I May Destroy You
When we last left Arabella and Terry, the pair were sitting outside the bar where Arabella’s night turned into a nightmare months ago. Now, as Arabella stares intently at the Ego Death bar, she can see the man, David (Lewis Reeves), who sexually assaulted her, all smiles and laughs next to his friend, Tariq (Chin Nyenwe), who helped him hurt her. She panics and runs into the restroom, and Terry follows. Arabella, shaking from adrenaline, lets her know who she saw inside and how she’s sure it’s him. Her mind begins to move from shock to focus, and she tells Terry of her new idea, one to give her rapist a taste of his own medicine. Terry expresses some reservations about this revenge plan, but Arabella pushes, “Are you down for the Alliance or not?”
Arabella puts on a disguise she mysteriously has in her bag, leaving Terry and the newly summoned Theo to talk to David. He tells her his name is Patrick. She feigns drinking her spiked cocktail, spitting it out over her shoulder and spilling some of it over her other shoulder as they make small talk. Remarkably, he misses all of this as Theo slides next to him and pickpockets the drug in his jacket. She sneaks off to the men’s restroom, where she fills a syringe with the same drug he uses on his victims. As Terry is distracting Tariq, Arabella begins to stumble and wobble. David smiles. Swooping in beside her, he guides her to the bathroom, as he’s done to who knows how many others. Once inside the restroom, he tries various doors until he finds a stall he likes and throws her in it. Theo, hiding out with the syringe at the ready, quietly takes the stall next to them. He makes quick work of sliding off Arabella’s underwear, cavalierly sliding it into his jacket. Just as he’s opening his fly, Arabella stops playing possum and looks at him with a steely gaze. “A criminal always returns to the scene of the crime, but who’s the criminal, you or me?” she asks.
At Arabella’s command, Theo sticks him with the syringe and Arabella jumps to her feet, calls Patrick by his real name, David, and kisses him. She’s in command now. With his face full of fear as he scrambles to exit the stall, Arabella lets him escape. She reunites with Theo and the two hug as Terry joins them for a brief celebration. David runs out of the bar with his friend trailing behind him. He refuses to tell Tariq what happened and instead continues to walk on by himself. The three women are now stalking the rapist in order to get Arabella’s underwear back from his jacket. Eventually, the effects kick in and David falls down.
When presented with the unconscious body of her rapist, Arabella says she wants to see what he used to assault her, his penis. When she does, she accidentally wakes him. In their moment of panic, Theo uses Arabella’s underwear to choke him, as Arabella angrily punches him for all the pain he’s caused. But she doesn’t stop at one punch or two. She goes on until his face is a bloody mess and he’s thoroughly knocked out. Afraid to leave him in this state, Arabella says she knows where to put him and brings his limp body home to stuff under her bed. She begins to write on a card and tape it to her wall, but as she puts the blood-soaked card up on her wall, she looks down and notices the pool of blood collecting underneath her bed. She takes the card down, crumples it, and goes outside.
The episode takes a radically different turn as Arabella works out what to do with her rapist, exploring the possible scenarios until she finds the peace she’s been looking for these past several months. We return to her on the garden bench with her roommate Ben, right before she leaves for Ego Death for the night. The events play out as before: Arabella recognizes the two men, she panics and tells Terry in the bathroom. Only this time, she almost calls the police until Terry points out they need evidence. This time, Arabella has no plan, but Terry does. She gives Arabella cocaine and sends her to talk to David. Like clockwork, he orders two drinks and spikes one to give to her. Terry moves over to distract David’s friend as before.
Before long, Arabella pretends to wobble to the bathroom and David accompanies her, quickly shoving her in a stall and undressing the both of them. Then, Arabella surprises him with a sobering stare, one that angers him then causes him to have a meltdown. His insults toward her turn to himself. He ends up crying on her shoulder, and she pities him. She brings him home for a difficult conversation, indicating he’s dealing with struggles and mental-health issues of his own. They hug just as the police arrive, and he’s quickly dragged out of her room.
The sequence begins again. This time, when Arabella and Terry are in the bathroom, Arabella isn’t panicking. She opens a stall in the women’s room to different memories, the first of the woman Arabella met at the police station who had been raped more than once. The next is of her, Terry, and Theo in their school days, hinting at a sort of reconciliation between the past, present, and future. When Arabella goes out, she and David seem alone at the bar. Arabella approaches him not in a disguise or hyped on drugs but as herself. The two go to the bathroom together and hook up, passing Tariq as he gives a bored-looking Terry a dance. Arabella and David then relocate to her room, where they have sex in various positions, including one where Arabella is on top. In the morning, he wakes up in her bed next to her, smiling. “I’m not going to go unless you tell me to,” he says. She tells him to go, and both he and the dead body from her “first draft” get up and leave, carrying the plastic bag with the ultrasound of her aborted baby with him.
Once again, she’s in the garden with Ben when he asks if she’s going to the bar tonight. She says no and instead makes plans to hang out with him. The cycle of fixating on what happened is finally broken. Months later, Arabella’s next book finally arrives with a dedication to Terry. Arabella’s group of friends, including Terry and her date Kai, Kwame, Theo, and Ben gather together in the living room to see Terry’s new commercial. They’re reunited and moving on.
At a book reading for her new independently published novel, Arabella takes a deep breath before reading, giving way to the sounds of waves. She’s transported back to the Italian beach with purple hair and a smile, running away from the camera before the word “End” is typed onscreen. It’s a beautifully cathartic moment, a summation not just of the work she’s now sharing, but of the internal work that most people will never see. Given the personal origins of I May Destroy You, this final episode feels like an exorcism or a deep cleansing, to use a self-care term. Arabella explores many of the “what ifs” around confronting her rapist and comes to her own conclusion on her own terms. Her future is hers to write, no matter what happened before, and she doesn’t need to make space for him any longer.