Behind Her Eyes
When I think about the 50-ish minutes I just watched, it reminds me of a frustrating week at therapy. In part because, yes, a therapist’s weekly session is roughly 50-ish minutes, and yes, David is a psychiatrist, and yes, all three of these main characters are in deep need of some professional help. But also because in a bad therapy session, it’s a struggle to articulate a clear through line from the jumble of everything swirling around in your head. When I try to think back on what actually happened during this episode, it’s all swirled up and jumbled, just a bunch of indistinguishable scenes in which something sinister is hinted at.
Or maybe it’s more like a fugue, which I mean in both the musical and psychiatric definitions of the term. It’s like a musical fugue because it’s just, like, angst in the round, with everyone taking turns resenting and lusting for and not-trusting one another in equal measures.
Is Behind Her Eyes also like living in a fugue state, disassociating from one’s physical and mental environments? I mean … yes? This episode opens with a shot of a countryside estate, which I’m presuming is either a faraway shot of the psych facility or a shot of where David and/or Adele grew up. Then we see present-day Adele sleeping; in voiceover, she recites the instructions Rob wrote down for controlling his night terrors (instructions he originally received from her). Is all of this pastoral scenery we keep seeing, the forest and the well, images that represent where Adele goes when she goes through the door in her own dreams?
Not long after, Louise and David do more of their awkward-but-flirty bit at the office, followed by David and Adele doing more of their I-love-him-he-loves-me-not bit on the phone. Then David comes out of his office and makes a big show out of slamming some file drawers, and around the same time, Louise gets a text from Adele. This setup has become stale already, I fear: Just when Louise is ready to fully join Team David, he acts in an off-putting way and in swoops Adele.
I also just want to mention one thing here about David and the actor portraying him, Tom Bateman. I think Bateman (who I don’t think I’ve seen in anything else) is doing a pretty admirable job of fluctuating between sinister/controlling, rakish/charming, and hurt/confused. This is totally out-there, but something about David and his predicament remind me of Something Borrowed, an awful 2011 rom-com in which Ginnifer Goodwin played a sweet, forgettable girl who had a crush on this hot, forgettable guy played by Colin Eggleston. And Kate Hudson was her superficial, backstab-y BFF who basically dated the guy to lord it over Goodwin’s character. Anyway, the only thing I remember from watching that movie was Eggleston’s perpetually befuddled mug as his character was torn between two very different women; the role felt dumb and impossible, and that’s sometimes how I feel about David.
Back to the show, where we’re treated to another flashback with Lucas Hedges auditioning for Trainspotting — I mean, Rob the smack addict. He and teenage Adele are happily sharing a joint, which Rob tells her he procured by performing oral sex on a “big, fat” nurse named Gary, an exchange Rob describes as a “win-win.” They talk about the instructions in Rob’s notebook; Adele says once you dream up a door and pass through it, “then you can dream anything you like.” Cut to present-day Adele, lying on her bed and counting her fingers; cut to Louise, opening her apartment door for David. (Oooh, doors!)
David and Louise do their whole I-can’t-but-I-can’t-help-myself bit and wind up in bed together again. Afterwards, David tells Louise, “You shine.” And what about Adele; does she shine? “She did,” David says, but in his Scottish brogue, it sounds at first like, “She’s dead.” In the next scene, we finally get a close-up of that gleaming knife rack (speaking of dead!) that’s been lurking in the background of David and Adele’s kitchen as Adele maniacally chops peppers. He comes home and looks disgustedly at the opulent dinner she’s prepared. “Is it happening again?” he asks her. “Should I start looking for a new job?” Similarly, a couple scenes later, when Adele tells David (on one of his check-in calls) that she plans to “go to the gym then maybe find some cozy café for a coffee,” he responds with, “Is that meant to be funny?” All of these cryptic clues are making me feel like I’m playing Clue and not doing a good job of it: Either Adele or David did it … in a home or perhaps restaurant kitchen?… with either a knife or a match??
