Twisted Apple TV+ comedy Bad Sisters recovers from a few nasty falls this week. The series, which centers on Irish sisters determined to put their brother-in-law on ice, circles the wagons and waits for bad news as insurance inspectors get closer to the truth.
In a typically great episode from the show’s marvelous artistic team and cast, John Paul survives another murder attempt in the past, and Becka makes a shocking discovery.
Bad Sisters recap: ‘Rest in Peace’
Season 1, episode 7: In this week’s episode, entitled “Rest in Peace,” John Paul (played by Claes Bang) has fallen and he can’t get up. After Ursula (Eva Birthistle), Becka (Eve Hewson), Bibi (Sarah Greene) and Eva (Sharon Horgan) drugged his nasal spray, he sleep-drove himself into the sea.
The only problem is, Gabriel (Assaad Bouab) is also there, in his houseboat. The unfortunate man jumps in and saves JP. There goes that plan.
When John Paul wakes up, he obviously doesn’t remember anything. Grace (Anne-Marie Duff) calls after seeing him and tells her sisters JP thinks someone is trying to kill him.
“Gosh, the stress he puts you through, it never fucking ends!” says Eva before Becka steals the phone from her. Very funny.
Now, someone must go back to John Paul’s house and get the drugs where Ursula left them. Everyone has an excuse. (“I … have … one eye?” Bibi says to wriggle out of the mission.) So, Becka goes.
Eva can’t do it because she has her interview to get a promotion at work. John Paul demands to be released from the hospital because he, too, wants to make the interview. Grace doesn’t know what to do about that.
More questions, few answers
In the present, Becka convinces insurance adjuster Matthew (Daryl McCormack) to reconcile with his brother Thomas (Brian Gleeson) after their row. Matthew was mad because Thomas lied about their dead dad’s suicide, and the dreadful circumstances in which he left his finances. They patch things up after a fashion and get back to work investigating John Paul’s death.
Meanwhile, Theresa (Seána Kerslake) suggests they talk to Gabriel about the incident where John Paul nearly drowned. Gabriel won’t reveal much, but he does eventually let on that Eva was at the marina that night (and asked him not to say anything) with Becka. That spells motive for Thomas. Then Matthew tells him about the check from John Paul’s grandmother.
Ursula then runs into Ben (Peter Coonan), who she quit cold turkey after their affair was getting her in trouble. He insists they talk, but she can’t do it, so he settles for walking her back to work at the hospital, which means John Paul sees him and knows she hasn’t cut him out of her life, making him even madder.
What was John Paul doing at the hospital? He pushed Grace down a flight of stairs by accident. Bibi is livid and nearly kills him then and there, but the rest of the girls talk her out of taking reprisals. Lotta witnesses, after all…
Who tried to kill John Paul?
Donal (Jonjo O’Neill) dresses Ursula down for her repeated absences. He doesn’t outright say he knows she’s having an affair, but it doesn’t look good, either. John Paul goes to Gabriel’s boat to give him a bottle of whiskey and to retrace his steps from that night, when he sees Gabriel with his boyfriend.
He then gets a wild idea: Maybe Roger (Michael Smiley), the man who he had imprisoned for a false case of pedophilia for his own amusement a few days back, tried to kill him.
Back in the present, Matthew and Thomas present all their new evidence about the Garveys to detective Fergal Loftus (Barry Ward). He finally agrees to let them do a postmortem on John Paul’s body to look for evidence of foul play.
Becka goes to visit John Paul’s mother (Nina Norén), as is traditional, and she mentions something odd … that JP always comes over and works in the basement. Becka goes downstairs to explore and, among taxidermied animals, she finds what may be John Paul’s father’s dead body in a freezer.
Do you know what it costs to exhume a body?
The team of directors working on Bad Sisters has been handing in strong work all season within the confines of what digital TV photography can do for perspective and depth. Rebecca Gatward, Josephine Bornebusch and Dearbhla Walsh have all done their utmost to elevate this above the look and feel of either your typical comedy show or crime show.
A scene of Matthew and Becka flirting on a hilly beach has real weight to it, the camera traveling between them as they cavort and try to make sure they don’t fall. The scenes of JP’s failing memory coming back to him as he remembers his “accident” have real disorienting power.
This week’s highlight might be the scene of Becka exploring Minna’s basement. It’s shot and edited like a horror film, down to the sickly color grading that replaces Bad Sisters’ usually robust primary and tertiary colors. You feel like you’ve wandered into a Saw movie. Only Hewson’s indefatigable cheeriness (such a winning performance), and her great final line, keep you feeling safe in the moment, and remembering that for all the life-and-death stakes, this is still meant to be entertainment.
Bad Sisters will not make itself feel more important than what the audience needs to get through a situation at any given moment. This is a crew that knows how to achieve every effect they go after.
Watch Bad Sisters on Apple TV+
New episodes of Bad Sisters arrive on Apple TV+ every Friday.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.