After Sherlock was dramatically arrested in last week’s twist ending, we find our hero in an ominous interrogation room. The mysterious red-haired villain, who has the appropriately evil sounding name of Anson Gephardt, shows up with the usual spiel of threats to warn Sherlock off investigating the deaths relating to the Kotite case. In a shocking twist, as soon as Sherlock is set free, he decides to – wait for it – continue investigating the case. Strap in, kids, because this week’s plot is positively labyrinthine.
A bit of investigation reveals that Gephardt is a member of a American intelligence agency with a grudge against the Iranian government. Going over the files from Kotite’s hit and run case reveals nothing of interest, so Sherlock theorizes instead that something happened in the area that would have made the jury members of interest to Gephardt. Perhaps they saw or overheard something in the court case that needs to be covered up. In order to find out more, Joan heads off to speak to the widow of Cy Durning, the prosecutor of Kotite’s case, while Kitty and Sherlock go to speak to Farrell and Putnam, the law firm that Kotite’s defense attorney, Tom Saunders, worked for.
Sherlock and Kitty sit in awkward silence at the firm until Sherlock, god bless him, tells Kitty that her son was beautiful and that he’s happy for her. I’m so proud of him. Kitty accurately points out that Sherlock doesn’t exactly sound happy about it. Before they can discuss further, it’s time for them to talk to Sydney Garber, the managing partner of F&P. He refuses to give them access to the case files they request, but he does reveal one intriguing piece of information: Saunders had paranoid schizophrenia. Meanwhile, Cy Durning’s widow is more helpful. Durning was secretly recording all of his cases on cassette tape, including the Kotite case.
The team’s new discoveries come together when Joan finds a section of the tape in which Saunders breaks into a diatribe clearly influenced by paranoid delusions. He made several extreme claims about astronauts, a Venezuelan bomb, and buried gold. Joan believes one of Saunders’s delusions must have been actually true, and that everyone in the courtroom at the time was killed for hearing it.
Not only does Sherlock find this claim plausible, but he knows immediately which claim is true. A few days earlier, shortly before Kotite’s murder, a bomb was set off in a library restroom in Venezuela, killing dozens of people and nearly killing the president. The president then went on to win his re-election bid due to the sympathy vote earned by his apparent near assassination. Sherlock concludes that Gephardt, a rogue agent, orchestrated the bombing in order to help the Venezuelan president win. The connection to Saunders must be that his law firm, Farrell and Putnam, has locations around the world, including Venezuela. Sherlock thinks that Gephardt must have used the law firm to get in contact with a Venezuelan corporation that helped him with the bombing. The question now is why, and who. Sherlock and Joan break into F&P’s offices to go through their files to try to find answers, and find an unexpected one.
A note on a file proves that Sydney Garber also knew about the Venezuelan bombing well before it happened. Gephardt wasn’t using the law firm to get in contact with Venezuelan companies; he was working with Garber and Saunders, and that’s how Saunders knew in advance about the bombing.
Joan and Kitty head back to the law firm to speak to Garber again. But before they can get anything out of him, a man on a motorcycle appears and attempts to gun them all down. Joan and Kitty narrowly save Garber’s life, through the heroic measure of Kitty kicking him in the groin to force him to dive to the ground.
Realizing that Gephardt has turned on him, Garber willingly talks, spinning them a tale of international intrigue spanning decades. Back in his university days, Garber was roommates with a man who went on to become the head of Venezuelan intelligence. Three years ago, Gephardt asked Garber to put him in contact with this man. Gephardt arranged a deal in which he would fake an assassination attempt on the president so he could be re-elected in exchange for something called the Fidel Files. The files are supposedly a collection of all the information that Fidel Castro shared with his communist allies over roughly fifty years. (Did you notice the episode title is “Fidelity”? Har har.) In order to prove his story, Garber hands over his own copy of the files.
Here’s where things get even weirder, and start to not quite make sense. Naturally, Detective Family assumes that this file must have been Gephardt’s ultimate goal all along. They dive into the files, trying to find just what it was that Gephardt was looking for. But before they can get very far, Gephardt uploads to the internet a video of himself confessing to his crimes. He also uploads a copy of the Fidel Files, but with one key difference; in his version of the files, there’s a film clip that seems to prove that the Iranian government has nuclear weapons. The team realizes that planting this clip must have been his goal all along.
