“Belly of the Beast” (Episode 106)
July 2, 2018
Last week, we left Plum beaten and bruised and checking in to Calliope House and Leeta? Leeta was being publicized as a fugitive for justice. (check out our recap here).
Tonight picks up the morning after and we’re definitely on a road to … somewhere. Don’t waste another minute, click on for our deep dive recap & review … after the jump (spoilers warning spoilers warning)!
We pick up tonight’s episode in media res – a high speed “Leeta the Fugitive” police chase. But, FOOLED YOU! It’s NOT “White Girl OJ,” – nope, just a Leeta lookalike who utters the immortal words, “Screw the patriarchy in the ass!”
We cut over to Austen Media where Stanley and some other troglodyte board members and an FBI Agent (unnamed but IMDb says he is Special Agent Victor Grace, played by Teddy Cañez) are grousing about whether or not they be will visited by the violence of Jennifer. The FBI Agent advises against Austen taking matters into their own hands but Stanley schools him on some knowledge – if Jennifer drops the FBI Agent from the plane, no one cares — if one of the Austen media men get killed – the Dow will tank. What a dick swab this guy is, yeesh. Makes me feel bad for Kitty. And I HATE feeling bad for Kitty.
Calliope House. Plum wakes to Leeta’s banging on her door. When Plum won’t immediately let her in, Leeta turns violent and orders her henchwomen to “kill her.” YIKES! Of course, this was just a nightmare. Plum startles herself awake and is quiet safe in her Calliope House bedroom. Well, “safe” – I mean, she is locked inside her bedroom. Barb comes through on a two way intercom and acknowledges the creep factor of being trapped in a room.
“The night before, I didn’t care what happened to me. But waking up in a locked room, knowing Verena had the key? Maybe I should have cared a lot more.”
Title Card Sequence.
When we return, Sana comes in to Plum’s room with a change of clothes and not much in the way of answers. Plum’s memory is fairly fuzzy but she definitely knows she wants to speak to Verena STAT. Sana does explain Plum is in a “quiet room” which is used for reflection. She also makes it clear that Plum is free to leave if she wants to … she doesn’t want to go. Not yet, anyway.
On the street, Dominic ambushes Julia outside of her apartment. Oh, she recalls him, the “hot PI” as he’s referred to inside Austen Media. He brings up Leeta almost immediately but Julia sticks to her story – making lots of distance between her and Leeta (Julia says they were close in the “I need someone to buy me tampons when I run out” lackey kind of way); she also paints Leeta as an obsessed crazy who broke bad. Dominic doesn’t think any of this jives with who Leeta was on paper.
Also, he is trying to run down the secondary mole leak that Kitty tasked him with – who were Leeta’s allies inside Austen Media. Thoughts on that, Julia? Julia begs off for now but Dominic tells her he’ll be coming by the Beauty Closet real soon to chat about this some more …
**Tamara Tunie does some great face acting as she breaks away from Dominic – the fear on her face is palpable.**
Calliope House. Still in her reflection room bed, Plum is reliving some of the greatest hits of the night before, specifically the food fetishist and the guy that called her “fatass” and punched her. I don’t know if we properly emphasized what a shit-acular night Plum had last night …
The Cafe. Dominic continues on his world tour and finds himself interrogating Stephen for information on Plum and where she may be?!? Stephen says that they spoke briefly and that she is going off the grid for a few days to rest and regroup at Calliope House. Before this, Stephen tries to get some scoop on Jennifer – Stephen also offers up that Plum is basically a virgin and so, don’t assume anything with her.
“She’s the smartest person I know wrapped around a 14 year old girl who doesn’t know shit.” – Stephen
Calliope House. Plum is wandering the spartan hallways of Calliope House – certainly not any rooms we have seen before. She is drawn to a doorway which is half open and clearly projecting some kind of film on the wall but before she can get close, “Not yet, Plum” intones Verena from behind.
“What is that place?” Plum asks as the ladies sit down for their next session. In classic Verena style, Verena says that its hard to explain and when she’s ready, she’ll experience … or she won’t. Nothing happens here without Plum’s consent.
Plum … Plum doesn’t think very much of what has happened to her since she met Verena has been great. Verena disagrees but Plum isn’t done, she “understands” how therapy goes. She “understands” that Verena wants Plum to get in touch with her feelings, to release her anger, “let it all out.” Verena acknowledges none of the above will fix Plum – not even close. But, she can use her anger – direct it – give it a voice and that may make it “bearable.” Plum scoffs at the word, “bearable” and calls it “comforting.”
“What about the New Baptist Plan makes you think I’m interested in your comfort?”
