Previously on The Girlfriend Experience, “Available”
The Girlfriend Experience | S1 E11: Fabrication | Starring: Riley Keough, Paul Sparks, Mary Lynn Rajskub| Director: Lodge Kerrigan
We open episode eleven with Christine in the back seat of a cab when she receives a text from Danny, the first client she met on her trip to Toronto, and it seems even their weird and awkward interaction is not enough to keep him away. Christine, being the professional that she is, adds him to her list of clients.
All season I have wondered whether this would be an occupation she keeps on the side, but with her dual life all but exposed she fully embraces it. But even as she embraces it, she takes steps to keep her identity closely guarded, and for her clients it definitely is not an issue if they are not able to see her face during their video communications.
She arrives to a meeting with her lawyer Martin. After playing the audio of her co-workers reactions to the video and the recording of her and David having sex, she lets him know that she wants to move ahead with a lawsuit against Kirkland for sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. They get to work crafting the story from Christine’s point of view, which includes a follow-up article with the reporter from the Chicago Lister. An interview that goes as well as it could with the subject involved being Christine. She comes off aggressive and not at all as a sympathetic person.
Her next meeting is with the two Kirkland lawyers with very much the same personalities as the guys who were harassing her in the break room at work. But she maintains eye contact through the meeting as the lawyer for the other side tries to shame her, but we soon find out Christine still gets her way. David Tellis is brought in to see his boss and – without a word said on his part – is fired after 15 years with them. After he returns to his office, he looks out the window, the camera pans from his eye level to the street below, imagery for how far he has fallen. He leaves his office looking unbothered to others, but as soon as he reaches the safety of his car unleashes verbally and physically against the steering wheel in anger.
Erin is brought into the office of the remaining partners and asked about her knowledge regarding David and Christine; she denies knowing anything. They offer her managing partner as a reward in order to have her represent Kirkland against Christine because of the optics. But when Martin meets with Erin and another lawyer, he is able to make a case for them to settle and avoid a messy turnout if news gets out.
Christine meets with Martin at a restaurant regarding the case and she runs into Jacqueline – they share an awkward exchange. It does seem as if Jacqueline is genuinely happy to see her well though. Christine arrives at the table with Martin, and he tells her Kirkland is going to settle for a million dollars with a gag clause thrown in. She asks if they could have gotten more and Martin rightly so tells her she’s already won. (Am I the only one who thinks her greed is getting out of control?)
She signs the paperwork, looks across the room and sees her very first client Ryan eating with two women. It’s obvious his womanizing has not ended. I hope his wife has learned to save her money.
Armed with a million dollars in the bank, and also probably because Jacqueline inquired about her place (Jacqueline was the one who found it for her), Christine goes house hunting. We see her not showing any emotion or effort. She found a place and that was it. She shows more life when she talks to a financial planner later.
David Tellis, on the other hand, looks like a little boy lost, and when he tries to get some action from him wife she can’t due to the images she has in her head of the women he’s cheated on her with. Things don’t get any better when he goes in for a job interview the following day. It’s obvious he’s not getting this job and the interviewer is, of course, correct: This situation he’s found himself in is unfortunate. Code for good luck getting a job because everyone in our industry knows what happened. Now obsessed with the role Christine has played in his downfall he calls her up to meet while repeatedly watching the video that set everything in motion.
But this meeting is nothing more than a way for him to try and regain some form of power, pointing out that she destroyed his life and career and when she asks what about her career he scoffs at that idea – just because she was an intern and he was a partner her position was easily disposable and worth nothing. And then I wondered how many interns have crossed David’s path in the past with him not caring… until Christine, that is. He calls her a whore, and when she dares him to repeat it, he remains silent. She throws her glass of water in his face and exits the restaurant. In seeking to regain some footing in everything that has happened he just ends up losing face.
The episode ends with a close up of Christine’s face, at home engaging with a client via video. Even though everything has fallen in her favor she still works very hard to maintain her newfound control, and that level of control over everything with no emotion and just money and work seems unsatisfying.
The Girlfriend Experience S1E11
This was an episode of wins for Christine, but the one thing we see is that it never seems to give her joy. Throughout the season I’ve wondered if there was a hidden motivation that’s been guiding her steps, but it seems there is none. She likes what she does, the money is great, and it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. Christine is not necessarily the type of hero you cheer for. She keeps to herself, is curt with people, and doesn’t even seem to care about her family’s reaction to the video. This initially ends up making David Tellis’ firing bittersweet for a second, but by the end of the episode I remembered why I can’t be sympathetic to his self-inflicted ruination. That’s what I continue to enjoy about The Girlfriend Experience – the exploration of power, who has it and who doesn’t. Christine having the strength to monetize her embarrassment has now put a foundation beneath her, the very same one David and Jack each tried to destroy.