Just Beyond Season 1 Episodes 4 and 5 Recap – “My Monster” and “Unfiltered”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: October 13, 2021 (Last updated: March 6, 2024)
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Just Beyond Season 1 Episodes 4 and 5 Recap
Just Beyond Season 1 (Credit - Disney+)

Just Beyond Season 1 is supposedly a horror anthology, a family-friendly take on the usual October fare, but it hasn’t really felt like one until  Episode 4, “My Monster”. Here, though, a more traditional horror vibe is felt immediately — young girls, creepy houses, creaky floorboards, and men in deeply unpleasant masks looming out of rain-lashed dark nights. Of course, there’s still something underneath all this, the interiority of a girl struggling to deal with her parent’s divorce, but this is the first episode thus far that actually feels like it’s trying to be scary. I also recap Episode 5, “Unfiltered” in this article too.

Just Beyond Season 1 Episode 4 Recap

Just Beyond Season 1 Episode 4 (Credit – Disney+)

The girl is Olivia (Megan Stott), an outwardly upbeat and positive cheerleader (and captain of the debate team!) who is hiding crippling anxiety over the separation of her parents, which is only being exacerbated by the family’s move back to her mother’s creepy childhood home. She and Graham (Elisha Henig) debate the house’s potential haunted status and theorize whether it’s ghosts or poltergeists or something less easily defined haunting the halls and staircases.

Before long Olivia and Graham are both trying to solve the mystery of a tall man in a mask together, really emulating the usual structure of these things but with everyone’s ages dialed down. The villain’s mask evokes The Strangers for me; simple enough, but creepy in that simplicity.

Sometimes the dude comes accompanied with music, and sometimes chases Olivia, though sometimes there’s no music and he just watches her. But she sees him at school, and on the ground while she’s flying through the air during cheerleading practice.

This all coincides with Olivia’s decision on whether or not to ride a particularly dangerous rollercoaster, because it’s a metaphor, see?

Predictably, Olivia’s mother has to work late, leaving Olivia in the care of the kindly Mrs. Lipton (Lynn Wanlass), who reveals that, as a child, her mother also thought the house was haunted. She, too, heard music whenever the ghoul was nearby. Olivia confronts her mother about this before she leaves, and she explains how it only ever showed up when she was worried about something.

It’s a manifestation of anxiety. She still sees the man in the mask even now, sometimes, but they have an understanding; the point is teaching Olivia that it’s okay to feel her feelings, to face her fears and problems, rather than bundling everything up and pretending it’s all okay.

What Olivia realizes is that she’s in control. She can banish her anxiety. She can remove its mask and look it in the face; confront it directly. It’s a nice message, and the fusion of that message with a more traditional haunted house horror theme works pretty well.

Just Beyond Season 1 Episode 5 Recap

Just Beyond Season 1 Episode 5 (Credit – Disney+)

You can tell just from the title (“Unfiltered”) what episode 5 is going to be about, and lo and behold, it’s about exactly that. Of course, played-out or otherwise, the pervasiveness of social media and celebrity culture in teen life is an important topic; the value of “traditional” exterior beauty versus internal uniqueness.

This important theme manifests, predictably, through the power of an app, since these days there’s an app for everything — including morphing your face into one you think is more ideal.

Lily (Izabela Vidovic) is smart. But she’s not smart enough to realize that the beauty app recommended to her by her beautiful substitute art teacher, Ms. Fausse, comes with some unforeseen costs.

The invite-only app doesn’t just allow you to pick a new nose and apply your makeup perfectly, but it also, according to the EULA, might cause memory lapses and personality changes. Overnight, Lily becomes as beautiful as she always wanted to be. She also becomes someone else entirely. 

Suddenly shallow and obnoxious, Lily gets in with the popular crowd, but still doesn’t find herself totally accepted, especially not when she sets her sights on the boyfriend of one of her contemporaries. She has to set her expectations somewhat lower, apparently, so she immediately returns to the app and takes things a step further, emerging the next morning with thicker makeup and plumper lips, and more of an attitude. She woefully underperforms in the Quiz Bowl, gets kicked off the team, and loses her best friend, but Ms. Fausse is in her ear telling her to take what’s hers.

Of course, it still isn’t enough. All the tight dresses and big lips and acronyms aren’t enough; her new suitor, it turns out, thought she was smart, and now she isn’t anymore. Her next attempt to “glow up” results in further disaster, profound embarrassment, and a trip to Ms. Fausse’s home to try and get to the bottom of what’s happening to her.

Every reflective surface in the house contains a soul, the essence of someone who hated their imperfections and tried to change them. Lily herself is in one of them. The trade was beauty in exchange for someone’s entire essence.

People always choose outer beauty over inner, which has allowed Ms. Fausse to preserve herself for several lifetimes, at least until Lily smashes all the mirrors, releasing the trapped souls and reducing her to a withered, hideous ghoul.

Lily returns to her old self, knowing now that being traditionally pretty is no substitute for being who she really is inside.

What did you think of Just Beyond Season 1 Episodes 4 and 5? Comment below.


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