Later at night, Beth, who works as a bartender, foists shots on The Guy when he comes to visit, gloats about her impressive haul of tips for the day, and badgers the bar’s server Luiz to stay later and get high. Luiz tries to decline, saying he has a long way to go that night (to East New York, which The Guy has never heard of). Beth pushes, making dicey jokes about his ethnicity. He claims not to take offense, and then embarks on the lengthy journey home, picking up his son on the way.
The episode ends as the diverse riders of a late-night subway car bat around the balloon that Luiz brought for his son. It’s a heart-fluttering moment to finish with, packing the message that life goes on, and that people of different backgrounds can unite. But it also casts into stark relief what came before in the episode: a dearth of communitarianism, and a lot of navel gazing.
The uproarious highlight of “Globo” might, intentionally or unintentionally, be an allegory about self-gratification and out-of-touchness in a time of crisis. At a hotel, a woman and two men wake up after a threesome they had the night before, chat a bit, then dive back in to sex. Their phones are dead; they have no idea about the horrible thing that happened outside. Then The Guy arrives. “Looks like you guys made the best of a shitty day,” he says, to looks of mild incomprehension. “I get it: You only live once. YOLO.”
Once they learn the news, the sexcapade is over. The woman looks down on a vigil outside the hotel. “If only lighting a candle could fucking change anything,” she says, one of a few examples in the episode of the cushy and comfortable gazing at public action—sign-holding or art-making or slogan-slinging—with dazed ambivalence. Then one of the men, on the phone with his panicked mom, passes the phone to the other guy. It dawns on her: She had sex with not “bros” but actual brothers. The look on her face makes for one of the great TV moments of 2018 so far. If you squint, it reads as a sick, meta punchline about a class of people who, during turmoil, drew the blinds and made love to themselves.
High Maintenance is a morally generous, nonjudgmental show for the most part. And the only thematic statement that “Globo” makes, on its surface, is that different people are going to react to horror in different ways. But it feels like there’s an edge here. Emotionally, the episode plays as an almost unmitigated bummer—and that’s not simply because it’s about tragedy, and that’s even in spite of a zany sexual subplot and a cheery ending. For however connected the pot-on-demand population is to the headlines via their phones, they’ve internalized the ethos of “self-care” beyond any productive end. When everyone’s facing the same horror at once, perhaps it’s not time to get high on your own specially delivered supply.