I May Destroy You
Spirits are high at the start of I May Destroy You episode seven, “Happy Animals,” as Arabella, Terry, and Kwame shop for party supplies and food for Terry’s birthday celebration. On their way out, though, there’s a little bit of a reality check when Arabella tries to pay for the food only to have her credit card embarrassingly declined in front of her friends. Worse, the young woman working checkout is one of her fans and asks for a selfie. Arabella accepts with a pained smile, then the clerk tells the group they’re going to have to put their items back where they found them.
In an attempt to save face after yet another credit-card debacle, Arabella visits her publishing company with some fresh pages. Unfortunately, since her draft still isn’t completed, she can’t be paid. She hurries off to her publisher, Susy Henny, and the outcome is the same but with an extra level of condescension: no cash for the newly broke author. Frustrated, Arabella turns to Theo for a temporary gig at an ecofriendly vegan company called Happy Animals. But before she can make her first call, the CEO pulls her aside and asks if she would like to work as an influencer instead for double pay. Arabella quickly agrees, and soon the social-media manager snaps her photo and gets her to record a few short videos. While this is happening, Theo is looking at a chart detailing how little Black consumers spend on vegan products, and once again, show creator Michaela Coel is setting up an incisive take on contemporary culture and media.
Elsewhere, Terry meets up with Simon, the guy who left Arabella on her own the night she was drugged and raped. Terry tries to tell him politely not to come to her party, as it may upset Arabella, but Simon shrugs and points out that on that night, when he texted her about Arabella’s state and how he wanted to leave her, Terry said it was fine. “Who is this self-care for?” he retorts, but Terry stands firm. Whether out of guilt or loyalty, she’s trying to deal with Arabella’s present, not what has already happened to her. It isn’t of interest to Simon, who eventually walks away from their discussion, but clearly, for Terry, her actions, however well intentioned, take on new meaning in this light.
Back at Arabella’s apartment, the two best friends reunite and get ready for Terry’s birthday party. As Terry is finishing straightening Arabella’s hair, the first guests start to arrive. One of them tries to catch Kwame’s eye, but he’s still not in the mood to flirt with strangers, even an attractive one. None of his friends yet know what he’s gone through, from the assault to the botched reporting at the police station. Kwame briefly tells Terry about his first sexual experience, involving getting in a car with two men, but her face falls from the potential seriousness of the encounter. Kwame notices her reaction and saves face, smirking off the trauma and hiding it back again so as not to upset her. He’s used to hiding his past from his friends, even to the point of his own discomfort.
Once the party is in full swing, Kwame brings out the birthday cake, and Terry makes an impassioned speech thanking and loving Arabella. The party soon resumes, as does the music, and the two best friends embrace and dance together. All the signs of a good house party are shown in a montage that pauses for a scene in the kitchen, where a small group has congregated to talk. Someone asks Arabella where she’s currently working. Terry outs Arabella’s gig as a vegan, eco spokesperson to much ribbing from her friends. As one guy tells his story about how an eco-activist came to his door to get him to switch to an electric car, he subtly points out how one-sided the conversation about climate change can feel. He worked hard for his new Mercedes-Benz, and now a stranger at his door is telling him to get rid of it.
Just as Terry says she’s sick of white people, Theo shows up and agrees with her. The only one happy to see Theo is Arabella. Terry sulks off to gossip about Theo with Kwame, but he’s not in the mood either. He runs into the flirty stranger, Jamal (Noah Maxwell Clarke) but makes his escape yet again, eventually retreating to Arabella’s room for some alone time. Sensing something is wrong with Terry, Arabella goes to talk with her and learns that Terry doubts Theo’s motives for coming to the party and being nice to Arabella. Not looking to have a serious conversation just yet, Arabella flashes a smile when a new song comes on and convinces Terry to join her on the dance floor.
Now alone in the middle of his friends’ party, Kwame starts having flashbacks to the night of his assault. He reaches out to Damon, the friend he brought along that night, who, instead of comforting him, tells him he’s met someone else. Arabella tricks Jamal into thinking her room is the bathroom and locks the door behind him, trapping Kwame in with the stranger. It’s an awkward and triggering situation that his friend put him in, even if she only wanted to help him make a connection. As the party winds down, a group sits around and brings up Arabella’s climate gig and how it is connected to past oppressions by white men. “If you’re going to fight exploitation of any kind, you yourself better know when you’re being exploited,” one of the guests tells her, detailing how her innocent videos about climate facts help legitimize them and give them more power.
The normally chatty Theo quietly listens to the group. When she and Arabella sneak off to do coke, she comes clean about the company’s less savory politics: Theo gets a referral fee for bringing people to work for Happy Animals, but the company pays her more if she brings in people of color. Arabella decides to come clean too and tell Theo who told the teachers about the pictures. Theo lets bygones be bygones and tells Arabella she won’t be working for Happy Animals anymore. Arabella, in turn, says she’s going to figure out a way for them to still get their money.
After noticing Kwame’s absence, Terry finds out what Arabella has done and lets him and Jamal out of the bedroom. Kwame is shaken and angry, and Terry corners him in the bathroom so he can finally tell her what happened. When she insists he has to tell Arabella, Kwame says, “I got to Tweet or Instagram so she even knows I exist,” but he eventually agrees to let her know.
After the party, the episode cuts to Arabella’s planned Facebook Live appearance for Happy Animals, but things don’t go according to the company’s plan: She takes off her wig and eats a piece of fried chicken live on its page. The act goes viral, and the episode ends with several shots of wildfires, droughts, and floods. That reality is real, but Arabella wasn’t going to join in Happy Animals’ false narrative of exploiting people of color to get their message across. She’s going to make her own statement.