Grand Army season 1, episode 4 recap – what happened in “Safety On”?

By Daniel Hart
Published: October 16, 2020 (Last updated: February 10, 2024)
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Grand Army Promotional Image Courtesy of Netflix


Episode 4 is still uncomfortable to watch after Joey’s traumatic event. This chapter also delves into Sid’s battle with his sexuality and Dom’s family’s financial troubles.

This recap of Netflix’s Grand Army season 1, episode 4, “Safety On” contains significant spoilers.

We recapped the entire series — check out the archive.

The opening

The episode opens up with the text, “Borders aren’t secure, markets aren’t secure, democracy’s not safe”. Joey wakes up and Anna has texted her wondering if Tim is going to feel sh*tty. Parts of the events in the taxi were live on social media. Her mother asks Joey if she’s ever going to leave her bedroom because she knows she’s hungover. Joey ponders what to say back to Tim — she decides to be humourous.

Joey is traumatised; she’s trying to find different ways to cope already by texting back to someone who was complicit.

I’m not the mother

At a church event, Dom’s sister has a go at her for not coming home the night before to look after the children. Dom reminds her she isn’t the mother of the children. The mother asks both girls to be quiet. Afterwards, the Pastor offers Dom an initiative he wants her to be part of that helps people with mental health issues linked to substance abuse.


Grand Army season 1, episode 4 then breaks down Joey’s downwards spiral after her friends raped her.

It’s now Monday; Joey goes into school and she is paranoid and anxious that people are talking about her — there’s a cacophony of sounds. Tim asks if she’s okay; Luke and George give her a doughnut — they don’t seem to acknowledge what they did.

Grand Army suggests that her rapists are not mature or educated enough to understand what they did, however, this feels more like an American culture problem with young teenage boys who think they are invincible and superior — using their misplaced masculinity for evil.


Rachel talks to Leila about Joey — they both call her a w***e. Meanwhile, Joey and her friends play “Never have I ever”. Anna says, “Never have I ever had an orgy with friends”. Everyone laughs and the situation continues to eat on Joey’s mind. She replays what happened in the taxi.


And the perception that women are somehow promiscuous and not abused runs through episode 4 as the girls at school continue that narrative by bullying Joey.

In dance class, she texts her mother that she’ll live into her father’s house if she isn’t happy with her. One of the girls asks her if she’s tired of “sucking so much d*ck”. Dom accidentally throws a basketball at her and Joey loses her cool and confronts her angrily before walking out. Dom runs after her in the bathroom and sees bruises on Joey’s inner thighs.

At home, Jay is preparing to return to school for his hearing after the suspension. The grandfather feels he’s been made to feel like a criminal. The whole family discuss the situation but Jay isn’t in the mood to involve himself in the conversation. He tries to ring Owen but the number is disconnected.


There are plenty of subplots, but the audience will be solely fixed on Joey after what happened to her.

When Jay goes to school he learns the music class is temporarily replacing Owen despite there being no hearing yet. As for Joey, she’s still replaying the sexual assault she experienced by her own friends. In class, she puts her hand up and asks the teacher to shut the door as the music is distracting. As she sobs, she discusses the Great Gatsby book and how it’s mansplaining and racist. She tells the teacher she doesn’t know why she’s crying and that she hates the book.

Joey then goes to the bathroom to meet Luke and tells him that she cannot sleep. He gives her drugs to help her.

Thursday — Harvard submission

There’s a breakthrough for Sid in episode 4 who shares his essay for Harvard with the school counsellor.

Sid talks to his counsellor about his essay; in it, he discusses the bombing PTSD and sexuality. The counsellor brings up the sexuality part of his essay and asks if he wants to share this — he’s unsure. Sid doesn’t want his parents to know and instead, asks her to submit it to Harvard admission. Afterwards, Sid meets a man for oral sex in a changing room.

In an audition, Leila talks about sex and loving her body — George and Joey are nearby watching. George kicks her out. It messes up Leila’s audition. She imagines her cartoon again; George and Joey are tied up and it turns violent. Back to reality, Leila tells Meera she’d love to be cast.


Sid is worried he’s got an STD from the oral sex. He then sees someone hit on his sister so he warns the student that his sister is a “handful”.

In an assembly about police and security, Tim asks Joey if she’s okay which is an audacious question considering he didn’t stop his friends from raping her. She continues to use her drugs and replays what happened in her head. Dom receives a text that her sister has hurt her back badly — John asks if she’d like to hang out later but you can sense something bad is about to impact Dom’s life.

Joey continues to struggle so she leaves the assembly. Anna looks after her while waiting for her mother. Anna apologises to Joey for being selfish about the situation because she loves her. Dom also checks up on her.

Friday – date

Dom goes to John’s house for dinner. She thinks his mother is nice. John and Dom seem smitten with each other and they kiss. Dom returns home and sees her sister is in a lot of pain with her back. The last thing the family need is a health issue with their dwindling finances.

Episode 4 shows how the slightest health problem in the USA can spiral a family into poverty and Dom is now experiencing this — with expensive healthcare, the family has to buckle up and get on with it.

The ending

Joey is struggling badly now — Nina finds her drugs and the sexual assault replays in her head again. Her mother comforts her as she sobs. She finally reveals that she was raped, which is a huge moment.

The episode ends with the following text:

“Borders aren’t secure, markets aren’t secure, democracy’s not safe. Your students aren’t safe and they know it.”.

Grand Army season 1, episode 4 is still uncomfortable to watch after Joey’s traumatic event. This chapter also delves into Sid’s battle with his sexuality and Dom’s family’s financial troubles. Problems appear to be mounting in the Netflix series as characters are put in a corner.

Faculty archives
  • In the security assembly, students keep chanting, “I can’t breathe”.
  • Jay tries to speak to Owen at his home but Owen’s parents tell Jay to leave as they don’t want to be associated with him.

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