We’re starting to get a glimpse of the bigger picture now, and it’s pretty entertaining. “Mukbang” has a lot of the same problems as other episodes this season: some cheesy dialogue, a weird supporting-character subplot, and a general lack of clarity about what everyone knows. But the pacing is good, the plot moves forward, and we get our first actual suspense scene of the series.
Most satisfyingly, everyone finally recognizes Clara for the obvious murder suspect she is. It starts when she interrupts Dylan carving Alison’s name into the wall of the cave, a bloody knife in her hand as she rambles about the futility of redemption. Dylan visits Alison, and they agree that Clara makes the most sense as the killer, for the reasons we all already know: She saw them at the cave that night, she had access to Alison’s body and belongings, and she had a black truck like Alison’s stalker. They resolve to find proof.
But first, let’s talk about the interrogation scene when Lyla and another cop question everyone about the night of Alison’s funeral and ask about their connections to Dale. Lennon’s OnlyFans also comes up, which leads me to a bunch of questions.
Here’s the main one: Why are Alison-as-Lennon and Margot hiding what they know about the OnlyFans account and pretending it belonged to Alison? Maybe someone took down the account already, but it’s still the kind of lie that can be exposed so easily if the cops ever manage to get some form of access or track down all the subscribers. Besides, everyone knows that Lennon, despite her whole golden-girl vibe, would be the one to have an OnlyFans. Not Alison.
It’s also unclear who, in general, was subscribed to this account. Did Lennon have lots of anonymous male fans online? Were there other guys she knew personally who subscribed besides Dale? (Again, we never really heard more about the nature of Dale’s obsession with Lennon — if it’s common knowledge, that’s something else that could get back to the cops.) Margot’s participation in Lennon’s porn makes me assume the account was under wraps, but still, their lies about the account seem so easy to disprove. And I continue to be confused by how easily Alison gets by, just casually pretending she has all the same information Margot and all the others do about Lennon.
Anyway, after telling a bunch of bullshit to the cops, the kids take the opportunity to look at Clara’s house. Out back, they stumble upon the empty buildings of the cult who died in the mass suicide 25 years ago. There’s a spooky amphitheater, a spooky garage, some spooky mattress-lined bedrooms, and a spooky archive full of old cult scrapbooks. In one of them, Alison finds a photo from Clara’s wedding … to Bruce! It’s a weird, crazy twist, but it’s fun, and maybe it makes some degree of sense, though this show really doesn’t include much in the way of real foreshadowing.
Everyone takes too long leisurely snooping around, of course, leading to easily the most thrilling scene of the show when it comes to action and suspense. It’s a classic home-invasion movie scenario, with the burglars scrambling to escape before the homeowner gets home — and then the secretly murderous homeowner setting out for revenge. Clara has a shotgun, a machete, dogs, and who knows what other animals. But in the end, the kids all make it out, and Alison has some photos to prove Bruce and Clara’s past.
Alison does confront Bruce at the end of the episode, but she does the TV-character thing that always annoys me: She accuses him of being a liar, then walks away, refusing to have an actual conversation or ask any questions or even just specify what he lied about. She just crashes with Margot, whom she’s been avoiding since their kiss last episode.
Bruce is in his own world, still haunted by Lennon. He gets the flashback-frame-story treatment this episode, with his perspective of graduation night last summer. It turns out there’s a secret Bruce and Lennon shared, something Alison still doesn’t know. Fresh off a blowup fight with Alison about their mom, Lennon urges Bruce to tell Alison the truth. “We both decided it’d be best if she didn’t know,” Bruce says, prompting Lennon to accuse him of manipulating her into making the decision he knew would protect him. Stopped on the highway, she gets out of the car, where Bruce leaves her behind. It’s the last time he’ll ever see her (besides, you know, every day that he watches her identical twin pretend to be her).
It’s an interesting side story that might hold the key to the show’s biggest mysteries. Bruce is the most significant question mark in this story right now; we don’t know how deep his lies go. We have no reason to think Bruce has been abusive or truly awful as a parent, but some of his arguments with his daughters have seemed to imply some deep, repressive pathology to which we’re not privy. Up to this point, we’ve had every reason to distrust everything Lennon says — but is she right, to an extent, about her dad coercing her into a lie she never wanted to tell? It echoes the lie Bruce forced Alison to maintain, just later that summer night — another lie to protect him and his tidy life, regardless of the emotional damage it might do. In the end, could Bruce be the real monster at the center of this story?
Some Other Stuff They Did Last Summer
• The episode ends with a shot of Clara’s bloody machete and the sound of gasping for breath. Is it her we’re hearing, bleeding out? It’s hard for me to see what’s going on in that shot.
• Margot has been binge-eating again on-camera while she’s feeling lonely and sad. I’m really not sure what to make of this — the show never commits to really exploring Margot’s mental illness or her relationship with food, which is a disservice to such a serious issue. But does this type of story really belong in a show like this to begin with?
• I truly could not tell you what’s going on between Riley and Dylan. Riley assures Alison she’s not into him, which seems like a classic lady-doth-protest-too-much situation, but who knows? Then, later, Dylan claims he doesn’t talk to her anymore because he realized how different they are. Why? Because she was slightly more willing to lie than he was last summer? It makes Dylan come across as a sanctimonious little dick, honestly. Do we think he’ll hold Alison to the same standard when he finds out what she’s been lying about the past year? I hope so, but I doubt it!
• Good line reading from Madison Iseman when Margot’s mom says, “Speak of the devil!” and Alison mumbles, “That’s me, the devil.”
• Alison’s suggestion that “Maybe I don’t have real feelings and I was just having some fucking fun” is the most she’s ever sounded like Lennon. Good job!
• Lyla finds out somebody had brought in spiders from the Arctic and kept them cold so they could be put in Johnny’s head. We then immediately cut to the icy spider cage at Clara’s place.
• Riley: “I mean, there’s no proof she’s a killer, and it’s getting dark, which means she’s gonna come home and kill us.”