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This week’s episode, “Happy Animals,” gets I can destroy you back on track, chronologically. Arabella still participates in Theo’s support group, which has helped her articulate not only her own struggle, but also the system in which her struggle exists. She explains that all of these women are seen as crazy by men who have created their own boundaries and definitions of aggression in their heads. Arabella is right about this, but she doesn’t necessarily understand that she is guilty of the same behavior. Since her assault, Arabella has created a line between survivors and non-survivors that has made her unable to see that people like Terry and Kwame are in fact survivors.
Bombed by attention from social media, she became self-centered. Or, it’s probably fairer to say that she’s self-centered again. I can destroy you didn’t try to hide the fact that Arabella is imperfect. She left Terry to wander alone in Italy because all that mattered to her was to take drugs. She locked Kwame in a room, even though she knew he was taking a date break because she didn’t take him seriously. She didn’t support Terry when she got nervous at the top of reading. Even last week, when we saw Terry and Arabella in high school, Arabella made jokes about Terry’s appearance. Arabella is not a very good friend and “Happy Animals” is explicit about it.
Why would Arabella even invite Theo to Terry’s birthday party given what Terry said in last week’s episode? Terry clearly didn’t trust Theo and Arabella knew it, but didn’t care how it might make Terry feel at his own birthday party. Arabella and Theo making coke in Ben’s room when they completely ignore him was hilarious, but it’s also symbolic of Arabella’s worldview at the moment. She doesn’t care about anything beyond herself yet. When Kwame and Terry do the housework, they look tired of Arabella as she tells that their birth is her birth. She has no idea what they are going through. Fortunately, Kwame finally talks to Terry about his assault. Their irritation towards Arabella has brought them closer together and I’m glad they meet.
Because, well, Terry is still a good friend. Even though it is revealed that Terry was the one who told Simon to lie and leave Arabella at the club, it makes sense when you consider Italy. It’s not that Terry was trying to get back to Arabella, there was no way she could have known that Arabella was on drugs. But now we know why she feels so guilty and has dedicated herself to Arabella’s healing process. I also think Terry is right to be skeptical of Theo. If Theo is ready to let Arabella be exploited for a paycheck, what else is she ready to do? If Theo had been blunt from the start it wouldn’t have been a problem for me, but she willingly put Bella in a position to be used.
Bella doesn’t seem to notice when she is being exploited. His friends must explain that white conservation efforts usually rely only on black profit, not their help. The many followers Bella has online are starting to ask her for financial aid and assistance with legal fees. Terry points out that Bella is making positive changes in her life, but she’s still making coke and smoke in this episode. With each improvement, Bella also takes a few steps back. I think her friendship with Theo will make her regress even more. Arabella may be able to express herself more in her writing now, but she still struggles with money and deadlines.
Arabella’s Visit to Sus’s office reminds us that Arabella’s healing process still has very real financial consequences. She needs more time for her book, but her editor is more concerned with contracts, deadlines, and the lure of rape as a topic than Bella’s actual needs. Arabella clearly if Susy would support her out of the black girl fraternity, but Susy doesn’t do that. Leury fails to meet Bella’s expectations. At the same time, I like that Susy pushes Arabella to accept the responsibilities that she accepted in her contract. While social media has given Bella some support, hopefully she doesn’t forget her tribe of origin. I have the feeling that Terry would have no patience for his missed deadlines.
- Arabella struggling with the intersection of her race and gender has been a highlight. Theo’s support group helped her find this new tribe, but Terry’s birthday party and Theo’s actions show the limits of white feminism.
- I thought the boy hitting Kwame was really cute and I’m crazy Arabella put him in that position. Kwame also shared how he lost his virginity, which was also dark, but sadly typical of the queer coming of age experience. Arabella continually claiming that aggression issues are centered on women obviously hurts Kwame and ignores his reality as a gay man. I need Arabella to pull herself together and be a best friend.
- Terry looked gorgeous in that orange dress.
- I love Ben, Arabella’s boring white roommate. He stays in his room most of the time.
- Arabella eating the fried chicken was hilarious.
- Simon wasn’t hiding anything super wacky, just Terry’s lie.
- I interviewed Michaela Coel for Elle! We talked about some of my favorite show theories (I have a lot to say about cardigans on this show), trigger warnings, Unsafe and more. Even though the series has finished airing on the BBC, this interview has no spoilers!