Previously on The Girlfriend Experience, “Retention”
The Girlfriend Experience | S1E4 – Crossing the Line | Starring: Riley Keough, Paul Sparks, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Amy Seimetz
We see the introduction of Christine’s older sister, Annabel, the voice on the other end of the call last week. Fun Fact: The actress who plays Annabel is also the director of this episode, Amy Seimetz.
I enjoyed seeing a different side of Christine, as she’s always so unflustered, but with Annabel we see her in defensive mode. However, even with her abrasiveness towards Annabel, she is the only person I have seen Christine have a genuine moment with. Later in the episode, she calls Annabelle for a genuine sister-to-sister moment asking the question, “Am I abnormally selfish?” This serves to remind us that regardless of how cold or unemotional she might appear, she’s not immune to human emotions. She is just so focused, almost to a fault, and for Christine, unless she’s getting paid to smile she chooses when and where to exert herself emotionally.
Work brings some twists and turns. At an annual company party thrown by her boss, David Tellis, a coworker gets drunk, and we find out that he has a troubled marriage and work continues going badly for him. The first inkling comes with the confirmation that Erin is sleeping with Emery Wright when they arrive together. Followed later on with the retention of Emery, but only at the price of David being forced out as lead lawyer on the XHP case in favor of Erin. His professional career has come at the cost of his personal life, and from what I’m seeing this episode he is failing at both.
But the one turn I didn’t see (this episode anyway) was him having sex with Christine. She handles him like she does her many clients even though he isn’t one, but when he asks her to spend the night she surprisingly says yes. What this new dynamic is going to mean going forward will be interesting – is she emotionally interested or interested because, in a way, she recognizes that she has some form of power over him as he loses so much of his power at work and home.
Poor Kevin. We witness his breakdown and removal as a client when he admits to Christine that he’s not as well off as he claims and has been taking out loans to see her. He even has the nerve to ask for a discount along with a declaration of love. She handles with aplomb what could have become an even more awkward moment.
Her other john, who treats her like a doll, has foot fungus and she doesn’t throw up. But her interactions with Ryan – the man with a silver tongue – take the cake. While out at lunch and inviting Christine to come with him on a work trip, they are interrupted by what appear to be friends of his and his wife. He handles the situation calmly, as it’s clear everyone involved knew what was happening. The news travels to his wife and she pays Christine $20,000 to leave Ryan alone, but not before a leaving a forceful warning to stay away from her family or face the repercussions.
The Girlfriend Experience - S1E4
The Girlfriend Experience is a well-scripted half hour of programming tackling a societal taboo with nuance. The way Christine fully handles the intricacies of the power dynamics involved in all aspects of her life and how the episode itself was shot during the many exchanges of power we see: from letting go of Kevin as a client, negotiating a better blackmail settlement with Ryan’s wife, and her handling of David as a client. It was also nice to see Christine be flustered and lose ground in her interactions with Ryan’s wife. I wonder if this is the last we see of Kevin; he seems a bit of a stalker and I would be surprised if he just goes away. It was a little ridiculous that Ryan’s wife laid the entirety of her husband’s cheating at Christine’s door. I doubt she is the first or last escort Ryan is going to be caught with.