This was a hard episode of Bad Sisters to watch because, perhaps for the first time, it truly had me sympathizing with JP. Presumably, this was intentional on the show’s part. Bad Sisters isn’t the type of show to fully give one episode over to any one character (this isn’t Lost or Skins). It’s much too much of an interwoven ensemble for that, with snippets of insight into the interiority of all our main players stitched into every installment. But each episode does tend to highlight one character for the A plot — and JP took the spotlight this hour.
“Rest in Peace” starts where the previous episode ends: with JP seemingly dead in the water. But, like some kind of misogynist zombie, he rises back to life. His thrashing attracts the attention of Gabriel, whom we know from previous episodes lives on a boat in the harbor. Gabriel — bless him — jumps into the night sea without any hesitation to save JP’s life, quashing the Garvey sisters’ latest attempt to take out their brother-in-law.
Over the course of the episode, we see JP slowly regaining snippets of his post-Rohypnol memory. These flashbacks serve various purposes (humor, sympathy, suspense, as JP’s memories could implicate our protagonists), but what is most noteworthy about them is that they align the viewer with JP. When we see these flashbacks, we are ostensibly in JP’s head, and that kind of formal connection has incredible narrative power. I doubt many viewers finished this episode on JP’s side — he’s still the absolute worst (R.I.P., Harry Styles the Kitten) — but this hour did serve to emphasize that, whatever else JP is, he is a thinking, feeling human.
JP doesn’t stay down for long. When he wakes up in the hospital with everyone convinced he attempted suicide, he barely misses a beat, heading to his job interview in the casual clothes Grace brought for him to the hospital. According to boss Gerald, he nails it. Unfortunately for JP, so did Eva. Gerald is maybe the only person on the planet who doesn’t notice the visceral hate between Eva and JP. “And you’re family, so it’s a win-win, isn’t it?” Gerald tells JP, delightedly, when relaying that the promotion could go either way. “Whoever gets the job, it keeps it in the family.” Oh, Gerald.
Thematically, “Rest in Peace” does an excellent job articulating one of the show’s central explorations: the pull between the nuclear family you’re born into and the nuclear family you build in a world where there’s not enough time to properly take care of either. We see it everywhere in this episode. In Matt and Becka’s potential family (I’m jumping the gun a bit here — they only just started dating — but you know they are both in it) as both struggle to balance the loyalty they have to their respective siblings with the love they are beginning to have for each other. In Theresa’s reminder to Matt: “Family first, Little Matt second, remember?” In Donal’s demand that Ursula be more present in their home and family unit: “We’re your family too.” And, of course, in JP’s constant attempts to cut Grace off from her sisters.
I love the relationship between Becka and Minna because it complicates this theme. Sure, it is hard to balance the commitment and love you have between your two families, but the way Becka and Minna love and take care of each other is a reminder that this is one family, too, and things tend to be easier for everyone when its members allow themselves to take care of each other across traditionally defined nuclear family lines … Then Becka finds the frozen corpse of JP’s father buried underneath a bunch of dead birds in the basement freezer. I’m not sure yet how that fits into the theme.
We’re perhaps intended to believe here that JP killed his dad, but I am pretty sure it will be both less dramatic and more complicated than that. Honestly, the further I get into Bad Sisters, the less I think this is a show about murder. Maybe that’s naïve of me. Obviously, the Garvey sisters are attempting murder all over the place. But when I think about what kind of thematic climax Bad Sisters might be working toward, I don’t think it’s about these characters we have grown to love killing another character we have grown to recognize as human.
We’ll find out soon enough. In the present-day story line, Tom has finally convinced the inspector to exhume JP’s body. It cost Matt Becka. One of the pieces of evidence Tom uses is the uncashed check written by Minna to Becka for 8,000 euros. In this case, Matt has chosen his brother, and betrayed Becka’s trust in the process. It’s enough to make me not want to watch the next episode as we watch Becka leave a sweet, vulnerable voicemail on Matt’s phone about how she’s getting butterflies just thinking about their curry-dinner date. Meanwhile, Matt is getting drunk at the local pub, obviously intending to break both of their hearts by blowing her off. My heart can’t take it.
• “Oh, he has no trousers on.” “That’s not a big priority now, David.” The character introduction of David, Gabriel’s lover and maybe boyfriend, has got to be my favorite so far.
• If you needed any more proof the Garvey sisters are not actually cold-hearted, seasoned killers, look no further than the way Eva peels away from the scene of the crime in her flashy car. Gabriel sees her along with Becka in the front seat and later asks Eva about it. When Tom and Matt show up at his boat in the present day, he tells them about it too.
• In the present-day story line, Gabriel and Eva are no longer friends, and I need the show to rectify that before its close.
• The progress Grace made in taking up space for herself is lost this week, a result of both JP’s near death and the gentle way he treats Grace after he carelessly knocks her down the front steps in the midst of a fight. It is not intentional, but it is also a result of JP’s unresolved anger issues. Presumably, the care he gives a concussed Grace in the hospital is at least partially motivated by a desire to keep her from relaying to either her sisters or the authorities that it was JP’s fault she was hurt.
• “Jesus Christ, I can’t say I’m sick because I’m not sick. Someone tried to kill me.” JP is 100 percent certain someone is trying to kill him — which, to be fair, someone is.
• Ben is back this episode, accosting a relatively happy-to-see him Ursula on her walk. Ursula lets him know she needs a break to sort out her complicated life, and they kiss as if they’re drowning — a moment that also leads me to ask the question: Just how big is the town they live in? In moments like this, when Ben and Ursula don’t seem to worry that someone they know might see them, it feels huge. Other times, like when the inspector mentions the public hubbub an exhumation will cause, it feels tiny.
• While dropping off the bottle of whiskey Grace bought Gabriel for saving JP’s life, JP sees Gabriel with David. Presumably, he is going to use this information against Gabriel — again, the man who saved his life — because that’s how he rolls. Is this what happens to Gabriel and Eva’s friendship? Does JP blackmail him into giving her the cold shoulder? I really care about this.
• If you were wondering, Becka’s mustache is not a mustache; it’s peach fuzz, and it’s charming.