Sookie's stepmom stuff and Tara's ongoing mommy issues are just two of the six character stories here: the rest is about dads. Which is a sore spot for almost everybody, because being let down by the person who's archetypically required specifically not to let you down is something that everybody fears and most people have to face. But the most powerful thing a dad can do to you, the thing that fucks up your life forevermore until you can drop the weight, is pin you to the wall like a concept or a butterfly and leave you there, telling you not to change or leave, forever. Amanda Jane, when she says Jesus asked her out today, she's talking about this. She is talking to and about the kind of man who installs a front door alarm that beeps every time it's opened, the kind of man who names his daughter "Eden" and makes her feel uglier with every birthday.
The thing that our culture is trying to navigate right now, I would say, is the idea that sexual trauma doesn't necessarily imply sexual assault. To give us that No Touch No Foul thing -- which makes me feel like Andrea Dworkin to contemplate, because it's so obviously handed to us by the perpetrators, and I hate feeling like her -- is like saying anorexics are created by starving your kids, or bulimics by forcing them to purge. Carrie White -- her ass is all over this episode -- wasn't abused by her mom, but Piper sure as fuck did a number on her.
I am so tired of watching people go looking for a single obvious narrative reason for things, in any fiction, because we've been trained I guess to do this, but it's like, "Oh! Sookie does X because of Bartlett" or "Oh, Jessica is like a Mormon runaway!" Which is to say we want to rub off the complex edges, which is the opposite of how people actually work. And because we privilege victimhood over any other possible virtue, we tell each other it's not possible to be deeply fucked up about sex just because nobody interfered with us in these particular ways; we're not allowed to have sexual fears and creepy little surprise parties and/or trapdoors because we haven't earned it through our victimhood. Or even creepier: we're allowed to have these fetishes and inabilities to get off, it's just kink, it's just how people are, it's not an unhealthy obstruction to our sexuality because after all, it didn't come to us through "abuse."
So this is the particular map I've trying to follow in this episode, which is to say that to get stuck in the 1:1 assault reading with Jessica -- and look at her face when he reaches for her hands on his belt, if you want to look into the face of terror -- I think is to miss the point, which is the same point it always is, which is that telling somebody or believing that salvation is reachable is a good way to make sure they never do, because it means you stop hunting: Amanda Jane's "honesty" is Jason's "purpose" is Eden's "problem" is Eggs's "luck" and Maryann's "passion" and Tara's "worth" and Sookie's idealization of the perfect life with Bill, which she keeps having to update and level and adjust and compromise. And the only thing grosser than letting yourself get caught in that bullshit is sticking somebody else in it before they know enough to get out.