So, quick summary, because I’m having a hard time following this myself: Gephardt, who considers the Iranian government a threat to U.S. safety, decided to engineer a video that would motivate the US to go to war with Iran. But he knew that if he simply put this video on the internet, people would be rightfully suspicious of its authenticity. He needed a context that would make the video seem believable. Thus, the Fidel Files. Because everything else in the Fidel Files is true, it would make Gephardt’s fake video clip seem believable too. But to get the files, he had to kill people in Venezuela. In order to cover that up, he murdered the handful of people that knew about the bombing in advance. Then, immediately after covering up his crimes, he…confesses to his crimes. Wait, what?
I follow everything else about this story. It’s a little over the top in how elaborate it is, but I can follow the chain of events. What I don’t understand is why Gephardt would go to such extreme ends to cover up a crime that he planned on confessing to the entire time. There was most likely only a slim chance that Kotite and the others would realize that a rant they heard three years ago from a delusional man was related to a current crime. And even if they did figure it out, Gephardt planned to confess anyway, so the truth would come out regardless.
Murdering those people was not only pointless, but made things more difficult for Gephardt. It drew the attention of Kitty, Sherlock, and law enforcement and triggered their investigation into him. If the police had arrested Gephardt before he received the Fidel Files or was able to post them, his plot would have failed. Why would a man as careful as Gephardt take an unnecessary risk like that? It simply doesn’t make sense. And considering Kotite and Durning’s murders was what kicked off this entire story, that’s disappointing.
But anyway. The stress of trying to keep up with Gephardt at last prods Kitty into confronting Sherlock about his behavior to her. She angrily criticizes him for how cold he’s been to her since she told him about her baby, and accuses him of being angry with her because she’s quitting detective work. If being a detective is requisite to being Sherlock’s friend, then they’re over.
Sherlock counters that he isn’t angry with her for quitting; he’s angry because when she fled the country two years ago, she never contacted him again, not to let her know that she was okay…and not to let her know that she had a baby. He’s happy that she’s happy, but he had thought their friendship meant more than that.
I have to say, I felt pretty vindicated by this part, as I was also frustrated by the fact that Kitty just completely vanished after she left, with barely any mention of her ever again. But I have a ton of thoughts about how Kitty and Sherlock’s relationship was represented in this episode, so I’m going to save it for the end so as to not clutter things up.
Sherlock thinks that the only way to ease the nation’s rising paranoia about the supposed proof of Iranian nuclear weapons is to get Gephardt to confess to faking the video. But before he can get to Gephardt himself, governmental forces find and take him down. Sherlock’s chances seem lost, until Sherlock realizes that Gephardt’s home has all the proof he needs that the video was faked. He assembles his proof and passes it on to various governmental sources. And that, rather underwhelmingly, is how the Gephardt plot is wrapped up. It’s just…suddenly over.
The episode itself wraps up with Kitty asking Sherlock to come meet her in front of a church. She explains to him that when she returned to London, she expected to have a hard time alone and to need to dive in her work, only to discover that she felt fine and happy. The word she uses is “fixed.” She realized she didn’t need detective work anymore, and had been thinking of quitting even before her pregnancy. But knowing that Sherlock did not feel “fixed,” she didn’t feel comfortable contacting him and just kept putting it off. She admits that if it wasn’t for the Kotite case, she might have never contacted him again. But she knows he deserves better than that, and she promises to not do that again. To cement her promise, she invites Sherlock and Joan to Archie’s christening as his godfather, and promises that from now they are family.
This was a feel good ending, and it was definitely cute to see how surprised and happy Sherlock was, but overall, I don’t feel good about this ending or this episode.
First of all, the whole thing felt really rushed. I suspect that the writers had Kitty’s actor, Ophelia Lovibond (what a great name), available for only a few episodes and wanted to give her a satisfactory goodbye in this limited space. That’s an admirable goal, particularly because I was dissatisfied with how she was written off before, but I just don’t think two episodes was ever going to be enough. I mean, as I’m sure I’ve made clear, I love Kitty Winter, so I was probably never going to be totally happy anyway. But I just don’t think they could ever wrap up the complex feelings that Kitty and Sherlock’s relationship encoded in just two episodes. How do you explain why Kitty vanished for two years, prove that she’s happy now, give a believable reason for why she won’t be back permanently, deal with how Sherlock would feel about that, and provide an emotional conclusion to a powerful friendship, in just two episodes?
