‘Three Women’ Episode 1 Recap: Is Maggie Going To Take Action Against Her Teacher?


Three Women is the story of, well, three women, and it is narrated by Gia, who is following them for the sake of understanding their lives for her book. While the first episode has gotten a lot of things right, a strange feeling about the intention of the writer is creeping up on us. The first scene of the episode opens with a shot of Gia’s red-heeled boots. Every woman will agree that those are not meant for walking. Yet, all women own a pair of shoes like that because they look powerful and, strangely, seem to lend a certain power of intimidation to women, which they require from time to time when interacting with male colleagues who are enthusiastic to dismiss them. Maybe that means that this will be a layered narrative of the three women, or it could mean that the story is going to get a lot of things wrong due to intentions that are not well-researched or understood. For now, this is the recap of Three Women Episode 1.

Spoiler Alert

Why does Gia follow the stories of the three women?

Gia is writing a book about coition among humans, and her earlier draft was rejected by her publisher. She was sent to a professor to gain some insight into the subject and to discuss with him how she could go about researching the material for the book. The professor proves inappropriate and unhelpful right away as he recommends that Gia sleep with married men across the country, outside of the mainstream USA, to gain the needed material for her book. As Gia says later, she did not bother with the bulk of his advice but found a valuable point in it, which was to look outside of New York and other cities to find what she wanted. Additionally, the professor’s advice was centered on men. He wanted Gia to write about why ‘men cheat’. It did not occur to the professor even once that when he said that married people were the key to this topic, women may be seeking experiences outside of their relationship and would have valuable stories to offer. Thankfully, Gia was not blind to this possibility, and she found three women: Lina, Sloane, and Maggie, whose stories she found suited to what she was looking for.

What is Lina’s story?

It is a special kind of loneliness when you know exactly what you want, you are aware that you deserve it and are perfectly validated for wanting it, but the rest of the world is adamant about denying you the basic needs you require. Lina’s problem was that her husband did not care for any intimacy between them. He did not even like her touching him, and that put Lina in a tricky situation because she did not understand his behavior.

Gia describes Lina as a grown-up teenager. What she means is that the teenage characteristics of planning our actions to fit a certain image were an intrinsic part of Lina’s life. Usually, we let go of this routine when we reach adulthood, but Lina had not found the safe space that let her shed that image curation tendency. Lina and her husband were taking therapy for this problem, but they had gone to the worst place possible, to their church father. The father did not care for what Lina thought, and he simply impressed on her that she needed to make this ‘sacrifice’ for her husband’s comfort.

Another problem in Lina’s life was that her hands were in constant pain, but the doctors had told her that it was all in her head. Around that time, one of her friends recommended Dr. Henry. There is a bit of racism since Dr. Henry is Indian, and it is not clear whether Lina shares that racism, but she is desperate, and she goes to see him. Dr. Henry diagnoses Lina with endometriosis, and for the first time, Lina finds some comfort in her life. It also has to do with the fact that Henry actually listens to Lina without dismissing her concerns. He understands that Lina’s condition is connected to her mental health and is addressing that along with the rest of her symptoms. Honestly, we are sure that Henry will eventually prove to be sexist, considering the words he uses to address Lina, those being ‘sweetheart’ and ‘darling,’ but for now, he is exactly what Lina needs.

Is Sloane having an affair?

Contrary to Lina, Sloane is shown as having it all and being in a relatively progressive environment. In her case, her husband likes her more than anything else and would do anything for her. However, even Sloane finds herself at a loss because, no matter the progressiveness of her environment, she has to play by the same rules of protecting the male ego. Sloane and her husband have an agreement where they invite a third person into their relationship from time to time. While the entirety of this facet of the relationship is not clear, from the looks of it, the couple enjoys watching their partner with someone else. They have rules for this, which both follow, but the ‘unsaid’ rules, as Sloane says, are limiting for her. She has to choose people who are never as good as her husband. It is unclear whether her husband is bound by the same rule when picking women. However, Sloane’s problem is that she is not sufficiently attracted to such people. One day, Sloane meets a waiter, and she can feel the spark immediately. But any relationship with him is outside the limits of the agreement between her and her husband. Right now, she has only hired him to cater to her parties, but the tension between them is apparent.

Is Maggie going to take action against her teacher?

The episode of Three Women starts with a disclaimer about Maggie’s case. In the case against Aaron Knodel brought about by Maggie, he was cleared of all five charges, of which two were dismissed as having been due to a mistrial. The disclaimer doesn’t comment on whether it is a miscarriage of justice or not. It simply says that this is Maggie’s side of the story. It is a careful gray area meant to avoid controversy. 

Maggie is clearly struggling in life. The people she went to school with are attending university while she waits tables for them. They aren’t mean to her, but it is clear that she has been left behind in life, and they don’t see her as their equal. Maggie was involved with her English teacher, Aaron Knodel, in school, and she believed that she was in love. The only detail we get from Gia’s narration is that they used to talk for hours on the phone, and this was a regular event. This very fact, when judged with logic and without prejudice, is enough to prove that there was something more than a teacher-student relationship between the two of them. Gia even says that Aaron must have been in love. But she doesn’t romanticize it. A grown man falling in love with an underage girl, when he is in a position of power over her, is not even remotely romantic. It is creepy and is called ‘grooming.’ That is what Maggie has started realizing as she grows older. When her character is introduced, her friends are asking her to choose between Brad Pitt and Leonardo Di Caprio, and Maggie points out that both of them are her father’s age. This means that she is gaining an awareness of judging men and her relationship with them on the basis of age. Maggie chooses Brad Pitt, but she is not as playful about it as her friends because she knows what it means to be in the dynamic.

At the end of Three Women Episode 1, Maggie is realizing that what happened to her was not the result of love. She wants to get in touch with Aaron, and she leaves a letter for him in his mailbox. Maggie also sends him an email, where she demands to talk to him about their past and wants him to ‘prove her wrong.’ As much as Maggie is taking these steps for herself, she is also doing it for other women who may become victims like her. Her friends point out that what happened to her could happen to others, and unless she speaks up, she is putting them in danger. Gia says that these are the accounts of three women seeking to change their lives, and Maggie’s method is to confront her past head-on.

Final Thoughts

The crux of these accounts is that the three women are struggling with issues of intimacy in their lives, and that has been affected by the men around them. No matter what anyone says, this is not a tale of villainizing men but of pointing out a flawed system that places women at a disadvantage in such debilitatingly personal ways. In this episode, we learned that no one is an exception. The next episode should tell us how that goes deeper.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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