Welcome to our weekly column Can’t Miss Episode of the Week! Every Saturday we’ll be spotlighting a different episode of television from that week that we thought was exceptional and a must-see. Check back to see if your favorite show got the nod — or to learn about a new one! Spoilers ahead.
Cristin Milioti’s character in the HBO Max series Made for Love kicks off Season 2, which premiered on April 28, with a big swing…right at her husband’s head. But let’s back up. The dark comedy follows Hazel (the brilliantly charismatic Milioti), a woman who tries to escape her oppressive marriage to a tech billionaire, only to find that he’s secretly implanted a chip in her brain that allows him to track and monitor her every move. In the Season 1 finale, Hazel agreed to come back to the Hub — a massive estate made up of virtual cubes that project incredibly life-like graphics where her husband Byron (Billy Magnussen) kept her trapped for ten years — if Byron will treat her father’s cancer. That’s where we pick up in the superb Season 2 premiere: Hazel, in the Hub, with a golf club. Murdering Byron.
Psych! She didn’t actually kill him, she was just daydreaming. It’s such a gutsy scene to open with. As she shows her dad, Herb (an adorable Ray Romano), what she did, and he hands her the golf club and tells her to finish the job upon realizing that Byron is still alive, one can’t help but run through the possibilities of what this means for Hazel this season. How will she evade being prosecuted for a billionaire’s murder? Finding out that it’s fake is a nice little thrill, and has the dual advantage of it being incredibly satisfying to watch Hazel murder Byron (even if it’s fake), while reminding us that Hazel’s not going to be able to escape him that easily. As usual, the show is laugh-out-loud funny–the physical comedy of Hazel and her dad startled and shuffling backwards when they realize Byron isn’t dead yet is top-tier–while also weaving an insightful narrative about abuse.
The plan to treat Herb without him knowing reaches absurd levels. Remember: When Hazel agreed to return, she didn’t want her dad to know the sacrifice she was making for him, so she drugged him, kidnapped him, and brought him to an exact replica of his home in the Hub. But hidden in the middle of the explanation of how every morning Herb will be treated for his cancer, is a line from Byron about how this fancy new cancer treatment came out of other research he was doing that involves how cancer cells are actually immortal. Translation: Byron is working on making himself immortal.
And with that chilling revelation, we pivot to, bizarrely, the FBI. OK, I’ll admit I didn’t see this one coming. The entire scene is hilarious camp, full of dramatic sound effects (I swear I laughed at every single one) as an extremely bro-like FBI agent Hank Walsh (Chris Diamantopoulos, of the sadly canceled after one season Good Girls Revolt) gives a theatrical PowerPoint presentation on how they plan to flip Hazel as an informant to take down Byron’s company, Gogol (yes, the show was that un-subtle about which real-life company they’re spoofing).
Apparently, it isn’t just Hazel who’s not allowed to leave the Hub; the FBI believes that multiple Gogol employees who have all suddenly died within the last year are really working at the Hub — for life. And who knows if they’re being mistreated or being held prisoner down there? (We do! We know! Fiffany and Herringbone are trapped in the pasture cube.) But that brings us to who the FBI has in mind to go undercover in the Hub, which is Jay (a smooth Sarunas J. Jackson), Hazel’s bowling alley coworker who we spent about two seconds with last season. Turns out, he’s really an FBI agent, and his new cover name is Jasper. This new aspect of the show adds a whole other layer of excitement and stakes.
It’s hard to believe that Byron really is removing the chip from Hazel’s head as he promised, but he does. And when Hazel requests the ability to move from cube to cube but doesn’t want a sensor implanted into her finger because she’s had enough Gogol tech injected into her body for one lifetime, he offers her Herringbone’s severed finger so she can use that instead (Hazel promptly gives him the middle finger with it), which is strangely considerate.
Anyone waiting for the other shoe to drop though does not have to wait long. Right after Hazel leaves, after swallowing the chips so that Byron can’t do anything else with them, we find out that the tray on which the chips were placed actually transferred all of their data, and is now being uploaded to their own network. In essence, Bryon and Hazel’s consciousnesses will live together in a computer, forever. This is the immortality Bryon was referring to. Byron, after all, is a psychopath and an abuser. He hasn’t learned a thing from last season about consent, no matter how hard he tries to pretend like he wants to be a good husband now.
Other observations we thought made this episode stand out:
- Herb starts to notice that something is off about his new reality. The water tastes too clean. The toilet flushes too easily. It’s the addition of little details like this that makes this show great.
- The banter between Jay/Jasper, Hank, and Agent Victor Estevez (Carlos Antonio), is so quick and witty, it’s side-splitting. The turning on and off of the lights every time Jay interrupts the presentation with reasonable questions about his mission simply puts it over the top.
- When Hazel is walking around the work part of the Hub for the first time–she wasn’t even allowed to leave the home cube before this–with her rotting finger, and all of the employees look at her like she’s a pariah, it emphasizes just how imprisoned she’s been the past ten years.
Made for Love, New Episodes, Thursdays, HBO Max