The Vow season 1, episode 8 recap – “The Wound” little women

October 12, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 1
HBO, TV Recaps
4

Summary

“The Wound” properly digs into Keith Raniere’s bonkers ideology, and finally confirms what has been self-evident all along. The root cause of NXIVM’s multilevel schemes was simply plain old misogyny.

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4

Summary

“The Wound” properly digs into Keith Raniere’s bonkers ideology, and finally confirms what has been self-evident all along. The root cause of NXIVM’s multilevel schemes was simply plain old misogyny.

This recap of The Vow season 1, episode 8, “The Wound”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.


Keith Raniere spends a lot of time in “The Wound” talking about f*cking things. Mostly he means women, but you get the sense it could be anyone or anything in his general vicinity. Nobody, I don’t think, got f*cked more in the whole NXIVM scandal than those who bought into it, whether they had intimate relations with Keith or not. We’ve said week after week in these recaps that, from the outside looking in, it was incomprehensible how any of these people fell for such an obvious scam. But hearing Keith deliriously rant about the primal need to f*ck something, someone, anything, it suddenly dawned on me that getting embroiled in a cult works in a similar way to going home with a stranger after a night out. There’s a need to release, to satiate an innate desire to be connected to something, to abide by an impulse that feels natural. Somebody is going to get f*cked either way.

I know I shouldn’t, but the more the broader workings of NXIVM are picked apart, the more I laugh. I’m not laughing at its victims or its peddling of compelling but nonetheless ridiculous New Age woo-woo ideas. I’m laughing at the grandiosity that those most intimately involved believed was afforded to them by ridiculous acronyms like DOS and JNESS, by group titles like the Society of Protectors. The Society of Protectors! That’s the banner under which Keith sits in front of a room full of women, pointing at them in turn, barking “f*ck!” over and over. The irony is the only thing that women need protection from is men like Keith.

This rant accounts for a good portion of “The Wound”, and it’s profoundly uncomfortable. It would be just as weird even if we didn’t know Keith was a serial abuser, but since he is, it takes on an even creepier vibe. His reframing of basic morally responsible parenting – don’t respond to violence with violence, don’t harm little girls, don’t lash out – is some kind of injustice that men must suffer through and learn to overcome. Throughout this “talk”, or whatever it’s supposed to be, Keith reels off a litany of stereotypes about women that he reiterates time and time again that he’s simply pretending to believe in; he’s speaking, you see, as men, plural, not a man, singular. But he can barely contain his excitement at laying out all the reasons why men hate women, in describing in great detail all the flaws women have, and how much men’s misbehavior is their responsibility. His shtick is that he’s playacting to make a point. But it couldn’t be more obvious that this is what he truly believes.

NXIVM was a complex multilevel organization, and it used, abused, and exploited many people in lots of different ways. But it has never been clearer than it is in The Vow episode 8 that the root cause of all this pain is simply Keith’s hatred of women. Plain, unglamorous misogyny. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. And you can tell quite clearly by how he talks about women compared to how he talks about men. When he’s pretending to simply be parroting “what men think”, it’s an act, an exercise; when he’s talking about the Society of Protectors and spouting off the archaic responsibilities of men as protectors and providers, these are his genuine feelings, not given a performative mask. He doesn’t realize they’re the exact same misogynistic sentiments.

Eventually, when Keith starts explaining that abuse is a made-up human construct, you realize what he’s doing. He’s creating a logical ouroboros. This is how men think about women, so this is how women must behave, and this is how men must behave towards them, and if that behavior seems like abuse then, well, that’s just because of how men think about women, and so women must behave…

You get the idea. It’s crushingly simple, really. Any lofty comparisons drawn with the Stanford Prison Experiment just seem like another way for Keith to justify his own abhorrent thoughts and behavior, to avoid having to admit that his determination to f*ck everyone and everything is his problem, not the fault of some little woman who took a toy away from him as a child. It’s Nippy, of all people, who puts it just-right towards the end of “The Wound”. “Nobody joins a cult,” he says. “They join a good thing, and then they realize they were f*cked.” In the end, it all comes down to that.


Thanks for reading our recap of The Vow season 1, episode 8, “The Wound”. For more recaps, reviews, and original features covering the world of entertainment, why not follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page?

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1 thought on “The Vow season 1, episode 8 recap – “The Wound”

  • October 14, 2020 at 2:03 am
    Permalink

    That final quote was from Mark Vicente, not Nippy.

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