And they didn’t help themselves by coming up with such an over the top murder/conspiracy plot to go with it. Again, I think they were being ambitious with this plot, and ambition is to be applauded. But maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to put the super complicated plot in the same episodes as the super complicated friendship. Both stories ended up being rushed and full of holes, which is the inevitable result of trying to shove so much into less than two hours of television.
As well as being rushed, I’m also pretty uncomfortable with the way that Kitty and Sherlock’s relationship was treated. For me, Sherlock and Kitty’s relationship has always been highly symbolic. In season one and two, Sherlock still essentially considers himself as a one man island who does not need or want connections with other people. His partnership with Joan begins to break down this perception of himself, but to me, it was his friendship with Kitty that really proved to him that a) he is capable of connecting with people, and b) these connections actually are something he wants. Kitty is the person that proved Sherlock was capable of loving more people than Moriarty and Joan. That’s a big deal. How can a five minute conversation at the end of an episode possibly encapsulate all of that emotion? And to suggest that it can is a disservice to the significance of their relationship, even if you do say some sappy stuff about how their really family.
Even worse, I was really uncomfortable with the simplistic way that they talked about Kitty’s mental state. “Recovery” is such a complex idea. It’s an admirable goal, and there’s nothing wrong with striving to attain it. At the same time, it’s not possible for everyone, and that’s okay too. Elementary usually takes the stance that Sherlock probably will not ever attain a point of “recovery.” He will always be a recovering drug addict, and he’ll probably always be depressed. Normally, I really appreciate that. The idea that “recovery” is the be all end all goal of mental illness is a concept that can be used to harm mentally ill people and even suggest that their lives aren’t meaningful or worthwhile unless they can attain that. Seeing a flawed but ultimately admirable individual like Sherlock simply live with his mental illness is a wonderful thing.
They didn’t give Kitty the same kind of complexity when it came to this big question. Was that really an accurate representation of how recovery from trauma works? From Kitty’s description, she was just okay one day. Does that really happen? I felt that in order to reassure the watcher that Kitty was leaving the show happy, they just erased her emotional struggles and told you she’s all better now, and that rubs me wrong.
Even if the portrayal of her recovery is accurate, the language that they used was so simplistic that it made me really uncomfortable. Let me say again that they literally used the word “fixed.” “Recovery” is one thing. “Fixed” is something else, particularly since the opposite of fixed is “broken.” People who don’t or can’t obtain a state in which they feel they are now okay or recovered are not broken and it is hurtful to suggest otherwise.
To be fair, Sherlock does conceive of himself as being broken. He has said as much. And I know that many mentally ill people (including me!) feel that way at times. But it’s one thing to feel that way about yourself, and another thing for someone else – for one of your closest friends! – to indicate that she thinks of you as being broken too. I know that Kitty and the writers meant well, but I felt like the potential to interpret her words in a hurtful way is too high. And even if you didn’t take it that way, it’s still a really shallow explanation of Kitty’s behavior. It’s an injustice to Kitty and to trauma survivors, and it’s disappointing to see in a show that usually tries to portray mental illness in a nuanced way.
Overall, my conclusion to this episode is something I have heard said on many a cooking competition show: the ideas were good, but the execution needed work. The conspiracy was a cool idea but it was too complicated and rushed, and that lead to plot holes. A proper farewell to Kitty is a lovely thought, but in order to wrap up a highly complex relationship and character in one episode, they ended up simplifying Kitty and Sherlock’s feelings in a disappointing way.
Images courtesy of CBS
Honest Conversations and Unfortunate Insensitivity on Cloak and Dagger
Content Warning: This review discusses suicidal ideation and attempted suicide, as depicted on the show.
Last week’s episode of Cloak and Dagger ended with Tyrone and Tandy together and finally ready to discuss why exactly they have new superpowers insistent on bringing the two of them together. Both their lives have been tossed upside down, and the only consistent thing in the tragedies of both their lives is each other. Maybe it’s time to sit down and talk about it? That’s exactly what “Call/Response” did this week. Unfortunately, to mixed results.
