inconvenient.

I mean, he literally tossed Hazel across the room to protect Diane from her. And he’s not just abandoning Diane now- he’s potentially trading her to another man to be his sex slave, when 10 minutes ago Herb spoke fondly of her as his companion. He was even willing to give her away on her anniversary!

This is the same as Herb selling the mom’s grave, which was a metaphor for banishing her as punishment for dying. And the same as Herb failing to make breakfast for Hazel when it mattered, which was his punishment for Hazel not growing up fast enough. Hazel then drove Herb to breakfast to show she could grow up fast.

Herb has no follow through, with any woman, just like Byron trades off his own favorites. Byron plays Bennett, Fiffany and Bennett off each other while Herb uses Diane as a foil for Judiff and Hazel. Hazel only lasted this long with Byron because she’s a long-term test subject and she understands his game due to her father, so she eventually figured out she needed to be withholding, not giving, in order to keep his interest and survive.

Made for Love S1Ep7 Herb & HazelMade for Love S1Ep7 Shane & DianeMade for Love S1Ep7 Byron & LyleMade for Love S1Ep7 Lyle, Byron, BennettMade for Love S1Ep7 Twin Sands Version of ZZ Top

Byron and Lyle are back in the home cube in the Hub. Byron notes how much growth Lyle has shown and thanks him for the help with Fiffany. “It really says a lot about your character.” Lyle says that it was a tough choice, but loyalty’s important to him. He continues on about some new ideas he has, not noticing that he’s walking into the pasture cube on his own.

He doesn’t even figure it out once he gets inside. Fiffany tells him to hide, because the predators are coming, and then he gets it. Byron and Bennett watch their exchange, then Byron resets the wall so it appears to be a garden and tells Bennett how important loyalty is. “Let’s talk about what’s next for Hazel.”

Bennett finally looks very disturbed.

Note that Byron said Lyle was his first hire at Gogol and his most devoted employee. Byron’s rejection of Lyle directly followed Herb’s rejection of Diane, the most devoted of companions, in favor of Hazel, for a reason. Hazel is the key to breaking through Byron and Herb’s patriarchal hold on their social circles.

The next morning, Hazel takes her solo flight. She’s finally, truly, completely alone and as far out in the open as you can get. She screams at the top of her lungs.

That night, a lighted drone delivers an envelope to Hazel from Byron. The drone is a reminder that Byron could find her in the sky, if he wanted to. He knows what she did. The envelope contains divorce papers.

The ball is seemingly in Hazel’s court. Except that drone knew not just her general location, but exactly where she was standing. Byron may be pretending he doesn’t care, but that’s part of his strategy to get what he wants, the same psychology we saw him use with Lyle. And the same strategy Byron used when he asked her out on their first date instead of prosecuting her for fraud.

He’s finally figured out where the intersection between desire and opportunity lies in Hazel’s current thinking and how he can exploit it.

Made for Love S1Ep7 Hazel FlyingMade for Love S1Ep7 Hazel ScreamsMade for Love S1Ep7 Hazel Looks Out at ViewMade for Love S1Ep7 Drone Brings Divorce PapersMade for Love S1Ep7 Looks ar Divorce Papers


Commentary

Hazel, Finally in Her Own World

As far as we saw, Jay was another man who talked about himself, then made up his own story about Hazel. He never found out much of anything about her, just her dad. She might as well have been a silent Arielle in The Little Mermaid.

But Hazel’s idea of fun was the opposite of Arielle the mermaid’s- she went up where the people aren’t, where no one would ask her questions and where she didn’t have to have any answers or perform for anyone. She wanted peaceful blankness, up high in her own solo world, where she could see the big picture everyone else is lacking. She doesn’t want to be part of Herb’s world, where the queen can’t walk or run, or Byron’s world, where the dolphins are caged and chipped, maybe even eaten.

The characters inside the Hub and outside in Twin Sands mirror each other, with Hazel as the pivot point who connects the two worlds. Byron, as Underworld/Tech God, and Herb, as Sky/Everyman God, are the twinned patriarchs of their worlds and they are both determined to remain in charge, though they also don’t want Hazel’s feminine/Sophia/Wisdom/Holy Spirit aspect to reject them completely.

Each world has a male figure who is rough, masculine and untamed, a throwback Horned God figure who’s an HR nightmare. Since Herb is a father figure, Shane is younger, though not a son to Herb. Likewise, Lyle is older than Byron, though not a father figure to Byron. There are no decent parents in Made for Love, not even symbolic ones. Maybe we’ll get there in a season or 2, but not yet.

Fiffany and Judith are also twinned as older, potentially maternal figures. Fiffany takes care of the dolphins, though as Hazel points out, she also exploits them and puts her science research first. Judiff says her investigations are meant to help people, but you have to wonder if shutting down every church in town was necessary or if maybe some could have been reformed with new leadership so their good works good continue. Shutting them all down may have left a void in the community that adds to the feeling that it’s a ghost town. Meanwhile, the bars and strip clubs are still operating. Fiffany and Judiff are similar to the mother Goddess Demeter, who lost her daughter, Persephone, and let the world starve while she grieved. They can’t always keep their eyes on the big picture.

