"A Bit of Detective Work:" The Timeline
—Jennifer T.

Many viewers have complained that the passage of time in Bad Girls is wonky at best. While this is true, eagle-eyed obsessive viewers with detective-like instincts can piece together a rough timeline based on solid evidence from the program. Luckily, I've done all the heavy lifting for you, so you can spare yourself the agony of taking on this endeavor. All conclusions are based on actual dialogue, visual cues (such as dates on mug shots etc), and occasionally clothing (if a character is wearing the same outfit in two scenes in the same episode, they are assumed to have occurred on the same day, unless other more explicit evidence says otherwise). Weather/seasonal indicators were ignored as they were generally not specific enough, although oftentimes the weather in an episode did correlate with the timeline, a satisfying coincidence when it occurred.

Some interesting timeline tidbits to note:

1. Counting from the date she entered Larkhall, Nikki was in prison from May '97 through November '00, a total of 3 1/2 years. If you count it from her sentencing in November '96, she was in jail a total of 4 years.
2. Helen and Nikki were only broken up for about a month (from the riot until Nikki is freed on appeal).
3. It's only 2 months or so between Fenner's assault on Helen and her resignation.
4. It's only 8 months between the night Helen and Nikki slept together and when Nikki is freed and they get back together.
5. Helen and Thomas are only "together" for a few weeks, definitely less than three. They had a few weeks of flirtation before that, but that's all.
6. It appears Helen only worked at Larkhall for about 2 years total. One year as Wing Governor, and then another year as Lifer's Liaison and Governing Governor. Two promotions in two years! You go girl!

 

  Nov. '96 Nikki is sentenced[1]


 
  ...  
  May '97 Nikki enters Larkhall[2]


 
  ...  
  Nov/
Dec '98
S1E1—Helen begins as Wing Governor[3]





 
   
  Jan '99 S1E2—Zandra and Monica's Arrival[4]


 
  Feb '99 S1E3—Crystal's arrival, S1E4—Zandra's "Abortion"[5]


 
  Mar '99 S1E4—Trish dumps Nikki, Rachel dies, S1E5—Nikki attacks Shell[6]


 
  Apr '99


 
  May '99 S1E7—Nikki moves to Enhanced[7]


 
  Jun '99 S1E8—Spencer dies[8]


 
  Jul '99 S1E10—Monica is released[9]


 
  Aug '99 S2E1—Zandra gives birth, Helen's return[10]


 
  Sep '99


 
  Oct '99


 
  Nov/
Dec '99
S2E2—Helen Resigns
S2E3—Julie J's ex-husband's funeral & her kid's visit[11]
S2E5—Mad Tessa's Arrival[12]



 
   
  Dec '99/
Jan '00
S2E6—Helen visits Nikki, Crystal one month from release[13]



 
   
  Feb '00 S2E7—Helen starts as Lifer's Liaison at Larkhall,[14] Charlie is arrested
S2E8—Crystal's original release[15]
S2E9—Zandra's death[16]
 
  Mar '00 S2E13—Crystal's release, Nikki's escape[17]
S3E1—Helen sneaks Nikki back into Larkhall, Shell stabs Fenner[18]
S3E2—Helen reassures Nikki about their "future", Shell is locked in the Muppet   Wing[19]
 
  Apr '00


 
  May '00


 
  Jun '00


 
  Jul '00


 
  Aug '00 S3E5—Charlie's Trial, Nikki gets a witness[20]


 
  Sep '00 S3E6—Pam Jolly on G-Wing, Fenner attacks Helen[21]


 
  Oct '00 S3E7—Documentary film crew, Shell and Denny escape[22]
S3E8—Shell and Denny torture Sylvia and escape to Spain[23]
S3E9—Charlotte Myddleton arrives, Josh starts as PO, Crystal returns to Larkhall[24]
S3E10—Nikki's appeal is granted, Crystal & Josh get married, Peckham girls arrive[25]
  Nov '00 S3E11—Femi arrives, riot begins
S3E12—riot ends, Nikki and Caroline get together[26]
S3E13—Julies released and re-arrested, Helen & Thomas start flirting[27]
S3E14—Helen gets together with Thomas[28]
S3E15—Crystal's appeal, Nikki finds out about Thomas, Helen catches Fenner
S3E16—Helen resigns, Nikki wins her appeal[29]
 


Special thanks to Just Another Mad Bad Fan for her tireless efforts and her genuine enthusiasm for this particular puzzle.  This was most definitely a team effort.

