Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency from BBC America is at its absolute best when it is at its absolute craziest, which explains why this week’s episode was the show’s weakest, even if it did end on a high note. The pacing was slow and very little happened to advance the mystery, but at least the episode’s best character gave us something important going forward: a real villain.
Gordon, a.k.a. the former Lux Dujour and the leader of this mysterious band of soul-swapping beings, has been the only member of his group to show any kind of personality, and in this episode, titled “Watkin,” we got a chance to see that his anger and depression over being forced to abandon his rock and roll body was more than just lamenting a lost life of luxury; it had to do with lost love. These energy-sucking creatures have been more comic-relief than something to be truly fearful of (yes, even in spite of their constant murdering), but Gordon was much more than that. He is a character, not a caricature, and it made his story arc in this episode the most compelling aspect.
Which is what made the ending of the episode legitimately scary. Gordon ended any ties to his past existence by brutally murdering the woman that loved Lux Dujour, a symbolic death to assure his fellow beings that he is the man to lead him because he is dedicated to the cause, not to himself. With no ties to humanity, what else might Gordon be able to do? Also, while earlier in the episode Dirk scoffed at the idea of him and Todd being the “good guys” to the other peoples “bad guys,” that’s what we have now, without question.
(Side note: I complained about Gordon’s obnoxious voice previously, so I was thrilled when he dropped it and took on a much more realistic, sinister sound; but couldn’t they have accomplished that exact transformation by starting with a different, less annoying voice?)
(Second side note: Since Bart, whom I missed seeing this episode, also speaks with an equally grating voice, is it possible she has more in common with Gordon than she does Dirk? That would dramatically alter her purpose in the story.)
As for that “unlimited energy device” everyone is looking for, it feels much more dangerous now than at any time before, giving the show even more urgency going forward in terms of what is at stake here.
Lack of urgency, though, is what made the rest of the episode so frustrating, since it lacked the frenetic energy that makes the show entertaining. The show has been sprinkling some meta-commentary and jokes into each episode, but it felt like everything Amanda said was being done with a wink, and it grew tiresome, like a running commentary no one asked for. Also, the continued time dedicated to Todd’s infatuation with Farrah keeps pulling the show away from the mystery, which is where it should be focused.
(Although in fairness we are definitely going to be looking at these TVs for any clues.)
Even Todd and Dirk’s adventures through the underground maze was a disappointment (minus the electric ghost rhino of course, as that was the single most fun part of the entire hour, and a great surprise for that rhino we knew we were going to see at some point), since the two of them spent most of the time having the same conversation they’ve had multiple times at this point, and very little of what happened there added to the mystery that drives the show.
What really happened ? They didn’t get many answers, but they found a map. That should be great to follow in the coming episodes, but all it was here was a promise of action to come.
Hopefully with so many questions still to answer and a new locale to head to, next week’s episode will return to the insanity that the show does best, especially since it just gave us a scary villain to add to the madness, which should only make it crazier.
But what did you think of this week’s episode? Tell us in the comments below.
Images: BBC America