Time to Talk
“Call/Response” continued Cloak and Dagger’s attempts at interesting episode structure by weaving together forward plot momentum in and out of the previously mentioned conversation between its heroes. This conversation lasted through the entire episode as Tandy and Tyrone hashed out what their powers are, what they do, how they experience them, and what their dreams from last week meant for each of them. These two had a lot to talk about.
For a good 90% of this conversation, I liked the direction of it. The honest and open-ended nature was refreshing. For the first time since they acquired their new powers, they held nothing back regarding what had changed, what they were going through, and how it affected them.
It moved both characters appreciatively forward. Even better, you could see how the conversation positively affected both in the scenes from the next day, when both acted on everything they discussed. Cloak and Dagger thus did a good job timing subjects of conversation with next-day action. Like you’d expect, these scenes were not exactly subtle about it, but so long as the point is made what does that matter?
Through their conversation, Tyrone and Tandy finally started acting against their instincts. They challenged their perceptions of the world. Tandy made an honest effort to learn about her mother’s boyfriend Greg and found out he was genuinely interested in her mother and trying to help. She made an effort to embrace the hope she always rejected before. Her experiences have shaped her towards cynicism in everything. Life is a giant scam where everyone uses everyone else to get ahead, and you see this in her own method of making money. For her to open her mind to the possibility of Greg proving her wrong was a significant step forward.
Tyrone faced his own challenged perceptions, naturally based around his brother’s murder and murderer. He considered Tandy’s argument about his place in the world and where his privilege truly stands, as well as the destructive path his actions led him down. The failed trip to the police station was one important step, but the truly important moment was his field trip with his father to Otis’s old Mardi Gras Indians stomping ground.
(By the way, add another cool twist on New Orleans culture to Cloak and Dagger’s credit.)
Through this trip, Tyrone found new perspective on his father and brother, as well as his own anger. His father stressed the importance of finding a channel for his anger. And he might have found his way via the suits the Mardi Gras Indians create, and the taking on of his brother’s unfinished suit. Tyrone needs this outlet and focus for his anger. He struggled with it throughout the first three episodes, even to the point of trying to shoot Detective Connors.
Even better, all this character development provided the biggest plot movement yet. Tandy’s determination to get along with Greg led to direct involvement in the Roxxon lawsuit he represented her mother in. It also led to Roxxon killing Greg for presumably getting too close. There should be no escaping the consequences of Greg’s death. Tandy’s mother will suffer. Who knows whether her determination to take the corporation down will wax or wane. Tandy herself visited the burned office to retrieve documents from Greg’s safe, so she certainly won’t let this go.
Tyrone’s plot movement was not so direct, but still meant something. He learned of his brother’s training to be a “Spy Boy” for the Redhawks, a role in Mardi Gras parades involving moving ahead of the Big Chief but was described in this episode as someone responsible for scouting the unknown to seek oncoming trouble. The unfinished suit Tyrone adopted also largely resembles the signature look of Cloak in the comics.
And of course now you also have to wonder if Roxxon will involve themselves with the Redhawks.
There was definitely a lot of good content in this episode. At this point Cloak and Dagger is close to establishing a base quality that this episode certainly matched. Unfortunately, the end of the episode left a real sour taste in my mouth. One reason due to plot, and another for some poor handling of a very sensitive subject.
Insensitivity and Stalling
You saw the content warning, so let’s dive right in. The episode-long conversation between Tandy and Tyrone breaks down at the very end, when conversations about privilege turn into insults and eventually lead to Tandy admitting to suicidal thoughts. In his anger, Tyrone tells her that if she wants to die so badly, she should just do it.
The next day, in the aftermath of Greg’s murder, Tandy restrains her hands and feet and jumps into the ocean, clearly planning on killing herself. She eventually resurfaces when her powers trigger and she cuts the ropes binding her hands.
I will say this: my final judgment will depend on how this is handled moving forward. Right now it feels like a really cheap use of suicide. There are some things you must always take care to portray responsibly when telling your story, and this did not feel like a particularly responsible way to handle Tandy’s thoughts of ending her life. I worry this was nothing more than an attempt to end the episode with high drama, and that the distasteful implications are unrecognized.
