Maybe it’s my general cynical nature, but the one thing I’ve been expecting—and partly dreading—since the first episode of this season is the seemingly-inevitable school shooting episode. That’s the endgame in “Season Two: Episode Seven.” The reason I say “dreading” is because I worried it would be something on a bigger scale, a Very Special Episode event, or a mass shooting featuring students screaming in classrooms or a final showdown in the hall. Instead, it was quieter—a staple of this season—which perhaps made it even more effective and heartbreaking, and included a victim that you didn’t exactly expect. But, how did we get there?

Let’s start at the beginning of the hour: Headmaster Leslie continues to attempt to spin things in her direction, first by offering Evy’s father a large sum of money for educational fees (like tuition) in exchange for him not getting involved. Then she manages to use her wordsmith skills to make herself the victim in Eric’s little assembly (“I wanted to welcome back an openly gay student,” she protests, claiming she got ripped apart for this act of kindness and inclusiveness) but this will soon all become the least of her worries.

Then there’s the case of Anne’s medical records. Someone—OK, definitely Michael LaCroix—illegally leaked them, revealing to the world that she has “depressive psychosis” and was once hospitalized for it. It got worse under the stress of being a single mother, hence why Taylor was sent away to live with her friends. While having your medical records leak is awful for anyone because it makes the private public and often results in people asking invasive and personal questions, it’s even worse when you’re involved in a legal battle. These records give the opponents access to potentially damaging information, ammo to convince you to settle, or ways to cast reasonable doubt—like, “Anne is crazy so maybe she just made this all up,” “How can we trust the word of a woman with an untrustworthy brain?” etc. Anne tries to remain calm about it and Taylor, characteristically, is more concerned than she is.

Taylor is keeping himself busy trying to find ways that will make him feel better and feel like less of a victim who everyone is pitying. He gets drugs from Becca (she offers him Oxy, to help with the headaches from getting attacked last week) and then later steals a gun from the woman who used to take care of him. There’s a brief moment of anxiety when Taylor walks into the woods with the gun and a single gunshot is heard. Not that I fully believed Taylor would kill himself in this episode, but still! The silence—before the later shots finally rang out—was excruciating. After a drug trip in the woods (you know, the number one place on television for teens to have drug trips), still-tripping Taylor scribbles a hit list: Eric, Kevin, Wes, Dr. Graham.

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Dr. Graham’s speech (and the nice, sympathetic secretary at the school) puts a halt on that plan, but then there’s a chance, anger-fueled meeting with Wes while Taylor is trying to leave. Wes pulls out the stops—calls Taylor a “fag,” asks if he’s ratting, threatens to kill him—and suddenly their scuttle breaks up to reveal that Wes is covered in blood. It’s brilliantly done and nail-bitingly intense. What stuck with me though is what happens after, when Taylor goes to his mom’s diner: Anne’s quick realization (“Where’s the gun?” she asks, before Taylor even admits to anything) followed by her fierce motherly refusal to leave Taylor when the 911 operator asks her to. Then there is Taylor himself, the way that he’s in total shock and can’t focus on anything—he stares above Anne’s head, likely at the television—while she tries to force him to look into her eyes; as soon as Anne’s attention is diverted to a phone call, he takes the gun back and settles into a corner table, which is where the two of them remain as the sirens gets closer.

Stray observations

  • As for Eric this week, he had an encounter with an older man through a Grindr-like app. Eric just wants to make out and vent about what’s going on but ends up an assault victim himself (I really have to wait for this to play out because … I don’t know, it’s very odd) before stabbing (?) his assailant. But! Wow, the filming of that scene was absolutely incredible.
  • Terri has to deal with her bosses urging her to take time off to reduce her profile because they’re worried about what her image says about the company.
  • I want more of Sebastian! He calls Anne to offer his services, whatever that is, because he doesn’t want the school to get away with their shit but she hangs up.
  • As much as I’m loving this season, I have to admit that it’s hard to recap every week without feeling uncomfortable and/or totally bumming myself out.
  • B for the episode but A for the directing.

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