TV Recap: Dietland – An Origin Story …

Dietland
“Bedwomb” (Episode 11)
July 30, 2018

Last week, Plum went full on Jennifer, agreeing to become their communications person – officially the voice of Jennifer.  Unfortunately (fortunately?), at the end of the episode, she was unable to gun down a man she was told had earned Jennifer’s harsh justice. It was a test and she failed it miserably so now, as we  enter tonight’s season finale, the question is – what does Jennifer do with Plum now that she knows too much about the organization?  Catch up on our last week recap here before joining in for tonight’s deep dive recap and review of the Season finale of Dietland … after the jump (Spoilers Beware)!

“Though many of us live with the idea that a thing, a person, a place will fix us, but it never happens. Not really. We all have to live with the parts of us that are broken and find a way to be happy.”

So begins the final opening scene voice over narration.  Let’s see how Plum’s journey finishes off tonight.

Jennifer Shanty Town HQ. After a brief freakout in which she’s pretty sure she’s going to die, Plum learn that she’s made the cut – she’s officially Jennifer now.  Snaps from everyone.  Plum is confused with the whole failing the test thing … I am too. Belle explains that the test is more about loyalty to the cause which Plum proved by coming to the Jennifer Shanty Town HQ in the first place. And, as Plum is not with Jennifer to kill people, she exceeded expectations by almost pulling the trigger.  We also learn that this was the group’s first unanimous vote in a while … interesting the fractures among the small group.

Weirdest employment test ever.

Austen Media. Reclaiming her old office, Kitty is entertaining Dominic. The same Dominic who quit in such a bold and assertive last week is now groveling for his job back – part of the fallout from losing his wife and kids is the realization that he is tired of trying to be the “good” guy and wants to Win at something for a change.  Kitty makes him suffer a bit but also acknowledges that she’s going to need an ally as she takes control of the company.  Dom furthers his case by saying that Stanley will surely come for her hard in retribution and she’ll want a Dominic by her side.

She’s ready to accept him back but only if he’s willing to pledge her his loyalty. After a foot fetish test, Dominic accepts her terms and makes his blood oath. I am sure this will work out fine for him.

Selenis Leyva as Soledad – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Jennifer Shanty Town HQ.  Belle is trying to force through a vote on Jennifer’s next target, a Congressman Wells. Belle is about to get her way but then some legitimate points are raised such as, Jennifer is broke so how can we be approving a mission? And, Congressman Wells is a big step down about the Dirty Dozen and Stella Cross – it makes Jennifer look diminished. All valid points.   Sofia and Belle are on the same page but the Minions are fussing, one even calling Belle and Sofia for acting like leaders which “is patriarchal crap.”   One of the Minions asks Belle what the end game is? We keep killing until …. Women are safer and have a sense of real equality, is Belle’s response. And, that’s where Plum comes in – she’ll carry the message forward.

Melissa Navia as Moana, Selenis Leyva as Soledad, Joy Nash as Plum Kettle, Tara Summers as Sofia – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Plum, having been put on the spot, she agrees with Belle that Congressman Wells is a menace to women and should be a target.

“And you need to keep the heat on.  Keep up the feeling that you’re everywhere and scary. But your messaging needs work.”

Belle barely hears this last part and moves on to trying to get her vote. The group discussion fractures again with every voice wanting to discuss a different thing such as the Clark Sister’s money offer and the use of male pronouns in their literature. This is a group that surprisingly gets anything done because all they do is talk talk talk.

Beauty Closet. Julia is trying to get through to a still blubbering and hot mess, Leeta. Leeta is talking about how she killed Snow White, over and over again.  She also refers to herself as a witch and accuses Julia’s sandwich of having blood in it (it’s jelly).  (Un)helpfully, Eladio reminds Julia that they will not be able to get Leeta out the front door with her in this condition. “Eladio, please” Julia admonishes him. She’ll take care of getting Leeta out of the building but tells Eladio that he needs to keep his shit together. For real, suck it up homie.

Jennifer Shanty Town HQ.   Sofia has pulled Plum to the side and tells her, very matter of factly, that Plum does not have the physical ability to keep up with a Jennifer mission and she will shoot Plum dead if she falls behind for capture.

“Nobody withstands torture. You will crack like an egg if they catch you.” – Sofia

Good talk. Real morale booster.  An actually semi-nice human comes up to Plum after Sofia moves off and confirms Plum’s suspicion that Sofia is a “Cuntch” (Cunt and Bitch combined – but if they use the real words, that’ll be another meeting.  I believe it with this group). Joining the whole group, Belle makes a toast to their newest member and every one cheers to Plum. Plum responds:

“Jennifer Lives!”

Title Sequence.

When we return, Plum is getting the oral history herstory of Jennifer from Moana. Using deep connections from her time in the military and a large amount of cash that she produced, Soledad (I am giving up the Belle alias as everyone else does in this episode) reached to people she thought would be down with the cause. People like Moana, she met through a support group.  Moana shares that she walked away from college and fully paid tuition to join the movement. The sharing is interrupted by dessert and a group game of Truth or Dare. Oh, this should be good.

Selenis Leyva as Soledad, Joy Nash as Plum Kettle, Melissa Navia as Moana – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Sofia is up and wisely picks truth (Dare, in this group? You might end up having to kill someone for funsies).  “What is your favorite Jennifer memory?”  In short, after being raped repeatedly in the service and being told it didn’t happen, after a series of low moments including alcoholism, Sofia found herself with a gun in her mouth. And that’s when the phone rang; the phone rang with Soledad on the other side. Jennifer literally saved her life.   Least funny Truth ever, Sofia. Yeesh but the moment is noted and for the first time you really understand the bond of these women.

Beauty Closet. Leeta is doing some good mentally unstable rocking back and forth while she talks to herself about a hole in the head while  Julia is reviewing blue prints of the building. That’s when the bell jingles — someone is in the Beauty Closet. Eladio pops out to find Dominic. He’s looking for the street value of the products in the beauty Closet, say he was to sell it on eBay?  Eladio gets the meaning of his dig and asks what Dominic wants?  Dominic would like to know how close Eladio was to Julia? Eladio tries to play cool – he’s close a million people and also, was interviewed by everyone. But, Dominic doesn’t believe anyone at Austen Media is really clean.  But, Dominic also realizes it doesn’t matter – he’s really taken to the “not my duck, not my bottle” metaphor. Eladio is confused as to what Dominic is trying to say and do here? “Are you hitting on me?” LOL Love Eladio – always with his priorities.

Dominic is trying to say that he doesn’t care about what Eladio may or may not be up to, or how far he’s up Jennifer’s ass … he needs to get in touch with Plum.  Eladio says he’s not really close to Plum at all (true) but Dominic counters that someone Eladio knows is, Julia or Leeta …

“Plum, she’s your duck.” – Eladio

She’s something, Dominic agrees and tells Eladio – figure it out, he needs to talk to her.

Jennifer Shanty Town HQ. It’s Plum’s turn and the crowd chooses a dare for her. Recite “from memory, the first poem you ever wrote. “Compassion,” by Plum:

“Compassion. Compassion. Compassion. Whhhyyy.”

A note that the 3 “compassions” were said in different inflections.  The crowd approves and gives her all the snaps.  But, Soledad isn’t quite ready to let her off the stage yet. “Why are you here? Really. No wrong answer.”

“I’m tired being the kid who gets kicked. I’m doing the kicking now.” – Plum

Fair play being what it is, Plum asks Soledad why she’s there, really?

Selenis Leyva as Soledad – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Soledad shares her story of her time of being sexually assaulted in the military and how even her family, all military men, couldn’t protect her.She talks of how the system failed her and not just the military system. It gets worse. Soledad was recalled to the military and while she was away, her 13 year old daughter was raped.  Her daughter was called trash and slut, even at 13, and ended her pain by committing suicide – threw herself in front of the train.  Soledad says they never found 1 of the 3 guys but the other two … “You through them off a bridge,” Plum finishes.  Yep, those were the first Jennifer murders we saw at the beginning of the Season.  Soledad confirms this but adds that it was after they tortured them really well. It snowballed from there, Belle continues.

“I’ve got a lot of tough friends.” – Soledad

How about Leeta, Plum asks, “how did she get involved?” Leeta was organized the support group and watched Soledad’s daughter when she had to go out.  Moana praises Leeta and then Sofia adds that, “But we never should have let her help with Stella.” Sofia and Soledad share a look – this is obviously a sticking point they’ve discussed before.

Plum and her friend from earlier (I will figure out the name at some point) walk back to the dorm area and discuss the pitfalls of being “woke.” Plum asks if she ever wishes she could go back to a time before she was “awake.”

“Sure, I mean this woke stuff is the worst.  But, once you see the Matrix, you can’t unsee it.”

The dorm room has moved and the entirety of Jennifer is huddled together in a single room of bodies, all in white.  Except Plum, she’s in black underwear and it makes for a visually stunning scene.  The women settle down and its not sexual in the least, though extremely intimate. Bodies just laying crisscrossed and everywhere.

“Jennifer. Down to the wire and faltering. It was just 12 of us but it felt like more. It felt like we were the still beating heart of a body mistakenly left for dead.”

Photo: AMC

Commercials.

When we return, Plum is laying with Dominic, telling him she’s ready to kiss.  Before they get to the kissing, Dom tells her that he’s not really a tiger and he should be able to control himself BUT, he wants Plum. He needs Plum. Then they kiss.  Then his eyes glow green and Plum wakes from a startled dream.  She’s still safely in the bedwomb. And the only one awake.

Out by the coffee table, Plum and Soledad discuss her wish to not discuss her dreams – Plum is mad at her dream self for thinking about Dominic.  This leads to a conversation about men in general and it is Soledad who makes the good point that not all men are bad. Plum immediately takes issue with this and starts to accuse Soledad of giving men a “pass.” Check yo self Plum — Plum back pedals fast when she sees where she was going.

Soledad gives the example of her time in the military.  She says there were men she served with who were her brothers, who would have killed the men who raped her if they had known.

“So why aren’t they here. Helping us?” – Plum
“Because I never asked. This is our fight.” – Soledad

FBI Office.  Verena is meeting with Special Agent Victor Grace and looks ready to dish on Jennifer but, first confirms that whatever she says can remain anonymous.

“I’m a feminist and pacifist; it’s taken me years to establish my community you understand. If I’m linked to Jennifer’s downfall, it wouldn’t be good for anyone.” – Verena

Robin Weigert as Verena – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode10 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Oh, I think you mean it wouldn’t be good for YOU, Verena. Understanding she is protected, Verena starts off by saying that some of them are so reckless and selfish, they need to be punished. Who is the who, S.A. Grace asks? We’re going to have to wait to see who’s name Verena gives up …

Campbell Scott as Stanley – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode10 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

On the street, Stanley gets Kitty’s voicemail.  Stanley is … angry. He tells Kitty that she can forget about the Lion being gone because, “You bitches? You’ve brought the Lion back. You have brought him back from the dead. And your Jennifer? They can kill every single, they could drop guys off planes and buildings. I am going to drop the building on you. KITTTY!!! You will slowly expire with 100,000 tons of bricks on your head. That will be your tomb. Believe it.”  Stanley, just some friendly advice … I don’t think leaving that recorded message was your best play.

Jennifer Shanty Town HQ.   One of the Minions asks Plum how the writing is going and asks to hear what she wrote. She’s trying to make parts of the Manifesto, “more actionable.” It’s a practical guide to making actual changes.

“March, disrupt, make yourself a thorn in the side of the status quo. But you also, have to become the status quo … not as sexy as murder but trust me, laws. That’s what makes the primal beast behave.” – Plum

The Minion is about to give some feedback on the “status quo” line when Moana comes in with distressing news – Soledad has been made — her face (a picture from her military days) is splashed on a newspaper with the headline, “Jennifer Unmasked.” Soledad calls a Code Black.  Code Black seems to be a pre-rehearsed bug out option.  As Plum is being ushered out of the Shanty Town HQ, she makes the good point that their fingers prints are on everything … Commercials.

Austen Media. Cheryl is meeting with boss lady Kitty and hoping to get back to reporting actual news.   Um, let’s talk.  Kitty tells Cheryl that she feels Cheryl has lost her way – has made the news about herself. Cheryl scoffs but Kitty isn’t finished. She tells Cheryl that when she sits at the anchor desk, Cheryl is working for the idea of Austen Media, for what Austen media stands for.

“And what does Austen Media stand for?” – Cheryl
“Integrity, of course.” – Kitty

Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Kitty tells her the meeting is over but Cheryl has something to say.  If Cheryl’s job is to mindlessly take orders, then maybe UNN is no longer the home for her. Yes! Kitty agrees wholeheartedly and thanks Cheryl for being on the same page as Kitty. Cheryl just talked herself out of a job.  Cheryl doesn’t really understand what just happened and Kitty clarifies that Cheryl just quit.

“I hope wherever you land, it’s great for you. And that you find the freedom you crave.” – Kitty

JPhoto Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Knowing she’s beat, Cheryl shakes Kitty’s hand and walks out (giving Dominic some serious, “you’re a fuckboy” side eye). Dominic’s jib seems to sit in Kitty’s office and be her “yes” man. Even on design patterns. You can feel dead he is inside now. It’s wonderful.  I get they were trying to rehabilitate his character but for fuck’s sakes man, you are the worst spineless, useless man … your father-in-law was right, you ARE a loser.

On the run, Soledad, Sofia and Plum break into a warehouse where they crouch down – waiting for Moana and Tiana to get them in a van. I guess the FBI is already hot on their heels?  Sofia reminds Plum she is dead weight. Not helpful.

Tamara Tunie as Julia – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode10 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Beauty Closet.  Julia peeks in on Leeta, who has been sedated with Ambien. In the BC proper, Julia tells Eladio she is going for the car and will call him when she’s ready. Also, “we’re good.” She tries to reassure him but you can see he doesn’t believe. I don’t think she even believes it.   On the street, Julia is calling Eladio when the feds roll up. “Don’t leave her” is the last thing she says before tossing her phone. In the Beauty Closet, Eladio’s last shred of courage flees him and he apologizes to Leeta. “I can’t do this, I’m sorry.” And Eladio is gone and a drugged and broken Leeta is alone.

Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

In a music montage, we watch Eladio get into the elevator, leaving Leeta and his Jennifer sympathy behind. We watch Julia and her sisters, Jacintha and Jill, arrested by the FBI. And we watch Verena walking down the street, triumphantly and carefree. It’s the happiest we’ve ever seen her. It’s a harsh juxtaposition to the Clark sisters.   Commercials.

Leyva as Soledad – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

In the warehouse, the ladies three make their way but Plum is starting to run out of steam. This was the exact scenario that Sofia predicted. She starts to plead that she doesn’t want to die. Also, she’d like someone to do something. Soledad throws up her hood and tells Sofia she is going to “check it out.” The sirens outside are getting louder. Sofia tries to protest given Soledad’s value but Soledad has given her an order. Plum stands alone, distraught.

However, when we see the woman emerge into the lights of the police and feds, its Sofia we see wearing the hoodie. And she’s got a gun in her hand which she raises.  We hear the police telling her to drop her weapon as an echo as we focus on the sound of Sofia’s breathing. Inside, Plum and Soledad are making their way up stairs as we hear gun fire erupt. Outside, Sofia is gunned down and cut to Soledad who bows her head briefly. The mission continues.

“Move your fat ass.” – Soledad

Plum wisely decides not to object to this statement and they continue to run. “Fat ass” is what the hot dog man said to Plum a few episodes ago, so it’s an interesting comparison of reactions and context.

Julianna Margulies as Kitty, Adam Rothenberg as Dominic – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Austen Media. After Kitty listens to Stanley’s voicemail, she says, “I genuinely thought this would be more fun.” She doesn’t even know if she means the job or torturing Stanley. She needs a solution to her Stanley problem.  She proposes a Jennifer solution to her Stanley problem. With Jennifer starting to fall apart via arrests, Kitty is worried the men on their list will be safe and that doesn’t really work for Kitty. She’d like the men on the Penis  100 to feel not safe. She’s winking and nodding all over here but Dominic is clearly picking up what she’s putting down. She frames it as she always does; Jennifer needs a strong ally and so does Kitty.  She tells Dominic to find someone still standing inside the organization and arrange a meeting.

