Another slow, character-focused episode in “Surrender at Discretion” has a standout sequence, but lacks progression and intrigue.
This recap of Dare Me Season 1, Episode 3, “Surrender at Discretion”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Still content to take its time, only now with fewer of the stylistic flourishes which have helped to set the show apart, Dare Me Episode 3 hones in on the fracturing dynamics between its main characters in a relatively straightforward manner. But in also highlighting a dodgy trend of peer pressure and hazing within cliquey high-school culture, it’s at least making a solid point.
“Surrender at Discretion” furthers some on-going ideas; Beth’s status as a generally unstable agent of chaos, Colette’s exacerbating of the growing rift between Beth and Addy, partly in self-defense, and Addy’s own personal ambition when presented with the opportunity to occupy the team top-spot currently occupied by her bestie. There’s nothing particularly wrong with any of these core subplots, but I’m not sure we needed three full episodes to get to grips with them.
Dare Me Episode 3 promotes Tacy to a vulnerable position of privilege in the team, much to Beth’s ire, and also lets us in on a bit more of Colette’s struggling home life with Matt, who is understandably concerned about how distant and cold she continues to be with him. These gradually burgeoning consequences of the central rivalry continue to be the show’s strongest element; it’s more engaging to see how Colette’s infidelity and Beth’s instability affect other people since we’ve already seen enough of these things to not need to be reminded of them constantly.
The most chilling moment of “Surrender at Discretion”, literally, is when the team force Tacy to have an ice-bath; she passes out and almost drowns. We’ve seen similar things in movies and TV plenty of times, but it’s rarer in the context of teenage girls rather than, say, a fraternity, so for that reason, the whole sequence has an effective air of novelty to it. It also speaks to the influence of Beth, and her potential callousness even towards those who’re ostensibly close to her.
We also see flickers of this mentality reflected in Addy in her own treatment of Tacy – a common theme throughout the show thus far, as we see it in Colette stooping to Beth’s level and trying to manipulate Addy on hers. Beth is, perhaps ironically, the most consistent personality on the show, largely because you can rely on her to be inconsistent. But these notes, and the ice-bath centrepiece, are the only real highlights of an episode that delivers little in the way of intrigue or substance.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.