Spoiler alert! This is a deep dive into the final episode of The Hunting.
Watch episode 4 ‘Sluts’ now:
We kick off the episode in a crisis meeting: Principal Di Rossi, Eliza and Ray are discussing Dip and Nassim’s upcoming court appearance. Ray can’t believe it’s come to this, but Di Rossi and Eliza have other concerns: Why did Ray go to the police station with Dip? Ray says she asked him to. He gave her his phone number. Doesn’t he know the rules about contact with students outside school, Eliza wonders, bringing up his past history: leaving his job after a student professed her love for him. She wonders if he has a problem with boundaries?
In any case, Dip is going to have to change homerooms and maths classes – she can’t be around Ray anymore. Ray is furious Eliza aired a “private” issue in front of Di Rossi and accuses her of personally attacking him because he didn’t want to sleep with her the other night. Once again Ray – a self-professed “good guy” – is so quick to jump on the defensive and accuse Eliza of making the professional personal, rather than accepting Eliza was doing her job: Dip’s mum called Di Rossi to complain about Ray. As Assistant Principal it’s Eliza’s job to follow up. This is about Dip’s welfare, not Ray’s reputation.
Andy is at the pool with Rosie (Isabel Burmester). He’s busy admiring his latest “win”, another nude, on his phone, when Simone shows up. She wants to know what is going on: Nassim cares for him – he wouldn’t lie about the things he says Andy did. Andy is defensive, like a small boy getting in trouble for pushing over a friend in the playground.
“You don’t know anything,” he says, huffily. “I know your dad replaced your laptop,” she says. Then she asks to see his phone which he reluctantly hands over. She glimpses the photo in horror. “She’s no one”, Andy explains. No one, yet she felt comfortable sending a photo of her vagina. “Doesn’t she know?” Simone asks. “Know what?” Andy replies, sticking to his guns.
Simone is exhausted and devastated by the behaviour of both her son and her husband. She wants Andy to admit his guilt so they don’t have to go to court, but Nick insists it’s necessary to clear his name. “Even if he did do it… we don’t want him to ruin his life,” Nick says later, dismissing all the lives Andy’s ruined so far. Besides, it’s Nassim’s word against Andy – there’s no other evidence. “You made sure of that, didn’t you,” Simone says, bitterly.
It’s judgement day. Nassim is testifying: He loved Dip’s pic but didn’t ask for it. He sent it to Andy and Andy alone. He knew nothing about the website and he knows that Dip wouldn’t have sent it to anyone else. It was just for him. He’s devastated it’s come to this. Devastated he’s ruined their relationship and her life.
Then it’s Dip’s turn and it’s just heartbreaking as she tells her story. She went to the beach, it was wonderful, she wanted to do it again and she wanted Nassim to know how good he made her feel. Kavitha Anandasivam is brilliant, reliving the joy of her sexual awakening. Halfway through her testimony she snaps out of the reverie and her anger starts to show. Nassim said he only sent the pic onto Andy but maybe that’s not true. Maybe he uploaded it himself.
Dip has decided Nassim is the target of her anger which is fair enough. He’s the one who betrayed her trust. She’s peeved at Andy but it’s Nassim she wants to see suffer. The judge intervenes. She doesn’t want one photo to ruin three young lives. She diverts the case into a family conference. Andy gets off – again – because Dip has raised doubts about Nassim’s story.
On the bus, Nassim avoids Andy. “I was wondering if you would be man enough to turn up,” Andy says, equating bravery with masculinity. Nassim ignores his requests to share his lunch then gets up and moves seats. For the first time in the whole series, Andy looks sad.
Dip wants to re-join Ray’s class, but she can’t. It’s not up to him, he explains, sadly. “We’ve all heard the rumours,” Dip’s friend Josephine teases from the back of the class, “maybe they’re true… maybe you are in love with Dip!” Ray finally loses it, amidst student laughter. “I’m a good man,” He screams at them, “I am a good teacher and I get nothing but disrespect.”
He’s right, he is a good man. But he’d rather protest his goodness than examine his flaws, rather decide what is best for people than listen to what they need. As for Dip, she’s furious – and humiliated – again. She storms out, and heads to Zoe’s, who is fuming herself, having discovered another lewd photo taken without consent – up her skirt, in school uniform.
There’s a sweetly conspiratorial nature to Zoe and Dip’s friendship that almost borders on flirtation. You can see they’re still such young girls, still trying to understand powerful feelings like attraction and admiration and desire. Dip admires Zoe and her boldness, but Zoe admits she’s terrified of “touching” and is fascinated by Dip’s ability to have a real, in-person relationship with Nassim. They’re both so innocent, so deeply hurt that their nervous attempts at sexual exploration and connection were so badly abused.
