Episode 2 of Maid begins in the past with Alex first meeting Sean at the bar. He’s the only one who listens to her as she “reads sad words” up on stage during a short break from her shift. The two exchange glances, although just in front of him happens to be a guy called Nate.
In the present, Nate shows up at the ferry port and greets Alex while she’s sat on the floor with Maddy. It’s a pretty cagey, awkward conversation to be honest, but he offers to buy her breakfast. When he suggests she can charge her phone too, Alex decides to take him up on the offer.
Nate is actually recently divorced, but it’s clear there’s some resentment between him and Sean, especially if his quip toward the “late, great Sean” is anything to go by.
As they part ways, Nate hands over his phone charging cable for her and suggests she phone in the future. As she shows up at Value Maids though, Alex receives the worst news. Regina is refusing to pay for her gig on Fisher Island.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Alex receives a call from a lawyer called John Marshall, who happens to be representing Sean Boyd. Sean has filed an order to have parental rights taken away from her. With little other choice, Alex heads back to see Jody at the council, who suggests she call the domestic violence hotline.
It may not have been physical abuse, but Jody is adamant that the mental and verbal abuse she’s been suffering from definitely qualifies her for it.
Alex shows up with Maddy to see Denise, who happens to be in charge of the home. She shows Alex the ropes, including a sign-in book and a big rule involved with handing over phones to protect the location of their house. Maddy is not exactly happy with her new accommodation… until a friendly neighbour called Danielle hands over a whole stack of ponies left behind by one of the other women when they left.
The next day, Alex and Maddy show up in court. Sean claims it’s been “hell” for him, although Alex is quick to remind him she hasn’t had food or gas so he doesn’t really know what that word means. With the odds stacked against her, both physically and mentally (I mean, she’s sat on her own in court) everything swings in Sean’s favour.
Maddy will not only stay with Sean but Alex is given seven days to try and turn everything around in order to get her back. If not, then it could be disastrous for her. Alex promises her daughter that is only temporary, as she says goodbye and is left alone again.
Back at the shelter, Alex is a mess but Danielle does enough to motivate her to stand up and get her act together. With only 7 days she needs to get angry.
Fueled on emotion, the pair head up to the open house Regina has set up. Danielle decides to “take a look around” while Alex serves as a distraction. In doing so, Danielle actually steals her dog and intends to blackmail Regina for it. Of course, this is a terrible plan and Alex urges her to bring the dog back.
Only, Regina actually runs into her out in the street with the dog, but she doesn’t recognize Alex at all. This is enough for her to snap and lash out at Regina – especially when she threatens to go to the police. She opens up about the horrible ordeal she’s been through and how she lost her daughter thanks to this woman being stingy and refusing to pay up. This single rant sees Regina back down and walk away, deciding not to phone the police after all.
Danielle drives Alex up to the trailer but Doreen, Sean’s Mum, shuts the door in her face and claims Maddy is in bed. It’s hard not to get angry and Alex marches home alone, seething. She does stop by the bar to see Sean bartending, a big grin on his face, before eventually making it back to the shelter.
In the morning, Alex receives the best news. Regina has cashed the cheque and that means she can stop by with Yolanda and get paid. Danielle has already left though and decided to head back home to her abusive partner. Alex is understandably torn, and given her partner strangled Danielle last time, she’s worried sick. However, Denise reassures her that it can sometimes take 5 or even 6 times for these women to properly leave their cycle of abuse.
It’s here we also get the first glimpse of Alex’s abuse too, as she recounts the moment Sean found out she was pregnant. The red chair out on the lawn in front of the trailer is actually Alex’s and it’s significant. Sean threw that and all of her belongings out onto the lawn before verbally abusing her. Since shouting and screaming in her face, Alex has been afraid of Sean and he’s been controlling her life ever since, wearing her down bit by bit.
The Episode Review
The second episode of Maid is just as powerful than the first – and certainly anger-inducing too. Seeing Sean claim to have “gone through hell”, especially after the big reveal at the end that Alex’s pregnancy has “ruined his life”, is a tough pill to swallow and a reminder of just how deeply this abuse has affected Alex.
Abuse can come in many shapes and sizes. Alex denying that she’s a “true victim” because she’s only been suffering from verbal and mental abuse is sadly indicative of the sort of hoops one would take to rationalize what’s happening.
Maid – and by extension Margaret Qualley – does such a good job portraying this, while adding enough complexity and depth to the characters to keep you emotionally invested.
That’s before even mentioning the little personal touches, like the whole “legal, legal, legal” chatter in the courtroom, to help alienate oneself and be in Alex’s position. It’s these little touches that really help the show stand out, and one that makes for a pretty special episode too.
Hopefully the rest of the series can follow suit but so far, this has been a very impressive show.