When Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency from BBC America is at its best, it is bouncing off the walls with energy, letting the insane plot drive the episode and allowing us to watch how the characters caught up in it deal with the ever-growing absurdity of their situation. When the show is at its worse, it comes to a grinding halt with overly emotional (and frequent) whiny conversations, and by giving us needless backstory that takes away from the fun of the very concept the show is (and should) be based on, the “fundamental interconnectedness of all things.”
Needless to say, tonight’s fifth episode, “Very Erectus,” was the worst of the season.
As good as Elijah Wood has been and continues to be, every realization and admission from Todd felt like it was dragged out, and did we need another annoying speech from Dirk about his desire for friendship and overcoming his loneliness? It’s not that characterization is unnecessary or unimportant; it’s that it was repetitive, going over well-trodden ground from previous episodes. There’s so much to learn and glean from these characters from how they respond to what happens to them that they shouldn’t have to keep telling us how they feel about everything. We can see it.
The show also keeps undercutting itself by thinking we need multiple reminders of things they have already established, like scenes of Bart realizing the literal world exists. She has no idea what a restaurant is, but didn’t we already learn that when she didn’t understand how radios work? And for as much as Todd still hesitates to trust Dirk, how could Ken still be having reservations about Bart when he has seen what he has seen? He had his moment of clarity in episode three, the last time we saw them. Now he’s back to doubting her already?
Even the opening scene, when Gordon was throwing away his remaining Lux Dujour items, was disappointing, because his hesitation lessened the impact of the great final scene from last week, when it looked like he had turned a corner and become a terrifying villain. It wasn’t just a crime of stasis, but of actually taking a step back.
And that’s the problem with so many of the scenes this week: they either didn’t move anyone or anything forward, or they actually took steps back. The relentless drive forward into more and more absurdity is so much fun when the show is committed to it, that this episode felt like a chore to get through.
Not to mention it turns out that the worst element of them all, Dirk’s backstory as a special government special ops-type figure, was expanded to include that the Rowdy 3 are also in that same group. So it feels less and less like this is about a holistic approach to the universe, and more that the government just has a bunch of people in a special program, meaning they are connected by design, and not because all things in nature are connected. That’s a big letdown.
Todd’s suggestion that everything happening to them is because Dirk is psychic had the same effect. Whether it turns out to be true or not remains to be seen, but at this time it feels like everything is the result of some military experiment gone wrong, and it isn’t as fun as the universe being a mad, incoherent mess where everything touches everything.
There are only three episodes left in the season, and Todd and Dirk now seem to have found the missing machine (or a part of it) that has been so important to what all of these different factions are looking for, so hopefully the show will move forward with the mystery, instead of idling in place like it did for far too much of tonight. To paraphrase Dirk from this very episode, the show can’t look forward if it keeps looking back.
But what did you think of the episode? Connect with us in the comments below to tell us what you thought.
Images: BBC America