It’s also starting to feel like Behind Her Eyes is becoming Adele’s story when I want and expected it to be Louise’s story. (As mentioned earlier, the flashback scenes are in chapters titled “Then” in the book. Pretty much all the other chapters are either titled “Adele” or “Louise” in roughly equal measure.) So when Louise foolishly agrees to meet up with Adele again, I can’t be too mad, because at least it’s more screen time for her. They talk about Rob’s notebook; when Louise asks who Rob was, Louise says he was just “an old friend.” In what must be a flashback dream, we see that Rob was finally able to conjure up a dream door to open and walk through. (His night terrors basically involve being chased and terrorized by what look like zombie junkies.) On the other side of his door, there’s Adele in a flowing, white (of course) dress; he’s also in white, and they’re served a pair of tropical drinks (brightly colored ones at that) by a waiter in a tuxedo jacket and, we see in a clever reveal, ass-less pants. It’s my first true laugh of the series. Adele throws Rob a knowing look and a giggling Rob replies, “What? It’s my dream.” I’m starting to wish for the Rob-and-Adele prequel.
David and Louise shag again after that addicted young patient of his, Anthony, ominously appears at the office and they’re both forced to stay late; evidence of David’s compassionate and caring side also ensues. (Did anyone else think that Louise’s yellow dress in this scene was reminiscent of the yellow dress she always seems to wear in her night terrors?) Then Louise meets up for a drink with that Standard Issue Sidekick Friend of hers, Sophie, who tries to persuade her to dump both David and Adele; exposition literally ensues when Louise tells her friend, “You don’t understand,” and the friend replies, “Well then, explain.” Says Louise, “Adele’s kind and generous and she seems too perfect, but she’s sad and lonely and I know what that’s like … They’re both a lot happier with me then they are with each other.” Plus, she notes, the affair will have to end once Adam’s back from holiday. Standard Issue Montage ensues of Louise having fun with David, Adele, David, Adele. At one point, a shot of Louise looking up at the ceiling while having sex with David smash-cuts to Adele looking down at her as she bench-presses at the gym; it’s my second true laugh of the season. (Side question: Why does Adele wear all black only when working out?)
Back in bed, Louise asks David about his burn scars and all he says is “there was a fire near where I lived … I pulled a girl out.” When asked what happened to the girl, he says he’s not sure. Back at the psych facility, Rob finds out that Adele has signed away all her familial wealth to David; she also explicitly confirms something that’s pretty obvious at this point, that the reason she wears David’s watch is because his arm is too badly burned to wear it after he pulled her out of the fire that killed her parents. (Oh, I forgot! This episode also gives us a shot of the watch at the bottom of the well. Concrete fact!)
“David will take care of me. He always does,” she tells Rob, and I find myself wondering what exactly Rob wants in all of this. Presumably, he doesn’t want Adele in a sexual way, but he obviously really likes her and seems very protective of her and seems to explicitly not trust David.
In the present day, Adele walks over to the wrong side of the tracks for some reason. Is she searching for Anthony? Does she know him? Does she know that, earlier in the episode, Anthony saw David and Louise kissing under a bridge? In any case, some street toughs encircle her in a coordinated, West Side Story kind of way and she gets punched in the face. She tells David her black eye came from a cupboard door and that it’s her own fault. David tells Adele he can’t look after her anymore and she says, “We share something that we can never tell anyone … You know you can never leave me, David.” It is just the two of them in the room. Why are they speaking so cryptically? Who talks like this?!
On a happier note, Louise finally gets through the door in her night terrors. On the other side is pure, candy-colored bliss: an idyllic home, big slices of pie to tuck into, a comfy kids’ bed to fall asleep in, and lots of yellow tones like her dress. At least someone’s feeling content.
I feel like I’m starting to hit some breaking points. They’ve given us a teeny bit more info: We know Adele signed away everything to David before they got married. (But … so what? Couldn’t she just divorce him and get at least half of that money back?) We know David’s watch is down at the bottom of the well. What we don’t know: Why did Adele go to the dodgy area of town? To find herself a replacement Rob? Is David’s addiction outreach somehow related to Rob? Does he feel guilty about Rob’s death? What happened to Rob and where is he now???
Here’s the thing: I want to know what happens, yes. But I feel like at this point, someone could just tell me how it all ends and I’d be cool with that. I don’t feel like I need to see it all play out myself. Maybe I can count my fingers and envision a door to another show.