After two episodes of Max Landis‘s adaptation of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, it’s beginning to feel like the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. There’s a lot to like about it, and there were plenty of good scenes and performances in this second episode, “Lost and Found.” Still, somehow by hour’s end, it didn’t seem like it all came together the way it should have.
There were some great highlights this week, like the scene of Todd (Elijah Wood) and Dirk (Samuel Barnett) escaping the house of the kidnapper/”supreme being,” as well as following bridge-set scene—the best scene of the episode. The overarching mystery and its accompanying insanity (the best part of the show) also got some interesting explanations: The opening blood bath in the premiere seems to have been because of a hammerhead shark, the almost-definitely-not-human bald guys with the tattoos were the ones who kidnapped Farrah, and Lydia Spring may actually now be a dog. Meanwhile, a few new questions were raised to draw us in further: Who is Lux Du’Jour the missing musician? Who was the guy pretending to be a morgue worker? Who really took the bodies of the bald guys? And what do the Rowdy 3 want with Amanda?
But there are also some headscratching decisions that can’t be ignored. Why are two characters (the kidnapper and the female murdering-version of Dirk) using unbearably annoying voices? It’s one thing to have one character use a totally obnoxious voice, but to constantly bounce back and forth between multiple gets tiresome, especially when this interpretation of Dirk himself is equally annoying and exhausting in every scene.
The backstory about Dirk (and, presumably, murder-Dirk who is apparently named Bart Curlish) feels like an unnecessary addition to a mystery that already has enough going for it. This seems to have something to do with why Dirk gets “dragged” into these types of cases, and why he seems like such a sad person. Still, wasn’t he also hired by the now dead George Spring? Wasn’t the motivation enough? Solving the mystery of the show is fun enough without dedicating time to the mystery of Dirk, which no one asked about.
Outside of her grating voice, the indestructible Bart and her reluctant partner-in-crime have been a lot of fun, especially since Bart seems strangely competent and right about everything, even if she is a killer. Watching the parallels between the two of them and Dirk and Todd feels like it will lead to a great payoff. Good enough without a backstory, even!
As for the bald guys, we may have got an answer to what exactly the Rowdy 3 were doing in episode one, because the supreme being threatened Todd and Dirk by saying they would “burn the souls” out of their bodies. That certainly looks like what the Rowdy 3 did after killing Todd’s landlord. Are those two groups allies, or are they enemies?
Also, while Dirk’s complete and utter incompetence doesn’t exactly instill confidence in his abilities, they did use it to get the funniest line of the episode (Dirk saying he brought a knife to the bridge because they knew the kidnapper had a gun). The madness of what’s going on with the connected weirdness is what makes the show entertaining, but it would benefit from having even more laugh-out-loud moments like that.
Just like the premiere there were lots of individual moments and scenes in the second episode of Dirk Gently to like. The nutty plot is glorious mayhem and knowing that anything can happen next is exciting. The cast is pretty stellar from top to bottom; even the three actors who are inherently annoying have a quality presence to them. And yet it didn’t feel like a great hour, as problems do seem to persist in the writing and direction. It just might be that that their are too many pieces pulling in too many directions. The good news is that as they come closer together some of those problems might be fixed naturally. Hopefully by season’s end the whole will be as good as the parts.
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Images: BBC America