Each time the Garvey sisters attempt to murder their vile brother-in-law on Bad Sisters, the attempts have a little less dramatic tension. I’m not sure what this says about me as a human, but there are only so many times I can watch the same group of (fictional) people try to kill the same (fictional) person without getting a bit bored. I felt it in last week’s otherwise excellent episode, which ended with Bibi accidentally taking out some poor bloke’s eye instead of JP’s head on the paintball field, but it is perhaps even more pronounced this week as Eva, Ursula, Bibi, and Becka roofie JP and watch him drown.
The show itself is obviously aware it needs to mix things up. Much like the previous attempts, the roofie-and-a-very-full-bath plan goes astray almost immediately. Somehow, JP is still active after inhaling the very large dose of Rohypnol Ursula has poured into his trusty nasal spray. The Garvey sisters only get so far as starting a nice warm bath and removing JP’s trousers before he is up and out. He pisses in the wardrobe, grabs his key, and takes off for the harbor, thinking he has plans to meet boss Gerald, who blew him off earlier in the episode.
The Garvey sisters follow, which seems like their riskiest move yet. Surely, Ireland has CCTV cameras and nosy neighbors? (Not Roger, who is taken away by the police in this episode after JP calls in a fake suspicion of pedophilia.) Seeing the four women dashing through the darkness to follow an out-of-it JP looks very suspicious.
The murder attempt gets more anxiety inducing once the Garveys are on the chase. There is the risk of collateral damage, something Bibi is particularly (and understandably) sensitive to after the aforementioned half-blinding. But there is also the hilarious way the sequence is shot: With the Garveys, we watch a trouserless JP from afar like he is some rude Bigfoot with a boat. Someone mentions the fact that JP can’t swim … and he promptly falls into the water.
While this show very quickly got me on board with JP’s murder, I still hope he accidentally falls and hits his head or something. The shot of the church behind the Garvey sisters’ car as they watch the water quiet where JP fell feels partially ironic, but it is also a reminder of what this is costing them. When JP first falls off the dock, Becka opens the door to help him before her sisters remind her that this is what they were hoping for. These are thinking and feeling humans with empathy, and while they may dream of the day JP is out of Grace’s life for good, they are not immune to the value of human life. In moments like this, Bad Sisters’ talent for tonal complexity is on full display.
Is this the “suicide attempt” everyone is talking about in the present-day story line? We still have four episodes left, and it’s doubtful JP bites it in episode six, but we end the hour without knowing for sure.
As with last week’s episode, “Splash” is far more interesting when it isn’t actively showing JP’s maybe-murder. This week, we get further insight into Grace, who continues her courageous attempts to find herself within an emotionally abusive marriage. After last week’s panic attack–inducing dance class, Grace tries an art class. There, she has an impactful encounter with Monica, the woman modeling nude for the students. Monica compliments Grace’s drawing and notes the signs of her hesitancy in drawing Monica’s private parts. “Surely by now you’re a woman at home in her own body?” she asks. When Grace, who is actively struggling with JP’s lack of desire to have sex with her, mentions her husband might not agree, Monica doesn’t miss a beat: “What’s it got to do with him? It’s your body to be comfortable with.” Grace hears her — an example of how much even a simple conversation between strangers can mean.
What is behind JP’s lack of sexual interest in Grace? It’s unclear if he truly doesn’t desire Grace or is just afraid of facing his erectile dysfunction (a very common condition for men over 40). When Grace buys a pretty robe and tries to seduce him, he laughs at her. He cannot be vulnerable with his wife; instead he immediately goes on the attack. “Do you know when you look your most beautiful? When I can’t see any of them in you,” he tells her. Later, when JP finds a vibrator Eva gifted Grace, he shifts the implied blame for his erectile dysfunction from Grace’s sisters to Grace herself. For the first time ever, we see Grace bite back: “I have [the vibrator] because we are not like that anymore, and I need something.” While her sisters might not see it yet, Grace is not going quietly; she has found the energy to fight back partly because of her relationship with her daughter. Increasingly, I wonder if Grace might be the one who ultimately takes out JP — most likely not in a premeditated way, but in a moment of honest anger expressed at all JP has done to her under the guise of love.
