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The Girlfriend Experience - The Embrace - Review

 

  Please don't read until you've watched The Girlfriend Experience 3x06. 

After last week's shocking twist that Iris' recording of her clients for The V was discovered and ended with her subsequent firing via virtual conference room (complete with stylish mask-like VR glasses,) this episode begins in a more earthy surrounding. Iris has gone hiking in the country with Georges and tells him everything about her getting dropped by The V. This doesn't faze Georges, who seems to feel this is a good turn of events for Iris. Iris even gives her information to Georges' driver since she wants him to have it. Georges seems more interested in comparing Iris to caterpillars and cocoons since she yearns to be someone else like them than he does address Iris' concerns about unmanned and relay systems he has temporarily left behind (seriously, who could blame him?). They arrive at a very expensive-looking compound, which seems a lot nicer than a dirty cabin. 

 We cut to Rupert talking to Iris as Cassie and Georgina in a limo. He asks if she is ready and opens a briefcase and reveals three neck bands that to grant anomality. They arrive at what appears to be an exclusive gaming company where they must sign a waiver consisting of some serious gizmos in beta testing mode. Rupert does a cheek swab and they are given clear wrist bands to wear. Next, Iris and Georgina discuss how saliva and pheromones are combined to predict attraction and put on skin tight costumes that make them look like nude Barbie dolls. All three enter the gaming area through a large corridor. 

 Cut to Iris at the compound with Georges. They are having a lovely dinner. Iris asks Georges how he deals with misinformation. Georges asks her about her aspirations. They spend the night in his bed making what appears to be close-to-love. Cut back to Iris, Rupert, and Georgina entering the gaming area, which is basically a large cyber orgy where all participants wear visors and skin tight outfits that make them look nude without them revealing anything. The visors create a virtual reality simulation where the lights are on and everyone looks more nude with their naughty bits blurred out. Iris has some fun with Georgina up against the wall and with a strap-on while lightly tense music plays as Rupert watches on. 

 We then see Georges handling a caterpillar. Iris asks what happens to the caterpillar when she goes into her cocoon. Georges explains that while the body's proteins break down, some memories survive the metamorphosis. Iris compares the DNA turning to soup to her father's Alzheimer's progression and explains that it is hereditary. She admits to being scared to developing it herself. She asks how the caterpillar manipulates what memories survive the transition. Georges doesn't think it is up to it, that it is just following instructions for survival or maybe chooses the good ones. Something tells me that Iris will use this information for her own VR project back at work.

 Back at the gaming room, Iris wonders around the room alone watching everyone else's pleasure trips, including Rupert and Georgina's. Georgina somehow is turning into a partial cyborg-person hybrid. An imposing man then approaches Iris and they briefly discuss if their physical attributes like eye color and arms are real. They connect their wristbands and it says 97, which might be a match for them both. They walk away together to somewhere more private. A moody torch song plays as they remove their visors and see the room as it really is while embracing and feeling each other in bed. 

 At a hotel room, Iris goes to the bathroom and gets ready for her next visitor by practicing her smile. She waits in the lobby and, instead of a new client, her sister and father arrive with lots of luggage. They look like they could be there for a while. Her father mentions that French colonies have right-handed traffic since Napoleon was left handed. Iris greets him and his response suggests that his mental health may starting to slip. 

 This was a wonderfully sensual and pleasing transitional episode. I admit I was worried how the season would handle Iris being unmasked and fired mid-season, but it bounced back with its most aesthetically pleasing episode yet. I actually watched it several times to savor the sensual misc-en-scene and sound design. The metaphor of the caterpillar was a bit obvious and heavy-handed, but appropriate for Iris' arc. I more interested in seeing where these relationships go as we settle into the second half of the season. It might end up being more successful than I first imagined.

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