Dash & Lily
“Well, we’ve run into a problem,” Dash writes to Lily after realizing that maybe there are a few things they just can’t tell each other yet. There’s actually a whole bunch of problems Dash and Lily are facing in episode five. What neither of them knows, however, is that they’re both responding to their problems in better, healthier ways than they would’ve before meeting, er, “meeting.” When both Dash and Lily reach the moment of having to decide how to respond to certain obstacles, they hear the other one’s advice and it works. They are in each other’s heads now and all the better for it.
Let’s start with Lily. Dash has sent Lily to the Break Room for her next “dare.” Dear, sweet Lily assumes this place — where she is instructed to “build a manifestation of what’s been occupying [her] mental space” — is just a space where “we all take a fun, creative craft break as a group.” She makes a Muppet that she thinks could look like Dash (it is devastatingly accurate). She feels relaxed post-crafting. But this is not what the Break Room is. The Break Room is a place “where you literally break shit to feel better.” She’s supposed to murder that Muppet. Dash has sent her here in response to her claim that when it rains, she is always looking for rainbows. She avoids any bad feelings she has in hopes of finding the good in every situation. But Dash thinks that sometimes there are no rainbows to be found, and every once in a while you need to “stand in the rain and scream.” He wants her to let it all out.
Lily will not. She might admit that she avoids certain feelings, but she’s not ready to stop looking for rainbows. She will not murder that Muppet. Instead, she heads to the dog park she frequents, even though she doesn’t have a dog — she just likes to make treats for other people’s dogs. That’s our Lil. What sounds like the end to a lovely afternoon out ends on a strange note.
Who should appear at the dog park but Edgar, Lily’s middle-school bully who chased her out of the underground punk show the other night. He tells her that he saw on her Instagram that she only visited this specific dog park, usually around 3 p.m., so he’s been coming by and waiting to see if she’d show. Lily explains that this is the “literal definition of stalking” and quite frankly is over him popping up places to tell her she’s weird. She’s so wrapped up in her own insecurities that she can’t hear what he’s trying to tell her. (I mean, part of it is probably also the ACTUAL STALKING thing, which is not a good look, Edgar.) He explains that he’s been trying to give her a compliment — he has always, since they were kids, been jealous of how free and able to let go she is. He also calls her cute. And, the true kicker: He’s still wearing that friendship bracelet she gave to him in middle school. He invites her to a slam-poetry reading that night. Lily, extremely confused by the entire interaction, skulks off.
Unfortunately, there is no clarity to be found at home, either. When she gets home, she walks in on the end of Langston breaking up with Benny, because he’s headed to Puerto Rico and Langston refuses to get his heart broken by a long-distance relationship again. He’s in a foul mood and unleashes it on his sister, letting the big secret out: Their parents aren’t in Fiji for a second honeymoon; they’re there because Lily’s dad has a job offer, and if he gets it, Lily will be moving to Fiji with her parents. No one wanted to tell her because they knew she’d freak out. Lily’s entire family has been lying to her. She loses it.
There are no rainbows to find here, and as the rage builds up inside of her so much that it looks like Lily could actually burst, she remembers what Dash said. Sometimes you need to stand in the rain and scream. Let it out. And Lily does. On an unsuspecting family of snowmen she passes by in the park. It is a delightful, rage-fueled massacre.
All of that rage carries Lily right into the slam-poetry reading, where she grabs the mic from the emcee. She has things to say and will be heard! “I just beat the crap out of something, and it felt amazing!” she says to the audience members, who are immediately behind her. She goes on about being tired of pretending to be positive all the time and that, in reality, she “usually feel[s] small.” And that sometimes it’s okay to say that things are awful. That’s when she points out Edgar sitting in the crowd. She vomits up everything she’s been keeping inside about what he did to her that day at the Winter Dance. How after that moment everything changed for her. She shut herself away in every sense of the phrase. “You stopped me from doing all the things I wanted to do for so long,” she tells him. But that’s over now. She’s not letting bullies who made her feel like she was “too weird, too different, too Asian” have power over her anymore.
Around this point in Lily’s speech, Edgar stands up and attempts to apologize. He was 12 and had no idea he did that to her — and he’s unbelievably sorry. He wants to take her to a Christmas Eve party with friends from his school, to introduce her to people, to help her start living. Edgar is definitely a doofus, but not understanding why tracking down a woman at a park is concerning aside, he seems genuine. Lily accepts. The crowd cheers. Is this what all slam-poetry readings are like?
So what’s Dash up to while all of this is going down? Handling his own drama, of course. For his “dare,” Lily wants to show Dash that he’s too in his head. He overthinks everything. Sometimes a person simply needs to “go with the flow.” So Lily sends him to a mochi-making class with a bunch of Japanese grannies who remain unenthused by his presence there. He’s terrible at it, surprising no one. “Listen to your mochi,” Lily writes in the notebook. When your mind is quiet, “sometimes the best answer to a problem makes itself heard.” When Dash finally does this and makes an acceptable mochi, he calls the whole exercise “torture, but worth it.” Very on-brand for Dash.
And then, in a turn of events that Dash would probably roll his eyes at for being a little too on the nose, Dash’s dad walks into the apartment with his latest “girlfriend of the week” and proceeds to eat Dash’s mochi in one bite. Whatever relaxation and peace Dash had found through Lily’s challenge, it is immediately gone. Dash’s dad, Gordon, who, let’s be real, seems like a huge dick, wants Dash to join him and his girlfriend, Leeza, for dinner. This sends Dash into a tailspin over years and years of memories of dinners with his dad that end in huge arguments. The only person who has ever made them even remotely tolerable was his ex, Sofia. He can’t go to Lily for help here, so he calls Sofia and invites her to dinner.
Sofia shows us just how skilled she is with handling Gordon. She’s friendly and warm and you can tell she’s a person who just knows how to talk to their boyfriend’s parents. But here’s the thing: This time around, Dash doesn’t need her. When his dad starts prodding him with a line of questioning that would usually lead to a blowout fight, Dash remembers Lily’s words. Listen to your mochi. He quiets his mind and then he knows what to say. Instead of feeding into the fight, he brings up a sweet memory of him and his dad from childhood. And suddenly everything’s fine. After dinner, Sofia remarks on how different Dash seems. She might not know what brought this transformation, but we do: It’s Lily.
Feeling good and grateful to Sofia for the moral support, he heads out with her to meet up with friends from school. Surprise, guys: One of Dash’s fellow classmates happens to be Edgar. Yep. That Edgar. Just as Dash is accepting Sofia’s invitation to go to Priya’s Christmas Eve party together, Edgar’s talking about how he’ll be bringing his own date. Priya’s Christmas Eve party just got infinitely more interesting.
• Dash’s way of relaxing at home is to write to the girl he likes while wearing a silk robe and sipping on brandy. Is Dash actually someone’s grandfather? Is this a Benjamin Button situation?
• “I’m tired of boys pulling our pigtails and getting called cute!” PREACH, LILY.
• The granny in the mochi class who takes Dash’s first mochi — of which he is so proud — and immediately throws it into the trash without saying a word has the kind of energy we all need to be bringing into 2021.