‘I May Destroy You’ episode 11 recap: a slow-burn setup for the big finale

I May Destroy You episode 11

We’re almost at the end of I May Destroy You and Bella (Michaela Coel) still hasn’t found closure – either for her book or for what happened to her on that awful night when she was raped. The universe seems to be looking favourably upon her in ‘Would You Like To Know The Sex?’, the pieces of both puzzles falling into place and looking like they could lead her to an ending where she gets both success and justice.

Arabella – a new-old literary connection and the unmasking of her rapist

Instead of focusing on her own book, Arabella has her nose stuck in someone else’s – The Sundial by fellow Henny House writer Della Croydickie. She’s so moved by the novel that, when she finishes it, she decides the only person who can help her finish her own draft is Della. With Terry (Weruche Opia) and her housemate Ben’s (Stephen Wright) help, she films two videos to send to her on social media – the first passionate and normal, but deemed by Terry “too earnest”; the second featuring her sat on the toilet, quirkily highlighting all the things they have in common (mainly that they’re women signed to Henny House). She sends the second one in a DM and quickly gets blocked.

Not to be deterred, Bella decides to try a different path – her publishers. She heads to Susy Henny’s (Franc Ashman) office and asks her if she can introduce them, clearly expecting to get the answer she wants. Instead, Susy corners her about her own book, asking for a progress update, a word count, any evidence that she’s done some work on it. “I don’t know exactly,” Bella responds and leaves without securing the meeting and with an angry publisher to boot. She doesn’t have to worry about the second for long though – a call to meet with her agents quickly follows, where she’s told she’s been dropped by Henny House, dropped by her reps and will somehow have to pay back the money she’s been given as an advance.

With no job and no funds to her name, the latter is particularly stressful for her and she breaks down in tears at an emergency meeting with Terry at Ego Death Bar. Just when everything seems doomed, though, her phone buzzes and when she checks it she finds a message from Della offering to meet up. She replies saying she’s free now and sits and waits. When Zain (Karan Gill), her former fellow Henny House writer who secretly took off a condom when the pair had sex, turns up, she tries to get rid of him, eager not to have one of her abusers around while she solicits advice from Della. When he awkwardly remains on the pavement after Bella tells him about her meeting, the truth slowly dawns on her – Zain is Della. “Bit silly to come and meet me,” she scoffs. “Why have you done that?”

I May Destroy You episode 11
‘I May Destroy You’ episode 11 sees Arabella lose her book deal with Henny House. Credit: BBC

Zain explains that after Bella outed him as a rapist at the summit, Susy still wanted to publish his book but was afraid of using his real name in case it attracted negative publicity. He points out that he was meant to help Bella with her book before – that was why they first met, after all. “I’m not afraid of you,” she warns him, before reluctantly allowing him to sit down and share his thoughts. Suddenly in debt and unrepresented, she might as well hear him out. After a brief session at Ego Death, she invites him back to hers to continue working and the pair begin the process of covering her bedroom walls in cue cards laying out her book. At one point, Zain remarks: “I thought you were writing about consent.” “So did I,” replies Bella, but clearly her book has changed. After Zain leaves, she continues her work – writing down, sticking up, shuffling around, until the whole room is transformed into a map for her novel.

Satisfied with her progress, she returns to Ego Death to continue her bar watch and meets up with Terry. So far, Bella’s had no luck with identifying the man who raped her but tonight that changes. She recognises someone walking into the venue and her eyes follow him until he’s stood at the bar with his friend. A flashback scene finally reveals what happened to her that night. Spiked, she tried to leave the bar but fell and was helped up by two of the men who had joined her and her friends. They got in a cab with her and took her to another bar and headed straight for the toilets, where one man guarded the door while the other attacked Bella. The episode ends with Bella staring intensely at them through the window – what will she do next?

I May Destroy You episode 11
‘I May Destroy You’ episode 11 is streaming now on BBC iPlayer. Credit: BBC

Terry – a new job and new romance

Terry has been waiting to hear back from her latest acting audition and she finally finds out her fate during one of Kwame’s (Paapa Essiedu) workout classes. “I got the job,” she tells Kwame and Bella through hurried, shallow breaths, elated to have beaten her stage fright (at least for the moment). After the class, she goes with Bella to Ego Death, where she gives her number to the bartender, Kai (Tyler Luke Cunningham). When he leaves at the end of his shift, she goes after him and ends up getting a meal with him.

At the restaurant, their server praises her date, but when Terry asks him what they were talking about, he’s coy and brushes it off by suggesting they “just know my work, I guess”. Not satisfied with that answer, Terry excuses herself and heads to the bathroom, phone in hand, to look him up. When she returns to the table, Kai can sense her tension and offers to get the bill, but Terry tries to act normal and asks him to tell her his “history”. After reeling off his birthplace, reason for moving to London and studies, he adds: “And now I have the outward appearance of a young man, but there within my pants lies a vagina.” He asks Terry if she wants to leave but, despite her discomfort, she stays, reasoning that people would think she’s transphobic.

So their date continues, but it’s not long before Kai is calling her a prude. In an effort to disprove him, she tells him about the threesome she had in Italy only to have him tell her an uncomfortable truth about her experience. Terry previously thought the two men were strangers who were both up for a good time, but Kai astutely points out that it sounds like they knew each other. “There was something about the way they left… they left together,” replies a hurt Terry. He’s sympathetic to her, though, and by the time she returns to Ego Death that night to join Bella on her bar watch, the two are “going steady”.

Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You, Paapa Essiedu, Weruche Opia
Paapa Essiedu, Michaela Coel and Weruche Opia in ‘I May Destroy You’ Credit: Natalie Seery

Kwame – trying to atone for his mistakes

After a conversation with Ben about whether he’s a nice person or not, Kwame tries to make amends with Nilüfer (Pearl Chanda). He invites her for lunch and apologises right off the bat for not telling her he’s gay before sleeping with her. “I know you might think I betrayed your trust and I think I did too,” he tells her and she seems to accept it, replying that it “is what it is”. But as she continues speaking, that’s clearly not the case. When Kwame promises he won’t do anything like it again, she’s not so sure. “You did it once, no one really knows what you’re going to do,” she says. “You shouldn’t get away with that shit but the reality of life is that predators and criminals never face justice.”

With that, she walks out of the restaurant, leaving Kwame on his own. He might think that’s the last he’ll hear from her, but he’s wrong. While at an exhibition with his new boyfriend, she sends him a text that reads: “You’re a fucking pig.”

Michaela Coel, Arabella, I May Destroy You
Michaela Coel as Arabella in ‘I May Destroy You’ Credit: Natalie Seery

What will Arabella do now she knows who raped her?

Episode 12 is I May Destroy You’s big finale and it seems like some kind of resolution is on the way. Just how will Bella handle finding out the identity of her rapist and his accomplice though? She could go to the police and hope they will handle it or return to her sizeable social media following and call them out online. However she chooses to tackle it, it feels like she’s not about to just let them get away with their crime.

Aside from bringing rapists to justice, she’s also got her novel to write up from the cue cards decorating her bedroom walls. Will she be able to win back her agents (or some new ones) and get published?

Meanwhile, her friends both seem to be finding their own happy endings. After her initial discomfort, Terry seems happy to be beginning something with Kai, while Kwame’s “general[ly] nice” boyfriend feels like he’s come along at just the right time for him. How will their stories end?

‘I May Destroy You’ episode 11 is streaming now on BBC iPlayer

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