Plum is confused – she still doesn’t get Verena’s goals here. She can’t see the forest through her own damn trees. Verena explains that Plum’s job is very simple — she just needs to think about what she has been through recently and determine what it means to her. Session Over. You can tell from her face that Plum thought there would be … more. More what? I don’t know. More hand holding, maybe? But, nope. Good Talk. Commercials.
**Have I mentioned how fucking good Robin Weigert is in this show?!? She should totally be a therapist in NYC — she’d make a killing.”
Austen Media. Eladio is helping Kitty clean out her office (okay, he’s doing all the work) while Kitty carries on about how some teenager is going to decorate her space from a Pinterest post. Blech. Then she orders him away to get her a real lunch fit for real humans – but Eladio will have to say its for him and sit with Kitty while she eats it. Being thin has so many rules. Also, poor Eladio. He has maybe the worst job ever.
Enter Julia. She comes baring gifts from the Beauty Closet (and fishing for dirt because … it’s Julia, its what she does). Julia tries to assure Kitty that the new Senior VP title sounds nice but Kitty isn’t having it. As Julia is spritzing Kitty with the latest in perfumeries, Dominic calls Kitty … again. The third time apparently. So needy, Dominic.
Anyway, Julia tells Kitty that Dominic thinks she’s involved in the leak … because of Leeta. “What did you do, Julia?” Julia does some good confessing here (lies and half truths but, close enough for this world). She tells Kitty that it was Leeta who stole the “Kitty’s Girls” email addresses and says, she covered for Leeta. Julia turns on the water works as she pleads her apologies. Julia claims to be the victim, says she was used by Leeta and charmed by her beauty and passion.
“You were screwing a terrorist.” – Kitty
Where is Leeta now? What did Leeta give to Jennifer? Questions, Questions! Kitty has them. Julia claims total ignorance – she says she didn’t even fire Leeta, she disappeared. Julia thought all was cool since nothing obvious happened but then, Stella Cross was killed and Leeta is openly wanted as a fugitive — too much for poor poor Julia. Julia says she owns all that happened here and agrees to speak to the FBI about everything.
Julia, who’s face has been acting its ass off during this Julia Monologue, goes cold as ice killer on Julia and tells her she isn’t speaking to the FBI. She’s got nothing new to offer other than a boner for Leeta and the result will be the FBI will crucify Austen Media AND Kitty for Julia’s trespasses. Nope, Kitty has a better idea.
“And you’re not resigning. I’m firing you. Pack up your shit and get out!” – Kitty
**The wide stare of fear that Julia has frozen on her face as Kitty turns away from her is … its everything. Margulies and Tunie are fucking tremendous in this scene – so much history between their characters, all burned to the ground in an instant.**
Out at the elevator banks, Allison (the receptionist spy), with Eladio in tow, informs an increasingly frantic Julia that her badge has already been revoked and her things will be messengered to her. No bueno – Julia has “loose ends” down in the Beauty Closet that need to be … dealt with. Eladio says there is nothing they can do – Kitty changed the door code personally.
In the elevator, Julia implores them to help her — she reminds them of all she’s done for them and accuses them of having no balls. She makes a final stand on the grounds of Justice. Eladio tells Julia to text him what she needs and he’ll get it done for her.
“I’m a Puerto Rican homosexual that wears too much make-up. You know I’ve got balls for days.” – Eladio
Calliope House. Plum flirts with the mystery room some more but narrates that she knew Verena was right – she wasn’t ready to face it. Not yet.
After encountering an unappetizing lunch, Plum veers into Sana’s room. Sana, who is working on what looks like a massive jigsaw puzzle/collage of her face made out of pictures of her face. Its gorgeous. She also explains to Plum that the Mystery Room (“sounds like there is an orgy going on in there”) is a project of Marlowe’s. Plum asks how they get anything done together if they’re all working on separate projects. Sana says they’re all about changing the world one person at a time but when Plum tries to tie Calliope House to Jennifer (again), she is diverted by Sana, “maybe you should write those questions down? Patience Plum, you’ll get your answers.” Plum asks about Sana’s face without really asking about her face and Sana compromises, “I’ll tell you what happened to my face if you tell me what happened to yours.”
“Some guy called me fat … basically. I yelled at him,” is all Plum has to say for Sana to understand what happened next. She jokes that Plum “asked for it.” Sana’s turn to share. As revenge for her Mother trying to leave her Father, Sana’s Father through acid on Sana. What.The.Fuck?!? What is wrong with people. Plum acknowledges this story by saying she understands why Leeta wants to kill people (“she’s just a suspect,” Sana replies) and says that Sana’s Father belongs at the top of the list.
