Reverie: 1.10 Point Of Origin
As season one of Reverie comes to an end in the UK, several weeks behind the US, there is still no news on a second season renewal. While NBC have yet to make a decision, that doesn't necessarily bode well for the little sci-fi show that has entertained and delivered plenty of heart with its interesting premise. But to say that it hasn't thrilled yet either is undeniable; quite often the show has played nice and safe. But is that a bad thing?
From Dollhouse to Westworld, we've seen shows that deal with the dark impact of technology - particularly that used for entertainment - gone wrong. At the beginning, I wondered if Reverie might tread a similar path and indeed the final two episodes of the season did delve a little deeper into the consequences. But ultimately Reverie - the technology and the show - is more concerned with the lighter, beneficial impacts and the joy it can bring than looking too deeply at a darker, allegoric tale. And that's okay. The show can be fun, the performances are good, there is plenty of emotion in these character journeys and sometimes that is all you need to keep you entertained.
Point of Origin had quite a decent pace, kicking off with Mara confronting comatose brother in law Ray with a Reverie forced into his own mind. I would have liked to have seen this explored further but in a busy finale, we were only afforded a few minutes to explore the fallout of his murder of her sister and niece two years ago and the revelation that she convinced him to shoot himself. Sarah Shahi really sold the scene, fighting the grief and pain while Christopher Redman added a surprising amount of guilt and vulnerability as a man faced with the horror of what he had done. It certainly didn't excuse his actions and you couldn't feel sorry for him but the audience, like Mara, came to understand him a little better.
But it was Alexis and not Mara that was the focus of the finale and it was great to see Jessica Lu a chance to get her teeth into something as she visited her parents on her birthday and opened up old wounds regarding her twin brother Dylan's death. Flashbacks revealed his accidental death, falling through a greenhouse roof as he attempted to get his ten year old sister's attention; it was tragic, though surely it should have been the parents who shouldered the blame, leaving them unsupervised?
Vulnerable and without the aid of her colleagues at Onira Tech, Alexis was kidnapped by Oliver, dragging her into a Reverie made out of his own madness. We really saw the true darkness inside Oliver as his past was revealed - setting fire to a school - leading to Mara and Alexis encountering people on fire, screaming within the program. There was also an interesting moment where Alexis, aided in her escape by Mara, faced her own fears of a Reverie program, that turned people into a blank, comatose stated. These moments added some real atmospheric drama before the final showdown at Onira Tech as Oliver attempted to take out the program once and for all.
The threat of Oliver destroying the central core, potentially putting over 1,600 lives at risk certainly raised the stakes, with Mara attempting to use her skills to take him down. And it almost worked before Oliver was taken down and the fire threatened to destroy the facility and the users Paul and his team were desperately trying to pull out of Reverie and save. The direction never seemed to match the threat unravelling; once again Reverie seems to have great ideas but doesn't necessarily engage fully with them and the team saving 1,500 users and the remaining suffering new side effects from the fire damaging the program left the story on a bit of a damp end.
At the same time there was a nice sense of closure; the program was reopened with Mara staying on full time. Alexis upgrade the Dylan AI, finally letting go of her dead brother and business was back to normal by the time the credits rolled. In fact, the sense of closure worked so well, that the cliff-hanger of a version of Mara still trapped within the program felt very tacked on. It was designed to be a hook for season two and really felt unnecessary.
I've rather enjoyed Reverie over the past ten weeks; it's heart and imagination might not have been as big as the delivery but it remained a thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi drama with some interesting cases of the week. I wouldn't be too upset if it was cancelled but I'd also happily watch more. There's certainly much more potential still to be filled...