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Roar Episode 2 The Woman Who Ate Photographs Explained- What The Photos Represent

Of all the episodes, Roar Episode 2, The Woman Who Ate Photographs, resonated with me the most. Nicole Kidman’s Robin is me. I am a mother of two boys. One is nearing adulthood, while the other isn’t that far behind. My parents are aging, and my identity as an adult is that of a Mother and, before that, a Daughter. This wasn’t something forced on me by my parents, husband, or even society. It was a personal choice that I am best at being a Mom. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect or even all that good at it sometimes, just that I feel like it is the thing that I was born to be. What happens when time takes that thing away?

Roar Episode 2
Courtesy of Apple TV+

In Roar Episode 2, the same is true for Robin, whose father died years ago, and her mother is slowly losing herself to dementia. Robin travels to her childhood home to pack her mother up to live with her. Before she leaves, she has a chilly conversation with her son about her antiquated views on sex and losing his room. She and her husband argue about the stresses of having her mother move in. It’s a rough morning for a woman grieving the loss of the mother she knew.

When she arrives at her childhood home, her mother is belligerent and refuses to pack anything. She doesn’t want to leave. Likely because she feels like she is a burden to her daughter. Despite Robin’s best efforts, Rosey is combative. While sifting through a lifetime of memories, Robin finds some photo albums and gets lost in her happiest memories. She eats a photo of herself as a child eating an ice cream cone and is transported back to that moment in hyper color joy. Eventually, Rosey agrees to pack a few possessions, and the two women begin the drive to Robin’s.

They decide to take the scenic route back home. Although the experience was meant to be enjoyable, it is stressful for both women. Rosey can’t remember many things and gets frustrated and scared while Robin keeps eating pictures, longing for the good old days. They go to a beautiful cliffside hiking spot, and Robin returns to the van for more pictures and her jacket while Rosey wanders off. The wind blows many of the photos away, and Robin chases them down before realizing her mother is gone. She finds her mother scared and confused but unharmed, and they break down. They cling to each other and ultimately continue the rest of the way back to Robin’s house.

At home, Robin admits to her husband that she has been eating the photos as a way to preserve them. She is terrified that she is all that is left to remember these moments. The burden she feels to care for the person who once cared for her as well as keeping all of the family’s memory alive is too much for her to bear. She feels adrift in life, no longer a daughter, and nearing the end of being a mother. As a metaphor for eating disorders and memory loss, Roar Episode 2 is poignant. Most eating disorders aren’t about food but control. Robin feels like she is losing control over her life and her identity. Eating the pictures not only returns her to those happy times but gives her back some of the control she thinks she has lost.

The message is clear when Robin chases the photos instead of spending time with her mother. Nostalgia can make us feel good, but it can be dangerous too. Don’t lose yourself in happy memories of the past and miss the positive experience in the present. After Robin admits to her husband that she doesn’t know who she is becoming, he holds her, and they make love. It is a reminder to her that she was a woman before she was a mother.

There is a lot to unpack about what the photos mean. For Rosey, they represent her motherhood. She isn’t in any of them because she was the one taking the photos. As mothers, we often are the planners and the facilitators and seldom get to be the participants. Rosey felt the same way as a mother but would gladly appreciate the chance to go back and be a spectator once again if it meant she could hold onto those cherished memories.

There is also an interesting bit about societal pressure to go to college with Robin’s oldest son. For a country that was built on the “can do” attitude, we have forgotten that we need doers as well as thinkers. Both have value and are necessary. Rosey’s view of her grandchild not wanting to go to college is quite different from Robin’s because we often place unfair expectations on our children. Grandparents have the benefit of wisdom and detachment that parents do not. Although the article Robin read about intergenerational living was probably from an entertainment magazine, the sentiment has some truth. All parties get something from the experience, which is why in the end, Rosey perks up when playing with Robin’s children and Robin’s son hugs her.

Find all our Roar coverage here.