Bad Girls Recaps: Episode 1.5 “Tangled Web”



The monster: Jim doesn't mourn for Rachel; he still has Shell to play with.
The melancholic: Dominic just wants a less depressing job. Is that so much to ask?
The misunderstood: Helen bumps up against the glass ceiling — and walls, floors and windows.

The morning after — It's the day after Rachel's death. Helen is driving to work with a worried look on her face. I don't mean her usual stern, stoic thing; she looks kind of torn up.

At Larkhall, Dominic is cleaning up Rachel's cell. Among the detritus of her things, he finds the picture of Maddie with the X's scrawled over her eyes. And now he looks kind of torn up too, even beyond his usual puppy-dog-eyed, pouting thing.

Back in Helen's car, we hear a radio announcer: "The Prison Service has promised a full investigation following the suicide of another female prisoner, the second this month. Nineteen-year-old Rachel Hicks, an inmate of Larkhall Prison, South London, appears to have hung herself —"

Helen: Hanged. The word's hanged.

And her frustration is palpable — not just the surface-level frustration (which is glorious enough) at the announcer's misuse of a word, but the deep, bone-level frustration at the system she's simultaneously part of and trying to rise above. I can't imagine how she must feel. Hang in there, Helen. Oops. Sorry.

The officers' lounge — Dominic is talking to Jim about his sleepless night and his general feeling of shock. Jim shuts him up with a dismissive, "Yeah, well, it's getting to us all, Dominic." Silly Dom. Did you really think Fenner would lend a sympathetic ear? I'm pretty sure his heart has shrunk considerably by now — it might even be smaller than his brain — and he can no longer sympathize with anyone but the rats and the cockroaches. On a good day.

Dominic: Yeah, but I was her personal officer. She asked me for help, and I just told her to shut it.
Fenner: What? And that made her top herself? I don't think so somehow.

Let me translate for you, Dom: Fenner is saying (1) He knows Rachel really killed herself because Shell was taunting her and Jim himself was using her, and (2) If every con Fenner told to "shut it" topped herself, Larkhall would have a population of about 12. Including the guards.

Helen arrives to ask Jim to cover for her. She has to see the Governor — "and guess what it's about," she adds.

After Helen leaves, Fenner remarks to Dominic that Helen is being extra bossy because she feels guilty. Dominic doesn't see what Helen has to feel guilty about. Jim spins him a yarn about how Rachel went to Helen when she was desperate about Maddie, and Helen just ignored her. Dominic defends Helen, mostly because he has a brain in his head but also because he's just that cool of a guy.

But Jim just keeps on braying: "Look, the fact is, she's the Wing Governor, and the buck stops with her. OK?" Well, OK, as long as that also means she can fire your ass.

Shell's cell — Jim stops by to make sure Shell is keeping quiet about everything Rachel-related.

Shell: Yeah? Well, if I'm in deep trouble, I don't reckon I'll be the only one, Mr. Fenner.
Fenner: You listen to me. You just keep your head down and stick to your story. This is gonna get messy.

Just like everything else you touch, slimeball.

A hallway — Jim bumps into Helen. Intentionally, it would seem: He tells her that the Gov wants him to attend the meeting too. Oh, is this like "good cop, bad cop"? Only, I dunno, "good cop, revolting cop"?

Governor Simon Stubberfield asks for Helen's initial report. She gives the basics: time of death (7:00 a.m.) and cause of death (strangulation). She says foul play has been ruled out and that the chairman of the board of visitors doesn't think the police will take further action.

Simon wants to know more about how "this tragedy" happened. Before Helen can speak, Jim jumps in with his recitation of how upset Rachel was about her daughter being put into care. Helen gives him such a look of death, I can't believe his tongue doesn't fall off and drop to the floor, still flapping.

But Stubberfield buys Jim's concerned-mother story:

Stubberfield: Didn't you think to put her on suicide watch after that?
Helen: No, I didn't consider her to be a suicide risk.
Stubberfield: I take it you're not a mother.

Whoa! It's like Simon is Barbara Boxer and Helen is Condoleeza. Except not like that at all.

Helen says that her maternal status has nothing to do with anything. And neither does Rachel's, at least not entirely: Helen is sure there was something else at the root of all this. Simon continues to blame Helen in an exasperated, condescending way. Jim just sighs. I guess staff meetings in prison are like staff meetings anywhere else: Full of buck-passing and eye-rolling. And sexism.

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