Well, so much for Lennon being alive. Fifteen minutes into “Hot Shrimp Salad,” Alison almost chases down her stalker, but she’s overtaken by a group of townies in body paint running naked down the beach to celebrate the summer solstice. She winds up in the water, only to turn and find her dead sister floating next to her.
With the confirmation of Lennon’s death, “Hot Shrimp Salad” relocates the center of the mystery from Lennon to Bruce and Clara, teasing a complicated past between them. Clara, who left Alison’s necklace for Bruce and likely left her sweatshirt for Dylan, was in possession of Lennon’s body this whole time — she wanted to use it for some purpose on the solstice, but it turned out “she’s not the one.” She says some stuff about how she prepared Lennon for the next life, which makes me assume she and Bruce had some past involvement in the cult that committed mass suicide in the cave. (Whether intentionally or not, the show still hasn’t really clarified whether Alison’s mom’s suicide was part of the mass suicide or separate.)
Of course, there’s still a killer out there, whether it’s Clara or someone else. Doug gets close to the truth when he tracks some bitcoin payments from Lennon’s OnlyFans to Dale’s bank account. Unfortunately, the ceremonial burning of Lennon’s body is interrupted by a text alert and a scream. There’s a new text from Alison’s phone to the group, this one saying, “I’m still here.” And two more people were murdered at Bruce’s restaurant: Doug and Harold, the chef.
But much of “Hot Shrimp Salad,” despite its muted reveals, is less about mystery and more about character drama. Lennon’s death is out in the open now, but everyone thinks it’s Alison who died. That means Alison has to not only keep her grief for Lennon private but watch all her friends mourn her at her funeral. It’s agonizing, and it’s no surprise she wishes she could somehow reveal her true self again — especially now that she knows for sure Dylan loved her. Dylan remains steadfast in his anger toward Lennon and his guilt about Alison, finally taking this opportunity to apologize to the corpse while the real Alison listens. The constant tension of Alison lying to all her friends remains the show’s best (only?) source of actual human drama, even if it’s something out of a Lifetime movie.
Last episode gave us Dylan’s perspective on graduation night, but with little new information or insight into his character. “Hot Shrimp Salad” does the same for Margot, but to its credit, it gives us some important new context for that night. We learn that Lennon and Margot were making professional-looking porn for Lennon’s OnlyFans (under the name @AllyWally, another unprovoked attack on her sister) and that Margot actually had feelings for Lennon. After Lennon slept with Dylan, she and Margot got into a fight, and Margot couldn’t get her to admit she loved her back. In fact, Lennon returns Margot’s declaration of love with a nice “If you knew me at all, you’d know that I don’t give a single flying fuck about you.” Is it inappropriate to say the right twin died? Even if she has no involvement in the murders, she’s a complete monster.
The only problem is … does this really track with what we know? Back in the first episode, we did get a brief glimpse of Margot looking upset after finding Lennon in her room, so now we understand why. But when Margot piled into the car with everyone else shortly after, she seemed back to normal, calling Lennon (actually Alison) a “goddess.”
There’s a general lack of clarity to many of the reveals in this show because they’re dispensed casually at odd moments and not always followed up on. Did Alison show her friends the Lennon-Dylan sex tape offscreen, or were they all sent it in the first place? Why didn’t we see such an important moment? Why haven’t we seen Riley’s potentially jealous or angry reaction to the revelation of Dylan and Lennon having sex that night, and why does she seem so chill joking about it with him? Four episodes in, it’s already difficult to keep track of who knows what, and that’s partly because so much of it seems to happen offscreen.
And the same goes for the strange Alison-Lennon-Margot triangle that forms here. Is Alison learning about Lennon and Margot’s sexual relationship for the first time? If so, how has she been getting by in all her interactions with Margot without knowing this important facet to the friendship she’s parroting? It feels convenient that Alison can so easily roll with each new piece of information she learns about Lennon. It deflates some of the tension that nobody has come close to figuring out the truth.
This gets all the more complicated near the end of the episode when Alison apologizes to Margot for mistreating her, and the two end up making out. For Alison, what does this mean — is she just getting more into the role of Lennon, taking on some of her qualities and stealing her relationships out of sheer desperation and loneliness? Have she, Lennon, and Margot all had relationships with other women, or are these the first?
We’re halfway through the season now, but the longer the show goes on, the messier it feels, in both tone and narrative. Every time one question is answered, five others sprout up in its place. I think it’s about time to start tying everything together.
Some Other Stuff They Did Last Summer
• It is a nice moment when Alison thinks she sees Lennon through the window, but it’s her own reflection. Classic dead-twin-alive-twin stuff.
• Doug seems to rule out Kelly Craft as the killer.
• Another nice scene between Alison and Bruce, where he lays out the brutal truth that she has no other option but to keep living as Lennon. I typically like the Alison-Bruce scenes because there’s a nice sense of familiarity and love there, and Bruce is the only person with whom Alison can be honest. I guess his scene with Clara shows he’s still hiding things from his daughter, though.
• I’m sure we’ll learn more about the specifics of Bruce and Clara’s relationship, but for now, I’m mostly curious if Bruce thinks she could be involved in the murders. He doesn’t seem to think so, but she’s the most obvious suspect for us, so I wonder why he isn’t suspicious.
• A funny, ironic line to Alison from an unnamed funeral attendee: “At least Alison’s not in pain anymore.”
• Please, writers, ease up on the “low-key”s and “high-key”s. It’s like Riley last episode with “sus.”