Byron replaced Hazel with the more compliant Bennett and Herb replaced her with the so compliant she’s inanimate Diane. Hazel’s chosen partner in crime is Bangles, who Herb disapproves of because on the surface, she acts exactly like him and Byron, storming her way through life and d*mn the consequences. Only Bangles is livelier and has had even fewer opportunities than either man.

Especially since Hazel stole the dress that could have been Bangles’ big opportunity and then didn’t think to give her public credit for designing it, one of the biggest tragedies of this story. But Bangles is so used to being walked all over she didn’t even think to complain that Hazel didn’t mention who designed her dress in all of those magazine articles or later, when all of those wealthy people must have seen it hanging in the Hub. It was right there during the shareholders’ meeting. In the end, Bangles is a party girl, but not a rebel. She’s as compliant as Bennett and Diane, as symbolized by her fascination with both characters and the fact that she admits she would have made the same mistake Hazel did when Hazel accidentally became Byron’s doll for 10 years.


Weaponizing Hazel’s Gaze

Made for Love’s most important theme is its analysis of the impact of the male gaze on every aspect of our lives. Yes, technology and surveillance are huge themes as well, but both have largely been used to increase the range of the male gaze in all of its various forms, from government/military satellites to the preferred market of teenage boys and young men for mass media and advertising.

With the chip, Byron turned Hazel’s gaze into a weapon for the corporate gaze, another extension of the male gaze, because anything she sees can be used by him and his company. She’s now a data collection tool, as are all of us who live a modern lifestyle. We carry our phones and other smart devices everywhere and they constantly collect data.

It’s interesting to note which characters don’t care whether Byron watches them, which ones want to be seen and which ones actively want to hide. Bangles tries to take back some of her power by getting in Hazel/Byron’s face and hoping to offend him. Her lack of respect for patriarchal authority is what Herb dislikes about her.

Judiff wants to maintain her privacy so she can operate without interference from Byron or any other authority. She is distrustful of patriarchal authority, but she is softer than Bangles in her personal relationships. At the same time, her professional life is all about taking down corrupt patriarchal authority, but so far Herb doesn’t find her methods offensive, since they bolster up his conspiracy theories.

Biff doesn’t take Byron’s surveillance seriously until Byron blackmails him, then he becomes submissive to Byron and Bennett. Bennett also doesn’t take Byron seriously enough until he sees what happens to both Fiffany and Lyle. Maybe not even then- he may still think he’s smarter and better than them, so Byron will never turn on him. They all see themselves and Byron as part of a superior class of people- smarter, wealthier, classier, or some combination of the three, and believe that will protect them, until it doesn’t.

Herb doesn’t care what Byron sees, probably assuming in part he has nothing to lose, since he doesn’t own much and is dying. But he does have a secret, since he hasn’t told Hazel about his cancer, and he isn’t worried about Byron revealing that to his daughter. It also doesn’t seem to occur to Shane that he might have anything to hide. These two lower status men see themselves as living in a different world from Byron, but don’t see him as a threat, because they believe their white male status will still protect them the way it always has. They also find it impossible to see the Hazel Green they knew as a little girl as “Mrs Gogol”, the way Byron’s employees do, so they don’t take her seriously as an agent of Byron Gogol to begin with.

Everyone but Judiff and Bangles assumes, at one time or another, that Hazel is exaggerating or outright lying. Hazel even has to defend her own lack of sexual pleasure from Byron’s robotic and forced oral sex before she leaves the Hub. But both Bangles and Judiff knew instinctively that Byron was dangerous and took the same steps to stop him from intruding on their lives that they were already using against other forms of the male gaze/patriarchal authority- Bangles by hiding in plain sight and making sure potential blackmail material is already in the open, so it has no power over her and Judiff by staying off the grid, so her enemies can’t find her or incriminating information about her.

Byron, on the other hand, who is the most powerful character in the show by conventional standards, does almost nothing but hide, while also doing everything possible to expose and control everyone else. Even his long-term employees seem to know very little about him, to the point where Fiffany didn’t realize she was in a decoy office. He kept up a facade in front of Hazel, his wife of ten years, which forced her to also keep up a facade, eventually driving her to the breaking point. Nothing personal, or even real, is allowed in their home, including family members. And Byron keeps himself under tight physical control as well.

So you have to wonder- what is Byron afraid of? Someone with a need for control that huge has fears that are just as huge. Is he afraid that no one will love him? Is he afraid of what he’ll do if he loses control? Is he afraid of the monsters out in the world? He won’t allow any vulnerability to show through, even with Hazel and Bennett. That’s a very scared man.

What Is the Male Gaze?

Images courtesy of HBOMax.

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