‘Insomnia’ Episode 4 Recap & Ending Explained: Is Phoebe Trying To Frame Emma?

Every week you tune in to the Vicky McClure starrer Insomnia, and you see her character going downhill much worse than the last time. That’s how the show’s been so far, and the fourth episode is a 50-minute ride to hell. I don’t mean it in an insulting way, but at this point you start feeling sympathetic for the privileged lawyer whose mother went cuckoo, and now you see the same thing happening to her, but the consequences she faces are much worse. At the end of the third episode, Robert has found out about Emma’s nighttime self-destructive routine, and the aftermath of it is anything but nice for our protagonist. Here are the major talking points we get from the fourth episode of the Paramount Plus show.


Spoilers Ahead

What does Emma get to know about Patricia?

Emma leaves the house after Robert blames her for not telling him the truth. She gets to know about the facility Patricia stayed in from Phoebe and decides to pay a visit. Dr. Jane Zimba tells Emma that Patricia was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, but they couldn’t get much out of her since she turned mute after coming to their facility. Jane also reveals that Phoebe was a regular visitor of Patricia, but she had to be stopped a month ago, and even though Emma doesn’t think about it much, later in the episode there’s a big reveal that completely changes how you see Phoebe. Phoebe was not doing well the last time we saw her, and now it’s confirmed that she’s lost her child. The doctor frankly tells her that another IVF might not be the best idea, and she should avoid facing disappointment a second time.  Emma always thought of her mother as some kind of monster she should not even speak of, but as the same things are happening to her, she begins to understand that she might not have been that terrible. She sees artwork all over the room Patricia stayed in and remembers how, as kids, Patricia would make her and Phoebe paint in the same way. Emma doesn’t go home, and instead of going to a hotel, she decides to crash at Phoebe’s. 


What does Robert do after finding out about Chloe and Julian?

Phoebe heads to the football field, where Robert is watching Will play. Phoebe sees Julian and hesitantly tells Robert about Chloe and him. Robert punches Julian right in the face and tells him to stay away from his family. After the altercation between them, Robert confronts Chloe about it. He asks her why she did it to Michelle and their kid, but Chloe is ignorant and thinks that he’s talking just like Emma did. Chloe storms out of the house, and you’d not expect much else from a privileged and entitled teenager. But Chloe heads straight to meet Julian in a restaurant, and it seems like Julian is braver than before, and he doesn’t want this relationship to end. Getting punched didn’t knock any sense into him, and now he’s more serious about Chloe than he ever was. 

What happens when Phoebe finds out about Emma’s condition?

Robert shows the CCTV footage to Phoebe, who is shocked to discover that her sister is repeating her mother’s actions. She gets a panic attack when Emma approaches Will with a pillow on the screen. Robert calms her down, and Phoebe decides to stay the night there. Emma texts Phoebe to ask for her company, but Phoebe tells her to have an early night, not revealing where she is. Things start to get interesting when Phoebe tells Robert about the failed pregnancy, and Robert tries to cheer her up with weed and beer. They start talking about the days of their youth, and it’s concerning how you never see Robert and Emma hanging out and having fun like this. Phoebe remembers her days of youth and regrets how she spent her life, thinking she had more time to do the things she wanted in life. She regrets not having a husband or kids, and Robert reassures her that it’s not too late for all of it. Now the situation gets dicey, and both of them lock eyes, and there’s sexual tension between them. Robert breaks it off before they could kiss, and it seems like Phoebe is now trying to take what her sister is slowly losing. 


What did Phoebe do to Patricia?

Caroline Mitchel calls Emma up to her house for the meeting Emma promised her. After discussing her mother for a while, Caroline asks Emma to open up about her parents. Emma’s father ran away before she was born, and she kept thinking her mother was some kind of monster all her life. Emma now realizes that Patricia wasn’t all bad, and the insomnia could’ve been born out of her paranoia about the ‘bad blood’ tale that runs in her family. Caroline brings her mother’s prescribed levoamphetamine and crushes it to use it as a drug. Levo, when snorted, is basically speed, and Emma feels relieved after snorting it. Before Emma leaves, Caroline gives the rest of the levo to Emma as a birthday present. When Emma comes back to Phoebe’s home, she snorts some more levo and starts to dance to a silly birthday song. You sympathize with the woman and see how the insomnia has completely messed up her life. Emma suddenly stops dancing, and the drug and overdoing it leads her to crash on the sofa, which to her feels like she’s drowning underwater. When she comes out of the water, she sees a mysterious young girl looking over her. Emma snaps out of it and keeps watching the TV until morning. She gets a call from Faisal informing her that the police are in her office asking about her and taking Rosemary’s statement. Emma doesn’t pay attention to it, and seeing how confident she is, you start to doubt if she actually killed Patricia. She remembers Caroline asking her if Phoebe had resentment towards her for not having the kind of life Emma had. Even though Emma defended her sister in front of Caroline, she can’t stop thinking about it. Emma notices the drawings Phoebe took from the asylum Patricia stayed in, and it was one painting that had been ripped apart. A flashback from Emma and Phoebe’s orphanage days comes to Emma, and she remembers that Phoebe scribbled the same number sequence all over the wall as their mother used to. Emma calls Dr. Jane once again, and she asks about why Phoebe stopped seeing Patricia. Jane tells her that Phoebe hit Patricia on the last visit, and Patricia got agitated after this incident. 

Is Phoebe trying to frame Emma?

Phoebe found Emma’s dictaphone while snooping around her home office in the night, and she heard Emma repeating the number sequence. When Robert wakes up in the morning, Phoebe starts to tell him that Emma used to be unstable sometimes when they were in the orphanage. She pins the scribblings on the wall on Emma, while she was the one who actually did them all those years ago. Phoebe convinces Robert that her recent behavior only proves that she’s becoming insane like Patricia. She suggests that it’s best if Robert doesn’t let Emma come home, and she will stay to take care of the kids. The man who was thinking about wishing his wife a happy birthday now finds himself in a position where he is bound to think that Emma might do something bad. Phoebe doesn’t stop, and she’s clearly on a roll to replace Emma, and she tells Robert that it’s possible that Emma murdered Patricia and doesn’t remember it. When she gets a call from Emma, Emma realizes that she’s at home after hearing Will’s voice in the background. Emma drives up to the house and tries to enter, but Phoebe keeps her locked out. Will sees Emma behaving erratically from the window, when in reality it’s just a woman trying to get into her own house. Phoebe walks out to talk to her, and Emma asks her what her business is in this house. Emma accuses Phoebe of murdering Patricia, but Phoebe lashes back at her and pins the blame on her. Robert is silent and doesn’t interfere in the matter, and before anybody could get an answer, the cops come and arrest Emma on suspicion of Patricia’s murder. 


It’s clear that the narrative we’ve been following has led us to believe something completely different from the actual truth. Emma was pretty normal as a kid, and it was Phoebe who almost got killed by her mother. Phoebe didn’t recover from the trauma, and it seemed like she’s the daughter who’s still attached to Patricia, while Emma was right all along. Emma didn’t want anything to do with Patricia because of the blood curse warning that she gave her. But Phoebe not only hits her mother; after living a life wandering around the world, she now wants to replace Emma and snatch her family away from her. It seems like Phoebe killed Patricia, and when she found out that Emma visited her earlier that morning, she schemed to portray Emma as the murderer. 

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Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket is a literature student pursuing his master's degree while trying to comprehend Joyce and Pound. When his head is not shoved in books, he finds solace in cinema and his heart beats for poetry, football, and Adam Sandler in times.

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