‘Tell Me Lies’ Episodes 4 & 5: Recap & Ending, Explained – Did Lucy & Stephen’s Family Affect Their Personalities?


With every episode, we get closer to the characters in “Tell Me Lies.” Every character is complicated; they are suffering from insecurities and coping with them in the most toxic way possible. What truly works for the series is the time frame within which the past unfolds, the Y2K fashion, the complete disregard for mental health, and an overall toxic college environment sum it up. But what is annoying is that Baird College admits only those with toned bodies! It is unmissable and almost strange how every time a character removes their clothes, we see a perfectly toned body underneath them. The series could have worked on this unrealistic approach.

Episodes 4 and 5 of “Tell Me Lies” follow the relationship between Stephen and Lucy. They agreed to a casual open relationship, but Lucy struggles to adjust to it. She is in love with Stephen, but he does not want to commit. Lucy chooses to not discuss her insecurity; she does not wish to overwhelm him with her emotions. She plays along, trying to act cool every time she comes across used protection. She knew he was sleeping with other women, but she was worried that confronting him could end their relationship. It goes without saying that their relationship was a toxic one. He lied to her, and she played along, fearing that he would leave her. Somehow, the toxicity made Lucy want it all the more. Even though it was hurting her, she did not wish to do away with the emotional turmoil that she experienced with Stephen.

Spoilers Ahead

‘Tell Me Lies’ Episodes 4 And 5: Recap Summary

Stephen prepares for an internship interview in town. Even though he was desperate for the position, he assumed that the company would choose a known face. He believed the interview was just a formality to be followed before choosing a candidate with a familial connection. Lucy supported him as he prepared to leave. He was quick to lie to her when she asked where he was staying in town. He was staying at Diana’s family’s place, but he could not let Lucy know about his girlfriend. His interview did not go as planned. Instead of being honest about his financial situation, he buried it with lies. The interviewer could recognize his dishonesty, and the session turned awkward from then on. He even went to the extent of a flirtatious exchange, but the interviewer did not entertain it. Afraid that he had lost his chance, he expressed how the entire interview was rigged, but the interviewer confirmed that they had a policy against hiring family members. The interview indicates Stephen’s insecurity; he believes that he can only be likable by resorting to lies. To cheer himself up, he calls Lucy to Diana’s place in town. This was another low for Stephen. He got rid of all the pictures of Diana and made out with Lucy on Diana’s father’s desk. Her father symbolized wealth, honor, and status – all that Stephen wanted in life. While making out with Lucy on his desk, he stared at an expensive painting that her father hung on the wall. The entire act was an accomplishment for him.

When Lucy expressed disappointment with him, he gaslighted her into thinking that it was all her fault. He established that he was doing his best to make Lucy happy, yet she was doubtful of his affection and was cruel enough to distrust him. Lucy apologized, accepting that it was truly her fault that she doubted him even when he was trying his best. While Lucy was struggling in her toxic relationship, Bree believed that her virginity was the cause of all her troubles. But life was not that simple. After making out with Tim, she realized that she was not enjoying the experience. Later, Tim decided to end their relationship after finding out that she was a virgin. He felt that she took advantage of him by not disclosing her inexperience. While the men in her life were mostly disappointing, she found comfort in Evan. She had not shared how her life as a foster kid was with her friends; she never felt they wanted to know her past, but with Evan, she could discuss it without feeling guilty about overburdening him with the truth. This shows how the friendship between Pippa, Lucy, and Bree was. It was superficial and pretentious as if they were scared of being judged for their past or their failed relationships. Pippa wanted to create the image of the cool freshman girl, so she lied about drugs to live up to her image. Lucy chose to not share too many details about her relationship with Stephen, believing that her friends might ridicule her toxic relationship. In the two episodes, we learn how every character is problematic to an extent. They are victims in some situations and perpetrators in others. No one can be labeled as good or bad. They were just making decisions that they believed would make them feel better without thinking it through.

Why Did Lucy Hate Her Mother? How Did Lucy And Stephen’s Family Affect Their Personalities?

