It seems almost quaint now, but back when we thought Aubrey Plaza’s character had been killed off in the pilot episode, we fretted that they’d wasted a good actress in a good part by getting rid of her so early. And we’ve been saying ever sinc that she’d found the Part Of Her Life with Lenny and that it was a blast to watch her lick her lips and go to town each episode, getting darker and darker each time. Again, prior to last night’s quite unexpected (and appropriately explosive) burst of Fosse(!) crossed with a James Bond movie credit sequence, crossed with Nina Goddamn Simone, such sentiments seem almost quaint. This is beyond anything we could have expected from her. Watching Lenny raunchily dance her good feelings through the mindscape of David’s memories has to be one of the most memorable scenes in all of TV this year. And it’s a good thing they did hold on to Aubrey instead of dispensing with her after the first episode because to be honest, she was the only truly interesting part of this one, we’re sorry to say.
We suppose when a series makes mind-spaces and possession and body-switching and memories not only the main themes of the piece, but most of the driving plot points (and even half the settings), it risks becoming just a bit too up its own ass at times. It’s not that this trip through every other character’s psyche stuck inside David’s brain isn’t interesting, eye-popping and weird in a good way at times. It’s just that we’ve spent hours of the story already traipsing through David’s brain. The landscape is not only familiar to us by now,but that familiarity works against the weird feelings this episode was trying so hard to get across. An entire episode with our characters literally stuck inside a landscape we already know well – and unaware that they are – inevitably comes off like a whole lot of wheel-spinning as we wait for the characters to catch up to what we know. This episode seemed especially empty since we really didn’t learn much of interest about any of the characters.
In fairness, the Cary/Kerry scenes were incredibly charming, and a testament to how well the show thinks out its characters and allows the actors portraying them space to develop them. In lesser hands, this symbiotic relationship between a seemingly young woman and a mature man would come off incredibly creepy, but instead, it’s the exact opposite. So sweet that we fear their survival in literally every scene they’re in. Also, the development with Oliver – that he’s able to contact and direct the players because they’re essentially on the astral plane with him, was incredibly well set up and looks like it’s going to lead to a masterful payoff. And like we said, Aubrey had a freaking blast with this one. It wasn’t all bad. We’re not even inclined to give it all that bad a rating (Miss Aubrey compensates for a lot of wheel-spinning), but it’s the first time since it started that we thought the show was falling into the common cable drama trap of padding the story before the season finale. It reminded us a little bit of what Mr. Robot season 2 suffered from, and that’s kind of an alarming comparison to make for a show on only its sixth episode.
Still, we have enough goodwill built up for this show that we can’t truly get that upset. Despite the fabulous dance sequence, it just felt like a show biding its time until the fireworks. Since we have little doubt they’ll be spectacular, we can slide past this one. We just hope it’s a one-off problem and not a signal that it’s getting away from them.