Herb wakes up to find Diane is not in bed and his house has been trashed by Hazel and Bangles. He sniffs Diane. “Has Diane been drinking?” Bangles: “No, she’s a doll.” His exact history with Bangles that makes him hate her has not yet been revealed, but I am looking forward to it!
So, Hazel needs to find a lawyer, but she’s not all that optimistic, seeing as Byron was once sued by the U.S. government and won. I feel like Hazel’s best play in this situation would be to find some big-deal civil-rights attorney, no? Someone who has argued on behalf of privacy rights before, like before the Supreme Court or some such place. But Herb has a better idea: A lawyer he knows, who also happened to help Bangles’s cousin get off after a dramatic urination incident in an Applebee’s.
Bangles disappears to go do some child care — she has a kid, apparently — and Herb takes Hazel to the bowling alley, because of course that’s where the lawyer is. Hazel has to keep reminding her dad to stop referring to Byron, who is listening to and watching everything. So they are going to have to explain this situation to Biff, the lawyer. (Again with the B names!) Hazel is struggling to convey what about her situation is so awful, because everything Byron made her do is technically good for you (early rising, nap-taking, vegetable-eating), but of course nothing is good for you when you have no autonomy or freedom. “He didn’t even let me put a sensor implant in my finger so that I could move from cube to cube!” She tells Biff about the surveillance cube, which of course he does not believe, but then Herb lets Byron’s name slip and suddenly Biff is QUITE interested.
Hazel says the chip is worth a billion dollars. Biff is impressed and tells Hazel that, great news! The chip is her leverage, the evidence of physical assault, so she has to keep it in her brain through the divorce proceedings, so, at least a couple of years. No one is listening to Hazel say how trapped she feels and how the whole point of escaping was to NOT be trapped anymore. Without the chip, Biff tells her, “You’re worthless.” Wow, thank you, Biff! Hazel is all, “If I’d known it was going to end up like this, I would’ve stayed at the bottom of the pool,” which sure gets her dad’s attention.
Back at the Hub, Byron is watching Hazel’s every move through a VR headset he refuses to remove. It’s funny even though I think the parallels we’re supposed to be picking up here are a little no-duh — he, too, is trapped by the chip, abuse hurts even the abuser, is anyone free when someone isn’t free, you get the idea. He cannot believe his precious Noodle wants a divorce!! While ignoring a product pitch I’m sure his scientists were super nervous about, like “couldn’t sleep the night before” levels of anxiety about presenting this fireproof coating (?) to their highest-up boss, Byron flips out because Hazel is telling Biff too much. From afar, he sabotages her attempt to employ this man by blackmailing him; disco lights start flashing as compromising photos of Biff pop up on every screen at the Shangri-Lanes. Biff bolts out and Hazel is back at square one.
There’s a “help wanted” sign on the bowling alley window, but Hazel says she isn’t interested. She wants to start over, which her dad wisely tells her is a fantasy. What can she do? Move forward! Hazel does not want to do that here [gestures out at the desolate streets, the sad bowling alley, the side of her dad’s car door which is spray-painted with the word PERVERT]. Dad points out Hazel does not exactly have so many other options at the moment. Hard to argue with that kind of logic.
In a cube we haven’t seen before, Fiffany does some slick sneaking around to make sure Zelda is alive and basically well. She thanks Zelda for her service re: freeing Hazel, and promises to return the favor. Fiffany feels responsible for all of this because, in a pretty significant way, she is: Though she developed the chip for animal communication, she learned that Byron planned to use it on people — “You just figured out how to bypass deceit!” he cheers, to her horror. Byron refused to listen to Fiffany who, I guess, was not in a position to sabotage or sell her own work before Byron used it on humans.
Byron is satisfied with his work re: ruining Hazel’s ability to hire that lawyer. Still, he is sad: Hazel would rather be dead. Byron’s solution to this heartbreak is to MERGE. Which, as we know, is supposed to kill Hazel. Which is … one way of proving that he’s finally listening to her, I guess.
Fiffany makes two stops: First to meet a man, Ignacio, who we later learn is her ex-husband and who wants to buy the chip. Then she meets up with Lyle at a campsite. Lyle is keeping his fingers in a cooler, and she tells him that he is supposed to be “taken out to pasture.” (Lyle: “The Pasture Cube? That’s where we ‘lose’ people!”) Fiffany tells Lyle about Ignacio’s willingness to purchase the chip and Byron’s plan to merge. Then she gets a text from Bennett, who tells her that Byron is starting the merge. (Bennett: A force for good or a Byron loyalist when it matters most? Share your predictions in the comments!) Fiffany and Lyle need to get to Hazel NOW.
Hazel, none the wiser to this scary new twist to her already scary predicament, tells her dad she wants to walk home. She is just smelling the smells and feeling human when she gets a stabbing ZAP to the brain. It is such a perfect and grating sound, like the old AOL dial-up noise. She yelps “NO, NO, NO,” and then collapses on the ground just as Fiffany and Lyle pull up. Oh well, too late! They scoop up her body and put her in the truck. Where are they taking her? Will Herb and Bangles be able to reach her there?
At least one person ends the episode feeling quite chipper: Byron, who wakes up, freshly chipped, laughing like a psycho.