From the very beginning of the series, we are aware that Lucy shares a bitter relationship with her mother. She found it difficult to adjust when she went home for the Christmas holidays. She was bothered by the frequent visits of James, her father’s colleague. While her mother wanted her to be kind to her guest, Lucy could not accept his presence. Her hatred towards her mother intensified, and she found it suffocating to live in the house. On Christmas morning, she noticed her mother wearing a necklace that she said her friend had gifted her. This angered Lucy, and she decided to spend Christmas away from her house. She called Max to spend the night with him. While her relationship with Stephen was tumultuous, with Max, everything was calmer than usual. And it was probably because of his consistency and stability that Lucy was not ready to commit. She had stopped considering herself a nice person. Therefore, the fact that Max treated her nicely seemed too good for her. There was a lack of self-love and appreciation, which is evident in the way Lucy behaves.

She felt at peace with Max and shared with him the reason why she could never forgive her mother. She lost her father when she was fifteen. At the time, he was extremely sick. They brought him home to spend time together. James used to visit their house often; he was her father’s co-worker and friend. He helped her mother a lot then. On the day that her father’s health started to deteriorate, she called her mother several times, but she did not respond. She remembered the state of panic she was in knowing that it might be the end of her father’s life. Her father desperately wanted her mother by his side, but she was gone. He eventually died and she was all alone in her house. Her mother answered the calls three hours later, and Lucy could never forgive her for it. What made it worse was when she found that her mother did not have any appointments; she had gone to spend time with James. Her mother betrayed her father from the day he fell sick. She had been with James all the while as he suffered and died. Lucy could never get over the betrayal and lost her respect for her mother. She knew that her mother was spending time with James again, and she couldn’t take it anymore. Lucy missed her happier self; she was now mostly caught up in her complicated thoughts. Nothing around her amuses her anymore, and the things that excite her are mostly destructive. Max advised her to seek help. He believed that she might be suffering from depression. His advice destroyed Lucy; she was defensive about herself and stated that she was not insane. No matter what Max said, Lucy could not accept it and thought that he was judging her for her past. Max left her; he was appalled by her immaturity.

Stephen went back home during the Christmas holidays. He dreaded meeting his family, particularly his mother. He had an older brother and a younger sister. His brother was devoted to their mother and decided to leave his well-paying job in town to assist her. His mother was narcissistic and manipulative. She had to be the center of attention and the cause of all worries. Stephen knew his mother and her tactics, but he tried to pay as little attention to her as possible. She wanted to take her family out to lunch at an expensive restaurant, and even though it did sound strange, Stephen did not think much of it. She gave him two options but stressed how good the second restaurant was. Stephen chose the second one, knowing that his mother wanted to go there. In the meantime, she demanded to go to a flower shop. The woman at the store seemed visibly uncomfortable after noticing her. Stephen asked his mother who she was, but she did not give away the truth.

On Christmas, when they went out for lunch, Stephen noticed his father and the woman from the store. He realized that the lunch was not a plan made at random but a well-thought-out one. She was stalking her ex-husband and his pregnant girlfriend. Even after returning home, she continued to say that it was a coincidence and that Stephen was the one who chose the restaurant; therefore, nobody could pin her for planning it. Stephen realized that his mother was the same as she was before. She manipulated him to make it all seem like a coincidence. He discussed his situation with Diana, and she drove to his hometown to support him. Diana was his emotional support. She was his competitor, lover, and friend. But it was in Stephen’s nature to take advantage of people, and he did so with her as well. He was possessive about her, even though he was cheating on her with Lucy. He could not bear the thought that she had made out with Wrigley during their welcome week. Stephen’s toxicity can be traced back to his mother, who poured hot liquid on her hand simply to gain Stephen’s affection after the restaurant incident. Being lied to and controlled was an everyday reality for him, and he learned to use it to his advantage as well.

While he was busy with Diana, Lucy felt lonely. The two had planned to meet the day after Christmas, but Stephen did not turn up. Diana went to Macy’s memorial. She walked into her room and found pictures of her and among those pictures was a tissue paper with a rose drawn over it. It was similar to the one Stephen had drawn and given Lucy on their date. Lucy now knows that Stephen meant more to Macy than just a person she knew from back home. But will she try to reach the bottom of it or avoid it to protect herself from the truth? Stephen can easily manipulate Lucy, and the fact that she is desperate for his affection makes it easy. “Tell Me Lies” continues to build on the mystery, but it is, at times, way too unrealistic to be taken seriously.

See More: ‘Tell Me Lies’ Episode 6: Recap And Ending, Explained – Why Did Lucy Get Back With Stephen?

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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