Nine Perfect Strangers Season 1 Episode 5 Recap – “Sweet Surrender”

By Daniel Hart
Published: September 1, 2021 (Last updated: February 17, 2024)
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Hulu series Nine Perfect Strangers episode 5


We learn more about a few of the characters in episode 5 as the wellness treat appears to be transforming into a bubble of togetherness.

This recap of the Hulu series Nine Perfect Strangers Season 1 Episode 5 contains spoilers. 

Read the recap of the previous episode.

It’s strange — whenever I talk to anyone about this series, we are never too sure what it is about or what will happen. At the crux, each character owns demons embedded inside them deeply, and they are desperate to be broken down so they can be built back up. Even Lars, an investigative journalist, seems to be on a deep road to self-discovery, despite his objective to seemingly expose Masha’s wellness resort. But we remain intrigued, and the curiosity continues in episode 5.

Nine Perfect Strangers Season 1 Episode 5 Recap

Episode 5 opens with Masha, who appears to be in deep thought in the pool. We are hit with flashbacks of a guest dying a the wellness camp; Masha and her team are panicking — the flashback transitions to Masha getting shot. Is the series suggesting these two memories are connected in some way? Has a guest died before at the wellness retreat?

With the micro-dosing upped, we can only presume that Zoe is now on mushrooms. She’s at the legal age now. During the night, she sees her brother, presumably a hallucination — he wishes her happy birthday but asks why she keeps telling people they were not close. Zoe is understandable confused, and emotional about why she can see her brother and hugs him tight. The next morning, it is birthday celebrations for Zoe, and her father is pumped. Slowly, but surely, this family reconciling and healing — but at what cost?

At breakfast, the guests talk about their vivid dreams due to the increase of micro-dosing. Napoleon describes a song from his dream which infuriates Carmel — it was her wedding song. Lars describes a strange dream about giving birth — they were all there, and Tony was the father. Comedically, this description of the dream irks Tony.

And then randomly, Frances believes she has a visitor. It’s Paul, the man she met and fell in love with online, who unashamedly catfished her. He gives her the money he stole off her and then criticizes her books, calling them fake and shallow. Suddenly, Masha gives her a weapon to kill Paul, and then that’s when it clicks for the viewers — it was a dream. In reality, Frances has her face deep into her breakfast oats. It looks like the drugs were a bit too powerful for her.

As we saw in the last episode, Delilah is getting increasingly irritated with Yao and Masha, and we were not sure why. Masha talks to her privately and tells her they are on the precipice of something great and wants to know what she can do to help. Delilah is blunt with her and tells Masha to stop having sex with Yao. Masha asks Delilah if she is unable to let go too — the women intimately kiss each other. Masha appears to have a strange hold over her colleagues, and they have a strange dynamic.

We learn more about Lars in episode 5 as he opens up to Zoe in the sauna. He tells her that the topic of babies broke up his relationship (this would explain the vivid dream) — he didn’t think it was fair bringing children into this tough world. Zoe gets him to open up about his childhood, how he suffered from being gay, and family and societal pressures. Suddenly, Zoe opens up and admits her deceased brother appeared before her the night before.

As for Tony, he’s still intensely battling his demons as the drugs he was addicted to are beginning to wear off completely. He opens up to Frances about his struggles and brings up Lars’s dream — he admits he wasn’t present when either of his children was born. He then says something concerning — that he’s not sure if he will make it to the end of the “week or year”. Of course, Frances is worried; it’s clear they have feelings for each other.

It’s been fairly quiet for Jessica and Ben since the start of the series — is this intentional from the writers? They appear to be reconciling in episode 5, with Ben appreciative for being at the retreat. It’s obvious that winning the lottery has impacted their relationship. They have passionate sex in the hot tub. From a distance, Carmel sees and gets angry. Lars sees her anger, and Carmel tells him she is sick of pretending to be okay, and the thought of her ex-husband with a younger woman intoxicates her mind. Lars gives therapy-like advice and tells Carmel to disassociate from her ex-husband by meeting someone new — he calls her a passionate, vibrant, and beautiful woman.

The ending

To end episode 5, we are presented with Zoe’s birthday celebrations; she gives a speech and talks about her brother briefly before admitting she wanted to stay at the retreat despite it being her birthday because she sees them as family. She then loops in her father, stating it’s a tradition that he sings on a family birthday; he sings, and the guests are impressed. Noticeably, Tony and Frances dance intimately. Heather watches her husband with love in her eyes.

The episode ends with Zoe suddenly struck as she can see her brother near the pool. She’s frozen by the vividness of what she can see. Masha sees from a distance that Zoe is having an experience. She approaches Zoe and whispers to her, asking if she can “see him.”

Additional points 

  • Napoleon and Heather take the plunge off a waterfall together.

What did you think of Nine Perfect Strangers Season 1 Episode 5? Comment below.

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