In six weeks, something in Marianne’s life is going to go so far south she will accidentally shatter a wine glass in the sink and sob over the shards. Maybe it’s a work thing? Sorry, obviously it’s going to be a Connell thing. But why rush to this dark, disconsolate future?
In the six-weeks-earlier world, Marianne is teasing Connell about how she wants to meet his roommate, and Connell is earnestly telling Marianne that she’s his best friend, and happy pop music scores their snuggly morning interaction. Not just any happy pop music, but Carly Rae Jepson–happy pop music, the high priestess of e-mo-tion. (The song choice? “Too Much.” An absolutely perfect anthem for this couple.) Lorraine is encouraging Connell to be “a bit more appreciative” of Marianne, who she still adores, and she also calls her son “the stupid teenage mistake I made.” God bless Lorraine.
Speaking of moms: Marianne has to go home for her mother’s birthday. It’s all very quiet and tense at Marianne’s house, and though we haven’t seen her brother engage in any violence, he’s certainly a violent presence — looming, threatening, getting agitated at every non-provocation. Marianne flinches every time he talks. Then again, when she’s home she flinches every time she talks. I thought of Alan, and her abusive dad, when Marianne offers that “generally men seem more concerned with limiting the freedoms of women than in exercising their own.”
Before she goes home, Marianne and Connell get casually propositioned by their bleach-blonde cool girl friend, Peggy. Why not have a little threesome among friends? Wow … college! It’s interesting that Peggy is interested, seeing as Marianne and Connell demonstrate zero physical affection whenever anyone else is around. Marianne turns her down: “I’m much too self-conscious.” She calls herself “unlovable.” As soon as Peggy leaves, Marianne walks over to Connell and puts her head on his lap. Connell is relieved Marianne turned Peggy down for the threesome so he didn’t have to. But Marianne says she would’ve done it, if he’d wanted her to. We are back at the Ghost where Marianne would lie down in the dirt if Connell said it would make him happy. I write in my notes, not for the first time: Everyone in this show needs therapy.
Marianne and Connell have sex and I wonder is there an Emmy for heavy breathing and Connell keeps telling Marianne that he really loves her. Have we ever heard her say “I love you” to him? After, she says “I think I was starting to have feelings there for you at one point,” which is genuinely hilarious but also … worrisome!
Connell wants to know if Marianne would ever want to send him a photo “of you, unclothed,” which he would delete for her privacy. Marianne says sure but she wants one too, you know, for equality. She would never delete it: “I’d look at it every single day and I’d take it to my grave.”
So Sophie, the rich girl whose house party we were at a couple episodes back, is the one who got Connell his restaurant job. The problem is the restaurant is closing for two months. Connell vents about his financial conundrum to Niall, which is not a great idea because Niall is his landlord. Niall points out the obvious: Connell could just move in with Marianne for a few weeks. He’s already practically living there! But Connell is embarrassed and proud and won’t do it — which I get but also, it would be like, three weeks? And Marianne already KNOWS Connell doesn’t come from money … his mother cleaned her house … she is rich and does not care?! Honestly these kids create so many problems for themselves.
At home, Marianne is heavily made-up for a daytime gathering, but maybe she’s just trying to look “grown-up” for her family. The meal is extremely tense. Some older male relative kindly inquires after Marianne’s studies, and she politely accepts and attempts to diffuse his compliment. So of course after dinner Alan berates her for how she “wouldn’t shut up” about herself. “Do you think you’re smarter than me?” he asks, and I think “… smarter than I,” but Marianne chooses not to say that (excellent restraint). He does, however, successfully egg her into saying that she’s the smart one and he’s “the hopeless fuckup,” and he rudely squeezes all the dirty sponge water out on her head. Marianne’s mom just watches this all unfold in, like, a trance?? She is leaning against a wall like she hopes she can fade into it.
Later that night, when she is at peak sadness and self-loathing, Marianne tries to get that naked photo for Connell. I really don’t think “at the end of a day that made you feel like complete and total shit” is the ideal mindset for such a photo, nor is one’s childhood bedroom really the best place to stage it, but she didn’t consult me. Anyway, she is crying so I have a feeling those photos are getting deleted.
Marianne’s mom drives her to the bus and asks if Marianne will be back before the summer. Like … no! Obviously not! Why even ask? Marianne cannot believe that her mother is “allowing it to be like this” and her mom says she’s doing her best. Unfortunately we get so little information about Marianne’s mother and see virtually no warmth from her, ever, so I don’t know that she’s getting a fair shake in this series or that she’ll rise above caricature. Same re: Alan. They are rich and mean, just in case you weren’t sure that Connell’s family is working-class and kind. Subtle!
Even though they say that they can tell each other things they can’t say to other people, there is a LOT Marianne and Connell never communicate. For instance, she tells him absolutely nothing about how family time went, and he does not tell her that he lost his job. Instead she says she is crying and doesn’t want to have sex because she has her period. (Worth noting that Connell would’ve had sex with her anyway, which is very mature and good on you, Connell.)
Connell submitted a story to a magazine but it got rejected for the extremely on-the-nose reason of it “lacked confidence and a clear voice.” Fresh off this burn, Connell goes to Marianne’s, where he finds boy Jamie resting his hand on her knee while he makes some obnoxious point that Joanna undermines with a perfect “Why is it always people who look and sound like you that say shit like that?” I would watch a show entirely about Joanna and Lorraine, honestly.
Connell wants to leave and he complains to Marianne that “the lads you hang out with, they always have their fucking hands all over you.” This prompts Marianne to have a little outburst about how Connell never shows her physical affection in public. Then they sleep with their backs to each other, which is useful TV shorthand but in real life doesn’t necessarily mean anything bad and can really just be a sign of people respecting each other’s space and sleep needs! The more you know.
Marianne and Connell go to Sophie’s birthday party, where all of Marianne’s rich friends casually talk about travel and Connell sort of curls back in on himself. Even though I find it hard to believe all these girls would be cool with getting their hair wet, a bunch of them play in the pool. While Connell plays, Jamie asks Marianne if she really thinks she’s “right” for Connell, and this gets at what I think is a bit of a weakness in the book that is not not an issue in the show: stretches like these where nothing much really … happens. It’s just the ebb and flow of feelings, ramping up and cooling off, and these two orbiting each other and not saying the one thing they could say to resolve most of their problems.
Like, I think it’s telling that a major plot point here is Connell swimming to the side of the pool, taking a deep breath, and … putting his arm around his girlfriend. And kissing her shoulder. In front of their friends. Progress! But not so much progress that he can summon the chutzpah to ask his girlfriend … with whom he sleeps nearly every night … who would lie down on concrete if he asked her to … if he can crash with her for approximately 20 days.