Simone is getting ready for her fundraiser when she stumbles upon Rosie with a full face of make-up, donning the gold, slinky number Nick bought for Simone. It’s enough to send the already hypersensitive Simone into hysterics, rushing to her daughter, ripping the frock off her and calling her a slut. Andy walks in, immediately diffusing the tension. He says he’ll go to the fundraiser in her place. Andy’s kindness towards Rosie has been evident all series… it gives us hope there’s goodness in him yet.
On the same night, Zoe and Dip are on a double date with two guys. They’re en route to a party but decide instead to head to Andy’s house. They don’t know what they’re going to do when they get there, it’s just clear they feel they haven’t closed the book. The #shittyboys have gotten away with their behaviour with zero punishment while their lives have been turned upside down. They collect Nassim along the way because he knows Andy’s address. And because he feels guilty about the whole sorry situation.
Andy’s not at home though, he’s at the fundraiser. So, in need of some kind of desperate, pathetic closure, they trash the garden and scrawl “Shame… love your local sluts” in lipstick on his door. Their rage is so raw and their pain so deep, they have to do something, anything, to make themselves feel like justice has been served.
Finally, they strip off and jump in Andy’s pool, all except Nassim, who can’t swim. He finally eases his way in at Dip’s urging but quickly gets out of his depth and starts to flounder. Dip, still blind with rage, does nothing. He’s about to drown when out of nowhere Rosie jumps in and pulls him out. Once he’s caught his breath, poor Nassim bolts down the road, calling his father in floods of tears. Dip’s eyes are cold, unfeeling. She is a changed woman.
At the fundraiser, Simone’s flirty colleague from episode one tries his luck again, putting his hand on the small of her back. Simone has had it, telling him – behind a firm, sweet smile – never to touch her again. Andy and Nick both see it, and both misread her smile as flirtation. For Andy, it’s the greatest hypocrisy: she called Rosie a slut and then behaves like this? He storms out of the party. Nick, however, is turned on, and drags her into a photo booth for an impromptu sex session. She’s baffled and distressed and disgusted that her husband gets excited by the thought of someone else wanting his wife. “This is all fucked”, Simone says, summing up the series – and her life – in one sentence.
Nick goes straight from the fundraiser to a strip club – collecting Andy along the way – and drags him in for a bit of quality father-son bonding surrounded by naked, gyrating women. Naturally. Andy, at first pleased to be included, is soon disturbed. He shouldn’t be in a place like this. Neither should his Dad. And they certainly shouldn’t be there together.
Back at home, Simone arrives to a vandalised house and a half naked Zoe and Dip in her backyard. She calls Zoe’s mum to collect the girls and then apologises to Rosie for her behaviour earlier: Things are going to be different in this house, and she’ll never use “slut” in a derogatory way again.
Life is returning to normal. Dip is back in Ray’s class, Zoe is now at Dip’s school and Eliza is dragging sex ed into the 21st century, teaching about sexuality and toxic masculinity. The boys lament the pressure to suppress their emotions and “do stuff” with girls. Eliza asks them about sexual violence. Do they experience it? If so, how do they actively try to prevent it? They have no answers. It’s not relevant to them. She asks the girls, and their answers fill a whiteboard a dozen times over. Ray and Di Rossi, from the doorway, watch in admiration. It seems the times, they are a changing.
Ray congratulates Eliza. He owes her a drink. No, he doesn’t, she says. He disagrees: he behaved foolishly and he’s sorry. She brushes him off with a few excuses then steels herself and firmly tells him “no”, she doesn’t want to have a drink with him. Eliza gave up on Ray the minute he accused her of attacking him personally by doing her job. He might feel foolish, but she felt undermined. She knows she’s too accomplished to be bullied by the fragile male ego.
We finish with everyone swimming. (Washing away their sins?) Andy, in his pool, comes across Zoe’s earring. I don’t know where this series is leaving Andy, but maybe that’s the point: He’s lost, directionless, like so many teenage boys. He’s almost an adult, yet he has no idea where he’s going or how to get there without his dad holding his hand.
Dip is at the beach, happy and calm, her hair blowing in the wind. This whole experience, while terrible, has unleashed a new lease on life in her. She no longer cares what her parents or anyone else thinks. Down the beach, she spies Nassim. He looks towards her, still reeling from her total, terrifying rejection to his sincere apology. They meet eyes, just for a moment, and then look away. Maybe forever, maybe not.
This was the final episode of The Hunting. Catch up with the entire four episodes at SBS On Demand. Here’s episode 3: