Tiny Beautiful Things – Season 1 Episode 3 “The Ghost Ship” Recap & Review

The Ghost Ship

The Past

Episode 3 of Tiny Beautiful Things see a young Clare submit her essay to the editor, Pablo, and discuss its contents. Simultaneously, we see a visualization of what Clare is trying to say in the essay, at least the tonality of it. Clare is alone in her bedroom, naked, and feeling the rawness of making love and the volcanic grief erupting inside her over Frances’ death.

The editor wants her to make the parts about sex more furnished to attract his readers. Clare isn’t happy with the editorial suggestions but he makes it clear that without said revisions, he will not be publishing it.

In a flashback, we see Danny and Clare meeting after Frances’ death. He was a budding musician then and Clare was an aspiring writer. There is definitely sexual tension between them and they proceed to “release it.”

It’s also revealed that Danny and Clare themselves had a surprise pregnancy. Amy and Clare discuss the pregnancy in the past, where Clare wanted to get an abortion without telling Danny.

Amy said she doesn’t want kids so cannot advise Clare. She is nervous about the upcoming burden of expectations and responsibilities. She finally tells Danny about it though, who is instantly stressed. He doesn’t have the finances to provide for a family, and his band have a tour in South America lined up.

Clare is supportive of his endeavours but there are many complexities in this predicament such as them not being a couple and Danny having to get a desk job with benefits. Clare interrupts him and says they should live their lives, indicating going through an abortion.

During the past timeline, we also see Lucas being supportive of Clare. He vows to help with the bills by getting a job. Clare defends Danny when Lucas tries to insinuate his irresponsibility as his character.

The Present

In the present, Clare talks to Rae about the threesome. Both seem apologetic but Rae is still a little upset. Clare starts rambling, like she usually does, and says that Rae isn’t well served with such acts. Montana, Rae’s friend who was in the room that day, is no longer talking to her. Danny and Clare are back together and talk about Montana and her strange family. Danny is extremely pissed about the threesome, even more than Clare.

Now that Clare is Sugar, she gets anonymous requests for help. A 41-year-old man asks her how one decides if you want to have kids. He brings up the issue of a surprise pregnancy, which brings us to our next dive into the past. In the present, Clare and Danny take Rae’s attempted threesome to Mel. Danny is uncomfortable talking about it, but when Mel asks if they are having sex presently, we veer back to the time when they first started having it in the past.

Mel brings up Clare’s essay “Slut” and speculates if that encouraged Rae to have a threesome. Clare gets defensive and says Danny’s songs aren’t pious either. She might have gotten the idea from them. Clare unwittingly misquotes one of his songs and Danny gets upset. He also asks Clare not to go to Montana’s mother about the issue.

Clare goes to meet Montana’s mother but she isn’t in the city. She asks Montana about the threesome. Montana says it was Rae’s idea and that Rae is desperately in love with her. It was at Montana’s suggestion Rae started using her middle name(“Rae”). Clare goes off on a rant when she hears Montana dismiss Rae’s love for her.

In her explosive emotional breakdown, it is clear that Clare’s anger comes from the lack of love she receives from Rae. Oh, and the irony that her daughter loves someone else but not her.

Montana’s little brother makes a video of the entire rant and things are about to take a turn for the worse for Clare. She comes back home and Rae has seen the video, which has been made into a TikTok. Rae is furious and heartbroken. “Who do you intend to be?” That is what Clare asks the man in her response to his letter. She says there is no clarity on whether or not to make the choice to have a baby.

At the same time, we see a younger, pregnant Clare editing out Pablo’s suggestions and restoring her original essay. We see her giving birth and suffering through the pain with Lucas by her side. In that moment, when she held Rae in her arms, she gave way to a new life instead of the life she would have had if she had chosen to get the abortion. Danny surprisingly shows up at the hospital and has chosen to live his life with Clare and his daughter.

Clare sits outside Rae’s room until she comes out. Danny comes to retrieve Clare and says she should give Rae some space. He suggests going for a hike the next day to take her mind off things.

The Episode Review

The storytelling just keeps on getting better with every episode. The makers have chosen to go for a more organic and independent assessment of Clare’s past. It is a slight aberration from the novel’s structure but one that is more suitable for the screen. This episode whittled the choice that Clare made by having Frankie and not choosing the other “sister life” that would have led her on a phantom path.

The cuts between the past and present in the final moments of episode 3 were its highlight. Such was the craft to put it together that the two timelines complemented each other. It is not often that you see characters diving into different phases of life for inspiration and optimism. Hahn continues to defy her typecast comedic stature, whilst bringing subtle undertones to Clare’s character.

Clare is deeply flawed and the series is not afraid to embrace her personality shortcomings. Many viewers might not end up liking her but the makers perhaps want a little more empathy and compassion. How they will generate it exactly remains a question mark.

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