Weekly coverage of HBO and SKY’s limited series co-production The Baby continues with episode 3 “The Bulldozer”
After spending most of episode two processing the sudden reappearance of the Baby (Albie Hills and Arthur Hills), this week’s episode finds Natasha (Michelle de Swarte) taking up Mrs. Eaves (Amira Ghazalla)’s offer to help kill the cursed child. It’s a big move for the character and, by proxy, the show, but the implications aren’t really explored until the end of the episode when Tasha actually finds herself standing in front of a sleeping baby with a knife.
Instead the vast majority of the episode is split between Tasha’s attempt to secure a sleeping accessory from her friend Mags (Shvorne Marks) by crashing a baby party at the Universe of Fun and introducing Tasha’s lesbian sister, Bobbi (Amber Grappy), as she prepares an adoption pitch with her girlfriend, Sam (Genesis Lynea).
We first saw Bobbi last week, but only from behind, so “The Bulldozer” is her real introduction. She’s incredibly lovable from the jump, even when it’s clear that her desperation for a child ranges from grating to off-putting to those around her. It’s also very evident that Sam is not as invested in this enterprise as Bobbi, which almost makes it a relief later in the episode when Tasha remarks “You love her. I think she’s shit, but I don’t have to fuck her.” Sam’s not a great partner and you immediately want more for Bobbi.
The whole adoption interview with social worker Patricia (Polly Kemp) is suitably awkward, but that’s by design. More importantly, it offers insight into the sisters’ relationship. The six year age difference and their own mother’s departure when they were 12 and 6 (respectively) is pretty telling; Tasha’s lack of interest in being a mother undoubtedly stems from her experience without one and having to act as a surrogate for her sister. It’s a good amount of back story packed into a funny situation. Even though it’s deeply uncomfortable when Bobbi reveals that she’s lied about her older sister being out of the picture (ouch), Tasha still saves her by encouraging Bobbi to treat a dismembered finger as part of her magic act.
(Sidebar: all of the interactions between de Swarte and Grappy are magnificent, and I can’t wait to see where the sibling relationship goes following this week’s cliffhanger).
That finger belongs to Claudia (Kimberley Nixon), an outspoken and opinionated friends of Mags whose party Tasha crashes in a desperate bid to get the baby to sleep. The whole bit at the Universe of Fun is a very familiar sitcom situation, but it’s so broad and silly that it totally works. Seeing children play adult roles is alternatively weird and horrifying (the girl posing for mugshots is ingenious) and reinforces how much “pretend” is factored into the way both children and parents act.
This is never more evident than the forced frivolity of the adult interactions at the party as Claudia and the other moms condescendingly discuss their parenting philosophy to an uninterested Tasha. Their fakeness only makes Mags look more authentic and there’s a hugely important moment when the new mom tells Tasha that she feels like she’s failing at the job and that Tasha judges her. It’s the episode’s other gut punch after Bobbi lied about being out of touch with Tasha, but adds valuable context on Tasha and Mags’ antagonistic interaction back in episode 1.
- We knew that something bad was destined to happen at the Universe of Fun, so it’s hardly surprising when Claudia loses her finger in Mrs. Eaves’ ancient pram. That doesn’t make it any less enjoyable, though (especially when the finger pops up in Bobbi’s interview).
- I’m the person on Letterboxd with a list of horror movies where children die, so naturally I was really hoping that little brat boy to get killed for repeatedly banging his balloon against the tram. Ah well.
- The slow motion shot of Mrs. Eaves and Tasha slow-motion strutting past the line-up of parents to get into the Universe of Fun (and Mrs. Eaves removing the barriers along the way) feels appropriately gangster.
- A $32 POUND entry fee?! I’m not surprised; I’m just disappointed.
- Obviously the baby is responsible for Bobbi’s emergency text to Tasha. Does that mean it was aware of the murder plot and aimed to get to Bobbi the whole time? If so, Tasha and Mrs. Eaves are going to need to up their murder game.
- The physical battle between the women at episode’s end is enjoyable, though I would have liked it to go on a bit longer. My fave bit is when Tasha drags Mrs. Eaves down the hall using the rug.
- Best Line of the episode (tie): It’s either Tasha telling the boy with the balloon “If you keep doing that, this baby will kill you” or Amy (Jessie Cave), the glasses-wearing mom, darkly observing that she needs a basement time-out when “I had this vision of just swinging Lily’s head against the wall”
The Baby airs Sundays on HBO