Now, we do need to see where it goes from here. If Tyrone recognizes the terribleness of what he said and apologizes for it, and there’s a genuine effort to understand the mistake he made, this can pass by without issue. And it’s not like the idea that Tandy might have suicidal thoughts came from nowhere. Considering her immense survivor’s guilt and lack of connection, I can certainly understand how thoughts of suicide enter her mind. Thing is, I don’t think you can just throw it out there, have a main character yell at her to just go ahead and kill herself, have said character try, and then move on from it. It all happened so quick and dirty that I can’t help but feel like it may have just been there for drama.
I hope it’s needless to say that using suicide just for drama is an awful idea.
Cloak and Dagger needs to follow up respectfully on Tandy’s attempt. Suicidal tendencies are a serious concern that must be handled delicately and with a purpose. And unfortunately, this is an easy fallback too many shows rely on without the proper care needed. I hope Cloak and Dagger doesn’t.
My second, lesser, and plot-related concern is the argument that led to Tyrone’s insensitive words. Namely that, to me, it came completely out of nowhere. The two of them spent the entire episode having a calm, respectful discussion. Even sensitive subjects between the two caused little drama. Then all of a sudden a piece of genuine advice blows it all up and leads to an unnatural argument over privilege. Which leads to Tandy mentioning her suicidal thoughts and Tyrone’s comment.
This development renewed my worry from last week over these two being kept apart too long. It seems clear that the real, ground-shaking forward movement on Cloak and Dagger won’t take place until Tandy and Tyrone unite. “Call/Response” spent 90% of its runtime heading in this direction. Then it all fell apart.
I certainly understand how a conversation over privilege could lead to heated tensions, especially with backgrounds like Tandy and Tyrone have. Still, this felt so artificial. It almost felt like Cloak and Dagger attempting a superficial, ham-fisted discussion of privilege without any real meat. The main goal seems to be keeping the two main characters apart. It’s the absolute worst attempt the show has made regarding the privilege debate. Scenes like Tyrone walking into the police station and looking around, only to find a sea of white faces, speak volumes more than this conversation did.
While we’re certainly not back where we were at the end of the second episode, we’re a little too close for comfort. Both characters seem like they will tackle the plot alone. And you know they will tackle it ineffectively. The whole idea (at least to me) is that they won’t truly make progress until they team up. I’m also reaching a point where I will start to distrust the moments where they appear ready to team up if this goes on for too long.
In one moment, they undid a great deal of the work the 40 minutes before hand strove hard for.
I’m all for character development, but here’s hoping Cloak and Dagger avoids this mistake in the future. And here’s hoping Tandy’s suicide ends up as more than a way to create drama feeding this mistake.
- I was delighted when Greg turned out to be a good guy. Damn shame they killed him in the same episode he turned out as such.
- Tandy’s mother is seriously tragic. I worry we’re heading in a self-harm direction with her as well.
- I also loved learning more about Tyrone’s father, Otis. He seems to harbor a lot of the same barely repressed anger that his son does. I hope we get more of him and his history with the Redhawks.
- Roxxon is still paying for the rights to the plot of ocean with the collapsed rig. This suggests to me that whatever gave Tyrone and Tandy powers still slumbers beneath the water.
- Sometimes Tandy and Tyrone have some really good banter…and then sometimes I wonder how it can be so off.
Images Courtesy of Freeform
The Expanse Wanders Among The Wreckage
The Expanse is on its penultimate week, and with an episode called “Fallen World,” showed us the aftermath of a disaster.
When the episode starts, Holden is unconscious, so Bobbie picks him up and they head towards their shuttle. However, she realizes the speed limit might have decreased after her commanding officer threw the grenade last episode, and tests it. Turns out she is right. They get out and stabilize Holden. However, many Martians and Earthers are both dead on their ship, as the quick deceleration was a massive shock.
Naomi survived, but her skiff is no longer able to move, so she abandons it and steps into space. Drummer and her first officer are both pinned by heavy machinery, and have to cooperate to get out of the situation. Anna wakes up and goes through her ship, watching the scores of dead people. Those who are bleeding severely are lost as well, since in zero gravity, there is apparently no way for the blood to drain. One would expect they’d have some sort of vacuum pumps for that, being a space-faring civilization, but whatever. Anna is horrified and offers her help, being a trained nurse.
