I May Destroy You recap: Arabella attends a group for survivors
This week’s episode of I May Destroy You shifts the focus of the story to Theo, one of Arabella and Terry’s old schoolmates. However, like previous episodes, the installment challenges viewers to look at sexual consent, abuse and exploitation in a way they may not have previously considered.
As for Arabella’s story, she’s still struggling to cope with her back-to-back sexual assaults. Terry, too, is feeling distanced from Arabella, even more so when she seems out of touch at a therapeutic spraypainting session. Kwame is also more reserved than usual, although the girls don’t realize that yet.
During the group session, Arabella confronts her assaults and questions how to avoid being raped. It’s a powerful speech, something many abuse survivors have grappled with, she wonders what kind of world we live in if there is no way to prevent being assaulted.
If it isn’t the victim’s fault, then that means it could happen to anyone, anytime or any place. It’s a heartbreaking realization.
I May Destroy You introduces an old schoolmate of Arabella’s
Like we’ve seen in other episodes of I May Destroy You, Episode 6 confronts yet another complicated predicament of assault.
We flashback to Terry, Arabella and Theo’s schooldays, although the focus settles primarily on Theo. Terry and Arabella do cross paths with her a little, but more so in the background.
Theo is seeing another student named Ryan and she sneaks out to meet him for sex in an empty classroom. It seems okay at first, typical teenage shenanigans, but then he whips out his cellphone and starts taking pictures of her without her consent.
Understandably, Theo balks once she realizes what Ryan is doing. She then tries to turn the tables on Ryan by tricking him into paying for the photos before swiftly throwing his phone out of the window and escaping with the cash.
Well, Theo’s plan for revenge doesn’t end there. She then cuts herself in the bathroom and lets blood flow down her legs in the classroom. Terry notices and Theo is escorted to the office where she accuses Ryan, who is Black, of raping her. It’s a sinister twist to the episode as Theo obviously uses her status as a white teen to make the staff more liable to believe her over Ryan.
Luckily for him, Terry, Arabella and the rest of a group of Black students manage to find his cellphone and prove Theo and Ryan’s sex was consensual, clearing his name.
Later, we discover that Theo learned her manipulation tactics from her own mother, who forced her to lie in court about her birth father. Her mother exploited her seven-year-old daughter to gain sole custody by coaxing her into saying her dad abused her and her mom. It’s disturbing and just adds more examples of how sinister and insidious abuse can be.
At the end of the episode, we see Theo delivering her introductory speech at the group once again, this time it makes more sense when she talks about how much she hates abuse and exploitation. It seems like she’s talking about herself, and has hopefully learned from her mistakes, but is also alluding to her mother and even Ryan for his initial grievance of taking lewd pictures of her.
As the recapper at Decider mentioned, this episode encapsulates the core message of I May Destroy You, ” abuse is everywhere and there is no obvious way to fix it.”
What did you think of the latest episode of I May Destroy You? Do you think group therapy will be helpful for Arabella? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
New episodes of I May Destroy You air Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.