The Idol Episode 4 Recap: Yeah...What Else Is There to Say?

The penultimate episode produces more questions than answers—like, why can’t we have more Jennie and less torture?

A still from The Idol
Photograph by Eddy Chen/HBO

Consider my surprise (and relief) to learn after finishing episode four of The Idol that we have just one more to go before we can close this controversial chapter in television history. Despite reports that the show would air six episodes, next week’s is now being billed as its season finale. Again, a relief, after what we just went through in “Stars Belong to the World,” but also a surprise, as it seems like quite the task to wrap up this story in a mere 60 minutes.

The episode depicts Tedros’s ongoing takeover of Jocelyn’s house and life. His whole crew of misfits has moved in and he has taken control of the singer’s schedule. He’s not down with Joc’s makeup line, Half Magic (incidentally, the name of the actual brand started by Euphoria’s makeup artist, Donni Davy), doctor’s appointments, or exec meetings. What he is down for, though, are coke binges, shaving legs, and torture. But we’ll get to that in a minute, because right now, Mike Dean is coming. The Idol has consistently tossed aside actual actors for musical insiders, with varying degrees of success. Instead of creating a fictional Mike Dean-type, the award-winning producer plays himself, appearing out of the smoke of a hot-boxed car to greet Tedros and get to work. I do believe that in this instance, the use of Dean pays off. He provides a fun outsider perspective to the chaos that reigns in “Stars Belong to the World.” The guy has worked with some of the biggest and most controversial names in the business, so clearly he has seen some stuff, but his reactions to Tedros’s worst moments allow for some glimpses of lightness throughout the episode.

Photograph by Eddy Chen/HBO

It’s also thanks to the help of Dean that Jocelyn finds her sound in episode four (and it is eerily reminiscent of The Weeknd—surprise, surprise). When she can’t get the vocalization just right, Tedros takes matters into his own hands (literally) and sticks them down Jocelyn’s pants in front of everyone. It’s another scene that one can see the writers room getting giddy over (“Ooh, this will really get Twitter talking,” they might have said while slyly rubbing their hands together), but personally, it once again failed to elicit any reaction other than some awkward glances around the room while I waited for the moment to pass.

Destiny, too, seems mostly made uncomfortable by the situation. She has infiltrated Jocelyn’s house as a spy to try to figure out what’s going on with her number-one client. And to be fair, she does get some good intel. She learns of Tedros’s real name, his abuse-ridden past, and the identities of the crew staying in Jocelyn’s house. Although Jocelyn is clearly in danger with a convicted criminal skulking around—one who gathers impressionable underage kids like Pokemon cards—Destiny does nothing. In fact, by the end of the episode, she’s partying with the rest of them.

Photograph by Eddy Chen/HBO

Of course, Destiny isn’t in the room during the worst of it, when The Idol slips into the territory of full-on torture. After Tedros hears Xander (Troye Sivan) singing in the shower, he learns more about Xander’s history with Jocelyn. The two have been friends for years, but Jocelyn’s mom saw him as a threat to her daughter’s career, and forced him to sign a contract to get him to quit singing. (This explains Xander’s nonresponse to the abuse at both the hands of Jocelyn’s mom and Tedros.) Like Jocelyn, in many ways, manipulation is all he knows. Tedros shocks him with a collar to elicit his own version of the truth, but by the end of the episode, Xander’s more loyal to Tedros than ever before.

The episode ends with a party celebrating Jocelyn’s revelation of abuse to the world. It is during this “celebration” that she learns of Dyanne’s (Jennie Kim) double-crossing and her history with Tedros. The Idol has an issue of focusing on what I believe to be all the wrong storylines. I want more of this dynamic between Dyanne and Jocelyn, but that’s relegated to two very brief scenes. Instead, we get long, drawn-out shots of Xander getting tortured, and almost ten minutes of the same between Jocelyn and her ex, Rob (Karl Glusman)—an incredibly boring specimen I can’t imagine Jocelyn ever dating. There’s a setup at the end of the episode that will undoubtedly lead to Rob’s downfall in the finale, but it seems unclear why we should care about the fate of this character we met in the final ten minutes of the penultimate episode.

Photograph by Eddy Chen/HBO

Now, we have just an hour of The Idol left (assuming, for many reasons, that it doesn’t get picked up for another season). Da’Vine Joy Randolph teased that the show will “turn on its head” in the final two episodes. Episode four, however, was more of the same—needless sex, egregious abuse, and puzzling story arcs—leaving not much hope for what’s to come next week. Who knows, there could be some incredible payoff to make all of this worth it. At the very least, we better get Jennie’s version of “World Class Sinner.”