Nicole Kidman as Masha in Hulu's 'Nine Perfect Strangers'

Let's Unpack That Nine Perfect Strangers Cliffhanger

Masha is up to something...

Vince Valitutti/Hulu

Everything about Nicole Kidman’s character in Hulu’s new series Nine Perfect Strangers is a total enigma. As the director of a swanky wellness retreat, Masha Dmitrichenko's main goal is to “heal” her clients, but the end of Episode 3 hinted toward something perhaps more sinister. If you’re wondering what the “new protocol” is on Nine Perfect Strangers, you’re in good company. Here’s a breakdown of what TF is happening at Tranquillum House.

Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers from Nine Perfect Strangers Episode 3. The first three episodes of the suspenseful new series hit Hulu on Aug. 18, but if you’re a big reader, you might have been prepared for the Episode 3 cliffhanger. The show, which is based on the novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty (who also wrote Big Little Lies), follows the same general premise as the book... with a few exceptions. Both versions focus on a group of strangers who visit a luxury retreat in Australia hosted by Kidman’s character, Masha.

Throughout the first three episodes, the guests are put on nutrition-focused diets and drink specially prepared smoothies every day; they also partake in therapy sessions, one-on-one talks with Masha, and character-building activities. It all seems pretty standard until the end of Episode 3, when it occurs to one of the guests, Heather (Asher Keddie), that the group's recent breakthroughs might not be a result of the atmosphere, but something a little more... Masha-induced.

Vince Valitutti/Hulu

After a day spent fasting in the wilderness, the Tranquillum House guests sat down for a feast with Masha. It was there that Heather’s husband, Napoleon (Michael Shannon), broke down while talking about the death of his son. After seeing her husband’s uncharacteristic display of emotions and discussion of his feelings, Heather asked Masha if the guests were being medicated. The episode ends before Masha answers. Bum, bum, bum.

While fans will have to wait to see whether or not Heather’s suspicions are correct, Masha’s creepy smile at the end of Episode 3 points toward something strange happening at the luxe, Australian retreat — and it probably has something to do with the “new protocol” she had her staff implement. But does the protocol simply consist of fasting and hanging out in the great outdoors, or could Heather be onto something with the whole medication idea?

If you read the book, you probably have a good idea of what’s going on. (And if you haven’t, here’s a hint: There’s probably a reason the smoothies are featured in the show’s title sequence.) Of course, there are already plenty of differences between the show and the book, so it’s possible Hulu’s version takes the story in a completely different direction. Fans will just have to wait for the next episode to find out.

The first three episodes of Nine Perfect Strangers are streaming on Hulu. The remaining five episodes will release weekly on Wednesdays.