I Know What You Did Last Summer
Riley is a weird character. Up to this point in the show, she hasn’t gotten the sort of (admittedly still scant) development Alison, Dylan, Margot, or even Lennon have. All we know is she deals drugs, maybe has a thing for Dylan, and … is sarcastic sometimes?
Much of the tension of “Least You Had a Spare” relies on us caring about Riley, whose fate hangs in the balance. The episode opens by revisiting last week’s escape from Clara’s property — Riley texted the group that she’d made it out, but that wasn’t the end of it. Just as Riley made it off the property, she got hit by a car and stabbed through the chest, with one arm cleanly macheted off.
Riley’s fate is ambiguous throughout much of the episode as she staggers home. Most of her screen time is devoted to her perspective on graduation night last summer, a sort of final stab at characterization to give Riley’s final day some tragedy. Unfortunately, it’s another pointless series of flashbacks, like Dylan’s from “A Gorilla Head Will Not Do.” We really don’t learn anything new: Riley was pining for Dylan and kissed him in the bouncy house, but he pulled away before it could go further, and she lashed out. She does say, “I was actually saving myself for you” after he leaves, so I guess this is confirmation Riley really did have feelings for Dylan. But again … we figured.
Back in the present day, everyone quickly realizes nobody has heard from Riley since last night. Her mom Courtney goes looking for her, insisting to Bruce and Lyla that something must be wrong, even if it’s too soon to label Riley a missing person. It’s the first real storyline for Courtney, who becomes much more sympathetic when Cassie Beck is allowed to let her panic and increasing desperation show. Unfortunately, it’s the end of the line for Courtney, who falls into another Final Destination–esque trap involving a chain strangling and hanging her while it slits her throat. And Riley herself only manages to stagger home before finally bleeding out.
Alison and Dylan go on their own expedition that day, though their path never actually meets Riley’s. After they find her chopped-off arm, they crash with Margot — but Dylan leaves in the middle of the night to carve Riley’s name into the cave wall. He then follows a rat back to Clara’s creepy honey den, only to see Clara dragging Riley’s (presumably dead) body in. “Tide’s coming in,” she tells him casually.
The biggest bombshells this episode, though, have nothing to do with Riley. We finally get some clarification about Bruce’s past with Clara, which involves Fred Phillips, the older guy Lennon was messaging before she died. Alison has been avoiding her dad since she saw him in Clara’s photo albums, but eventually she confronts him and learns the truth: Bruce, Clara, and Alison and Lennon’s mom were in the cult. In fact, their mom is still alive — she just left the family and went with Fred, and requested Bruce tell them she killed herself. He wanted to tell them the truth but then wimped out when he saw their “little faces” … because it’s apparently so much easier to tell two young girls their mom killed herself than telling them she left? Sure!
This reframes the whole narrative: Just as the revelation of Lennon being dead and Alison being alive could devastate all of Alison’s friends, this surprising resurrection devastates Alison. She understands the context for her final argument with Lennon now, and Bruce reveals his role in Lennon being in the middle of the road that night. To make it all worse, there’s even more proof Lennon was Bruce’s favorite kid: She knew the truth about their mom, and Alison didn’t.
It’s hard to know where the story goes from here: All signs point to Clara as the killer unless she’s working alongside Alison’s still-alive mom (the main twist I can imagine). But there’s still a curious lack of thrills to the series. Courtney’s death is gnarly, sure, but it happens in an instant, with no real buildup. The opening scenes with Riley are a bit tenser, but the rest of the episode is spent with her just stumbling around.
This iteration of I Know What You Did Last Summer has kept the slasher aspect intact — at least one person usually dies per episode — but without actually shooting for horror or even real suspense. Most of the show, instead, has been devoted to character drama. And yet, with two episodes left, the biggest issue remains the characters. I still feel like I barely have a sense of who these kids are outside their archetypes.
Alison pretending to be her twin sister has been the most interesting dramatic thread throughout this series, but she’s inhabiting the role with more ease than ever, as we see in her conversation with Dylan this episode. It’s strange that the show hasn’t exploited the potential for drama there, instead sprinkling in weird subplots like the sort-of-love-triangle with Alison, Dylan, and Margot. The Alison/Lennon bomb going off is what I’m most looking forward to in this show; I hope it gets all the melodrama it deserves.
Some Other Stuff They Did Last Summer
• The police track the poisonous spiders back to Clara’s, so they’re after her now, too.
• Um, why are the kids still using their old group chat with Alison? If they think Clara is the one with Alison’s phone, their texts as they escape Clara’s are just alerting her where they are. Also, not to nitpick, but how did they all reply to Riley with those thumbs-ups so quickly?
• What’s with the flashback when Margot tells Riley she looks like a hoe? She says it like she’s legitimately concerned, but I don’t see why, especially since Margot and Lennon were dancing the same way.
• The moment when Alison almost gets hit by a car on the road and starts laughing is a nice bit of comic relief, and I like when she says, “When did this become our fucking lives?” At the same time, though … how is Alison still so careless on the road, as both a driver and a pedestrian? Please, please put your phone away, dude.
• Why is the idea of high-school students sleeping with their teachers so normalized with these kids?
• This show overestimates how often teenagers say “sus” and “merc’d.”