Television

Convoluted "Weaponized Soul" Does Not Play Fair With the Viewer

Colin McGuire
Dirk (Samuel Barnett), Todd (Elijah Wood), and everyone else are stuck in a loop.

No, Max Landis! You can't do that!


Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

Airtime: Saturdays, 9pm
Cast: Samuel Barnett, Elijah Wood, Hannah Marks, Fiona Dourif
Subtitle: Season 1, Episode 7 - "Weaponized Soul"
Network: BBC America
Air date: 2016-12-03
Amazon

"Where are you? It's time."

Sound familiar? It should. Why? Because it's the same quote that led the essay attached to this season’s first episode, "Horizons". It came from Zachariah Webb/Edgar Spring/Patrick Spring (who we now know is all one person played by Julian McMahon) and despite "Weaponized Soul" being the penultimate episode of this first run, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency still decided it would get around to explaining all this nonsense before heading into its debut season’s final hour.

This is why we are led back to the way this series began: The call that Dirk (Samuel Barnett) received to kick things off is revisited as the entire opening sequence is revisited as everything else we’ve learned is revisited as we discover …

… well, we discover that this entire story has been on a loop.

Riiiiiight.

OK, so let's get this out of the way first: you can't do this, Max Landis. You just can’t do this. For a narrative as convoluted and complex and contentious and weird and twisty as this one is, you simply can't play your cards as such: Wait until the second-to-last episode of a season, completely betray any slow-burn quality to the tale, throw your hands in the air, and immediately -- as in, within the first five minutes of the episode -- simply have your main character voice over all the missing pieces we’ve been chasing for nearly two months now.

Why can't you do this? Well, you can't do this because there are too many moving parts to shove down our throats all in succession and all within the approximate amount of time it takes to make a piece of Dubble Bubble go stale. You also can't do this because the entire point of the series, up until this episode began, was to follow along as this crack team of fumbling detectives discovers clues and tries to put its pieces together. The fun of watching the show was living with the joy of assembling the story as well as the defeat of realizing a dead end was about to appear out of nowhere.

Instead, the way all this went down? Man, it just felt so cheap, so lazy, so … easy.

Yet that's where we stand after we find out that Dirk has magically known throughout all this that the people swapping souls are actually just hippies, Patrick Spring regularly suffers through watching himself die while his daughter Lydia (Alison Thornton) is never saved, and Todd (Elijah Wood) is just a fuck-up. But now he’s a very pissed off fuck up and it’s with good reason.

Through all the suffering and all the revelations -- and especially through the hopeful development that this dynamic duo is now in the possession of a time machine -- Dirk knew exactly how things would play out, yet boy did he lead us to believe he actually didn’t (I guess that whole him-knowing-Farah [Jade Eshete] thing from the second episode makes sense now, eh?). Interestingly (or ironically, depending on your definition of either), Todd's frustrations are mirrored by my own as a viewer: you can't pull the carpet out from under us like that. You. Just. Can't.

As for the episode itself … well, it really is largely just a rehashing of scenes we’ve already seen. Todd encounters himself in the hotel, but this time we see why Todd looks so disheveled: that cat just turned into a shark again and bit the couch while essentially trashing both the hotel room and its occupants. What we didn't see beforehand, however, was the fact that Dirk ran into himself at the hotel and perhaps the most jarring thing about that reveal is the fact that The Other Dirk isn't wearing some type of sport-y jacket. Who knew he could be a hoodie guy?

It all ends with the two calling the time machine into action; where they'll end up next week, we'll have to wait and see. But you want to know what else we'll have to wait and see about?

Amanda (Hannah Marks).

The Rowdy Three.

Bart (Fiona Dourif).

Farah, who we see briefly this week even if we still have no real sense of what’s going to happen to her.

Ken (Mpho Koaho).

And all that Black Wing/government/ominous important-looking stuff.

Why do we have to wait and see? Because, literally, none of them were addressed and none of them appeared this week. I know, right? Bad. Very bad.

It's just too much to resolve going into a season finale, life on a loop or not. While so much was supposed to be explained this week, so much more is still left to question. Dirk's explanatory monologue screams "We needed to figure out some way to explain this and explain this quick, so here you go", and frankly, we, as viewers, deserved better. Much better, in fact, and now we wait to see how this all comes around (hopefully) in episode eight.

So, yeah. It's time, all right. Time to start cleaning up this mess. Time to start rerouting this ship so that it doesn't veer too far off course.

A Clue, An Accomplice, or An Assistant

As much as I tried to buy into that scolding speech from Todd toward Dirk, I just couldn't do it. Not even the tears and the manufactured anger could get me there. If that was supposed to be the season’s emotional high point … is it wrong of me to say, meh?

What does all of this tell us about that whole Black Wing mess? Does this mean that Friedkin (Dustin Milligan) and Riggins (Miguel Sandoval) have to bring the troops back in so they don’t keep going back in time with the intent to manipulate history? But wait. What about the Rowdy Three? Blerg. Honestly, man. How the hell does all this shit come together?

So. How much do we believe in fate? On some level -- a humanistic, real life level, at least -- that question can be the very thing this series boils down to. No matter how hard these characters try to change their lives' paths, they can't manipulate the things that life has planned for them. And shoot: this even includes the fact that these characters have the ability to go back in time! The way of the world is the way of the world, people. We ought not think that we have any control when it comes to our destinies.

And with that said … man, that'd be a bitch if Todd doesn't get to go back and make things right with his sister.

Was Patrick/Edgar/Zachariah’s bad-ass costume some type of play on Transformers? Does it make him invincible? He seemed impossible to shake with that thing on.

Man. Dirk's a dick.

"You can't fix everything. Some choices, you just have to accept and rebuild the best you can." If the Dirk/Todd moment lacked something intangible, the Todd/Patrick moment exceeded expectations, and it's largely because of the way Todd delivered that line.

It's kind of neat to see what exactly happened in that hotel room. I just kind of thought they'd have some flashes here and there, but we'd never get a fully realized scene. Yet they stuck with it, right up to, and including, the cat turning into a shark. Impressive.

Totally never thought we'd see Estevez (Neil Brown Jr.) again. I wonder if he'll stick around beyond this first season.

This Week’s MVP: Oh, goodness. Zachariah Webb/Edgar Spring/Patrick Spring for the win, right? Dude's a bad ass.

5

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