“Gotta make it right,” a dazed Ophelia mutters late in “Sweet/Vicious’s” second episode: “Gotta make it right.”
Is she responding to BFF Harris’ totally justified tirade against racial profiling on Darlington’s campus? To the enduring lack of response from both school and police to a sexual assault victim’s report against one of Darlington’s star athletes? To the bloody spectre of the serial rapist she and Jules buried in the cemetery hours before… Who is now standing in her kitchen, glaring at her through a Natty Ice?
Ding ding ding! D: All of the above, and right in step with the show’s themes, as not one person in authority is listening, leaving our vigilantes the only ones who can (Jules) and need (Ophelia) to step up and help.
Jules and Ophelia track down their missing car to an impound lot — Ophelia parked in Beans Bar’s clearly labeled loading zone, turns out — and find themselves, without warning, at the police station. It is this vignette that really drives home the tone “Sweet/Vicious” is going for: That expertly woven “laugh to keep from screaming” vibe that most viewers will recognize from living on a daily basis.
LAUGH: Jules and Ophelia Odd-Coupling it up, sniping back and forth on their way through the station, dropping exposition left and right: Jules’ dad is a sheriff, who got in all buddy-buddy with the local captain when Jules moved away for school, and remains overprotective. “And I thought this wouldn’t get worse than MURDER,” Ophelia scream-whispers: “Can you NOT say MURDER in this police station?” Jules scream-whispers right back.
SCREAM: Jules’ dad is a sheriff, who is in all buddy-buddy with the local captain when Jules moved away for school, and remains overprotective… None of which matters enough for Jules’s own rape to be taken seriously.
LAUGH: The $2000 impound fine the tow company quoted, which required Jules and Ophelia to ransack their personal coffers, is super high because Ophelia has 20 outstanding parking tickets. “PHEW,” she shouts, all but jumping from relief. “That one’s on me!”
SCREAM: The fine turns out to have a surprise $200 “processing fee” tacked on… But the desk sergeant is sure that if Jules goes to the back and asks the boss personally, they might look past it. Just this once.
SCREAM: A devastated girl sits near Ophelia in the waiting area, on the phone with her mom about the party she shouldn’t have gone to, and the guy who took advantage of her, and the unreality of her existence since then, and the absolute unresponsiveness of the school/cops in the face of her report.
“Can I do anything for you? Get you anything?” Ophelia, the girl who covered for Jules’ vigilante attacks before even knowing who she was, asks.
SCREAM: “Yeah. Just tell them that I left,” says Hailey McMahon, victim of Will Avery and now again the system. And she leaves, too demoralized to suffer through any more waiting — let alone the ages of prying, disbelieving inquiries that would follow.
Obviously we spend the hour getting to the final five minutes: Ophelia shows Jules the survivors’ warning wall in the bathroom, and Jules finally names her rapist in a public way — and then the both of them suit up to take b-ball d-bag Will Avery down together. The sequence is terrific, as moving as anything in the premiere, and clearly forms the foundation for everything that is to come.
But that scene in the police station — every outcome already predetermined by men, onstage and off, Ophelia joking and Jules braving her way through to the other side, that’s the real nut. And we get to watch our vigilantes crack it.
- For sure Jules’ pink sorority backpack, that Ophelia ragged on, with that frayed hole so prominently in focus when she puts it on before going out with Tyler, is going to come back to bite her.
- Asking where Jules got a bone saw for Carter’s hands would just really be beyond the point, right?
- “You dense flower” deserves to become the next “bless your heart” loving burn.
- Tyler’s smile: the Platonic ideal of smiles? …Probably.
“Sweet/Vicious” airs Tuesdays at X p.m. ET/PT on MTV.