“Bad Girls” Recaps: Episode 3.01 “Back From the Brink”


Nikki’s cell — Barbara tries to write in her journal as Nikki tries to quell her headache. It’s your heart that’s hurting, Nik; no palliative will soothe that ache.

The aftermath — Helen wants to inspect Shell’s cell. She asks Karen for permission to do a “rec.” Her big question is what Jim Fenner was doing there in the first place. Karen is skeptical but ultimately willing to turn everything over to the one in the low-cut red shirt and foxy leather jacket. As anyone would be.

The guards kick and punch Shell and call her a bitch as they take her down the block. Because that will keep her from acting out in the future.

In Denny’s cell, Shaz chooses this moment to get jealous of Den’s history with Shell. Uh, good timing. Denny assures her she’s her baby, but can only offer a weak smile when Shaz tells her to get back into bed. Note to self: Do not express insecurity while your girlfriend’s ex is on a murderous rampage.

And back in Shell’s cell, Helen doesn’t like what she sees. I can’t figure out why, exactly, but it seems like something’s not adding up or there’s been some departure from procedure. Either that or she’s just realized she left the coffee pot on.

Speaking up — As all the inmates yell, Nikki starts to lose her cool. She screams at them all to shut up. Barbara tries to calm her down, but she’s beyond comforting.

Nikki: I want my life back!

She pushes the panic button that will call the screws to her cell and then just wails and shrieks and bangs on the door, begging them to put her on report and out her in solitary. A guard makes a move to do just that, but Helen sails down the staircase and says she’ll deal with the situation.

Helen: Stand back from this door!

That certainly shuts Nikki up. Helen unlocks the door and says, "Get out here," as coldly as she can. When Nikki doesn’t move, Helen screams, "Now!"

Just like that, they seem to be back to prisoner and jailer. It’s so sad, I can’t even enjoy Helen’s bossiness.

They go to the wing office. Helen barks at Nikki, saying "shut up" and "move it" as if she’s screaming at Shell. But once they’re in the office, her tone softens.

Helen: Just tell me one thing, Nikki. What have you told your cellmate?
Nikki: Huh?
Helen: I’d forgotten that you shared a cell.
Nikki: She knows it went ass-up.
Helen: No, I mean what does she know about me?
Nikki: [silence]
Helen: [grabbing Nikki] For God’s sake, tell me!
Nikki: Why? What’s it matter?
Helen: Oh, God.
Nikki: Well, how’d you think I —
Helen: I didn’t think! I just imagine you in bed on your own.
Nikki: [taking Helen's shoulders] Darlin’, it’s OK.
Helen: [shrugging Nikki off] No, it’s not OK.
Nikki: I didn’t tell the nurse about you.
Helen: I didn’t think you told anyone.
Nikki: You told Dominic McAllister.
Helen: It’s not the same.
Nikki: Why? ‘Cause he’s not a con?

She doesn’t phrase that as a question, exactly; it’s more like an acknowledgment that the bars make all the difference, and she’s back behind them for good.

Helen: Because I told him about my feelings. You told a prisoner that I broke the bloody law.
Nikki: Well, she’s not gonna dob you in it. She thinks you’re a saint. Look, it was doing my head in! I told her it was all over between us. I don’t have to say any different.

Cue the music. Uh-oh. I don’t like the look on Helen’s face as she steels herself again.

Helen: It is all over.
Nikki: What?
Helen: It’s got to be. Here am I, judging Jim Fenner for having an unprofessional relationship with Shell Dockley. And look at me.
Nikki: Don’t be mad.
Helen: I am being a total hypocrite!
Nikki: He’s a total bastard!
Helen: [voice breaking] I can’t hold it together anymore, Nikki. Neither can you. It’s too strong, what we feel and what we need. It’s impossible. We’ve gotta let go. We have no choice.
Nikki: This is just s—, Helen.
Helen: It’s how it is.
Nikki: Not for me. No way. We make our choices. [seeing Helen's face] You coward. You don’t need me. All you want is an easy life.
Helen: Fine, if that’s the way you want to see it. [opening the door, waiting for Nikki to exit] Then hate me for it.

That was some stunning acting. They both seemed so desperate, trapped in their own heartbreak, terrified.

But please, Helen, take it all back! Actually, I don’t know if I really want her to; she seems to be doing only what she must, being true to herself. They both are, and that’s always the best and the worst thing about them.

Nikki stomps back to her cell and puts the verbal nail in the coffin:

Nikki: It’s OK, Barbara. You can put it down in writing now. N and H, R-I-P.

Outside, Helen cries and tries to hold herself together. If that doesn’t move you a little, you’re made of stone.

Fenner’s fate — Fenner’s wife rushes in as the doctors try to put Fenner back together again. Yvonne and the two Julies hope for the best, and their best is pretty much the opposite of what Karen and Marilyn are hoping for. Guess whose side I’m on?

Next time on Bad Girls: Life in Larkhall gets back to the normal level of mayhem.

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