Sana says she used to feel that way but Verena helped Sana see the accident as a gift. This sends Plum on a tirade about how Verena is all about blah blah blah the gift of having gone through a tragedy to be better for it and why can’t we learn about ourselves from reading a book instead of going through shitty life occurrences – more of her ranting about what she thinks Verena is going to say instead of listening. “Do you want to hear what I learned or not,” Sana politely rebukes her. Sana says that how people react to her face is like a truth serum for her on who they really are.
“They have to live with their ugliness. I don’t.”
Upstairs, Julia comes a knocking at Calliope House’s door. Man, this place is turning into THE place to be. Like the island Beauty’s Misfit Toys. After a moment’s hesitation, Verena lets her in. Commercials.
When we come back, we’re with Plum back in reflection bedroom. Plum is reflecting on Sana’s words but also reliving her on ugly experiences with man of the last few days. She’s not sold that Calliope House is anything else than an artificial bubble … which is when she runs into Julia (who is now in her own room).
“Wanna see a magic trick?” – Julia
Instead of answering Plum’s questions on if she is okay and what happened to Leeta, Julia decides to strip herself bare and show Plum what the beauty industry is really about – the lies we concoct for ourselves to survive.
In a slow and very deliberate manner, Julia strips off every artifice she carries with her: her jewelry? Gone. Her wig? Gone. Her face makeup? Gone. Her fake eyelashes? Gone. Ger eyebrows? Gone. Her breasts? Gone. Before long, a Julia we don’t even recognize is standing before Plum – double mastectomy and all. It’s startling and raw and disturbing (that Julia would put herself through this facade every day) and extremely emotional and riveting. You can’t look away.
The moment of vulnerability having passed, Plum gets back on her Leeta train, and asks Julia what she made Leeta do. Julia doesn’t hesitate to say the better question is what Leeta made Julia do?
**Hmm, I don’t know; it’s hard to know when Julia is telling the truth and lying — she does both well and often.**
But, hold that thought, Julia has a diary that Leeta wanted Plum to have. Before handing it over, she reads her favorite passage to Plum … it bears repeating here in full:
“Plum thinks she’s afraid of other people’s opinions, their judgments, their assumptions. Afraid of not being acceptable. But really, she’s afraid of herself. She’s afraid of what’s inside. Because the minute she stops caring about that shit? She’s going to be a beast … her words are like fire.” – From the Book of Leeta
The Beauty Closet. Dominic has joined Kitty in Julia’s former fortress – he’s there to expose the connection between Julia and Verena and maybe Jennifer – Kitty just wants to play with all the cosmetics and maybe fuck Dominic. Kitty is in … a certain place right now. To Dominic’s point of view, the case is closed and also, not interested in Kitty (not yet anyway). Sufficiently stone walled, Kitty leaves Dominic in the BC and advises him, she’ll get back on the Jennifer angle.
Calliope House. Julia is filling her Austen Media-starved shell with food while a weary Verena looks on. Julia tries to pump Plum for information but Verena isn’t having it – she allows Julia to ask Plum 1 question. Which Plum assumes and says, she never told anyone about the email theft. Julia is happy with and Plum asks her question – where is Leeta? Verena permits Julia to answer but all she tells Plum is that Leeta is safe, “the less you know, the better for everybody.” Julia takes a veiled dig at Verena and how everything is still the same at Calliope House – including the Marlowe project … “somethings remain constant.”
Having been forced to talk about it, Verena explains to Plum that the mystery room is an art installation – a constant and simultaneous live stream of the top 100 videos on Pornhub at any given moment. Julia chimes in that there is probably a lot of Stella Cross “memorial viewing” going on right about now.
Back in her reflection room, Plum is trying to reflect on Leeta’s musings, pausing on a cartoon depiction of Plum as a Hulk-like creature – it’s still too much for Plum to comprehend, her inner power. She’s getting there though. Julia interrupts her reverie though – she’s looking for a cuddle buddy. Plum is weary of the overt intimate nature of Julia’s actions but also, leans into it and seems to get something from the closeness as well. In conversation, Julia hands over a flashdrive which contains the books she has been writing – she wants Plum to promise it’ll be published if something was to happen to Julia. Her turn to talk, Plum asks Julia how she escalated from writing an expose to killing people but Julia maintains she didn’t.
**What is the truth here?!?**
Sometime later, Plum has got Verena in the kitchen. She needs to talk about the emotional and intimate connection she just shared with Julia. She’s never felt that before. With anyone. Ever. This opening allows Verena to get Plum to talk about the night before and the fight she got into. Plum begins on the hot dog man and the “fatass” comment but quickly, and without realizing it, she diverts to talking about Dominic – and his lies and how he made her feel pitiful. Verena tries to clarify where they are in the story but Plum … she’s not even hearing Verena – maybe not even seeing her. Plum is cleaning out her closet right now.
Watch these ladies connect ….
