Room 104 season 4, episode 4 recap – “Bangs”

August 15, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
HBO, TV Recaps
3.5

Summary

“Bangs” gives an old premise a lick of feminist paint, as a woman at a crossroads in life is forced to consider her available directions.

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3.5

Summary

“Bangs” gives an old premise a lick of feminist paint, as a woman at a crossroads in life is forced to consider her available directions.

This recap of Room 104 season 4, episode 4, “Bangs”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.


This week, Room 104 is hosting Eva’s (Melissa Fumero) kind of reverse bachelorette party, so the place is full of inflatable genital balloons and Vivian Bang as her best friend Jaimie, who thinks cutting bangs into Eva’s hair will do as a kind of symbolic divorce gesture. But perhaps it’ll do for more than that — after the first cut, a conservative you’ll-barely-notice it style, Eva thinks her dress has got a lot bigger and baggier all of a sudden. Jaimie nips out, leaving Eva in Room 104 with a pair of scissors that seem to glimmer with gold and move around on their own.

Before long, they’re in Eva’s hands, and when she uses them to trim a section of her hair, the dress tightens right back up. But the impromptu trim also teleports Walker (Finn Roberts) into the room, a handsome curly-haired musician who Eva, according to his off-the-cuff acoustic ditty, used to borderline stalk. But he liked it. She sits on the bed and they kiss, but she’s a bit too panicked to go any further than that since “she didn’t really like his song and is having a hard time getting past it”. He has to go to “band practice, or whatever,” and disappears through the door, having proven that perhaps Eva is as fearful of making the move she wants now as she was when she was a teenager.

Eva understandably thinks she’s losing it. All the while, the golden scissors impatiently chitter on the side. She cuts another lock from her hair, and this time Derek (Adam Shapiro) appears from the bathroom, having accidentally encroached on what is supposed to be a “Derek-free zone.” He believes he’s at home, and that Eva has always needed him to figure out herself. They argue, and then… he emerges from the bathroom again in a kind of Groundhog Day loop, which only prompts another argument. And again. And again. On and on it goes, one assumes as a metaphor for the circularity of bad relationships. To free herself from the loop, Eva cuts her fringe another time.

Now, mercifully, the room is empty. The dress is… different. Out of nowhere, Poppy March (Breeda Wool) arrives and asks Eva about herself, to enigmatic ends. She explains that all of this is all about her, arranged by her, to level up. Poppy makes her repeat, “My past self is not my present self.” “I am waving goodbye to my past self as I eagerly await my future form.” “My best happiness does not depend on anyone else’s best happiness.” “I am not that girl who couldn’t leave a love letter in Walker Young’s locker.” At this point, the recitations persist with interruptions, the first from Walker, the second from Derek, the men in Eva’s life contradicting and arguing with Poppy’s inspiring assertions. It’s the classic angel on one shoulder, devil on the other scenario. Overwhelmed, Eva cuts another piece of hair away.

We’re back to where we began, as Jaimie returns and finds Eva in quite a state on the bed. She sees the ad-hoc hairdo and assumes it was because she didn’t like the bangs, but Eva explains that the problem isn’t the hair — it’s the pressure of feeling as if she has to have everything figured out right now. She’s a 33, 34-year-old woman who likes reading, as she and we were told earlier, but is that all she is? And what else could she become? As she’s beginning to calm down, Eva sees the tell-tale golden glimmer from inside the makeup bag by the sink, but this time it’s emanating from a pair of electric clippers. “Shave me,” she instructs Jaimie, and Room 104 season 4, episode 4 ends as they whirr to life.

The guiding text here is obviously Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, with Eva being visited by the ghosts of her past, present, and future, but here writer-director Jenée LaMarque and co-writer Lauren Parks have given the classic story a contemporary feminist spin, with cutting the bangs working as a metaphor for constant, tiny reinventions, those in some way expected of women and those women make in response to — almost rebellion against — those expectations. It’s a clever reworking of the age-old idea of being brought face to face with oneself and forced to take an inventory, but its surrealist elements work against it a little, making this one of this season’s weaker, less lasting outings.


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