Room 104 season 2 finale recap: Josie and Me


The Room 104 season finale is its first overt exploration of the #MeToo movement as Mary Wiseman plays a woman who re-lives the events leading up to an encounter at a college party.

Trigger warning for sexual trauma and rape.

In the second season finale of HBO’s Room 104, Josie (Mary Wiseman) is talking to herself – well, a younger version of herself who is helping her re-trace the events of an end-of-semester party. The older Josie has become a playwright but is late on her deadline and needs to her younger self to get the job done. Unfortunately, her younger self is incorrigible and annoying mostly because she’s prone to oversharing and talking non-stop. The episode uses the two Josies as an analogy for Josie’s internal dialogue and struggles, starting with her opinions about her college mates.

The evening in question began with Josie convincing her friend Emily (Anita Kalathara), to join her for the party. ‘If it’s fun, it’s fun, otherwise, we’ll leave’, Josie says as the two girls down some shots. Young-Josie is opinionated and has an answer for everything, especially the reason why she – a modern woman and a feminist – would be interested in attending a frat party full of booze and testosterone. ‘Because I want to,’ she tells herself.

Room 104 continues to be the setting for the party as Josie meets some girls who immediately leave because they’re drunk. She’s vivacious and friendly, bumping into a couple of boys who invite her to play beer-pong. Josie seems to love being able to let her hair down and not critique the world like she has to do as a law and gender-studies student.

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Young Josie sizes up two potential male partners, but honestly, they both sound beneath her potential. However, she is intent on going home with one of them. Donovan soon ruins his chance by being homophobic, but Josie enjoys playing pong with him, all the same. The episode is directed to look like older Josie is running through a tape of the night of the party; a little like a Star Trek holodeck program! I think it’s a nice little nod to Mary Wiseman’s role on Star Trek: Discovery.

It’s evident Josie was drunk from the beer-pong, otherwise, she wouldn’t have had the courage to jump in front of the crowd and sing some really bad karaoke. Surprisingly, young Josie also struggled with image issues, though by the time she becomes older she is more comfortable in her own skin.

While Josie was singing, Donovan found another girl to hang out with, so Josie starts chatting with plan-b – Jack. She and Jack head to the bathroom to snort some coke and then they return to his room. Josie is into him, but she wants to take things slow. Jack is, however, deeply inconsiderate, intent on having a good time. Josie doesn’t consent, but she doesn’t tell him to stop either, even though she is clearly in pain throughout. The entire scene is uncomfortable to watch, especially as director Lila Neugebauer focuses on Josie’s face and what she’s looking at (for example, the ceiling above).

At the end of it, Jack is completely unaware of what he put this girl through, including ignoring the deep bruises he’s left on her, and that is so aggravating to watch as a viewer. She gets up and disappears into the bathroom, while her older self tries to hold back the tears from re-living this memory.

Young Josie emerges from the bathroom to confront her older self about making her recreate that night again and again. Josie explains that much of her college life is a blur, but there are a few moments, like that night of the frat party, which are crystal clear. And that is because Josie is still trying to come to terms with it, as is evident when we see her and her younger self argue over how to define what happened to them.

Her younger self makes excuses, saying she kissed Jack first and that frat boys are bad at sex. She admits that it wasn’t the most consensual encounter she’d had, which is when older Josie stops her.

"‘There is no such thing as non-consensual sex; there is just consensual sex and there is rape. Those are the only two options.’"

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Josie reassures herself that it’s okay to feel bad about what happened. Her younger self is frustrated with Josie, wishing she wasn’t so hung up on it. But older Josie can’t help it – she was never able to forget what happened to her.