Marcus, you scumbag! I get the impulse to cover your ass when trouble comes knocking, but the way that Marcus so blatantly lies when he’s put on the stand is infuriating. Yes, his dad told him to look out for himself, but he also said the truth will set you free, whereas Marcus seems to be lying his way into a cage of his own making.
Instead of confessing that he asked Hannah out as part of a bet, he claims he was trying support her, citing his role as student body president as why he felt responsible. Trying to put his hand between her legs is retold as merely trying to hold her hand, and he twists his pressuring of Hannah into feeling taken advantage of as he tells the boldest — and worst — lie of them all: that Hannah had asked him to set her up with Bryce. As he explains to Bryce, it’s a lie that makes Hannah seem like the liar, and weakens any testimony against Bryce.
Tyler, who is leaning into his new punk phase to a degree that is beginning to concern me, takes action. With Cyrus, he cooks up a paint bomb, leaving it next to Marcus’s car for him to find, as well as painting the word “hypocrite” over the window. After the bomb splatters Marcus in pink paint (and the surrounding students laugh and start to take pictures), he goes to Mr. Porter, who straight-up says that he knows his time at Liberty High is limited and, as such, makes it clear that he isn’t particularly sympathetic to Marcus’s case. He knows what’s on the tapes, after all, so he knows Marcus lied on the stand. (Clay’s mom seems to think so, too, though she’s dealing with some slightly extralegal activities as she sneaks a peek at Sonja’s file on Clay.)
But back to Tyler: Is anyone else concerned that these kids have relatively unfettered access to guns? Alex’s dad, at least, blames himself for Alex’s suicide attempt given that it was his gun that Alex used, but Tyler is a whole different barrel of fish. We know he’s had access to weapons since last season, but there’s still something unsettling about knowing that he just takes them out to shoot bottles in the woods whenever he wants to, which is what he does with Cyrus. Granted, an old hiker spots them doing so, though whether or not anything will come of it has yet to be seen.
It’s similarly unclear whether or not Justin will be of any use, as he sweats out his heroin addiction at Clay’s house. Tony refuses to help any further since he’s on probation, which only serves to make Clay anxious because his parents don’t know he’s harboring an ex-student in his room. To make matters worse, Jess isn’t happy to hear that Justin is back in town. Hoping to take her mind off the matter, she skips school and manages to convince Alex to come with her. It’s a tactic that only half-works, as Alex zones in and out as he struggles to remember what happened to him — and when they finally kiss again, Jess freaks out, equal parts due to PTSD and her stress about Justin.
As the possibility that Justin could testify seems to become more and more of a long shot, Clay finally sends Alex the tapes, figuring that he deserves the truth — and hoping that if he remembers enough, he might be able to testify. It’s equal parts the truth that Alex deserves and self-serving on Clay’s part, making it a mixed victory in the same way that everything on the show has been so far. (You could probably call that realism, though I am getting less and less inclined to let that slide.)
For instance, the growing group of supporters outside the courthouse bolsters Olivia’s faith that they might win the case, but Marcus’s testimony is a complete bomb, as is the appearance of her husband (America’s sweetheart Brian D’Arcy James!) at the store. In a conversation that quickly spins off the rails, he tells her to be careful, which is an assessment of the situation that my Vulcan-logic mind is inclined to agree with. Though I can’t believe I’m saying anything even remotely negative about a Kelli O’Hara character, I still don’t really trust Jackie.
And, obviously, I don’t trust Bryce. He seems to be doubling down on ensuring that his friends won’t flip — he gets Zach the answers for an upcoming test, for instance — which is likely to get a lot harder now that Clay has been given a second Polaroid. It’s clearly Bryce, caught in the act of raping an unconscious girl (or about to do so), with the words “he won’t stop” written on the back.
• Sheri is a little bit of a caricature so far, but I still like her. “The way they draw these robots is kind of sexy.” Maybe she’d dig the new Lost in Space?
• What do we make of Chloe? I’m not inclined to think she’s a bad egg — she genuinely seems to care about Jess — though she’s under Bryce’s thumb to a distressing degree. Not that we needed the refresher, but their sex scene was an unsettling reminder of how Bryce feels entitled to everything.
• What is up with Scott Reed? He’s seen hovering around each time Clay finds a Polaroid, and he seems to be creeping on literally everyone involved. I can’t tell if it’s because he’s on Bryce’s side, given that he’s one of the jocks, or if he’s just trying (badly) to be surreptitious about helping take Bryce down.
• As much as I love Zach (and I’m not being ironic, he is genuinely one of my favorite characters), there’s still something off about him. Somebody else seems to know it, too: Zach finds an alarmingly large dead rat stuffed into his gym bag as a warning not to snitch.