Chloe’s not bothering to turn up for concert rehearsals, and it turns out she’s left home. Don’t worry, her parents tell Rae, she does this sort of thing all the time. Rae’s not that bothered, truth be told, because their friendship has been somewhat frayed recently, but it looks as if Rae will be expected to substitute for Chloe at the concert, and performing in front of an audience is Rae’s idea of torture. So when she stumbles across Chloe’s diary, she can justify a certain amount of nosiness about the contents by wondering whether it might contain a clue as to Chloe’s whereabouts.
To start with, though, Rae goes right back to the beginning of the diary, and we get a rerun of when Rae was introduced to the rest of the gang. Heigh-ho, I thought, it’s a flashback episode, using old clips from previous episodes; a bit lazy, but there you go. It quickly becomes clear, though, that what we’re getting are incidents we’ve seen before, but this time from Chloe’s point of view, which is sometimes radically different. Rae’s first reaction is that Chloe’s recollections are wrong, and deliberately so; but it looks as if we’re dealing with two narrators, either or both of whom might be unreliable. Which once again taps into a universal emotion: we all invent ourselves, certainly to the outside world, perhaps even to ourselves.
Thus key events from the past two seasons – that first meeting, Chloe and the teacher, the battle for Finn, the failed seduction of Archie, the photographs, the party, and so on – are given a new, interesting, almost game-changing spin. And what emerges is a different Chloe: pretty and outwardly confident, yes, but plagued with doubt and self-hatred, feeling herself to be a failure. Her response to all of this isn’t always similar to Rae’s, to be sure: she wants attention, while Rae shrinks from it; but both have an uneasy relationship with food, to say the least, and both are locked into unsatisfactory liaisons with men. Here at least Rae has it a little better: her fling with Liam is unpleasant, but it looks as if Chloe’s might be actively abusive. Jodie Comer, it should be said, is excellent throughout.
All of which Rae has to process while trying to cope with the upcoming concert. Like last week, she can’t find anyone willing to offer her support: her mother isn’t speaking to her after she missed the scan, her father’s away to Portugal, and Kester’s furious at her for fooling around with Liam. (Kester doesn’t like Liam – me neither – but it looks as if there’s something else going on.) The net result is that, consumed by self-loathing and a realisation that she’s let Chloe down, she heads back to Liam’s, where almost masochistically she commences the consummation of their “relationship”, if that’s what it is. It’s a brave and brilliant episode, rounded off with a final line which is like a knife to the heart. I actually winced. Outstanding.