Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: Season Two Review
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Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is a whirlwind of time travelling madness, beautiful friendships with a dash of a secret government conspiracy added in for good measure. If you were a fan of the first season (and why wouldn’t you be), then the release of season two on Netflix in the New Year would have been music to your ears. At the end of the first season our beloved crew of misfits and semi-supernatural beings had been separated and were being hunted by the ruthless (yet rather inefficient) government agency Blackwing. Following on from a cliffhanger ending, season two is set two months later and sets about trying to bring our heroes back together again.
Due to this, the second season does start off a bit slower than we are used to. Normally, Dirk Gently rushes along at breakneck speed, stopping only a few times to explain what is happening to any audience members who may have fallen off the wagon. Season two begins with all of the major characters either imprisoned by Blackwing (the secret Government arm which was introduced in the first season), or in hiding from Blackwing. The plot takes it time to get going, switching so often between our various rag-tag crews that the narrative moves at a snails pace. This stalling does do one very important job though - showing Dirk (Samuel Barnett) in isolation at the Blackwing facility. We have a small understanding of what Dirk, Bart, the Rowdy 3 and the other Blackwing subjects were put through earlier in their lives, but watching Dirk’s daily routine hammers the point home. We need to see this in order to truly understand how Project Blackwing has destroyed our protagonists lives, but it does so at the costs of slowing down the first half of the series.
In those slow burning episodes, Dirk Gently does introduce us to some wonderful new characters in the form of the permanently high Tina Tevetino (Izzie Steele) and the over-enthusiastic Sherlock Hobbs (Tyler Labine), seemingly the only two police officer in the rural town that Farah (Jade Eshete) and Todd (Elijah Wood) find themselves in. In the midst of getting arrested for trespassing, the four end up teaming together to try and solve the odd goings-on in the town - events which Tina and Hobbs admit are completely out of their depth to handle alone. What transpires is (as you’ll know if you watched the first season) completely and utterly bonkers - the best way, of course.
By episode three (Two Broken Fingers) the pace picks up as Dirk, Todd, Farah and even Bart (the ever brilliant Fiona Dourif) are reunited and embark on trying to find Amanda (so Todd can make amends), Wendimoor (so that Dirk can fulfill the prophecy and new addition Panto can return) and an explanation to all the weird goings-on in the small town of Bergsberg, Montana.
Whilst season one spent time setting up the characters and situations within the Dirk Gently universe, season two is where we start to see something interesting in the character development of our protagonists and dig deeper into the overarching story of Blackwing itself. Though introduced in the first season, the concept and ideology of this secret government agency is further explored in season two - allowing us to not only follow Dirk, Bart, Mona and the other subjects, but also Sgt Friedkin and Ken who are now on the inside.
The return of Sgt Hugo Friedkin, now seemingly the head of the Blackwing, operation was a particular delight. He has relatively little experience, is reluctant to read any files and is generally out of his depth at all times - which does sound strangely familiar in this day and age. It was also great to see Mpho Koaho taking on a more sinister role as Ken hoodwinks the incompetent Friedkin into hanging over the reins of power. It was great fun watching their arc, which ultimately lead to a pretty uncomfortable ending - particularly for Bart.
Dirk Gently even manages to step it up a notch with it’s representation this series. Not only does now it include a bisexual character (Tina, who actually uses the word B word), season two also charts a love story between Panto Trost and Silas Dengdemoor, the sons of two warring families. What’s even more interesting is that Panto and Silas are inhabitants of a fantasy land, dreamed up by a young boy in the 1950s. In Wendimoor (the dreamland), there is no hint of homophobia, the parents of Silas and Panto are far more concerned that their children are fraternising with the enemy.
In addition to this, Dirk Gently is consistently breaking the mould in terms of gender, representation and how we expect male characters to behave. In the first season, Dirk is introduced as someone who uses his intuition and gut instinct to solve a murder. He isn’t at all concerned with logical evidence or hard facts - quite the opposite. Dirk relies solely on the universe sending him signs and on his ‘feelings’ - a stereo-typically feminine attribute. The series’ narrative arc is also reliant on characters discussing their feelings, or being open with one another. Often the plot won’t progress until characters have had a talk, or become emotional. This is particularly true for Dirk in season two when Dirk becomes increasingly upset about putting the people he loves in danger. It's only by admitting his anxieties to Todd that he is able to swallow his fear and lean in to what the universe is telling him to do - and ultimately this leads to discovering the gateway to Wendimoor itself.
Whilst every character goes through a certain amount of growth and change through the series (Todd learns to control his pararibulitis, Bart makes a new friend and Amanda literally becomes a witch), it’s Farah Black who is afforded the most emotive narrative as she learns to become confident in her own abilities. One of the best scenes is in the very first episode as Farah and Todd disagree on the best way to continue. They are on the run, scared and alone and Farah, as is usual, is berating herself for being a failure. It’s in this scene where Farah’s complex feelings about her own future, her self-doubt and her desire to make her father proud become really evident. For so long black women have been portrayed as sassy and strong, but Farah transcends age-old stereotypes and has the most satisfying character arc of all. She’s strong, sure, but she’s been through a hell of a journey to get there.
The greatest thing about Dirk Gently second season though? It completely leans into being 'Deus Ex-Machina: The Show'. It has no shame in every plot twist being an utter coincidence, or it’s heroes escaping death by constant conveniences in the narrative. That’s because the idea of fate, or a “god from the machine” if you will, is exactly what Dirk Gently is all about. Everything is connected, everything is happening for a reason. Showrunner Landis takes the opportunity to really show this off in season two particularly, reinforcing that no character, no meeting or line of dialogue is merely incidental. It makes for a show which is not only completely heartfelt and genuine, but also ridiculously funny because most of it is absolutely ludicrous. Knights with scissors? A suburban Mum who turns into an evil queen? A mystery disease which causes hallucinations but somehow aids in sending people to different dimensions? Yet, we roll with the laughs and the insanity of it all because Dirk Gently truly believes and commits to the world it is building. That is what makes it truly special.
There’s a petition circling the internet at the moment. It gained over 500,000 signatures on it’s first day. It’s to beg Netflix to take on the BBC America series under it’s wing and renew it for a third series. If you've got no plans this weekend - watch the series then sign the petition. You won't regret it