 


[1] In S2E7 we see in Nikki's file that the Judge's recommendations regarding how long Nikki should serve before being considered for parole are dated 11/7/96. In determining whether that is the 11th of July or the 7th of November, we had to try to sync it with Trish's comment that Nikki had already been in jail 2 years, along with other specific dates provided in the timeline (the exact date of Spencer's death, for instance). All this information pointed towards the 7th of November. While we recognize that this does not follow the traditional date format used in the UK (which puts day before month), S2E7 has a number of continuity problems regarding dates, and so any information from this episode has to be taken with a grain of salt.

[2] This is the date listed clearly on Nikki's mugshot on her file. Seen in S2E2 among other episodes.

[3] This date was guestimated based on Zandra and Monica's arrival in the subsequent episode, and the fact that these two characters did not arrive long after Helen began at Larkhall.  However, it is entirely possible that Helen began at Larkhall a few months before Zandra and Monica arrived, so this date could truly be anywhere from Sep '98 through Jan '99.

[4] This January date was deduced from some other specific dates which come later, such as Spencer's death in June '99 (S1E8), the date Zandra gives birth (in S2E1), and Monica's release date (in S1E10).

[5] Assuming Zandra was having a simple, first trimester abortion, S1E4 couldn't have been more than 2 months after her arrival at Larkhall in S1E2.

[6] This part here is tricky. We know S1E4 and S1E5 took place within the same week or so, because S1E5 focuses almost entirely on Helen's investigation into Rachel's death. Whether these episodes occurred in February, March or April is hard to determine, but doesn't effect the overall timeline, since Spencer's death in S1E8 definitively occurred in June '99.

[7] When Shell sees Nikki is moving to Enhanced, she says "She tried to kill me two months ago," an attack which took place in S1E5.

[8] At Spencer's funeral in S1E8, the brass plaque on his coffin gives the date of his death as 1 June 1999.

[9] In the news report on Monica's appeal in S1E10, she is reported to have served 7 months of a 5-year sentence.

[10] Since Zandra had to have gotten pregnant before her arrival at Larkhall in S1E2, the birth of her son in S2E1 took place about 8 months after her arrival at Larkhall.

[11] Thank you to Mafamba for coming up with this entire footnote. Counting back from Tessa Spall's arrival in S2E5, Karen mentions on the same day as Tessa's arrival that the therapy session will be the next day. In S2E4, Karen mentioned that the therapy session would be "next week" which places S2E4 the week of 22/11/99. S2E4 is also the episode where Sylvia returns from her sick leave after being pushed down the stairs at the end of S2E3. Before Sylvia gets pushed down the stairs at the end of S2E3, we have Eddie Dawson's (Julie J's ex-father-in-law's) funeral, which is described as being on a Wednesday. That Wednesday would have to be either Wednesday 17/11/99 or 10/11/99 given the number of days which pass during S2E3. The announcement of the funeral as taking place "next Wednesday" occurs on the same day Nikki receives Helen's first letter, which based on Shell's facial bruising can't be more than a few days after the end of S2E2, when Helen resigns. This places Helen's resignation in the first week or two of November.

[12] Tessa's mugshot in S2E5 is taken with the date 29/11/99.

[13] S2E6 begins the day after S2E5 ends, as indicated when Karen reprimands Sylvia for her lax security when processing Tessa Spall's intake.  Karen refers to the events of "yesterday."  Later on in S2E6, in a conversation with Josh, Crystal mentions that she's being released in a month, and her scheduled release date falls during S2E8.

[14] For completion's sake, there is some timeline information in S2E7 which has to be ignored because it is inconsistent with pretty much every other piece of information, and is probably just a continuity error. However, since we wouldn't want readers to think we didn't notice it: in S2E7, Helen mentions that Nikki won't be considered for parole until she has served 10 years, and mentions that it means 9 more years until her parole will be considered. We know Nikki was in jail for two years before Trish dumped her, and 11 months between getting dumped by Trish and Helen's return to Larkhall. So, 10 years before parole is considered, minus 2 1/2 years equals 7 1/2 years, not 9.

[15] Crystal was sentenced to a year for shoplifting. She started her prison sentence in S1E3, and her original release date was in S2E8. While it's possible that Crystal was being released early for good behavior, to assume so would be pure speculation, since there is no mention of early release for her, while when other characters who have the potential to be released early (Zandra, the Julies), their early release is mentioned explicitly.

