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Television

'Dirk Gently' Gets Dramatic and Deadly in "Very Erectus"

Colin McGuire
Dirk (Samuel Barnett) prepares himself to deploy the cat.

The season's most dramatic episode so far says goodbye to a character and sets up showdowns leading to the finale.


Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

Cast: Samuel Barnett, Elijah Wood, Hannah Marks, Fiona Dourif
Subtitle: Season 1, Episode 5 - "Very Erectus"
Network: BBC America
Time: Saturdays, 9pm
Air date: 2016-11-19
Amazon

"Maybe life is like that, too. Just an endless series of rooms with puzzles and eventually, one of them kills you."

Wise words from Mr. Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett) himself. The thought comes as he digs about 30 (million) holes in the ground with his assistant/support system/reluctant friend/lying shitbag Todd (Elijah Wood). They’ve been sent out into the wilderness via Patrick Spring and a map to find … well, to find even more clues regarding the aforementioned Spring's murder.

Do they find more clues? Of course. Does it come incident-free? Of course not.

The fifth episode of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency debut season, "Very Erectus", is perhaps the run's most dramatic yet. Dirk and Todd have their first true heart-to-heart, one in which both seem to genuinely let their respective guards down, making their friendship much easier to believe in from an outsider's perspective. The Lost Trailer Park Boy Gordon (Aaron Douglas) threatens to kill pretty much everyone who we all want to see live. Bart (Fiona Dourif) actually does use her powers to kill a man. And one of the series's most beloved characters (or so says me) actually gets killed himself.

We'll get back to that. First, we need to establish parameters. Dirk and Todd head to the woods after last week's revelation via maps and televisions. It takes them a bit, but they eventually find another piece of equipment that's impossible to define and/or recognize (but don't worry; they say they'll figure out that detail next week). As they accomplish this, a pair of stone-cold killers tracks them down and for about 45 seconds, it truly feels like there's no way both Dirk and Todd make it out alive. Then -- gasp! -- we find out what that cat is all about.

What it's all about is a … shark! That's right. Dirk throws the cat in the bad guys' direction, a laser shark appears in midair, the laser shark takes care of business, and so goes the Dirk Gently universe. This does a couple things. First, it saves our adorable protagonists. Second, it explains where those shark bites we saw in the hotel room throughout the pilot came from. All that destruction makes sense now! Yay!

Meanwhile, Bart and Ken (Mpho Koaho) maintain their quest to find Dirk and kill him. This brings them to Seattle (where, ironically, Dirk isn’t, this week) and the two set up shop in a swanky hotel where Bart figures out what shampoo is, admits that she's been carrying around $17,000, and then promptly loses her patience when Ken asks too many questions, leading her to kill an innocent man crossing the street. Does any of this advance their portion of the story? Not really, save for the fact that Bart is now officially in Seattle, awaiting her nemesis (or lover?) to come back to where he's currently setting up shop. Still, it does provide a handful of mildly funny bits (read: that $17,000 reveal).

In the midst of all this, the Rowdy Three picks up Amanda (Hannah Marks) to go for a ride and finally make the first move in what feels like an inevitable kinship between either her and the group's leader or her and the group as a whole. They go raise hell in various places around town before Riggins (Miguel Sandoval) tracks them down and reveals that indeed they are on the same sort of watch list on which Dirk currently resides. They have a mild stare down until Riggins's partner, Friedkin (Dustin Milligan) takes the confrontation too far, as he's wont to do, and the Three get away without any real resolution.

This all leads to the episode's final 10 minutes, in which Zimmerfield (Richard Schiff) and Estevez (Neil Brown Jr.) wind up in an abandoned building where All The Dead Bodies reside. Gordon The Lost Trailer Park Boy sics his guys on them and then … and then … Zimmerfield bites the dust! Man, that sucks. That detective pair was easily the show's funniest institution. But: The Affair has officially started back up on Showtime, so we all know where Richard Schiff had to go. Still … well, again: Man, that sucks!

Luckily for The Good Guys, Farah (Jade Eshete) was witness to all this and even helps fend off the bad guys, albeit after the deed was done. She returns to Todd's apartment to catch up with Amanda and for the first time, you really sort of see Farah shaken. So much so, in fact, that when Amanda asks her what's wrong, the show's resident bad ass just kind of stumbles through exasperated words. What this might mean when Todd and Dirk return to solve the murder, as Todd so brazenly declared this week, ought to be interesting. Farah now knows things about things. How much will it help? How much will it cloud the forward movement?

Speaking of forward movement, we end (again) with a meeting at the government headquarters, but instead of Riggins being called in to get his ass chewed out, his buffoon partner, Friedkin, is seen with the Lady Who Runs Things. Friedkin sells out Riggins only to have her ask him to be more aggressive and take no prisoners, and the episode's namesake is uttered by the kill-machine-idiot who now has free reign to kill whenever he so desires. With only three episodes left in the season, you have to think this part of the equation is bound to boil over sooner rather than later, right?

Right. Which, of course, proves Dirk's assertion that life is little more than an endless series of puzzles until one of them ultimately kills you. It's this to which there are only two things to ask: which puzzle will prove impossible to solve, and who might be the unlucky one tasked with trying to figure it out?

A Clue, An Accomplice, or An Assistant

I'm really, really going to miss Zimmerfield. His dryness was a hallmark of this series's sense of humor.

That said, the final scene between him and Estevez was weirdly moving, in a way-too-melodramatic way ("Save Lydia Spring" is as predictable as a television character's last words can get). One has to wonder what's next for Estevez, who now has no partner and has been exposed to the impetus of all the horrific bullshit that's been going down around him.

This week's installment of "what odd thing will a part of Amanda’s body turn into” featured a bat that magically had spikes coming out of it. Not necessarily a part of her body, but you get the point.

"Something I've learned is that when I'm looking behind me, I can't see ahead of me." More wisdom from the show's namesake.

Did anyone else kind of enjoy Dirk's stern approach to Todd during their heart-to-heart? "Even your excuses have excuses" is a line that cuts, no matter who you are. It was about damn time something like that happened, but I was pleasantly surprised that the exchange worked as well as it did. It turns out Samuel Barnett can be more than just a goofball after all.

The $17,000 thing really did make me laugh. How did that pile of money even stick together?

Speaking of that sequence, is anyone else getting the vibe that there might be romance somewhere in the crosshairs between Ken and Bart? When she observed that he's still sticking around, and he smiled to himself, it kind of felt like a Lifetime Movie Of The Week moment.

Yeah, Todd is a shitbag.

The tank top stuff is a neat twist. If they hadn't flashed back to the pilot, when Dirk was wearing it as Bellhop Todd looked on, I wouldn't have even made the connection. To also note that he was wearing the rockstar's fur coat was intriguing. The show needs more of that flash-back/flash-forward kind of thing. Really. It does.

This Week's MVP: Come on, man. We absolutely must go with Zimmerfield. Pour one out for the homie.

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