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Butterfly Episode 3 Recap: Arrests, Social Services, And Broken Promises

Vicky faces repercussions for taking Maxine to Boston in this final episode.


What happened last week? Vicky and Stephen sought help for Maxine, after she attempted to self-harm again. However, Maxine was denied puberty blockers and Stephen didn’t seem bothered, so Vicky snuck Maxine to the Boston for treatment.


The episode opens on Stephen, desperately calling around to find out where Vicky and Maxine are, until Lily shows him a photo of them in Boston on social media.


This spurs a family meeting, with Barbara furious that Vicky used the loan from her to fund this trip and Stephen angry that Vicky left Lily “in the lurch”, despite the fact that Stephen could always look after Lily himself. Thankfully, granddad Peter gives everyone a reality check, reminding them that Vicky didn’t run off to Vegas, but to get treatment for Maxine.


Maxine gets treatment; Lily gets ignored.


When Maxine and Vicky arrive at the hospital, Dr. Farrow greets them and explains that he’s happy to treat Maxine, providing Stephen has signed the consent forms. Stephen hasn’t, of course, but Vicky forged his signature.


Dr. Farrow asks about referrals from British psychologists or gender experts who can confirm that puberty blockers are in Maxine’s best interests. Thankfully, Vicky hasn’t forged those documents and offers to pay for an American psychologist to see Maxine.


After Maxine has the treatment, Dr. Farrow says he’ll see them again in three months, to which Vicky responds that she’s “already bought the tickets”, but it’s clear that she was expecting this to be over with by the time they left Boston.


Back in Britain, Lily needs to talk to Stephen about feeling ignored and unloved, but he doesn’t get it, so she goes to her room. Then Vicky calls (and hangs up immediately), so Stephen drops Lily off to stay with Barbara for an unspecified amount of time while he deals with the Vicky-Maxine situation. Although, what can he even do at 10 pm? Maybe Lily has a point.


Calling the police.


The next day, Stephen reports Vicky to the police for taking Maxine abroad without his permission, which is technically “parental child abduction”, but the detective asks if he’s sure he wants to press charges, especially as Maxine consented to the trip.


Turns out he does, because in the next scene, detectives are waiting to arrest Vicky as she gets through passport control at Heathrow. Maxine, who is understandably scared, is dragged off by two social workers as she calls for Vicky and Stephen. Oh, yeah, Stephen’s there, but makes no attempt to comfort his daughter, yet somehow Vicky’s the bad parent.


In the police station, Vicky is told she can’t take Maxine abroad again with Stephen’s permission, even for ongoing treatment. She argues that “it only matters what [Maxine] wants”, but the detectives seize her passport.


Meanwhile, Maxine tells a social worker that Vicky knew how much getting treatment means to her and that Vicky only wanted to prevent her from becoming “suicidal”. She then begs to be allowed to go home with Vicky.



Thankfully, Vicky is released and takes Maxine home, where Stephen is waiting to give her the third degree (Dude, you got her arrested!) and complain that it isn’t practical to take Maxine for further treatment in Boston. Vicky tells him not to take it out on Maxine, reminding him that he wasn’t doing anything to help Maxine.


Stephen calls Vicky a bad mother for abandoning Lily, who is now back home. Pot, kettle, black, anyone? Still, she apologizes to Lily, who doesn’t take it well. Also, you’ll be happy to know that Stephen, who’s so concerned with Lily and Maxine’s wellbeing, leaves the family to move back in with Peter.


Stephen eventually decides to drop the charges and asks Vicky for a compromise, but when Vicky reminds him that Maxine will only get worse without treatment, he accuses her of “emotional blackmail”. Unfortunately, even though Vicky is no longer facing criminal charges, social services have appointed a guardian (Stella) to assess Maxine’s living situation.


Maxine’s guardian.


When Stella interviews the family, Maxine proudly shows off her room, but notes that the family discord makes her feel likes she’s “been ripped in two”. Meanwhile, Lily, who is clearly affected by the stress, tells Stella that Maxine’s a “selfish bitch”, Stephen accuses Vicky of emotional blackmail again, and Vicky says she only wants what’s best for Maxine. Stella also visits Barbara, who tells her that Vicky clearly loves Maxine to fight so hard for her.


The next day, Vicky breaks down in front of her friend, explaining that while she promised Maxine that they’d go back for treatment, she can’t afford it or risk going to prison. When the scene cuts back to Maxine, she’s telling Stephen that she can’t wait to go back to Boston, which he immediately relays to Stella. Stella challenges Vicky on this, calling it emotional abuse, so Vicky reveals that Stephen actually hit Maxine; something that Maxine confirms. Finally! But don’t get too excited, he doesn’t actually get punished for it.


Later, Vicky reminds Stephen that they are both in danger of losing Maxine if the courts decide that she would do better in foster care, so they agree to work together. They go back to the Mermaids support group and are advised to appeal the gender clinic’s decision about puberty blockers for Maxine.


Meanwhile, Stella’s decided to take away Vicky and Stephen’s parental responsibility and stop Maxine’s treatment. Even though the pair explain that they’ve reached an agreement, Stella doubts it’ll stick, so they agree to put all of their efforts into getting the gender clinic to approve Maxine’s treatment.



At the clinic, Maxine says that she’s been silent for too long and that if she’s been true to herself years ago, then it might never have got to the stage where she self-harmed. She asserts that she’s been living as Maxine for months now and “it feels right”, before explaining that puberty blockers will end the “war” between her body and brain.


The scene then cuts to the family celebrating in the car, meaning that Maxine’s treatment has been approved. Vicky tells Maxine that although they still have “a long way to go”, they’ll get there, together.


Final thoughts: This was a moving and insightful program about Maxine’s coming out process, which addresses the real issues that can and do impact trans youth (i.e. self-harm, parental rejection, puberty), and advocates that living your truth will change your life. If you can find it (through whatever means), I advise watching it with a box of tissues.


Butterfly aired at 9 pm on ITV in the UK. All photos credit to ITV.




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