“Woman Down” (Episode 109)
July 23, 2018
Last week On Dietland … was rough. This week, we see the next step in Plum’s journey. As she deals with the aftermath of Jack and Calliope House and her own internal struggle to belong and to accept herself and find acceptance and her place in the world.
Before you jump into tonight, make sure you are caught up with last week with our deep dive recap & review … here!
Read on for our recap of tonight’s episode … after the jump (spoilers!!!)
“How do you find the light when you’re plunged into the darkest part of yourself? The place where nothing grows. Well, I don’t know about you, but I flail.” – Plum
Welcome to tonight’s Dietland, not a lot of laughs coming in this one …
The episode opens with Plum’s above narration as her animated self is dressed in black and is looking lost. In the real world, a Plum dressed in black from head to toe wanders through a park. She’s looking listless at best and utterly broken at worst. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any better because this is when Jennifer kidnaps her and shoves her in a van. To her credit, Plum doesn’t look terribly upset. Oh, this cannot possibly end well.
When we return, we join Plum and Jennifer’s minions in the minivan. They give Plum an eye drop to blur her vision – its the alternative to a bag over hear head which … wouldn’t work so well with a minivan look.
Flashback. Post being ostracized by Calliope house and subsequently raped by Jack, Plum isn’t doing so great. She’s on the phone with her mom who is already planning on how she’ll use her sky miles to fly out to NY. Plum doesn’t want her to visit, she just wants to vent her sadness. It’s interesting that Plum has not mentioned the Jack part of her night so Mama Kettle is taking all of her rage out against Verena and the injury she feels Verena has caused Plum.
Sometime later, Plum is ignoring voicemails from Sana (“we need to talk about what happened at the house”) and watching TV about the continuing manhunt for Leeta Albridge. Which is when Leeta on the TV begins to speak to Plum. Fantasy Leeta picks up on Plum’s down mood and tells her, essentially, men cannot be trusted – “they will screw you tryin’ to screw you.” Plum protests the “vast majority” of men angle to her statement, Plum knew that Jack was a jerk …
Which is when Fantasy Plum pops out of the TV and appears on Plum’s couch. She jokingly threatens to kill Plum if Plum says it was “her fault.” But quickly realizes that’s in poor taste when she is, in fact, currently wanted for murder. Fantasy Leeta switches topics and asks why Plum never looked for her like she asked her to. Plum tells Fantasy Leeta that A. because she’s she’s a terrorist and B., Plum is mad at Leeta for lying to her about being special. Also, she mentions that she kinda, sorta, maybe was raped. Plum – this is not a wishy washy concept, you WERE raped. Fantasy Leeta tells Plum that she left her some bread crumbs so Plum can find her if she wants. And Jack? Fantasy Leeta wants to put him on a list.
“Maybe not to kill, but we definitely maim for sort-of rape.”- Fantasy Leeta
Plum is all about this plan and they laugh maniacally for a second. Fantasy Leeta isn’t done, she tells Plum to forget about Calliope House – its the Verena show over there and Plum needs to “spread her wings and fly.” Tell me what to do in order to think big, Plum asks, but Fantasy Leeta tells her she wants Plum to decide for herself. And just like, Fantasy Leeta is back to being still life on TV.
**Interesting talking head note – the ever present “news report in the background” device, which Dietland has used so effectively this season, tells us that a new poll of Americans finds that most do not approve of Jennifer’s actions but a majority of younger women and minorities do agree with Jennifer’s principles. **
Alone with no other friend besides Leeta’s journal, Plum gives in and calls Sana. She does need to talk, as it turns out. Quick cut to Sana telling Plum she needs to go to the police about what Jack did to her. As Plum relives the memory of the rape in her head, she gives Sana ALL of the rationalizations about why she deserved what she got and how she didn’t really try to stop him. NONE of which is true.
