This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
This review contains spoilers.
Kiss Me First Episode 5
We’re well and truly through the looking glass now, and the biggest question left at the end of this episode is whether there’s a way out again.
After last week’s episode I lamented the lack of quietness and subtlety when compared to previous instalments, but now that’s gone completely out the window. “The Witch Is Coming” takes place within an entirely different universe and crazy-scale than the first four episodes of the series so, in the interest of not becoming as unhinged as Tippi, it’s worth just looking at where we are now.
Leila, Tess, Tippi and Force are all on some kind of tropical island that you can apparently drive to from North London and, despite the flashing neon danger sounds all around them, seem intent to stay. There’s now a literal red pill that residents must take as a trade-off for living in paradise, and all possessions including money, passports and clothing must be burned upon entry.
Understanding that this is the kind of behaviour that people do get sucked into in the real world, Tess especially hasn’t been groomed nearly long or effectively enough to give in to such demands. Her family have abandoned her and she’s on the outs with Leila, but last week she was a seemingly ordinary girl with issues and now she’s a pod person.
Leila’s character, meanwhile, has completely lost any anchoring she might have had. Why has the reserved, traumatised girl of the series’ first half suddenly become a joy-riding, reckless daredevil? Going after Tess kind of makes sense, but the questionable decision of getting into a car with a known murderer goes even further here with Leila inviting him into her bed for no apparent reason and then being surprised he might have some dodgy kinks.
On one level it’s satisfying to watch Leila have enough gumption to punch Force out or hold her own against Tippi, but it doesn’t feel like it’s coming from any organic place. We have no idea what’s driving her outside of her desire to save a girl she met a couple of weeks ago. That’s not enough to build a show around.
There are some interesting ideas in here that are in danger of getting lost in the shuffle – notably the belief under a tyrannical cult-leader that you’re the special one and everyone else is a player in your story. It’s a fun one to explore in the medium of television mainly because it forces the viewer to see things from the perspective of other characters who don’t happen to be the protagonist.
But because of this, Tippi is a much better villain than Adrian. Haruka Abe is the absolute MVP of this episode and a character I wish we’d met earlier. For her, we know little enough to believe she might embrace Adrian’s regime, and her behaviour is just off-kilter enough to be terrifying while at the same time quite sad.
The Hunger Games twist at the end doesn’t land as well as it could have simply because we knew from the start of the episode that Tippi was out to get Leila, and the final underwater sequence suffers from simply making it too hard to decipher what’s happening.
The final, haunting words of Adrian – now speaking to us just as he’s speaking to his red pill gang – are an effective capper to the episode, with the show communicating to us that treating life as a massive game can only lead to violence and isolation. These violent delights have violent ends, you might even say.
For now, what should sustain you until next week’s finale are those home videos of who we can assume is Adrian, as well as the hope that we might see Jonty again before the end. Is Adrian a real person? In his mind, are his intentions pure or is he just downright evil? Does Leila have a split personality? We’ll (presumably) find out next week.