“Right Here Right Now III” continues to quietly explore the show’s themes and fraught dynamics in another easygoing episode with its own low-key power.
This recap of We Are Who We Are episode 3, “Right Here Right Now III”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
We Are Who We Are is pretty explicitly about difference, about fluidity, about not conforming and finding the confidence in yourself to carve out your identity on whatever background you’re in front of. The background of “Right Here Right Now III”, as it has been to a certain extent throughout the first two episodes, is masculinity, both the toxic form and the benign version. It’s something Fraser and Cait both have to grapple with, as kids on a military base where ooh-rah toughness is at a premium, and as two individuals who don’t fit in with their surroundings, their peers, or perhaps even their own bodies.
Both of these characters are searching for some kind of meaning to latch on to. Both are looking in different places. Fraser searches in the intentionality of poetry, where every word and syllable is in service to meaning; Caitlin toys with tradition, as though being in the relationship she’s expected to be in will give her some kind of purpose. Tellingly in this episode, she and Sam acknowledge that whatever was going on between them has fizzled out. Cait doesn’t seem particularly bothered by this development; you get the sense that Sam was expecting some kind of argument when he suggested their relationship should end. As Fraser and Cait start spending more and more time together in “Right Here Right Now III”, their peers naturally assume there’s something going on between them – Cait can’t seem to escape a heterosexual relationship whatever she does.
We Are Who We Are episode 3 isn’t subtle about making this point – during Sam and Cait’s break-up, soldiers are doing push-ups in the foreground of the shot. That masculinity is ever-present, and it comes off Cait’s brother, Danny, in waves. His immediate reaction to everything is physical aggression; he looms over Cait herself and manhandles Fraser. Later, he peers over a bridge and contemplates leaping from it. His friend threatens to crack his skull open for him if he ever suggests anything of the sort again – these boys can’t even be caring and supportive without also threatening violence.
Fraser and Cait exist apart from these ideas, removed enough that they see how ridiculous they are, but not quite able to understand or communicate the more fluid alternative that they’re aspiring to. They know enough to see the allure in exploring their own identities, but now how best to do it without a confusing mish-mash of language and emotion. We Are Who We Are is excellent at capturing these feelings of curiosity and uncertainty, and lets us sit in on them, not in a seedy or voyeuristic way, but almost as friends watching people we care about find themselves. This material is the show at its best; at its most curious and incisive.
What I’d consider to be the show at its worst is Fraser’s weirdly co-dependent and occasionally violent relationship with Sarah, which “Right Here Right Now III” shows is a two-way street. That slap we saw in an earlier episode, it turns out, isn’t even the half of it. Here, Fraser grabs her by the hair, whispering threats in her ear, after a deliberate provocation from Sarah. That night, Fraser has some kind of nightmare or panic attack and gets in bed with his mothers to be coddled by Sarah once again. Throughout all this, Maggie is on the sidelines, which is reinforced time and again throughout the episode. Sarah blithely dismisses Maggie’s role in parenting Fraser when she laments having to be both mother and father to him, and Maggie later reinforces this by denying her parentage of him. In an extended party sequence that caps off the episode and that all the major characters are in attendance for, Sarah dances with Major Jonathan (Tom Mercier) and makes a point of not stopping when the misty-eyed Fraser spots them, while Maggie takes a highly erotically-charged stroll with Jenny (Faith Alabi) that ends in both plunging their hands in some pie. That isn’t a euphemism just yet, but let’s give it an episode or two.
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