Down by the punch out clock, Dominic learns that Julia was rolled up in the arrests but the helpful security guard doesn’t know anything about no Eladio. Dominic runs to the Beauty Closet, its door still ajar, and finds a bruised and druged and crazy looking Leeta.

“Hi. Is it time?” – Leeta

Commercials.

When we return, Dominic is sitting on Plum’s couch, leaving her a coded voicemail. Why coded? Because Dominic has brought Leeta there and clearly is afraid to say too much on a line which the Feds may be tapping. As Leeta paces in the background, Dominic finishes the voicemail saying that his gut tells him Plum is a good person and he wants to be a good person. “So, call me back.”

On the street, Plum stops running and tells Soledad she doesn’t if “they can do this.” She means, herself but … semantics. Soledad comes back to her, resigned to what comes next.

“You were a hostage. Got it. When they find me, you know nothing. Tell our story.”

These are Soledad’s final words to Plum as she jumps in the van with Tiana and Moana. Plum? She stands alone in the dark street.

“Where else was left for me? Then I realized, it wasn’t just that I had burned every bridge. It was hope. What had I learned about myself, really? I was a fighter. A crazy, adventure loving, badass mama. And I really did believe the world could be a better place. Even just a little.”

And Plum begins to run.  Running after the Van. Moana stops and Plum gets in.  She’s all smiles (Soledad is stone faced as she looks off in the distance) but after a few seconds, the reality of her choice sets in. Her smile fades. Worry replaces it. Worry? Or Fear? Hard to say but THAT, my friends, is where we end Season 1.

Thoughts.  Wow, what an arc over a season. From the meek ghost writer of Kitty’s Girls to full fledged Jennifer member. One of a handful left standing in a group that was terribly small to begin with.  The end of Plum’s Season 1 journey is really just the beginning of Plum’s life journey. As it turns out, Season 1 was an origin story – how did Plum come to be? We know now because, while you can say many of Plum’s adventures this season were reactionary on her part – many of her decisions were reactions on her part to things being done to her or people encouraging and cajoling her. That decision to run down the van and get in? That was a wholly voluntary action – an active decision on Plum’s part; a choice freely made and which now, I fear, cannot be undone. Plum was free to return to her life before Jennifer but with this one final act of the season, she has become Jennifer. And that? That is huge.

This feels like an excellent place to stop the chapter in the Dietland story – the origin story complete, next season would presumably deal with this small, even more on the run Jennifer … but, a Jennifer which has the voice of the movement providing it its words.  I’m really excited to see where the story goes.

Lingering questions for Season 2:

1. Will Kitty and Plum end up working together to take down/kill Stanley and other members of the Penis 100? Kitty needs some men gone so she can solidify her still very fragile power hold at Austen Media.

2.  Will Julia and her sisters sing in prison or cut deals?  What is their next contribution to the story?

3.  How long do Dominic and Leeta hang out in Plum’s apartment – I think it’s more likely that Stephen or Mama Kettle return to Plum’s apartment before Plum, herself, does.

4.  Speaking of Leeta – what is to become of broken Murder girl. Erin Darke absolutely killed it this season as this at first quirky and odd , and then broken, young woman; her story is fascinating and she’s maybe my favorite character in the show. 

5. – Verena and Calliope House. What is to become of our friends at Calliope House? Presumably, Verena’s information, which clearly triggered the FBI raids, bought her a level of immunity and protection for her and her women. But, the question remains, is Verena a good witch or a bad witch? Did she act tonight our of interest for her women over whom she provides protection OR did she act from a palce of anger and self-interest while decrying those she sees as wrong doers for acting selfishly. It’ll be interesting to see how her and the women of Calliope House’s arc plays out in Season 2 – this is maybe the most in the air story right now (besides Leeta).

Thank you for reading along this Season and taking this Dietland journey with me. This shows continues to raise important topics and discuss heady issues, honestly and with brunt, non PC language. It is and remains a necessary voice for necessary times in a world going mad with violence and inequality. Here here to Season 2 of Dietland!

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