“I think I knew it wasn’t real. Dominic. He was just using me. But if felt so nice for a change. To have a story. To say, you know, instead of, nobody, nothing, I could say, like, ‘Hey Mom, I met a boy.’ You know? I hate being like this.” – Plum
“What if its not you that’s wrong, it’s them?” – Verena
This powerful moment is interrupted by Sana – there is a visitor that won’t go away. Verena leaves and Plum follows Sana into the Mystery Room. Seems like its her to be experience … whatever this experience is.
Outside Calliope House, Verena confronts Dominic. Of course it’s Dominic. The best is that he introduces himself as a detective and Verena shuts his bullshit down right quick. He wants to talk to Plum but Verena is like, nah, buster – out your shit in a letter and Plum can choose to read or not read your lies at her leisure (I may be paraphrasing here). Verena isn’t done with Dominic yet and begins to psycho-analyze him.
Verena tells Dom that Plum must be very appealing to someone like Dominic – she makes no demands and she sees him the way he wants to be seen … well, she did anyway. Whelp. Verena is on fucking fire tonight. Throwing truth bombs everywhere. Dominic stomps away but not before grousing that at least he hasn’t killed anyone and while the world isn’t perfect – he feels like all its problems are blamed on him. “Everything is my fault.” “Not everything,” Verena dryly replies. LOVE HER!
**Dominic?!? You’re a big fucking baby. Go home to your wife and kids you duplicitous lying sack of shit. K? K. Good talk**
The Mystery Room. Plum sits next to Sana as Sana blankly watches wall to wall streaming porn. Women, just getting fucked and pounded and treated like objects for sexual pleasure. This is the least sexy, sexy thing I’ve ever witnessed and Kudos to Dietland AND AMC for allowing it to play as it did.
Sana is so serene. Plum doesn’t understand how she can stand the cacophony – the overload — the discomfort of what’s surrounding them. Sana explains that it helps her because these women on the screens?
“Look at their bodies. Their faces. Do they look like us? No. They’re perfect. They’re the precious ones. How’s that working out for them?” – Sana
“Fuck this,” is Plum’s response — she finally gets it. Plum storms her way out of the basement, a blaze of fire preceding her path.
In the Nice kitchen, Clive and Verena witness this new Plum emerge, Plum who is out of breath, spitting metaphorical fire.
“Look who’s awake.” – Verena
Thoughts. This transformation we’ve been watching the last few episodes – Plum’s journey, which began in earnest with quitting the Y, has really hit its stride this week. I think the New Baptist Plan is complete at this point – I think that final scene is the fruition of Leeta’s prophetic journal. Plum, sitting in that Sex Room Art Installation, reached the point of literally saying “Fuck this,” and is ready to allow her words to be fire. I CANNOT wait to watch what happens next. The power and potential we have all sensed in Plum is about to be unleashed on the world and I believe Verena knows exactly, EXACTLY, how she wants to help channel that anger.
And while Plum’s journey has reached a new level, we need to address Julia’s fall from grace. Is it a fall? Is finally being able to take off your 24/7 mask a fall? Or is she free? Who is the real Julia? Does she even know anymore – has she lived among the deceitful for so long that she’s lost herself? I feel like her scene in bed with Plum is maybe the most (maybe only) honest moments we’ve had with her. Well, that and obviously the powerful scene of her literally stripping herself bare to Plum.
A few years ago, Viola Davis had a quiet moment in How To Get Away With Murder where her character, Annalise Keating, stripped off all the layers of make up and pretend that women hide themselves in every day. And it was extremely powerful and Ms. Davis garnered much deserved credit for the raw and emotional portrayal. But, Annalise was alone in that scene. She sat before a mirror and revealed herself to only … herself. Here, Julia revealed herself to Plum – she revealed herself as a way of explaining all the things she couldn’t put into words about her life and she feels and she’s felt trapped for so long living in the world of Austen Media and the Beauty Closet. That’s a 10x more powerful moment in my book and Tamara Tunie deserves all the praise and words and endearments for her deft portrayal tonight. I’m hard pressed to come up with a more raw and exposed and vulnerable scene in recent TV history?!?
Plum. Plum and Verena. Finally, FINALLY, Plum understood Verena’s message tonight – we saw so much of the process play out in those tiny, spartan reflection rooms. Her interactions with Sana and alone and with Julia. Hearing Leeta’s words and then finally, Plum’s final step – cleaning out her metaphorical closet – cleaning out what Dominic did to her – how Dominic made her feel – the worst manipulation and violation to self she’s experienced since this show began. It all comes in that final moment with Verena and … it’s perfect Absolutely, perfect.
Leeta’s words have come to pass. “Because the minute she stops caring about that shit? She’s going to be a beast … her words are like fire.”
Look our world, the Beast is awake!