We don’t spend too much time in present-day Bad Sisters, but the time we do have is some of the episode’s best. There’s a moment of touching connection between Tom and Grace. We have rarely seen Tom open up to anyone about his many anxieties, but he does with sweet Grace, admitting that he is incredibly nervous about being a father. Grace tells him that JP was the same way and gifts Tom a pair of Blanaid’s baby mittens. It’s not enough for Tom to call off his desperate search for fraud, but he still carries the knit mittens when he leaves a voice-mail for Matt about a damning piece of medical evidence. Following last week’s reveal that Tom kept the true nature of their father’s death from Matt, Matt is still not answering Tom’s phone calls. But we can see him thawing to his brother, aided by Becka, who encourages Matt to forgive Tom: “I get that you’re hurting, but if the cost of that is your relationship with your only brother, then the price is too high.”
If you’re wondering, this episode is when Becka and Matt fall in love. After sleeping together, they go on a gently sunlit date through a field of flowers and gaze besottedly into each other’s eyes. It’s not the picturesque scene that does it (though it certainly doesn’t hurt) but the way they both let each other in. Matt confides in Becka about his father’s death by suicide and his brother keeping it from him. Becka tells Matt that she thinks she might go after bad men because she wants her parents, who are no longer there, to tell her she deserves better. She tells Matt of her secret dream: some kind of signal from her parents that she has found the right partner. “Maybe some night I’ll be sat with some lad, who’s not some arbitrary arsehole, and maybe I’ll hear … music or something.” Shortly after, as Becka and Matt gaze at one another, chimes sing in the wind. They laugh and are in love. There’s no turning back now.
• Does anyone else get Practical Magic house vibes from the Garvey family home?
• We get more insight into JP’s traumatic childhood from Min. Her dementia-influenced comments imply that JP’s father had an anger problem. Not particularly surprising, but very sad nonetheless.
• Also, Min gives Becka a check for 8,000 euros, thinking she is giving her dead daughter money for school. Matt finds the check tucked into a coloring book in the present-day story line. He takes a photo of it on his phone — yes, this is before they officially Fall in Love.
• Bad Sisters finds the time to make an educational joke about how Benjamin Franklin was a perv, and this is one of the many reasons I love this show.
• Roger, a very gentle soul, doesn’t mind telling Tom how it is: No, he was not friends with JP. No one was friends with JP.
• In one of my favorite scenes from the episode, we see Grace and Roger dance on the lawn together in the flashback timeline. It is a bookend to last week’s episode, which saw Grace unable to let her guard down to dance in class. Here, with Roger, she is able to be free and enjoy herself. It’s a beautiful moment. Roger is such a good neighbor.
• “It’s just a shame that he didn’t do himself in properly the first time he tried.” It’s Roger who tips Tom off about the past “suicide attempt.” What does Tom find in the medical file? Ursula claims Rohypnol doesn’t appear on drug tests (“It’s the same reason why most rape trials fall apart”).
• We see Bibi work through her guilt around half-blinding someone. She refuses to see her sisters and visits the hospital where the paintball dude is currently staying. “I thought I was owed this, to get even for myself. And all I managed to do was this to something else,” she tells Becka, who tracks her down. “The only mistake you made was thinking any of this was for you. It should have been for your sister.” This logic seems to help Bibi, but I would argue it’s okay to feel bad about half-blinding a man. Like, maybe the others should feel a little worse about this too? I kind of wish this plot development had never happened. I am not in the habit of wishing for more depictions of women feeling guilty on TV.
• “She doesn’t even see herself as a woman anymore. There’ll be nothing left of her soon. And Blanaid’s next.” Becka makes a good point about Blanaid here: It’s only a matter of time before JP turns his attention to making her feel small too.
• “Hug me back, you cow.” Between this and Eva and Becka giggling about a fart under Blanaid’s bed while they wait for JP to pass out, Bad Sisters really gets something right about sibling relationships.
• Donal isn’t a bad husband. He gets that something is up with Ursula and wants to know if it is partially his fault. They hug in the hospital hall, and before EMT Donal is called away, you know Ursula is considering telling him everything.
• “Don’t you dare go put netball between me and this marriage!” Maybe my favorite quote from this show so far — and that’s a competitive category.