“I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.” – Plum
** Kudos to Dietland for expressing these rationalizations because I understand this is a common feeling among women who have been sexually assaulted — that some how they brought upon themselves what was done to them. Plum puts it all out there and Sana dutifully tells her it’s all bullshit**
Plum tells Sana that a part of her wanted to have sex, she just wanted to feel wanted in a no strings way and being a fat girl fetish is the best maybe she can do. She tells Sana that they’re all just fetishes. Sana implores her to come back to Calliope House but that door is closed for Plum – she lies and tells Sana she isn’t alone, she has Stephen (she doesn’t), that they worked everything out (they haven’t). Then it turns nasty. Plum calls Verena a cult leader and Sana tells her that she violated some basic tenets of that kind of battered women shelter living. Plum goes on the offensive, essentially calling the women of Calliope House cowards for hiding in Verena’s basement but nope, Plum wants her life back! Commercials.
When we return, Minivan Plum is still recounting her journey with us via flashback. Cut to Plum creeping on Stephen and the Cafe, a place she misses but feels she can no longer go to. She projects judgment and gloating and pity on to Stephen and she doesn’t want to deal with any of that coming from him so nope, that’s out. Next, she tries calling Dominic but gets his voicemail. Plum is running out of places to turn to right now. **Can I note that she is already morphing into the woman in black we saw at the beginning, the black skull cap and black coat having replaced the cheetah jacket we had gotten used to seeing
reborn Plum wear. Personally, I already miss the happier Plum.
Plum narrates for us that she misses the monotony of home, meeting and cafe. The exact monotony that she decried in the Pilot episode. And while she realizes weight loss surgery isn’t the cure-all she thought it was, she still wants to fill the hole inside her.
“Me … who ruins everything I touch.” – Plum
Plum is in a dark place you guys. Later, in bed, Plum gets a visit from Fantasy Leeta. Plum quotes a line from Leeta’s journal but Fantasy Leeta says she got it from Johann Most who popularized the revolutionary’s concept of “Propaganda of the Deed.” Fantasy Leeta explains to Plum that this is what Jennifer is about:
“Revolution needs violent public outburst as a catalyst, but, well, we are not very great at the communicating part.” – Fantasy Leeta
Fantasy Leeta tells Plum that this is where Plum can excel, she’s super smart but speaks like a regular person. And, Jennifer is no more dangerous than what Plum was planning on doing to her body via weight loss surgery. Fantasy Leeta is really just priming Plum to take the next, logical step in her journey. Its at this point that Plum finally sees the bread crumbs that Leeta left for her, an IP address and a code word for her “favorite book.”
“Dietland,” Plum whispers to herself.
We cut to Plum on her laptop, reaching out in to the ether via a dark web like chat room. She waits. And Waits. And waits some more. She cuts a part of her hair. And waits and then, a response … “Who Is This?” Commercials!
“Who is this? Lucky for the Revolution, I was a vessel, waiting to be filled.” – Plum
And just like that, we’re back in the present. We’ve caught up to real time and Plum has made contact with Jennifer … or rather, the collective known as Jennifer. It’s all dark and mysterious and … run down looking. I’m not sure where they are but it’s no pleasure cruise palace, that’s for damn sure. It doesn’t help that Plum’s eyesight is still a bit blurry.
Meet Belle (or Soledad, Belle is an alias – Spoilers!)(played by, Selenis Leyva). In case it comes up later, half of Belle’s face is covered in scars. She introduces herself to Plum (she’s the one Plum has been talking to) as Plum takes in the meager residence of Jennifer and watches a group of women scrabble over basic necessities like tampons and mouth wash. Belle dismisses Plum promptly, telling her they’ll talk tomorrow. Sofia (Tara Summers) shows Plum her cot and gives the basic rules (don’t steal other peoples shit and no showers but, there is hot water, for now). Lastly, be up and ready to go by noon tomorrow – until then, Plum is to wait.
“Try to remember you are not the priority here, princess.” – Sofia
Sofia is not a Plum fan. Also, this is like, the WORST college dorm. Ever.
