In retrospect, Alison was never going to be able to keep the secret.
She’s done a good job so far, to be fair. She maintained Lennon’s friendships with Margot and Riley, slipping into the role of her twin sister without too much trouble (and with a lot of trauma to hide behind if anyone noticed how different she was). She’s been able to grin and bear the pain of hanging out with Dylan, the guy she loves who she can’t ever tell the truth. But she’s never truly grappled with the idea of being this other person for the rest of her life. A year away at college is one thing. But being back at home, surrounded by reminders of her old life? Even if nobody figured out the truth on their own, Alison would end up spilling it eventually.
Before that happens, “If Only Dogs Could Talk” picks up where the last episode left off. Margot is paranoid about Dylan leaving in the middle of the night, while Alison’s just worried about him. But she’s also dealing with the recent revelation that her mom is still alive. When the two finally talk on the phone (Alison posing as Lennon, of course, who was in on her mom’s secret), we get our first real taste of Alison’s mom, and she’s a real piece of work. She quickly, coldly tells “Lennon” not to contact her again, reminding her that nothing will ever change. Alison also hears a kid in the background calling her “mom,” just seconds after she told Alison never to call her that. The only appropriate response is for Alison to snidely text her mom a newspaper article informing her of her other daughter’s death.
Elsewhere, the whole town is freaking out because Riley’s missing and the police can’t apprehend Clara. But it all resolves itself fairly quickly: Alison tells Bruce about the stalking, Dylan shows up traumatized but fine, Bruce tells Lyla about the cave, and the police find Riley’s corpse there — along with Clara herself, dead from an apparent suicide. Everyone properly mourns all the victims together as a community. A tidy ending, right? Surely they all moved on and lived happily ever after?
Well, everyone does get three blissful weeks of freedom, and it’s much needed for both the characters and for us. Despite everyone they’ve lost, everyone recognizes this as the ideal opportunity for a reset, a time to move forward. Margot spends some time at the Hoffman Institute, where she originally dealt with her binge-eating issues. Alison and Dylan get closer and flirtier. Bruce and Lyla “go legit,” with the promise of an engagement on the horizon. (That was certainly fast, but I guess they’ve had a thing for years, so it’s been a long time coming.)
At the local Kani Kani Fest, Alison and Dylan reunite with Margot. There’s food, dancing, music, art, surfing, and the local restaurant owner having loud sex with the police chief in a ticket booth. Alison and Margot pop some ecstasy and Dylan vapes (he got a prescription). Everyone has an amazing time. And even if Margot is a little bummed Alison won’t sleep over, all is well — Alison and Dylan are finally getting the time together they’ve always wanted.
Except, of course, they aren’t because Dylan doesn’t know it’s Alison. There’s a serious discrepancy in their perceptions of the night and their first time having sex. To Dylan, of course, it isn’t his first time having sex with this person because he lost his virginity to Lennon on graduation night! He’s spent the last three weeks falling for her, the wrong twin, the one he was never supposed to be with. He resisted it for so long, but it’s come to the point that the two of them together makes sense. With all the recent losses in the community, everyone has realized the importance of embracing the love they have in their lives, and Dylan’s no different. Besides, Alison and Lennon are distinct people. He’s not falling for Lennon just because she’s the same as Alison.
Except, in an earth-shattering moment for Dylan, he learns that Lennon is Alison, that the girl he desperately missed and mourned for the past year has been around this whole time, lying to him. He immediately points out the disturbing way Alison has stolen her sister’s life — even if killing her sister was an accident, it sure worked out well for her, didn’t it? It’s hard to fault Dylan for lashing out here. He realizes how much of the past year has been built on a lie. In theory, it should be simple: Dylan fell in love with one person, then fell in love with someone else, but it ended up being the same person all along. But the Alison Dylan sees now isn’t the Alison he thought he knew. The Alison he knew wasn’t capable of this.
Dylan’s final comment is that he “set [Clara] free,” implying he killed her in the cave, which makes more sense than her abrupt suicide. And there’s some more juicy material in the last ten minutes of the episode: Margot is pushed through a glass door by a masked stranger (who physically seems Dylan-ish), then Dylan visits the police station, presumably to come clean about … one or more of the bad things he’s done. And there’s yet another bombshell to set up the finale: Alison’s mom is back in town, mad at Bruce for never telling her their daughter died.
As always, though, I come back to what this all means for Alison. It’s significant that her confession to Dylan happens not in a moment of intense fear or grief but after three weeks of almost idyllic peace. That night, Alison felt real happiness for maybe the first time ever, certainly for the first time since graduation night last summer. So she’s able to delude herself into thinking she can take that joy and experience it and live it as herself instead of the twin sister she always resented. Everything is in place for Alison to live a happy enough life as Lennon — but in the end, she just can’t stand the idea of being loved as someone other than herself.
In the episode’s closing moments, Margot sleepily runs her fingers over the scars on Alison’s leg that she made to match Lennon. “You have them too,” she murmurs. The potential implications are shocking: Has Margot known the truth about Alison but chosen to keep up the lie and treat her as Lennon? How long has she known?
“If Only Dogs Could Talk” is easily the best episode of I Know What You Did Last Summer because, for all its plot movement, it fully gives in to its character-drama instincts, committing to the stolen-identity narrative that has simmered in the background until now. I really don’t know what to expect from next week’s finale, but I’m much more interested to see than I was last week.
Some Other Stuff They Did Last Summer
• I still think it’s kind of weird that this show treats “mukbanging” like a curse word and acts like it’s synonymous with serious mental illness.
• There’s some of the usual forced Gen-Z slang, but for the most part, everyone actually felt like real friends in this one. It was definitely necessary to give everyone some time to relax.
• There’s a nice showcase of Margot’s lingering PTSD when she sees Alison and Dylan disappear beneath the waves and starts to panic.
• While Alison and Dylan have sex, Margot masturbates to the Dylan-Lennon sex tape. Pretty bleak, but I still don’t really understand what’s going on with Alison and Margot in a broad sense and what was going on with Lennon and Margot in the first place. Are we supposed to think Lennon really did love Margot back but wouldn’t admit it, and Margot and Alison are roleplaying that relationship because they’re desperate for comfort?