Kissing Game season 1, episode 1 recap – “got you!”

July 17, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, TV Recaps
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An overabundance of boozy party scenes keep “got you!” feeling vaguely trance-like, but there’s some potential in its obviously metaphorical narrative.

This recap of Kissing Game season 1, episode 1, “got you!”, contains spoilers. 

Check out our spoiler-free season review.

Check out all our Kissing Game recaps in the episode archive.

Strobe lights. A pounding beat. This is how most bad decisions begin, and in the opening scene of Netflix’s Kissing Game episode 1, it looks like Bel has made one. Her friend Fran pulls her heavy-lidded eyes open — still spotted with makeup and glitter — and finds her in the shower, sobbing, her mouth stained ominously black.

All the early portions of “got you!” have that morning-after vibe. Getting up late, hurriedly racing through a deserted little town where everyone who might be out is at work or school. It’s an odd place. Along with flashes of the boozy night before, we also see a graphic of a cow’s anatomy. The school uniform is hot pink with a bull’s head emblem. We follow new kid Chico in these sequences. He’s grilled by the school’s principal for flirting the dividing lines between this community and “the cult”. News of Bel’s sudden and mysterious illness is everywhere, only exacerbated by the presence of her tearful mother on campus.

Attention quickly switches to Fran, both in a brief flashback to her and Bel preparing for the party, and then as she, too, is interrogated by the principal. Fran has an ill mother, but her claims of not attending the party to care for her are quickly proved false. The cult, apparently, use parties to attract kids, promising them pleasure and experimentation without taking responsibility for the consequences.

The question of what happened at the party prompts us to return there, with the repetitive beat as the backing track. Fran and Bel pull the socially-awkward Alex out of a tree, where he was high, literally and otherwise. Alex is next in the principal’s hot seat but doesn’t reveal anything. She’s harsher with him than she was with the others, though all three end up in detention. It seems like Alex gave Bel something that he was given by somebody else. But he claims he took it and many others did too; nobody else reacted the same way as Bel.

If you stripped all the stylized party flashbacks out of Kissing Game episode 1, it’d probably run for about ten minutes. They look fine, but the point was largely put across in the first one unless sloppy three-way kissing constitutes a plot turn, which in this show it might. The visual shorthand of “got you!” is pretty obvious. When Chico sits with Fran, her uniform is all tucked in and buttoned-up, her hair tight. He’s a mess by comparison. They’re wearing their personalities on their sleeves, literally.

A lot of this opening half-hour is setup, for both characters and the setting. The sense is of a tight-knit, restrained, God-fearing community, conservative in their attitudes to partying, drugs, and fraternization; in indulging in all these things regardless, the students have contracted something unspecified and deadly, penance for their transgressions. “got you!” ends with Bel entering an Instagram live stream, prompting Fran to visit her at the hospital, where she’s told that the drug wasn’t the cause of whatever’s happening to her. At the same time, another student partygoer is wheeled in, his own lips blackened. The metaphor is obvious. But there’s enough potential in unpacking it to keep an audience going.

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