It’s another family affair as Natasha and Mrs. Eaves track down Bobbi to their estranged mother’s commune.
Spoilers for episode four…
Episode 4 “The Mother”: With the baby now in Bobbi’s hands, Natasha must reunite with her mother Barbara, whom she hasn’t seen in fifteen years.
We’ve had back to back episodes of The Baby introducing a member of Natasha (Michelle de Swarte)’s estranged family. Last week we met Bobbi (Amber Grappy) and now this week, because Bobbi abducts the Baby (Albie Pascal Hills & Arthur Levi Hills) and absconds to Jupiter’s House, we meet their mother Barbara (Sinéad Cusack).
After the interview with the social worker, it would have been fair to assume that Barbara was a monster. She’s not. She’s no mother of the year, but I appreciated that Barbara isn’t simply a terrible person who abandoned her children. While writer Susan Soon He Stanton keeps the cards close to their vest as to whether Barbara can be trusted, it’s clear that the maternal energy she didn’t invest in her biological family is currently being applied to her new “family.”
Jupiter’s House is a bit of an oddity. It doesn’t hurt that Natasha, Bobbi and Mrs. Eaves (Amira Ghazalla) arrive on the eave of the Summer Solstice, which means big speeches, big dinners and big Wicker Man-vibes with its pagan bonfire, but the matrilineal nature of the population (all adult women and children; no visible men) aligns perfectly with the series’ themes. The Baby is obsessed with motherhood, so after weeks of exploring how a variety of different women react to having (or not having) children, it makes perfect sense to wind up in a vaguely hippie-esque cult dominated by women raising children solo.
There’s a moment when Bobbi, whose entire existence yearns for a child, is made to perform a magic trick for the kids. It’s an exceedingly telling scene: not only in Bobbi’s desire to placate the children with chocolate, or Tasha’s refusal to stay quiet about parenting techniques she disagrees with, but also Honey (Gemma Brockis)’ comment about “Radical Honesty” and Barbara’s stern admonishment of the little boy who demands his chocolate coin.
He Stanton’s script positions Honey and Barbara’s approach to raising children as negative – not only because the commune gives off a weird, possibly dangerous vibe, but also because the audience is naturally aligned with Tasha (first and foremost) and Bobbi (second). Jupiter’s House simultaneously embodies approaches to parenting that feel contemporary (children who are treated as adults), but also repressive and out of touch (yell only out of joy, not anger; encouraging children’s curiousity and simultaneously lying to them). We’re clearly meant to question their techniques, and possibly their motivations.
It doesn’t hurt that we know how challenging it was for Tasha to play surrogate mother or that Bobbi is very obviously treated as “less than” because she is childless and a lesbian (or both). Her status as second class is visually and audibly hinted at in her interaction with her mother when setting up the inflatable mattress. The implication is that Tasha (and the Baby) will take the bed and Bobbi will take the floor, while Barbara’s pregnant (heh) pause between “I’m so happy they’re here” and “I’m so happy you’re here, too” is telling.
Throw in a Baby who won’t stop crying and some intriguing, albeit unclear revelations about Mrs. Eaves and The Baby continues to make it clear that motherhood can be a real bitch.
- A large portion of the episode reinforces Tasha’s uneasiness with Mrs. Eaves’ plan, particularly since the older woman refuses to divulge her ties to the child. The conflict boils over when Tasha finally manages to fall asleep, only to discover that her physical well-being is now tied to the Baby’s and she nearly dies when Mrs. Eaves suffocates the sleeping infant. That’s a curveball for any future plans to kill the kid.
- With that said, Tasha then storms off to confront her mother, leaving the baby with Mrs. Eaves. Wouldn’t you be a bit hesitant to let the Baby out of your sight for fear that the older woman would try it again?!
- Shout out to director Faraz Shariat for those wonderful rotating 360 degree montages near episode’s end. As Mrs. Eaves walks the baby through the barn to the bonfire, the camera spins around her as she recites the names of all of the mothers the Baby has killed. Later, we see her observing these deaths through her binoculars, growing younger and younger as time regresses. This – and the mention of Helen – remains a mystery: was Mrs. Eaves the original mother (or perhaps the mother of its first victim)? And why does the Baby plant the memory in both her and Tasha’s minds?
- In addition to running the commune, Barbara spends her time working on clay sculptures that frequently seem to depict womanhood or motherhood. Tasha, unsurprisingly, is not a fan.
- Just in case we needed confirmation, Bobbi’s girlfriend Sam (Genesis Lynea) is terrible, so hearing Tasha cuss her out on the phone is highly enjoyable.
- The Baby gleefully making Bobbi choke on a cookie – as he did to poor Yolanda back in episode 2 – is a fun callback and another great example of just how damn expressive the Hills twins are.
The Baby airs Sundays on HBO