“In too deep.” It’s a common phrase that can cross a few lines in terms of meaning. It can mean you’re emotionally invested too much. It can mean you’re dangerously in too much, like going undercover. These are gradients and there are things that welcome you to the eighth episode of I May Destroy You (HBO) titled “Line Spectrum Border”.
Theo’s (Harriet Webb) support group has ostensibly grown and we open up with a member Loretta (Shalisha James-Davis) saying how it’s hard to stop an unwanted advance when it starts small and that when she told “Bob” to stop, he looked at her like she were crazy and that he would stop conversation with her altogether because it was the “safer” option. Arabella (Michaela Coel) agrees that “Bob” most likely does think she’s crazy because he’s toeing a line in which there’s no clear delineation of what’s appropriate and what’s not. Since the line is a grey area with no clarity, Bella proposes women knowing the detail of the line, where there is no clarity because only then you can do the same and truly show them what’s the true meaning of ‘unacceptable.’ This speech was more real than real and one of Arabella’s finest moments in the show thus far. Let’s hope this strength in her upholds.
Later on in the park, Kwame (Paapa Essiedu) is relaying to Terry (Weruche Opia) and Arabella that sexuality is a spectrum. He thinks it’s easier for both girls because they are straight, but as Bella phrases it, “I’m not straight. I just love dick.” Kwame thinks because he has a cudgel and because it’s not safe for him to be with a guy right now, perhaps he should try out the spectrum and try a ‘female,’ which the girls rag on. However, upon receiving a video call from Nilufer (Pearl Chanda) and successfully not only flirting but setting up a date, his mates are dying. Then suddenly Arabella gets a call.
At the police station, both Bella and T notice both Officers Funmi (Sarah Niles) and Beth (Mariah Gale) are pregnant. It’s been nine months since Arabella walked into the station. They rundown what had so far with one exception. The suspect in remand on something similar did not match the DNA on Arabella’s flannel. This rends the investigation no longer active. Arabella has no words.
As they wait for any evidence, Terry simply wants to get her girl in a good place. She wants to take her anywhere to get her mind off of it all. Bella’s no funds, but Terry’s got her back. She just wants her best friend to feel good. Pacing about, Arabella wants to get out as well, but Terry’s not going to like her request… which is a plane ticket to Italy. Terry feels that though his dick game might be on point, going back to a controlling and hypocritical ex is NOT the best medicine. Sometimes, people can win out with semantics…
Kwame finally meets Nilufer at a restaurant later that night. Both seem nervous, as it’s her first meeting him face to face and for him not knowing if something might surprise him with where the night takes them. Commenting on how her hair looks, she summarily puts on a cap because she’s embarrassed about it, but soon thereafter takes it off. She’s comfortable with him.
Touching down in Italy donning her pink wig and flannel, she grabs a taxi.
As Kwame walks Nilufer back to her home, she inquires to his preference of girls. Black? White? Greek? She asks because she CLEARLY has a preference for black guys and gets all giggly when even mentioning it.
With the taxi meter ascending, Arabella’s getting nervous asking for the driver to stop until he finally does, as she only could afford so much. She heads over to one place, but even with buzzing at his gate to let her in, there’s no answer. Since her international data has gone out, she relies on sneaking in through an old lady that lives in the complex, going as far as to use the spare key she knows the location of to see herself into his apartment. This is uncomfortable to watch.
Back in Nilufer’s flat, on her bed, Kwame seems nervous. It’s no matter, as Nilufer takes the situation into her own hands, so to speak.
At the apartment, a VERY and understandably SHOCKED Biago (Marouane Zotti) finds Arabella. She begins to play “Something About Us” by Daft Punk on her phone, no doubt to try and recapture a moment. This continues to be uncomfortable to watch, but honestly, I totally feel Arabella at that moment.
Things only escalate for Nilufer and Kwame as they’re having doggy style sex… only she ends up on her stomach with him right behind her. Her instructing him to go harder only brings back flashes to the assault, but he painfully obliges until they both achieve. As Nilufer gets a drink for them, Kwame can only sit back with a look of shock painted across his visage.
Back in Italy, Biago’s freaking the fuck out. Arabella wanted to apologize for everything, including for in her own words “making” him go to the police station for a DNA test. She even ordered from his favorite pizzeria. She fears that he may hate her and though he claims he could never hate her, tears are brought to his eyes and they don’t seem like the happy type. Arabella claims to have stopped partying, drinking, and smoking and just wants that intimacy. This is something that Biago clearly didn’t want even since the first episode when she wanted a definition to them and he couldn’t even give her that. But hey, pizza’s here!
Biago notices that she is a little strapped for cash, so she takes his money assuming it’s for the Za. He asks how many days she’ll be staying with him and she replies with however many he wants her for. What comes next is one of the more uncomfortable and heart-wrenching scenes of this episode. Thinking all is right with the world, she’s locked out of his apartment, pizza in hand. She tries to bargain with him in order to find a way inside, to hash things out but is met with radio silence. Even when telling her she left her passport in there, he simply slips it under the door with nary a peep.
I wouldn’t say Arabella gets mad as much as I would say she gets nuclear and knowing myself, were I in her shoes, I would have done the same thing. She calls him every name in the book, riling up his neighbors and nearly kicks his door down. That is until he opens it, brandishing a pistol. She books it scared. Granted, he’s a drug dealer and a pistol seems like a ubiquitous tool of the trade, but there’s a lot to unpack here.
It was an understandable shock to Biago’s system for Bella to show up out of the blue after ending things badly, trying to recapture a love that may have been a summer fling. He may have been deeply concerned for her well being. He might have even been scared when he thought she would simply go away quietly. HOWEVER, he could have deescalated the situation by letting her in and talking things over. What he did was callous and foolhardy. Threatening her with a pistol took it to a level it didn’t need to go either. Also, when he claims he could never hate her, did he ever claim to love her in the first place? Pizza for thought.
As Nulifer lights up a doob, she relays to him the story behind her first tattoo, a commemoration of her father’s death and her manipulation of her mother to get it. She does claim to may have a sociopathic mind lie dormant, but Kwame thinks she’s cool anyway. This where I figured things would go downhill.
As they begin to rap to a song on the radio, in the N-word’s stead, she uses her term ‘nijja’ which Kwame thinks is silly. She, however, has no problem using the term ‘faggot’ and laughs at Kwame calling it the F-word. She also points out to not having much sympathy with “appropriators of female identity.” This gives Kwame serious pause and tells Nilufer that he’s gay. Upon insistence that he isn’t, he explains the purpose of the whole thing. He wanted to experiment with the spectrum.
She gets pissed that he’s a ‘virgin’ and mocks him when he gets upset leaving, calling him a “fucking dick.” She was a textbook homophobe and hypocrite. Either way, cast out into the rain, Kwame is hit up by a potential hookup and goes for what he’s only known.
Back in Italy, Bella breaks into the beachside place that she and Biago ended episode three on. It’s not sunrise though, it’s night. She’s shivering and alone. She eventually falls asleep and wakes up groggily in the morning staring vacantly into the azure waves. She then proceeds to, fully clothed, walk all the way into the ocean, attempting to drown herself before coming up for air just before the credits roll.