Shape-shifting is the perfect supernatural power to tell a high-school story. There’s so much change going on in those formative teen years, you don’t always understand who you are or how you fit into the world around you; you can feel like a different person, sometimes overnight. Each time that June wakes up in a panic, checking her hands and asking “Am I me?” yeah, she is asking literally if she is herself — but there’s a nice parallel to a more relatable teenage experience, too.
Don’t get me wrong, June’s teenage experience seems much, much worse than us normals, but not by much. But both June and Harry are forced to grow up fast. Drink up watching Harry be adorable on that playground slide, people. I don’t think we’ll see him acting like a kid again any time soon. Once you’re dealing with shape-shifting on the reg and fending for yourself in a strange city, I’m pretty sure you’ve done an intense amount of maturing.
Still, for all the adult things Harry and June have to deal with at the moment, they make some very teenager-y choices. You know, like blindly befriending a man on a houseboat. It’s true, Shane (Andrew Lee Potts) is quite charming and seemingly harmless when our runaways come upon him. They do seem a little apprehensive to take this stranger up on his offer, but definitely not apprehensive enough for two people who have spent the past few days running from creepy men. The opportunity to sleep in a bed and take a real shower instead of cleaning up (and making out) in an unsanitary public restroom, like they attempted that morning, proves too great.
Harry and June are the only two surprised when Shane turns out to be a drug dealer who wants to recruit them for some work. They quickly forget their plan to go back to the apartment where they left their bags and all of the money Ryan gave June, and instead think this drug-dealing thing seems like a great idea. Teens: It is not a great idea.
Shane’s girlfriend Lil (Sabrina Bartlett) gives June a sort of She’s All That makeover ahead of their trip to the club. Instead of removing glasses, June loses the sweater; instead of letting her hair down, June gets a top knot full of drugs. The look on Harry’s face when he sees his girl all dolled-up is almost too much for my tiny heart to take. Get you a guy who looks at you the way Harry looks at June after her drug-dealer makeover, you know? But then they head out and are immediately way too comfortable with selling drugs, so I recover pretty quickly. Shouldn’t June, a girl sheltered from the world, be a little more scared? Or does she not know enough to be scared?
She learns a thing or two by the time the night is over. In case you were still undecided about Shane, he secretly drugs June and Harry’s drinks to ensure they have a good time. The drugs don’t mix well with June. She’s tripping hard when Lil arrives to make out with her because … sure? But they’re interrupted by a fight on the dance floor, that, added to the drugs, causes June to freak out and begin shifting. In the chaos, Lil grabs on to her and …June changes into Lil. The real Lil hits the floor. It’s only when June runs into Harry, who is terrified to be reliving this whole thing, that she realizes she’s changed again.
With this second shift, Harry and June learn that Steinar has nothing to do with June’s new abilities — it’s all her. We learn some important things too: Both times June has shifted, she’s been scared out of her mind. Back on Sanctum, they talk a lot about triggers — June’s shifts must be related to fear. Also, in both incidents, June only turns back into herself after Harry calms her down. This time, they hide in a bathroom stall and Harry reminds his girlfriend that this isn’t forever and he’ll never let her go. He also kisses her, which for the record, he did not do when she looked like Steinar. She feels safe and loved, and so switches back. Their love is so powerful, someone please hold me.
But the nightmare is just beginning. June and Harry see what June’s affliction does to other people — Lil is in some sort of coma and is being hauled off in an ambulance. Since Steinar was aiming to hurt June, she didn’t really think about his well-being, but at the hospital, surveying the damage she did to someone who was kind to her (I mean, aside from roping her into that drug-dealing life), June is beside herself. What has she done?
Harry’s freaking out, too. Maybe it’s the reminder of his dad being in a coma, maybe it’s the reality that whatever is happening to June isn’t going away, but the kid breaks down and finally calls his mom. Chris, who is still at home dealing with some real, live sexual tension with her old partner turned boss Doug (here for this, always and forever), does not begin weeping as she talks to her son who is obviously very hurt and confused — but I do. This kid! He’s drowning. Chris, of course, thinks that when Harry says things like “I keep wondering if she’s really gonna hurt me” he is talking about a failed teen romance. She’s not privy to that shape-shifter life just yet. Still, her advice about his pain just being a part of love still applies, and helps Harry collect himself. He ignores his mother’s pleas to come home — he just can’t quit June McDaniel.
Chris, who is still a detective, is still not tracking Harry’s phone. Is this the craziest thing happening on this show right now? Lest you think she’s doing nothing, they run the license plate to the car Harry bought and find that it’s been involved in an accident in London. She’s not super thrilled to learn John already went to London without telling her, but at least she has a man on the ground. She has John and Ryan — who is suffering some immense physical pain but will not give up on looking for June because he is a treasure — go to local hospitals to see if they’ve turned up. The guys better hurry up because unbeknownst to them, Steinar and Alf are on their tail, hoping they’ll lead them to June. That’s a lot of angry and panicked people driving around London.
But the really creepy stuff is happening over on Sweater Island. For a guy who is currently living with three ladies all about to have some sort of meltdown, Dr. Ben sure seems calm. I’m not saying I don’t love watching Guy Pearce garden in Norwegian farmer cosplay, but maybe he should get a handle on his roommates-slash-patients?
Both Sigrid and Runa are feeling a little jealous over the attention Elena is being paid. Okay, a lot jealous. It’s supposed to be Sigrid’s final test after three years (!) of therapy, and Ben forgets because he’s dealing with the new girl on the farm. Sigrid keeps her anger in check, but something is simmering underneath the surface.
Runa is a little trickier to figure out. Is she just a petty queen who wants Ben to herself, or is her illness (dementia of some sort?) really causing her to act out? She sure doesn’t seem confused when she goes to see Elena and completely ignores Ben’s rule to keep mum on all things June. Instead, she almost immediately tells Elena that June is indeed a shape-shifter, too. Ben was right to worry about Elena’s reaction — the news sets her off. This power is not a gift, “it’s a curse,” she cries. When Runa confesses her wrongdoing to Ben she blames it on her “illness” getting worse to gain his sympathy, but the scene definitely did not play out that way. Ben may think he’s in charge, but we all know who holds the power in Knitwear Paradise.
Ben has to do damage control. He finds Elena and recites the Sanctum brochure as he tries to explain why they must bring June here: She’ll be safe! She’ll be happy! She’ll have a support system as she tries to comprehend that fact her body can turn into another person’s body! Elena is all-in on June coming to Sanctum; she wants to keep her child safe. What’s she’s not into is any more of the testing. She knows Ben wants her to go back into her past and dredge up memories of previous shifts — but she refuses. It will break her.
Thank sweaters for the visual storytelling medium because unlike Dr. Ben, we get a few quick glimpses of the memories that haunt Elena. One of them just happens to include … Lewis Polk. Harry’s dad. The guy who fell into a coma and woke up completely changed.
Well, that’s interesting.
• Elena may be losing her mind, but she is winning this Knit Happens competition I invented that nobody asked for. Sure she is spiraling out, but doesn’t she look so cozy while doing it?