Austen Media. Dominic stops by Kitty’s office and drops off the buried files he’s recovered on Stanley. The most egregious of the reports involves a $2 million payout to the form head of HR whom Stanley apparently slapped across the face at a “dinner” meeting. Kitty says that was foreplay, had they made it to the bedroom – it would have been a $10 million payday. Dom tells Kitty that he’s now out of this business and threatens to go to HR for her misdeeds should she try to keep him around. Before he leaves, Dominic tells Kitty that its a shame about her and Stanley because the two of them are made for each other.
Shanty Town HQ. Plum claims a sleeping bag for her own and, following the example of the other ladies, chooses a Disney princess name to write across it. She goes with a simple, “Princess.” The Residents of Jennifer are not particularly welcoming, are they?
Calliope House. Verena confronts Sana, who has been avoiding her, and Sana stops running. She tells Verena that they chased Plum from this house, into the arms of a deviant and it’s Verena’s fault. Because this, all of Calliope House is Verena’s process, and when someone steps out of line …
“And if we don’t please you, it’s into the public square for verbal stoning.” – Sana
Preach Sister! Verena calls Sana out on not holding back against Plum herself. Which, Sana owns but … Plum is out there alone. Verena falls back on her Verena-ism that that was Plum’s choice, just as it was her choice to go through the program. No one made Plum do anything. Which, is true, but also, ignores the vulnerability and fragility of the women of Calliope House and the state in which they come into Verena’s orbit. Sana goes back Verena telling her she has no concept of what $20,000 means to some people or a room to hide out, Verena is white privilege personified. Verena protests this but Sana says that Verena can only relate, and its different. Sana and Verena go back and forth and the story boils down to this, Sana feels Verena has to be more sympathetic and Verena staunchly defends her position that it is her way or the highway and if you don’t like it? Get the fuck out.
“Every one of you has free will and what happens to you when you leave here, is up to you.” – Verena
Ouch, not terribly compassionate Ms. Baptist.
Shanty Town HQ. In the middle of the night, Plum is struggling in her too small sleeping bag. A compassionate Jennifer Minion (her code name is Moana, BTW) offers to swap bags, especially as she to head on to Patrol. Plum asks to come with her. This fits, Plum is in a very “need to do something” place right now. The Jennifer Minion hesitates a moment but lets her go. Sleeping on a pallet in a sleeping bag? I think I’d rather be on patrol too. Outside, we learn that they are in Detroit. The Jennifer Minion doesn’t know why they are in Detroit, she goes where she’s told. Helpful. Plum mentions to the Jennifer Minion that she’s never held a gun and so the Jennifer Minion hands over her shotgun. “Feels good,” Plum says.
Plum is excited “to be on a mission.” After accidentally revealing Belle’s real name to Plum, the Jennifer Minion tells Plum that she better be the real deal or else, Jennifer is going to have the Minion kill Plum. Harsh! That’s Soooooo Jennifer, though. The severity of Jennifer and the high stakes, it doesn’t seem to have settled in for Plum just yet. She still thinks this is a game, I think. Moving on, Plum asks what’s wrong with Belle’s face? The Jennifer Minion tells her she has shingles. Next question, is Belle our leader? Is she Jennifer?
“We’re all Jennifer.” – The Jennifer Minion
That’s very “Negan” of Jennifer. Plum’s final question is why the Minion joined Jennifer? The Jennifer Minion tells Plum she can have her life story after “the vote.” What vote, Plum dutifully asks, but that is one question too far apparently. Commercials!
Austen Media. When we return from commercials, Kitty has summoned the Board and convinces all but one of the board to install her as the new CEO of Austen Media. Using Stanley’s misdeeds and the promise that she’ll dig up the reports on every member of the Board, they see the wisdom of placing her in the top spot. Very forward thinking and progressive. The one that opposes tells Kitty flat out, he’s clean and so doesn’t need to go along with her blackmail. That’s troubling that every other man gathered around the table has something to hide.
