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ROOM 104: “Boris” & “Red Tent”

by Jef Dinsmore
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Yeah, we are way behind, but not about to leave the review of the premiere season of ROOM 104 incomplete. We started it and we’ll finish it. So let’s return to the motel and see what we find behind the door. Here is a look at episodes 9 & 10 of ROOM 104.



Most episodes end with an odd or quirky twist, this episode doesn’t do that at all. It simply focuses on a simple human interaction, one that could easily happen. It doesn’t pull any punches and tells us up front that it is all about Boris. He is a piece of work. He is Boris Karlovy, played by Konstantin Lavysh, a down on his luck Russian schmuck who arrives at Room 104 to sulk, grumble and lick his wounds.

Boris moved from Croatia to Russia to become a tennis pro. We learn of his career path and where it has led. He is now beat, broken and depressed. He has been at the bottom of the ranks and sees himself as a huge failure. He self-medicates on cortisone and vodka and just fills sorry for his sad sack self. He tries to cheer himself up including humping pillows imagined as “Kimmy” and donning the top half of a Santa suit he finds hanging on the back of the bathroom door. Ah, Boris! You are indeed a make or break character. I could easily see where viewers just might tire out from Boris’s monologue. He is a colorful and rough character, but is that enough? I enjoyed his emotional rant and luckily, it ended just before it went too far with the interruption of the next character.

Room104_Boris01-300x166Arriving at the room is Rose (Veronica Falcon), from housekeeping, to retrieve the Santa suit left behind by the last tenant and to tell Boris not to smoke in a non-smoking room. What results is not just a quick retrieval of the item but a bonding. Boris tells her he will pay her $300 if they could just talk.  It turns out they are both immigrants with a story to tell. She is an illegal Mexican sweating out a green card and he is a washed up tennis player that has lost yet again, as he always loses. Rose ends up consoling Boris in his sobbing, drunken stupor. She even goes as far as giving him a sponge bath by morning. She learns in the process his immigrant story starting with his youth at the heart of the Croatian-Serbian war. In the end, the Santa suit goes to its rightful owner and Rose & Boris both exchange gifts with each other. He gives Rose his tennis gear for her son and she gives him her ear and the $300. They listened to each other and gave each other support when they needed it most. It was one special night in ROOM 104. Watch for yourself to see how it all unfolds. 


–“Red Tent”


Right away your mind reels with the notion of just what is the waterproof shelter doing set up in Room 104? Is the owner germaphobic and thus refusing to sleep on the sheets or a sportsman more comfortable in the tent than elsewhere? What gives? The tagline for the episode tells much but doesn’t really state the need for the tent. I wondered before watching just how long it would take before the answer was revealed.

It all begins with Alex (Keir Gilchrist) and Josh (Brian Hostenske) who rent the room. We don’t know who they are, even by name, for a bit, nor exactly what they are doing. Alex is in the tent intently but calmingly working at something while Josh is out in the room babbling nervously. We find out the source of his nervousness as he enters the tent to discover Alex making a homemade bomb. It is then that the one sentence description starts to make sense. It states, “Two young men plotting to disrupt a political convention are interrupted by nerves…and an AC repairman.”

So are they terrorists? It appears they are shacking up in Room 104 and preparing a bomb that they will place at the after party of a political candidate they dislike. The tent is the vehicle to contain any evidence, chemical residue or DNA. Great. Josh gets cold feet over the whole thing and unbeknownst to Alex leaves the room never to return. Shortly replacing him there is Steve (Hugo Armstrong) the AC repairman. Evidently, there was a work order to fix the air conditioning in the room helping to add sweat to Alex’s brow. All could go bust here as the bomb sits in the tent and time is ticking away for Alex to place it at the party. If he can only play it cool and hurry the repairman along. And therein lies the bulk of the dialogue in this piece.

Room104_RedTent01-300x169A nerve-wracking banter between Alex & Steve breaks out as the latter fixes the AC. Alex is trying to stay calm as they discuss their political views fueled by the convention news on the TV. All this is a jab at the incumbent President no doubt, but regardless of what political affiliation you hold aren’t you getting a bit tired of the constant berating that goes on? I am. Anyway, it does help build on the dynamics of these two. Alex take sit all in. He flips out when a tool drops on the tent as he fears the bomb could explode. To top it all off the timing mechanism on the bomb starts to beep forcing Alex to go inside his tent and disarm it.

Steve is not letting up on his conversation though takes Alex question of whether he’d kill Hitler if he had the time and the means to so via time travel. Steve weighs the topic from all angles and those results seem to affect Alex. Is he having doubts about carrying out his plan? Is Steve starting to get suspicious? The way the dialogue plays out and looks are exchanged it appears the answer to both questions is “yes” though it is left to the viewer interpretation. Alex’s window of opportunity is dwindling. Even after the AC is fixed and Steve steps out of the room to answer his phone he still manages to prevent Alex from making his deadline. He returns to see Alex in costume to infiltrate the party, with bomb stashed and tent collapsed. Steve gets Alex to pause in front of the cooling air blasting in the room as time ticks away and Alex’s chance passes. Were Steve’s tactics charmingly incidental or did he knowingly prevent the attack from happening? You are left to ponder. Such are the moments that can transpire in ROOM 104.

Two more episodes to call in Season One of ROOM 104 and we will get to them shortly.

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