This review contains spoilers.
As Clique’s mystery thickens and twists, an episode without Rayna brings new things to light and moves a few pieces off the board in the process.
Fraser, who had previously been kind of a nothing character, is the MVP of episode three as he attempts to figure out his place in all of this. A victim who has been sidelined and a friend who has been used to frame someone else, he is also the type of character we see all the time on television but rarely framed in such a way. He’s the male best friend, the confidant, the protector, but he’s also weak and self-loathing.
The show continues to present us with tropes before turning them on their head, with the assumption two-thirds of the way through the episode that Fraser would be recruited by Twitcher because of his ‘friend-zoned’ status becoming a much more insidious move from the group. They don’t want Fraser, because in their eyes he’s not ‘man enough’.
It could be an elaborate ploy to break him down until he is completely subservient, but if it is then it’s not had the desired effect. Instead, he is filled with a panicked desire to understand why Rayna wanted him to lie for her, and what might have actually happened with Jack on the night they met. Did he find his answer before burning the evidence? Hopefully he survives long enough to tell us.
So far, freshers’ week has been referred to in a hushed tone understandable for anyone who’s been through that particular right of passage. Freshers’ week is the best week of your life, and it’s hell on earth, all at the same time. People black out drunk trying to prove themselves in an environment incomparable to anything in adult life, and bad things happen.
The episode actually picks up where we left off, with Holly discovering Rayna’s dress in Jack’s room and understandably freaking out. He found it behind the bins, he claims, and to top it off he has blackouts sometimes and can’t remember what he’s done.
Like with the first season of Veronica Mars, the very notion that a prime suspect has a mental disorder like this means that he can’t have done it, but Jack is not blameless. What we know for sure is that something happened the year before, and that Jack’s friends are for some reason not under the same scrutiny that he is. In order to frame him, someone close to Jack must have known about his blackouts and decided to use them to their advantage. It’s hard to defend yourself if you have no way of knowing yourself.
The question is not who, anyway, but why. Why would someone target Fraser and Rayna so viciously, in an attack that can’t have been random. And why would Rayna lie about it, when something clearly happened. The lie is not the attack, the lie is Jack’s involvement, and that’s an important distinction.
This episode was most concerned with the levels of corruption and villainy that we deploy as weapons when accused ourselves. The dean suspends the Twitcher lads, and so they expose his own sexual harassment of teaching assistants. It’s everyone deciding what other people deserve, without due process or examination. It’s a lawlessness that has woven its way into our culture in the last few years – the court of public opinion used as proof.
And Holly is taken to task for questioning two victims simply because they’re not acting like victims. She may be right about Jack, and convinced herself that she’s hanging out with the guys as a way to gain their trust, but she’s enjoying it far too much for that to be the full story.
We only see Rachel again acting as Holly’s guilty conscience after sleeping with Jack, and it’s all so twisted and gross that, as with everything in Clique series two, you can’t help but watch. I don’t even care about the answers we get, I just want to see these characters crash into each other as they try to understand the insidious world around them, and hope that that darkness doesn’t get inside them.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode here.