Cash is King, and it makes Arabella sing in “Happy Animals,” episode 7 of I May Destroy You. Whether that song is a happy one is for you to find out in our recap.
I May Destroy You Season 1:
Episode 7 – “Happy Animals”
In this gig-economy, cash is king. All you need do is look at the digitization of jobs in the last 20 years, which are indispensable for the artistic milieu, who may not catch a break and ride the wave for a while. The question is would you question an income, no matter where it’s from to further your ultimate goal? Would making scratch trump who it’s for? If so, at what cost? Welcome to the seventh episode of I May Destroy You (HBO) titled “Happy Animals.”
Arabella (Michaela Coel) and Terry (Weruche Opia) at a London market checking out wigs and various sundries for a particular event: It’s Terry’s birthday! They dip into a supermarket for some provisions, and Terry spots Simon (Aml Ameen) passing in a different aisle. Naturally, before Bella could take notice, T navigates her mate in a different direction. Kwame (Paapa Essidue) naturally is on Grindr right next to his two friends, with a request from the potential hook up what the good Lord gave him after receiving a similar picture. Hey, share and share alike, I guess.
Terry jukes Arabella out of the way of Simon all the way to the register like Pac-Man… and, like clockwork, Bella’s card is declined. This is no doubt embarrassing in any scenario, but the knife is pushed even further when the cashier is a fan, wants a selfie, and Arabella’s forced to take her items off of the conveyor belt and put back into the aisles. That stings.
At a deficit for cashola, Bella relays some new pages to her agents. It’s harrowing, and it speaks on rape, rape culture, and how it can be denigrated. What she reads is powerful, poetic and it smacks you in the face. Her agents are stunned, in a positive way, but there’s but one caveat- where is the draft? She only recited a single page to them. She needs the advance so off to Henny House she goes.
Sauntering into Henny House armed with a vape pen in her hand and a hope in her heart, going up floors as the only black woman in a lift full of stodgy old white men, Arabella finally reaches the top: Susy Henny (Franc Ashman). Greeted into a rather posh office, Bella is in awe of what is achievable as a successful woman of color.
After being offered some pomegranates, Arabella gets down to brass tacks. She explains that she’s working on her manuscript about rape and claims that she hasn’t been paid. Susy immediately takes umbrage with this and that Bella should’ve contractually been paid a third of their agreement. That is until she understands further that Arabella is asking for more to sustain her. Sadly, contracts are tricky, so that’s a no-can-do for the moment… so desperate times…
Call for Theo (Harriet Webb) to help her out on any leads for making a quick buck on the legal, and Bella might be in luck. All you do, according to Theo, is “say the things and pocket the cash.” Easy enough, right? “Hello, this is Arabella and we’re Happy Animals, a vegan grocery service…” Oh, this should be a cakewalk… one made without eggs and gluten-free. Ugh. This idea is already leaving an acrid taste in my mouth.
Dan (Will Rogers), the CEO of the company lets Bella in on his background and the mission of the company. After three years in uni, he got into existentialism and realized consuming animals was an agrarian threat to global warming, so he created the company so that he can be truly the biggest name people go to for ethical purchasing of foodstuffs. Never one mince words, Arabella likens the company to Amazon.
Arabella’s to be the social media face of Happy Animals. It pays double, cash up front, and requires things like doing photoshoots and posting 10-second videos. It’s her first day on the job, and they rope her into doing more and more. Cash in on the way out is their policy.
Elsewhere, Terry’s having a sit down with Simon. She inquires if he was in the supermarket earlier, and he denies it. It’s her birthday, and she doesn’t want Simon showing up with ‘the champs.’ She’s looking out for her girl and because self-care is the first stage, the second is avoiding people who don’t comfort or affirm. This is Terry’s shot across the bow.
