dietland TV TV Recaps

“Dietland” Ep.1.07: “Monster High”

You guys, this episode was a doozy. Lots of fights, some hurt feelings, a bomb in a locker room! But you know what, it was also one of the best episodes so far. Week after week this show continues to fire on all cylinders in a way that many other shows are incapable of doing and I think it all comes down to the fact that “Dietland” is working on a character level before a plot level at all times.

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Julianna Margulies as Kitty in Dietland Season 1, Episode 8 | Photo Credit: Nicole Rivelli/AMC

Case in point: Plum opens episode 7, “Monster High,” with a wonderfully zany recap that brings us all up to speed on what’s been happening. It’s still wry and self-deprecating, as we’ve come to expect from Plum, but it’s also full of a warmth and happiness that’s been lacking up till now. Plum had a huge epiphany last week; it makes total sense from a character perspective that she’d be just a little manic now that she’s dropped some of that emotional weight.

Unfortunately, the emotional weight is only destined to get heavier as we see in the true opening scene. A girl, who I thought was Janice until they showed her face, is sitting in her car watching a college football team practice. The team heads to the locker room and she follows. We hear a lot of really awful talk about Stella Cross and women in general before the girl enters the locker room and starts dancing on a bench. Only one of the teammates seems to think this might be a bad idea because of Jennifer and I’m pretty sure he leaves. The rest are all even grosser as the girl takes off her coat. A coach notices what’s going on and comes out to try and stop her but she takes off her dress to show a bomb which she immediately detonates killing herself and several of the football players.

Plum is on her way to the bakery when she barely touches a guy she’s walking past. As happened two weeks ago, he calls her a “fat bitch.” But unlike that night, Plum just laughs hysterically in his face until he walks away. It’s important to also note that Plum is wearing SO MANY patterned tights and different clothes this episode! Gone are all the sad black “slimming” clothes and in their place are tights and skirts and button up shirts and “Fight Club” t-shirts!

Steven is less impressed with the changes in Plum than I am, especially when she says the world is getting a good shake in response to the football team getting blown up. He tells her she looks like a Monster High doll, which is just patently untrue, and Plum orders a chocolate shake and a tuna melt with fries, which is glorious to watch.

A quick break from Plum shows us Kitty, shopping in a fancy boutique. As she climbs the stairs she’s greeted by Abra and two women we’ve never met before, though Kitty seems to know them well. Abra mentions Kitty’s “promotion” although all the women know it’s really a demotion. As the conversation continues, it’s clear that Kitty isn’t being invited to things anymore and the women really don’t feel bad for her, calling her a viper loud enough so she can hear.

Plum is still attempting to explain what’s happened to Steven, who is a lot less open to the conversation than Plum is, especially after Plum mentions having suicidal thoughts after finding out about Dominic. She pushes through and explains everything she can about Calliope House and the porn room and Verena. She says the epiphany she had was that everything she’s been striving for, being thin and beautiful, have all really been a pursuit of making herself into more attractive prey to men. Steven doesn’t understand this AT ALL but I really do. Plum is kind of able to fly under the radar as she is. If she became Alicia she’d be opening herself up to all sorts of possibilities, many good, but just as many bad.

What comes next is the only moment where I feel a character doesn’t act according to what we know of them. Steven becomes almost immediately, rabidly pro-gastric bypass when the whole rest of the series to date he’s been trying to get Plum to feel as confident in herself as she does at this moment. He also claims that not all women are victims and prey, but Plum rightly shoots him down by saying he has no idea what he’s talking about in that regard. Unfortunately, this devolves into a “who’s the most oppressed”-style fight right in the middle of the bakery! There’s no clear winner and although I’m hesitant to pick sides, I’m choosing Plum because of Steven’s alarming about-face regarding the surgery and Plum’s health in general. It smacks of encouraging someone to change and then once they finally do, punishing them for trying.

Back at Calliope House, Verena slams open Julia’s door and wakes her up demanding information about the bombing. Julia claims to know nothing and I mostly believe her, though it does seem like she was involved a lot deeper with Leeta than we’ve known to this point. I definitely believe she’s not directly involved in the killings but she was not careful enough in her dealings with Leeta and so Verena wants her out. Their fight is not quite as bad as Steven and Plum’s but it’s a close second.

Back at the college, Cheryl is interviewing two girls about the bombing, though only one of them will go on record. It turns out they’re not directly involved with Jennifer, much to Cheryl’s dismay.

Verena is waiting in the kitchen when Marlowe comes up the basement stairs after saging Julia’s room. I can’t decide if Marlowe took it upon herself to do it or if Verena insisted. I also can’t decide which is funnier. Their talk about Julia gets interrupted by Plum storming into the kitchen and committing high crimes against eggs. Look, I completely get why she’s so upset. She wanted to share her new self with Steven and he was a dick about it, but there’s no excuse for slamming eggs around like that. She also keeps being surprised/angry that pieces of shell are getting in the bowl and it’s like, yeah, Plum…that will happen when you’re just smashing eggs all over the place.

Eventually, Verena is able to calm her down enough for them to have a session. It’s in these two scenes that it hit me how different her body language has been this episode. She’s so open and flowy and free in a way that she tried so hard in the past not to take up space. Now she’s taking up all the space she wants and it’s so amazing to watch.