Holden’s brain scans show frenetic activity, but he’s not waking up. A MCRN soldiers feels like Bobbie is more loyal to him than to them, and suggests she kills him, because dying might be the best fate for him right now.
Drummer and her first have now gotten to the point of sharing life stories and singing together, since they are out of viable solutions for their situation.
When Clarissa wakes up, she think she successfully killed Tilly. But as Anna is helping fix her broken arm, Tilly contacts Anna on her hand terminal. Anna goes to find her, and Tilly tells her what happened before she dies. Clarissa, meanwhile, escapes the ship just as Anna catches up with her. She is left screaming that, “she cannot escape, only beg for mercy.”
Naomi arrives at the Roci and finds Alex, mostly all right, and Amos, who was hit in the head with a heavy tool and so is less alright. Drummer’s first starts coughing blood from his punctured lungs. For some mysterious reason, Drummer decides that means she should sacrifice herself, even though from what we have heard, doing so gives him a really low chances of survival. Still, she moves the machine back onto herself, freeing him, and he calls for help.
Clarissa reaches the Roci and manages to get inside. Naomi hears the impact and goes to check what is wrong. Clarissa tries to kill her—of course she does—but Anna, who apparently followed Clarissa, saves Naomi.
Drummer’s first, after hearing about the large number of wounded they have, gives the order to spin the drum of the ship, creating artificial gravity. They are unsure it will work, but they manage successfully. The first, who is not the captain, then opens a channel to other ships around them and invites everyone to transport their wounded to their ship.
MCRN seems to have more stupid ideas about how bad it is they are being saved by the “skinners,” apparently a name for the Belters. Bobbie effectively tells him he is an idiot and goes to see Holden, who woke up, and now tells her he had a vision of the end of everything.
Overall, this was another good episode with solid pacing and clear progress forward. But there were still plenty enough things left that bother me.
First and foremost among them would be the storyline happening aboard the Martian shuttle. For one, the MCRN marine was acting completely ridiculous. The Expanse has always had trouble with depicting the less open-minded military types with any nuance, but this might be a new low. In particular, I am talking about handing Bobbie the gun to shoot Holden.
It made no sense at all in context: their orders were to bring Holden in. I don’t expect MCRN tortures their prisoners, so the argument with “might be the best for him” hardly made sense. Most of all, it felt like a test for Bobbie, but if so, it was a test of a kind I’d expect to see in Star Trek Discovery‘s Mirror Universe, not among the Martians. The Expanse show adaptation has always depicted the Martians worse than the books do, and this continues in the same vein. Bobbie is gaining the very uncomfortable overtones of being the “one good apple.”
On the other hand, Bobbie’s own role here was scarcely better, particularly her strange obsession with Holden. She is acting like they became best friends in the first half of this season, which is definitely not something I noticed. No matter how ridiculous the marine’s desire to have Holden shot was, he was perfectly right that it looked like Holden was controlling the protomolecule. We know it was because Miller was controlling it for him, but Bobbie doesn’t.
At the same time, it doesn’t follow she would immediately jump to the conclusion that Holden is a villain. He could be controlled by the protomolecule. In fact, he was, to a degree. Or, he could have simply gone insane. Once again, he had in a way. There are many possible explanations that don’t lead to wanting to have Holden executed, but which at the same time don’t lead to Bobbie insisting to her marine crew that, “Holden wouldn’t do anything wrong.”
It is doubly irritating because this is Holden of all people, everyone’s personal favorite white boy. Of course she would be all up in arms about him. Meanwhile, women of color were in danger or outright killed left and right this episode.
Speaking of which, Drummer. On one hand, when we first saw the situation she was in, I was worried it would develop into a mutual attempt at killing the other and saving themselves. I am truly, deeply grateful it didn’t. And even the idea of her sacrifice could have been a brilliant one, really, in the right circumstances. The way it played out here, however? Just after it is implied her first has a low chances of survival, without any particular indication that she is in serious trouble herself? It just feels very much like, “all right, the brown chick was the captain for a bit too long, time to give it to a white guy.”
The scene between them was acted excellently though, I have to grant them that much. Naomi was very good this episode as well, and were her Rocinante boys.
