This review contains spoilers.
“Let’s not be as stupid as we were last year”, Louise tells Holly in the second episode of Clique’s so-far stellar second series. In other words, when people show you who you are, believe them.
At first it seems disappointing that the incident at the end of last week’s premiere wasn’t actually rape in the strictest definition of the word, but instead a violation meant to humiliate and diminish any claims after the fact. She wasn’t actually raped, Holly says at one point in the same scene, but Louise knows better. What would you call it otherwise?
But Clique has proven that it doesn’t like cut and dry mysteries, it wants its audience to think about what they’re watching and to sometimes have an uncomfortable viewing experience. That’s what this storyline does. We start the episode thinking that Rayna is the victim of an attack and the gang of lads the monsters a lot of those on the left assume those on the right to be. By the end, even if both things are still true, it’s clearly not the full extent of the story.
The episode starts with Holly and Louise visiting Rayna and Fraser in the hospital. Fraser is in a bad way (and strangely hostile towards Rayna, which may come back later) but Rayna appears untouched aside from “no thanks” scrawled across her back. We skip ahead in the usual trajectory of these stories, and Jack is immediately arrested on suspicion of the attack.
But did he do it? He alleges that he can’t remember where he was the previous night and doesn’t remember meeting Rayna at a freshers party the previous year. It looks pretty bad for him, but then things get even stickier when his mother, who is fronting a new political party in direct opposition to what Breitbart stand-in Twitcher represents, tells Holly that she’s been dreading something like this for years.
The episode is a well-considered unpicking of our conversations about rape, survivors, perpetrators and false accusations. As Rayna says, rather ominously, sometimes lies and the truth are the same thing. If Jack had done something to her on a previous occasion and she didn’t report it, perhaps this is her way of getting justice? Maybe she truly believes in her story?
Meanwhile, Louise is playing judge, jury and executioner and will stop at nothing to get Jack’s head on a spike. Seeing him exposed, and how quickly someone tracks down and identifies Rayna as his alleged victim, demonstrates how quickly these things can get out of control. If exposing an alleged abuser means exposing his victims, then this can be a violation in itself.
Rachel plays a miniscule role in the episode, which is smart as the mystery truly takes hold, but the camera work and cinematography still leaps into high gear whenever she’s around.
And who needs Rachel on-screen, when Holly is doing such a good job of entertaining her dark side without her? Synnove Karlsen is, again, brilliant at showing the conflict within Holly. She wants to do the good, feminist thing and believe Rayna unconditionally, and she knows deep down that Jack and his friends are bad guys, but she just can’t stay away. Even as she’s condescendingly telling off Twitcher’s ringleader, she sees something dark and dangerous in his group that she wants to be a part of.
I wrote last week of how Clique has a knack for bringing the discourse of social media into a real-world narrative, and that continues here. We don’t even need to see the polarising comments underneath a campaign video to understand that these people represent the figures we interact with everyday through our computer screens. So far this tactic has resulted in compelling viewing.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode here.