Episode 5 of Maid begins with Alex waking up to Maddy coughing uncontrollably. The pair end up sleeping together, as Alex looks up and realizes the root cause of this may well be mold. As someone whose son was originally on an inhalator because of extreme mold in my previous apartment, I know all about this and it’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch play out.
With Sean and Alex both needing to go to work, Paula refuses to pick up her phone. Because of course she does. Yolanda has a big job for Alex too, and that means Maddy needs to go to daycare while she works.
The landlord, Luis, is less than accommodating to the mold situation. And worse, the daycare isn’t particularly happy given Alex hasn’t paid all of her funds yet. Still, thankfully they take Maddy and Alex heads on to work.
The house she’s called out to clean belongs to a guy called Barefoot Billy, and it’s immediately clear that all is not right. The place is a mess and there are locks all over the pantry, cupboards and even on the son’s bedroom. However, before she can ponder that further, the daycare rings. Maddy has come down with a fever and she’s been picked up by her grandfather, Hank.
Now, on the surface Hank doesn’t seem to be anything like Paula has described and he encourages Alex too come around more often given he has an open invite. The only trouble is, Alex isn’t exactly thrilled with this deal.
In the morning, the mold has gotten worse and underneath the paint is even more mold. This has a serious knock-on effect to Maddy’s health, who ends up getting even more ill. With very little choice, Maddy turns back to Hank for help.
When she drops Maddy off, Alex learns the horrifying truth about how bad this mold situation actually is. It could well mean the carpet needs to be ripped up and the walls redone. Hank though, encourages her to stay with him for the time being unless it’s sorted out.
Given Paula is MIA, Alex is worried and goes on the hunt, trying to find her. With Basil putting the house up for rent and Paula’s workshop abandoned, she searches frantically around town for her. En-route though she runs into Danielle. Unfortunate, her controlling boyfriend is there and Danielle is clearly afraid, pretending that she doesn’t know her.
After gaining some reassuring words from Denise (including the promise of doughnuts at group therapy) Alex heads back to Hank’s place. He admits that Paula left with her in the middle of the night and back then, he was afraid… but that’s not actually true.
The real story – which we find out later on when Alex heads back to the crawlspace in Barefoot Billy’s house to help jog her memory – is that Paula left because of Hank’s anger. Paula disappeared in the middle of the night with her because they were afraid – not unlike Alex and Maddy during episode 1.
As Alex hurriedly leaves and tries to find somewhere to live, Alex hits another roadblock when she learns that her moldy apartment needs to have serious work done to it. Because of this, she’s essentially thrown out with nowhere to go. Luis nonchalantly shrugs off responsibility, telling her she needs to discuss accommodation with her case worker.
Alex heads down to Paula’s, where she just flamboyantly rocks up laughing and joking about. Alex is deadly serious though and brings up the abuse she suffered, and how Hank used to hit her in the past. She shrugs it off though and throws some big news of her own – she’s now married to Basil.
The Episode Review
Maid’s halfway point signifies another pendulum swing back to the dark and depressing reality of living in a halfway house like this. As someone who has been through serious mold issues before, having back and forth conversations with stubborn landlords about health concerns, this is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
That cough is awful and for me, brings back some serious flashbacks of my son, coughing and being forced onto an inhalator while the walls slowly turned a darker shade of black. The trouble is, the more you clean and try and air the rooms out, the more futile it becomes, given you have to air it out in the cold wind that just makes things worse.
This chapter does an excellent job showing the reality of this and it’s made all the more difficult by Alex’s harrowing upbringing. Learning the truth about Hank is indicative of just how little we actually know about what’s really going on, and the age old adage of not judging a book by its cover.
Paula is clearly suffering quite badly from depression and the abuse but she’s hidden a lot of that behind her flamboyance and deep desire to be loved and to live “her own life.”
This all works beautifully in the grand scheme of things, and each house that Alex cleans has an added effect of reinforcing the emotions she’s feeling. In that respect, Maid does have some similarities to Move to Heaven, but the story here is far more personal and difficult to watch.
Quite where Alex goes from here remains to be seen but it’s clear that this isn’t the last we’ve seen from our dysfunctional family.