They discuss Plum’s fight with Steven and she admits that she thinks he might be right about her health. Verena insists that after a little while Plum will have enough “bad food” and her body will settle into its natural size and shape. She then says that sometimes she lets the women stay at Calliope House even after they’ve had their epiphanies because it can help the transition to be in a safe space surrounded by helpful people. She also suggests Plum find a hobby that isn’t baking, “something where [she] doesn’t have to follow a recipe.”

Over at Austen Media, Kitty is stewing in her new office wearing the most incredible dress I’ve ever seen. Like a sheer, black swiss dot fabric with tons of floral appliques all over it. It’s outstanding. She’s obviously trying to figure out how to snake her way back into her job at Daisy Chain and she calls Eladio trying to get Stanley on the phone. He says he’ll try and she hangs up on him while she looks out her window at her terrible new view.

Elsewhere in the city, Julia is trying on terrible wigs and purchasing a new identity. She goes undercover to the beauty closet, much to Eladio’s chagrin, since Kitty has been showing up whenever she’s bored. I think maybe Eladio took over beauty closet duties from Julia. In any case, Julia gives Eladio an envelope bursting with cash to be used for whatever he needs since she won’t be around anymore.

Plum and Sana have a lovely scene together talking about art and what Plum should do to keep from being so restless and how she needs to get the deposit for her surgery back. Sana catches sight of Plum’s shadow on the wall and traces it with spray paint. It’s hella inspiring to Plum and she leaves to go get the money back from the clinic.

It does not go great. Evidently, they only offer refunds for medical cancellations, which enrages Plum just enough that she decides to spray paint her cool new art outside the doctor’s office with the word “loved” across the center. She gets immediately arrested which I find hilarious. The cop insists that she committed a felony but I don’t buy it. There’s no way graffiti gets more than a ticket. But apparently with all the Jennifer stuff, the cops are pretty worried about anything that could be connected.

Dominic gets Plum out of the police station and she is having none of his attempts to just carry on like before. He tells her Julia and Verena knew each other (which Plum knows but keeps close to her chest) and she hilariously says, “Oh, the two middle-aged feminists knew each other?” It’s obviously no surprise and barely a clue to anything. Plum tries to get away from Dominic as quickly as possible but she’s not fast enough to miss when he says he can’t stop thinking about her, which was the grossest thing in this whole episode.

Meanwhile, Kitty goes to see Stanley somewhat covertly while he’s reading Daisy Chain and trying to figure out how to replace her. She says he can’t, that the reason the magazine was so successful was because of her. She insists he can just put out a press release saying she was away for exhaustion or an opioid addiction and she can have her old job back. Kitty decides to go for broke and dangle the hacking over Stanley as a reason to bring her back. Stanley takes absolutely zero of Kitty’s scheming and grabs her hand hard enough to hurt while he says he’s not afraid of Jennifer or Kitty, thus almost definitely ensuring his death or ousting by the end of the season.

Cheryl is able to find out the girl who blew up the football team may have just been on too many meds and it might not be about Jennifer at all. Whether it’s true or not, it’s the angle she goes with when she reports the story.

Back at Calliope House, Verena’s hot boyfriend, Jake (Mark Tallman), comes into the kitchen where Plum is scrolling through online reactions to her street art. Most of it’s great but there are some really shitty comments too. Jake tells Plum that no one remarkable is ever universally liked before assuring her she already knows her voice: it’s the one she used when she was writing letters for Kitty. You can almost see Plum’s brain working on that one.

Our last big scene is another Dominic and Kitty masterpiece. Dominic is drowning his sorrows in whiskey and ribs (same, dude) when Kitty finds him. It’s so amusing seeing her in a location that’s not perfectly curated and she seems just as put off by it as we do. Dominic offers her a french fry and she takes one but just smells it before putting it down and picking up another to smell. We find out a ton about Dominic in this scene including the fact that his father is Chief of Police, he was assigned to mandatory counseling and he’s heavily in debt. Kitty says she’s assigning him to Austen’s security detail with a $15k bonus. She wants his help in bringing Stanley down. We don’t see the confirmation but it’s pretty clear Dominic is going to do it.

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Tamara Tunie as Julia, Ricardo Davila as Eladio in Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 7 | Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Across town, Julia enters a pretty nice restaurant and meets her sisters. We don’t get a ton of information other than Julia repeating that she had nothing to do with the bombing. They are definitely anti-violence and they say they’re going to bring Jennifer down.

Finally, Plum is back in the Calliope House basement with tons of drawings while she “talks” to Kitty’s girls. She tells them, “My name is Plum and you’ve been writing to me all along. Me and Kitty have been lying to you. I’m fat as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” We close on a shot of Plum totally naked, lying on the bed and sending the email to all of Kitty’s girls from the email list she stole.

I can’t decide how to feel about Plum’s new artistic path, though I do enjoy it more than her lingerie thievery in the book. I am, however, sure that whatever’s about to happen with Plum and Verena and Dominic and Kitty are sure to be explosive – pun fully intended.  

“Dietland” airs on Mondays on AMC at 9/8c. Join us on Twitter @ShuffleOnline as we live-tweet! 

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