[16] S2E8 takes place over a period of less than a week (Crystal talks about getting out "on Friday" meaning within the same week), and Zandra dies shortly thereafter, before Crystal's new release date.

[17] Crystal told Josh in S2E9 that she got an extra month for the Zandra-marijuana stunt, so there is a month between her original release date in S2E8 and her actual release date in S2E13.

[18] As is clear from watching S3E1, all of the action takes place the same night as Nikki's escape in S2E13.

[19] S3E2 starts the same night as S2E13 and S3E1, with Fenner on the gurney being brought back to life. The main action of the episode begins a few days later, as evidenced by Stubberfield's report on Fenner's status in hospital.  The rest of the episode gets hazy, because it's impossible to tell how long Shell is in solitary or how long she's on the Muppet Wing.


[20] When Charlie is released, his lawyer states that he has already served 6 months in prison. He was arrested in S2E7, and his trial was in S3E5.

[21] I'm making the assumption that all the Pam Jolly business in S3E6 takes place in the month following Charlie's trial, which is admittedly going out on a limb.

[22] S3E7 begins at most a few days after S3E6 ends.  When S3E7 opens, Helen runs into Fenner for the first time since he assaulted her at the end of S3E6.  Even if the assault took place before the weekend, the most time which could have passed is three days.  Slightly later that same day, when Helen first tells Nikki about the assault, she mentions that it occurred "the other night."

 

[23] This is where things get interesting, and the timeline has to be pieced together from tiny crumbs. Pardon the detail, but it's all quite necessary for drawing the ultimate conclusions. S3E7 and S3E8 take place over the course of two weeks at most, because Josh is at his PO training class for both these episodes, and we know that class is only a few weeks long, based on a comment Di made in S3E6. S3E8, in particular, is definitely three and a half days long:
1) Denny and Shell escape and spend the night with Denny's mate.
2) Denny and Shell visit Sylvia and spend the next night with her.
3) Sylvia misses work the next day, and Denny and Shell escape before the cops catch them and head to Crystal's where they spend the night...
4) and depart the next day for the airport and the Costa del Sol.

[24] S3E9 very explicitly takes place over 12-14 days. There is a reference to another con who is doing 10 days for shoplifting who arrived at the same time as Charlotte. This is also when Josh returns, during the last few days of the episode, so its pretty clear that it starts the same day or a day after S3E8 left off.

[25] S3E10, where Crystal and Josh get married and Nikki finds out about her appeal, takes place over a very definitive period of time: 2 days. And the first day of this episode explicitly occurs 5 days after Crystal tested positive for drugs, since there is a reference to her having been on hunger strike for 5 days. So that's 6 days total following immediately on the end of S3E9.

[26] Both riot episodes have very specific timelines. The first, S3E11 where we meet Femi and the riot begins, starts at most two days after the end of the previous episode. We know this because the Peckham girls have just been moved off the intake dorm, and we know prisoners only stay there two days at most (ie over a weekend). Then, we have the following days in these two eps:
Day 1: Nikki talks to Helen about Femi, Femi gets beaten up and put on the block
Day 2: Nikki gets pushy about Femi, Helen won't give her any info. That night the riot begins (and ends)
Day 3: The riot is over, everyone is locked in their cells—this is when the cell searches occur
Day 4 (or maybe Day 5): Everyone is let out of their cells, Caroline and Nikki get together (both the potting shed scene and the library scene happen the same day). This is the day before the Julies get released.
Day 5: Caroline gets shipped out, the Julies get released and re-arrested. Helen and Thomas leave for the conference.

[27] In S3E13, Yvonne apologizes to Shaz for not protecting her against the PBG "last week" so it's a week later at most.

[28] At the end of S3E14, when Thomas and Helen get together in his living room in front of that crackling fire, Thomas refers to "these past couple of months" as the time he has known Helen (and thus the time when he has been hopeful about being able to move on from his ex-wife's betrayal).  Thomas and Helen met in S3E6 (September '00).

[29] S3E15 takes place over the two days of Crystal's appeal, which was less than a week after the end of the previous episode (since her appeal was scheduled for "next Monday"). Then, S3E16 takes place the three days after the end of S3E15, so the two of them together take place over 5 days.

 

 
 

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