The party’s now officially on, with T’s friends in the building. One of those is Jamal (Noah Maxwell Clarke), who seems to immediately have taken an interest in a very shy Kwarms, prepping the grub. There’s a reason he might show a little reservation. Jamal is Egyptian and Ecuadorian or as he playfully phrases it “Egyptiadorian.” He reveals to Terry that when he was young, walking home from school, two guys — one claiming he was Greek, the other claiming he was Egyptian — pulled up on Kwame, so he’s had two guys at once. Terry seems shocked, as this is a story she’s not heard before… but that’s no matter now, as Arabella brings the party to a halt by leading the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday To You” as Kwame brings out the cake.
Terry makes her sentimental speech, dedicating it to Arabella. “Your birth is my birth, your death is my death.” It’s that tightness as a friend that makes the two such an awesome pairing.
The party continues to get lit until an odd mood overcomes the people surrounding Bella. They catch on that she’s working for Happy Animals and seem to be taken aback… but why? Well, it turns out that Arabella’s been drinking the Kool-Aid of Happy Animals and has become a climateer, an eco spokesperson. This comes at a price: present company ribbing her for becoming a pawn in a ‘white people movement.” Terry also agrees that she’s sick of these white people’s movements, and it just so happens Theo co-signs. Yup, the white girl that Terry didn’t trust from high school onward has shown up to a party in honor of her. T’s not happy in the least, thinking she’s come only to score some Class A shit whilst asking for a donation.
Kwame diffuses the situation by suggesting she’s probably only there to celebrate, but Terry tries to rag on her with her boy. The thing is, Kwame is in no mood and skirts passed Jamal trying to be nice, retreating to Bella’s room for some solace. Terry seems to be turning up the heat with more shots. Arabella seems to be having a good time but is confronted by Terry, asking her if she thinks it was a good idea to invite a white person who framed a black man to their celebration, as she may have never changed at all. Before this conversation gets rough, a jam hits the speakers and Bella escorts T onto the dance floor. Deescalation achieved.
Back in Arabella’s room, in order to alleviate his flashbacks and high pitched sound, Kwame rings up Damon (Fehinti Balogun), the man who dipped out on the threesome in episode 4. Damon apologizes for leaving and that he wanted to thank Kwame for his new lifestyle. He’s seeing someone and he doesn’t give a fuck, doing as he pleases. This is not what Kwame was hoping for, as the high-frequency returns.
This also isn’t the right time for a to’ up Arabella to act, as she tricks Jamal into going to her room, locking her door and tossing the key. “Huh.”
As the party winds down with Terry, Pastor, Theo, and Samson (Victor Ade), Arabella’s spouting all climate change rhetoric without truly understanding it. As Terry gives Theo the stink-eye, Samson schools Bella on the vegan and the eco-activist. He claims that they love looking into the future without acknowledging the past. Arabella doesn’t understand it has to do with her gig. The Pastor reminds her that if she’s going to be exploited, she’d better know what she’s being exploited for. She gives the company more followers, and more followers give the company more power, and more power gives them more money. This gives Arabella pause.
Back in the bedroom, Kwame’s freaking out a little, and Jamal opens a window for him. Not being aware of what she’s done, Bella’s drunk in the other room pondering if maybe they were right about the ice caps all along. It is then that Theo speaks up and admits, like Arabella trying to bring people into the fold for monetary benefits, she gets better referral fees for bringing into the company people of color. She does assert that both of them really need the funds. Arabella admits that it was she who told Mr. McHale about the photo evidence in high school. Theo seems to take it all in stride.
Terry comes in, asking where Kwame is. Bella informs her she locked him in her room with Jamal and a frantic Terry said that Kwame said he was on a break from all of that. Getting him out from the room, Kwame wants to eviscerate Bella for the stunt she’s pulled, but Terry cools him down. They speak together in the bathtub and Terry’s concern is that even though he went to the cops, he needs to inform Arabella in the morning.
The next day on Instagram, donning a Happy Animals shirt, Arabella informs her followers that the climate crisis is real and her hair is not before removing her wig, proclaiming her love for fried chicken as she extracts a bucket from a Happy Animals bag and watching her hits skyrocket to 34k in mere moments. We are treated to harrowing views of climate change as “Dreaming About You” by the Blackbyrds lead us into the credits. Oh, what a wonderful world.