Shanty Town HQ. The Residents of Jennifer have gathered to discuss the cash offer from Julia (and her sisters). Plum, speaking out of turn, tries to tell them that Julia isn’t trying to buy them off – whatever else her real motivations are. Belle takes a stand that she came to Jennifer to change the world and won’t be bought. She leaves the room and Plum follows. They discuss Julia and Leeta and what level of commitment Plum has to the cause. Belle wants to know if Plum will be their communication arm – if she will be their mouth.
“I’d do for you what I did for Kitty’s girls … build activists.” – Plum
And just like that, Plum is a member of Jennifer.
Knockers. Julia’s two sisters are out; even though they haven’t gotten the official response from Jennifer on their cash offer. They are giving up Jennifer and the people’s name — the stakes are too high for them and their families and they are all, Bye Felicia. Julia is shocked.
O’Shea House. Dominic’s (very important) father-in-law is waiting for Dominic when he arrives home. Without hesitation, he reads Dom the riot act about misusing connections to get police reports and sealed court records. Dominic apologizes and says he quit that job in any case. Dominic goes to head inside and FIL tells Dom that Marissa and the kids are gone – Marissa is leaving Dominic. Why? Because Dominic is a (fucking) loser. I may have added the “fucking” part but still, True Story.
Shanty Town HQ. Plum has a nightmare about Jack raping her but this time, she turns and shoots him the face. The dream wakes Plum but instead of being disturbed, Plum smiles at the fleeting dream. Oh, Plum, you’ve gone to the darkest place.
The Beauty Closet. We get a quick cut of Julia waiting for Eladio inside the Beauty Close. “it’s time.” What the Fuck is that about?
Shanty Town HQ. Plum is diligently typing away on her laptop when Sofia swings by to give her a phone to call someone for 5 minutes. Plum … Plum has no one to call. But instead says, “I’m tired of talking.” On the street, Belle tells Plum that they chose Detroit because they can be anonymous here. She takes Plum to the firing range and has her put some rounds into a target. This is “gun use” Crash Course 101. Um, Plum should not be using a gun. Not yet anyway.
The Beauty Closet. Eladio, looking nervous as fuck, opens a secret locked door. Inside? Leeta. And Leeta is doing okay. She’s shaking on the floor, mumbling to herself. My heart broke for Leeta in this scene, I love her so much.
On the street. Belle has taken Plum to the home of Marco Vespucci, a former Marine with a Purple Heart for his service in Afghanistan. He also raped 4 women overseas. At home, he fucks an 11 year old girl in the building where they are. Marco is outside having a smoke right now. Shoot him in the center mass, drop the gun and run.
“You want to join us? This is what we do.” – Belle
Plum takes the gun. She levels the gun. And then … nothing. Plum turns back to Belle and says she can’t do it. Belle tells her that this was a test and Plum fucking failed … miserably. It’ll be up to a vote but Plum knows too much to just go home; Plum may have just signed her death warrant.
“You want to be part of this family? You have to be willing to go all the way.” – Belle
The episode ends with Plum, standing alone in a pre-dawn morning, even more alone that she already was … and I didn’t that was possible.
Thoughts. After last week’s emotional roller coaster, this week was more about chess pieces moving into final positions on the board ahead of next week’s season finale. Obviously, Plum was going to join or at least brush up against Jennifer – it was the logical and natural next step in her journey and character arc. The problem is, Plum isn’t a killer at heart; she’s sad and depressed and lonely and just wants to be accepted.
Jennifer isn’t really about that. They are not about the comfort. They are about the power of persuasion that comes from violence of action. Plum thinks she is thug life but she really has no fucking idea.
Plum is gentle and cerebral, Calliope House is really where Plum fit – she needs to get back there, join with Sana and make changes to the way Calliope House is run. That’s my prediction and hope for Plum. We’ll see if I am right.
Join us next week for the explosive season finale of Dietland!