John Paul (played by Claes Bang, left) and Grace (Anne-Marie Duff) have something to celebrate. Photo: Apple TV+
This week, Roger finds out who’s the architect of his misfortune, Ursula swears it’s over with Ben, Theresa’s in the hospital, Matthew’s dripping with determination, Becka’s a liability, and Eva makes a choice.
The best part? Nothing, somehow, is at all what it seems. It’s another magnificent installment of the delectable dark comedy.
Bad Sisters recap: ‘Going Rogue’
Season 1, episode 9: In this week’s episode, entitled “Going Rogue,” John Paul (played by Claes Bang), against all odds, is still alive. It’s like something from a Road Runner cartoon. Anyway, he shows up with Grace (Anne-Marie Duff) for a family dinner with Ursula (Eva Birthistle), Donal (Jonjo O’Neill), their kids, Becka (Eve Hewson), Bibi (Sarah Greene) and Eva (Sharon Horgan).
Becka fears she killed Minna (Nina Norén) by mistake after she thought she’d closed JP in the freezer in his basement. She dashes over to her house to check on her, but JP comes in before she has a chance to get inside. When he discovers his mother, frozen to death, clutching the frozen corpse of his father (Paul Bentall), first he laughs at the absurdity of it. Then he cries. (Bang handles this very well.)
Becka, unable to help herself, rings the buzzer and asks, innocently enough, to see Minna. But JP deflects. He drags his mother’s corpse up the stairs, puts her in bed, and waits for her to thaw out so he can say she died in her sleep.
Becka is beside herself. Eva and Becka head over to get photographs of JP’s father George’s corpse, but he’s moved it — there goes their blackmail fodder. They’re back at square one.
JP puts his father’s body in a suitcase and chucks him in the pond behind the house to make it look like his mother killed him. Becka nearly makes a scene at Minna’s funeral but leaves before she can, instead getting hammered and going to the cemetery. So the Garda find her and bring her home to Eva.
Foul play? What foul play?
In the present, Matthew Claffin (Daryl McCormack) goes to Becka for clarification. Matthew’s on the warpath because JP’s autopsy revealed no foul play. And that means Thomas (Brian Gleeson) and his wife, Theresa (Seána Kerslake), are in big trouble. Without the fraudulent insurance claim payout, Thomas is going to jail.
When Theresa hears this, she decides to go do some investigating of her own. She heads out to find Becka, but has a seizure before she can leave. Thomas finds her on the floor. Matthew confronts her about Minna, and about the check she wrote her, and about the loan from JP that didn’t happen — all of it looks like motive.
She fends him off because, well, all of that was just kind of an ugly coincidence. Knowing that everything’s on the line, he decides to try to investigate for all he’s worth.
Back in the past, JP tries to get Eva fired as he starts to piece together that maybe the Garvey sisters are trying to kill (or at least humiliate) him. Eva knows they’re running out of time. She asks Ursula to get her poison. She’s gonna do the deed one way or another.
That weekend is Grace’s birthday, so they head to the mountains for a party. Roger (Michael Smiley) confronts JP, having finally pieced together that he’s the one who turned him in to the police. Grace sees this from outside the window but doesn’t know what to make of it. Ursula, Becka, Eva and Bibi go to a hotel near JP and Grace’s new cabin; Ursula has Ben (Peter Coonan) come up to see her for what she swears is their last night together. They meet up in the morning to celebrate but … JP is dead when they get there.
I can’t prove it but I know they did it.
Eve Hewson (as Becka, left) and Sharon Horgan (Eva) deliver the goods this week.Photo: Apple TV+
Sharon Horgan handles her scenes with Eve Hewson really well this week. You do get the sense of the character having a motherly care toward her youngest sister. Maybe the best bit is when they’re walking to Grace’s party and she says to Bibi and Becka that they have to pretend to have a nice time for their miserable sister’s sake.
“Put on your party hat and pretend to be normal! And your party face!” Horgan says. Excellent work as she has to navigate remaining the stoic head on the collective shoulders of the Garvey girls as every week they flirt with madness.
I also like the last-minute switcheroo where it’s now not at all clear who killed JP or why. Roger showing up at the cabin makes him a suspect, or possibly a witness. Did Grace do it accidentally or maliciously? It casts the whole preceding story into stark relief and it now looks like the collective efforts of the Garvey girls are just cartoonish mishaps, not a successful murder plot with a lot of bad-luck starts.
Strong performances all around
We get a great bunch of performance notes, from Bang’s oddball mourning to Smiley’s moment of clarity, to the four leads arguing over who is and isn’t a liability anymore. (Bibi’s too methodical, so they’re looking at her like she’s slowing things down. Becka’s a mess in her grief, almost telling the police she killed Minna. Ursula’s out of useful connections to make, and with the Ben situation, her head’s not in the game. Eva can’t tell if she’s coming or going.)
It’s all just very gripping. Next week we get to see what kind of a huge mess is left for us as we pray for a second season of Bad Sisters. And a third. And a fourth.
Watch Bad Sisters on Apple TV+
New episodes of Bad Sisters arrive on Apple TV+ every Friday.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.