The one character who continues to be a disappointment is Anna. Her very last intervention was badass to be sure, but it’s not the kind of strength I expect from Anna. She’s not there to beat people over their heads. And until that moment, she was as insufferable as before. The most ridiculous moment was shouting after Clarissa. I understand she was meant to be upset, but it just looked stupid. Tilly repeating Anna was “very good at this,” meaning her pastoral duties, only made me roll my eyes once more. Show, don’t tell, please. At this point, such assertions about Anna are about as convincing as all the characters telling Tyrion he was clever on Game of Thrones.
The season finale next week is a double episode. At this point, I feel like it can go in many different directions, and I am all impatience to see which one it goes for.
All images courtesy of SyFy
Reverie Sows the Seeds of Doubt
Last week’s episode of Reverie ended on a cliffhanger. Mara realized that she wasn’t actually at her late sister’s house, talking to her late niece (she was actually pretty sure on that last one). This leads to an obvious question: where was Mara, really. Unfortunately for her, she was in the middle of a road, with a car on its way. Before the car runs her over, Mara is saved by a mysterious man who knows her name. Turns out Mara’s savior is Oliver Hill, who claims to be suffering from de-realization as well. Hill has been following Mara, out of supposed worry. Before Oliver was a concerned stalker, he was a founding partner of Onira-Tech. He has something to explain to her, but he needs food first.
Oliver Hill V. Onira-Tech
Reverie spends about half of the episode providing two arguments for what’s really going on. Oliver argues that Reverie 2.0 is inherently flawed. He claims that he and Mara, being the two people who have spent the most time in Reverie 2.0, will be representative of the general population. In his version, Charlie is Onira-Tech’s unthinking bodyguard who hates Oliver. The medication that Mara has been given is supposedly useless (which is not a great message, especially when paired with Mara’s previous trashing of her meds). Oliver tells Mara not to tell Onira-Tech about their conversation, but that lasts for about 3 minutes. Mara is scared and she needs answers, and she tries to test Oliver’s claims against Onira-Tech’s personnel.
On the other hand, Onira-Tech claims that Oliver Hill was unstable. Charlie claims that Oliver is dangerous. Paul shows Mara Oliver’s brain activity, explaining that he had issues before Reverie 2.0. Alexis tells Mara that her partnership with Oliver was founded in a romantic relationship. That relationship went badly, and Alexis doesn’t want to be defined by that failure, hence his erasure from the company.
By the end of the episode, Mara agrees with the latter form of events. She seems to be finally persuaded by Alexis’ detailing of her and Oliver’s romantic partnership. However, it’s not clear that the narrative agrees with Mara. Mara doesn’t know where to turn, and Reverie loves drawing tension from that. It thrives off of Mara’s (and the viewer’s) disorientation.
It’s certainly clear that Oliver has other plans, since he offers to buy a Reverie system at the end of the episode.
This episode also included a client of the week. Part of the reason the Onira-Tech team started out the episode on edge was a theft within the building. Someone stole a copy of Reverie, and modified it into a form of “Dark Reverie.” The “Dark” version doesn’t have restrictions. Our client of the week, Glenn, is using it to plan a heist. Since last week’s episode involved a bank robber, it’s likely Glenn needed the jailbroken version for the detailed specifications.
Glenn is a man with a stereotypical form of OCD. He avoids daylight, and hates the color blue. In a twist that should not surprise the viewer, Glenn doesn’t want to commit the heist for himself. He’s been watching the single mother and son across the street. The son has a rare disease, and Glenn wants to save his life with a trial drug. Despite mostly living inside, Glenn’s motivation is that he feels like part of the pair’s family. This entire plot feels like a math problem. Sick kid + adult with stereotypical OCD + moral heist = episodic plot.
Glenn offers to sell out “Dark Reverie” sellers and give his system back on one condition: help him do the heist. Mara complies, but Charlie and Monica have other ideas. Instead of letting Glenn steal the medication, they make a deal with the medicine company CEO. The heist goes through, but is spinned as a test of the company’s security system. Glenn gets the meds for the kid, and doesn’t get a felony on his record. Smiles all around.
Reverie‘s season arc plot wildly outstrips its episodic plots. This week’s episodic plot was probably the worst so far. However, the arc’s plot twists easily, without feeling gimmicky.