One evening, a meteor shower occurs over a small town in Rhode Island and the town become fascinated with the rocks from space. Soon afterward, a rash of violent incidents break out among the men, leaving the unaffected women wondering what is going on. Caught up in the madness, Annie Miller (Taissa Farmiga) and her sister Martha (Rhea Seehorn) have to survive the night and find Martha's son, Cole.
Tropes for this episode include:
- Above the Influence: Cole appears able to resist the influence of the meteors and avoid turning violent. It turns out all he did was resist the temptations in himself.
- Adaptational Villainy: Loosely based on the short novel The Screwfly Solution by Raccoona Sheldon. Here, the story reveals there is no outside influence — the meteorites just give the men an excuse to give in to their violent tendencies.
- Adult Fear: Much of the tension of the episode comes from the terrifying depiction of how typical male entitlement feels from a woman's perspective, from a bad date with an overzealous partner to the ugly slurs women get just because they aren't completely submissive.
- All Gays Are Promiscuous: Played with; Cole's boyfriend Steve turns sexually aggressively after drinking a beer with a meteorite dropped in it. However, Cole himself never exhibits any untoward behavior.
- All Men Are Perverts: Played straight throughout the episode, almost to the point of parody.
- On Annie's date with Dylan, he moves from friendly kisses to groping her breasts and thighs in under a minute. After she (barely) gets away, he begins to loudly thrash the furniture.
- Leaving the bar with Martha, Annie passes by another co-worker, Perry. He gets enraged when she brusquely leaves and proceeds to follow them home.
- When Annie and Martha make their way through the rioting town, they encounter several men who turn and leer when they run by.
- Ultimately, this may just be the point; men affected by the meteorite at most feel more aggressive, but as it turns out, it's just a confidence boost. Men were already taught to indulge their impulses, so when the meteorite made them more present, they went nuts.
- Arc Number: A post-it note in the opening of the episode reads "Call Dr. Romero 10:15".
- Bar Brawl: A fight breaks out at the bar Annie and Martha are at after the bartender refuses to serve an aggressive drunk who's been doing meteorite shots.
- Blatant Lies: Delivered by both Annie and Dylan after his unwanted advances. Annie dismisses the incident and says she had a "great night" even though she's clearly Squicked by his behavior. Dylan, meanwhile, claims he wasn't trying to have sex with her despite his obvious intentions.
- Chekhov's Gun: The Frying Pan of Doom that Annie gives Martha as a birthday gift.
- Chekhov's Skill: Annie's current work assignment is organizing a placebo group for a medicated lip balm; this eventually helps her identify the actual cause of the chaos.
- Comet of Doom: Annie's problems start after she has dinner with Dylan to watch the Perseids meteor shower.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: A man repeatedly fails to stick his straw into a drinking cup, a reference to sexual frustration.
- Foreshadowing: The truth about the meteorites — that they're harmless — is hinted at when Annie meets her boss Phil in the middle of the riot. Unfortunately, Annie and Martha run off instead of listening to him.Phil: "It's not all us men, okay? It can't be all of us! [...] it's unlikely that the mineral itself is the culprit here!"
- Frying Pan of Doom: How Martha fends off her enraged husband.
- Jerkass Has a Point: During his enraged rant, Mike yells at Martha for always interrupting him in the middle of his stories — just like she did during dinner earlier that evening.
- Karmic Death: At the docks, Dylan approaches and attacks Annie with a large meteorite tied to a chain. She manages to push him into the harbor, and the chained rock drags him beneath the water, drowning him.
- Magic Feather: A malevolent version; some of the townsfolk believe the meteorites confer additional powers or turn the men violent, even though there is no evidence that they have any effect."Come on. I'm telling you, baby. It changes you — makes you stronger."
- Male Gaze: Annie and Martha frequently get this from the men they walk past.
- A Man Is Always Eager: Heavily implied throughout.
- Mean Boss: Dylan, Annie's supervisor at work. While he's friendly and sociable, he also sees nothing wrong (or is simply oblivious) about abusing his authority over Annie to browbeat her for a date.
- More Than Mind Control: If the meteors have any effect, this turns out to be all it is; Cole is just as affected, but because he doesn't want to be a red-eyed psychopath, he isn't.
- Mythology Gag:
- The biker that chases Annie and Martha has the symbol of the aliens from "Black Leather Jackets" on his helmet. Also, this episode hints that contaminated water may be the cause of the madness, similar to how the aliens in that episode plan to destroy humanity with infected water.
- The gas pump that Annie and Martha hide behind has a sticker that reads Maple Street on it, a reference to "The Monsters are due on Maple Street". Both episodes deal with a small town descending into madness.
- No Woman's Land: Thanks to the men in the town all turning mad due to the meteors.
- Office Romance: Played for drama — Annie's supervisor, Dylan, pressures her into a date with him. She agrees against her better judgement, and things get worse from there.
- Placebo Effect: Although Annie and Martha hypothesize that the meteorites are the cause of the men's madness, ultimately it's shown that they aren't inherently dangerous. Instead, the urge for uninhibited rage has always been present and the men just decided to surrender to it.
- Plot Hole: The ending reveals the rocks don't have any powers at all, and the violent incidents and riot were all due to the innate rage always present in men. Yet whenever we see one of them get angry, their eyes turn red, bulging veins appear on their faces, and they gain extra strength. If the men were going through these changes before the meteor shower, a bunch of rocks should be the least of this town's worries.
- Red Herring: The meteorites are strongly hinted to be the source of the men's madness, but ultimately they're not.Annie: "Can I hold it?"
Dylan: "I don't know, it might be radioactive."
Annie: "Oh, really?"
Annie: "Well, let's just try it and see what—"
Dylan: "I don't know, it might have space germs."
Annie: "Oh, really? Space germs?"
Annie: "Well, I think you now have them."
- A Real Man Is a Killer: After bludgeoning the stalker outside his home, Mike enters the kitchen and brags about how awesome the experience was."Oh, it felt good letting that guy have it. Yeah, it felt real good."
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: When the men are about to go berserk, their eyes become bright red.
- Stalker with a Crush: When Annie and Martha leave the bar, they pass a motorcycle rider who recognizes Annie from work. He becomes angry when she brushes him off, then follows them to Martha's house and camps outside the front door.
- Straight Gay: Cole. There's no hint to his sexual orientation until he and his boyfriend Steve start making out.
- Terrifying Rescuer: Martha's husband, Mike. He bludgeons a stranger who follows Annie and Martha to their home, then steps into the kitchen with a blood-soaked shirt, bragging about his heroic battle and complaining that the women don't appreciate his efforts. Then he picks up a kitchen knife to cut a slice of birthday cake...Mike: "You know I just saved you two from a fucking psychopath. How about a little thank you?"
Martha: "Okay, Mike, you-you-you-you don't have to yell—"
Mike: "I'M NOT YELLING!"
- Water Source Tampering: The women theorize that the madness might be due to an infection in the local water supply, giving it a reddish tint.Martha: "Is there something in your water?"
Annie: "Why's it red?"
Larry: "I called water and power, they said it's like this everywhere. I mean, it seems harmless, but it smells like shit."
- What You Are in the Dark: The truth behind the epidemic of violence; it occurred because the men just suddenly allowed their worst instincts to take over.Cole: "They're not gonna find anything... because there's no disease. The meteors, they were a placebo. There's no cure because it'll always be inside me."
Martha: "What? You stopped yourself from turning. I saw you."
Cole: "That's the thing — I chose to. I just chose to."