As implied by the episode’s title, we open with a dream. Kyle is overjoyed to see his 6-year-old sister Nadine in his dorm room. As if her night terrors have abated, she asks, “Are the monsters gone?” And then a trickle of blood slowly inches its way down her forehead. It’s no public stoning, but it’s pretty unnerving to behold.
Kyle flees to Col. Rayne’s house, where she’s doing a little late-night solo waltzing (not a euphemism). It remains unclear why the writers have chosen to layer Rayne with these frilly adornments: She bakes cakes! She will judge your office décor! She’s a foxtrot aficionado! Beyond injecting her very masculine-dominated life with an antidote of feminism, they certainly all seem to add up to a domestic life that Rayne will never have but allows herself in which to indulge in only the most intimate circumstances. And Kyle, with his sensitivity and love of the arts, seems to be presenting a simpatico relationship for her. It would be kind of beautiful in its sadness if it weren’t tinged with an underlying feeling of being fundamentally off.
Speaking of being fundamentally off, Lincoln Knopf finds himself in the midst of a street corner Q&A with Linden and a much-worse-for-the-wear Holder. Knopf is his usual charming, eloquent self, talking about Linda Stansbury’s short tennis skirts that “barely covered [her] snatch,” bragging about blowing animals’ heads off, and just generally being gross. After Knopf claims the gun he’d brought to school was in his room at his parents’ house, Holder went tit for tat with graphic tales about prison hazing rituals.
In Knopf’s bedroom, the partners find a soft-porn treasure trove of posters altered so that bikini babes’ eyes and mouths are covered in duct tape and or otherwise disfigured. If I were a detective on this case, my first question would be, Is he seeing anybody? After seeing Holder acts so erratically aggressively rude with Mrs. Knopf that she threatens to file a report, Linden confronts her partner: “Are you using again?” He jumps out of the car and visits a church. It would appear that not 24 hours after denying the existence of God, Holder is a man in need of something to believe in.
In case children bleeding from the head, tales of prison gang rape, and examples of the male gaze through an S&M-warped prism weren’t disturbing enough, Fielding gathers St. George’s new cadets for the annual Slap-Happy Sing-Along Day. In a brutal rite of passage, the boys are tasked with pairing up and each singing a line from a nursery rhyme then slapping the stuffing out of their partner. Despite the thrashing Kyle gave Knopf a few days back, he’s apparently reverted to his “incapable of violence” factory setting. When he asks to leave, then outright refuses to participate with Fielding (his superior), Kyle is reteamed with Knopf, who practically cracks his knuckles in anticipation. He sings line after line of the “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” pausing only briefly for Kyle to defer, before smacking Kyle. After a few rounds, Kyle is bawling, his right cheek welted from Knopf’s smacks. Humor me for a minute here: Is Kyle almost too innocent? Does it strike you as Primal Fear-level passivity. Given what we know about Kyle’s abusive family, his tendency to internalize his feelings, and his ability to deliver a beating when prompted, might he be the spider? Is he just rearing back before the strike (whether it’s unintentional or not)?
NEXT: A pair of lovely Linden-Holder exchanges (one in a gas-station bathroom, no less)