Oh, man I am just itching to talk about ROOM 104 right about now. Why, you ask I just watched an episode three times over it was that good. So, let us look at Season 4’s third and fourth episodes.
Episode # 3 – “Avalanche”
I was just slammed with a Supplex! “Avalanche” is one of the best episodes this series has ever generated. Bam, I’ve been body-slammed so hard that I don’t know whether to tell you everything in detail or not spoil it so you can see for yourself. The main reason for this awe is not so much in the script, though it was good, but all about the structure of the plot and the way it was shot, coupled with the theme of the half-hour that grabbed me. So, first kudos to the credited writer Mark Duplass and the producers for the story structure and to the credited director, Ross Partridge. I’ll spell out what makes the episode gel, but first some plot.
Raw Dog Avalanche (Dave Bautista) is a battered and bruised retired professional wrestler who, we learn, has been in psychotherapy for a time. He goes to Room 104 to meet with Tamara (Natalie Woolams-Torres) for his sessions. She is polite, blunt and persistent with him because, we learn, his memories surrounding a trauma that plagues him are inconsistent and she needs to get to the root of it for her client’s sake. To do this see uses therapy dolls, a real-world tool used to help act out issues and aid in revealing the truths. Now perhaps you can see the trauma that surfaces here, but even if you do, the way it is revealed is awesome.
artridge gives us scenes enacted in three different ways, by dolls in a diorama, by life-sized dolls and by real characters. He even uses the beds of room 104 as the wrestling ring. It just works as Avalanche tries to work through his memories. We see him manipulating dolls, then confronting the life-sized ones, then flashing back to when he was in his prime. It all leads us down a path that leads us to wrestling opponent Dr. Destructo, to a young fan and to a violent barroom brawl. Or does it? Which memory trail is the right one, the real one? Can Tamara get Avalanche to figure it out? Does he really want to figure it out? Is she in danger? Will he be at peace when all is said and done?
I’d love to tell you more but revealing any key piece will damage the impact this episode will hold. I want you to watch it and get Supplexed also. Yeah, I do. “Avalanche” is one of my Top Five favorites of the show; might even be a Top 3 if I evaluated them all. The Checking In clip shows a little of what I am praising here, but it also gives some strong clues; I hope it doesn’t diminish the impact of a great episode.
Episode # 4 – “Bangs”
A great thing about an anthology series and an experimental one at that, is that the next episode is completely different., which takes us to “Bangs.” The room has balloons, and glittery décor and booze which looks like a party but, there are only two partyers. What is up with that? Since when did two people make a party? Well, it works well enough for Eva & Jamie, played by Melissa Fumero and Vivian Bang. They are in the room to celebrate Eva’s divorce and she wants to do it by starting fresh. There is nothing the matter with that and the way she wants to start is to cut her bangs, to get a new hairstyle, but she has to get her nerve up first. Jamie, her BFF, distracts her with a look at photos on her phone of the boy who got away, a schooldays crush. This switches to mood but Jamie needs to dash out for more booze. That sets up Eva to be alone in the room.
Ah, Room 104. At times it serves as a vessel, letting the people who enter it up to their own devices and at other times the room plays with the occupant. Well, poor Eva is about to get played with. A pair of golden barber scissors appear and Eva gets the gumption to start trimming her hair. She doesn’t do it all at once, in fact Jamie cut the first strands for her, but each time Eva starts to change to a new look more than her hair changes. With each snip her shape gets curvier, her bosom perks up and she feels literally like a new person. At one point, as she is freaked but intrigued, the room places the shears in her hands – You want to change, then go ahead and change!
But the room adds an extra bit of weirdness on her. It is not enough to get her to change but to grill her on why she wants to change. It does so by letting three personas enter the room. From her past is the boy who got away, named Walker (Finn Roberts) her now ex-husband Derek (Adam Shapiro) and a gal named Poppy (Breeda Wool). She seems to represent the positive, assertive being Eva hopes to be, I think. I surmise that because it is pointed out that Walker got away because she wasn’t assertive and that her marriage didn’t survive because she wasn’t positive. Poppy delivers the attitude Eva needs. In a trippy manipulation by the room Eva is forced to look at herself quite deeply and it breaks her. It is not until her BFF returns do we learn that Eva has made her decision. She has sorted it all out and we know that from the dramatic new change-over is indeed in order. Just what that is. is not to be given away here. Nope, we’ll let ROOM 104 play with you too.
Hah, I noticed the balloons but thought nothing of the shape and I didn’t pick up on the “Christmas Carol’ connection. Included in our next post about ROOM 104 we have another familiar face in Kevin Nealon and hikers on a sojourn.