Reverie: 1.09 The Key
As Reverie heads into the end of its debut series (with a second yet to be confirmed), secrets were finally revealed as the show stepped away from the standard case of the week again to deal with more personal, darker stories. For Mara, this was the truth about what really happened with the death of her family, while Oliver showed his true side when he lured Mara and Alexis into the Reverie as part of a ploy to take down Onira-Tech.
Oliver Hill (Jon Fletcher) has been presented as the bad guy since his introduction earlier in the season. But to Mara and the audience, we haven't seen the side Alexis, Paul and Charlie were warning about. And indeed, the first part of the episode seemed to substantiate that he was better than they had perceived; after using himself as bait to lure Mara in and suggest a cure to her symptoms, what we soon learned was that he wanted to reconnect with Alexis. From the sandy beaches to the streets of Paris rising up before their very eyes, his Reverie showed the beauty and wonder of the program and it really seemed as if he cared about his former partner. Even the attempt to recreate her dead brother Dylan - now the voice of the Onira-Tech's AI - seemed misguided at best, despite her understandably disturbed reaction.
But the truth was soon revealed to the audience as he used corrupt security guard Leekly to steal the key from Alexis while she was comatose and in the program. Was any of what he had done a gift for the woman he loved or a cruel trick? It's hard to be sure, but the cold manner in which he executed Leekly at the end soon revealed his dangerous side. The finale is sure to present Oliver as the villain, even if his attempts to destroy the program being used by the Department of Defence might have some noble ideas behind it.
The Key saw Mara question her future with Onira-Tech after her mind continued to unravel with visions of people that weren't there. Oliver's suggestion that she remove the device - preventing her from accessing Reverie again - seemed sound, despite Paul's protests. But the truth was much darker and in a surprise twist, Charlie revealed what really happened that day her sister and niece died. Mara convincing brother in law Ray to shoot himself portrayed a colder, more vengeful side to Mara than we have seen before, but perhaps an understandable one too.
Sarah Shahi has really allowed the audience to see the balance between Mara's strength as a negotiator and her vulnerability and she has developed into a really engaging character. So much so, that you really felt her pain as she discovered what she had really done. It had just taken the Reverie program to unearth those repressed memories for her to confront it.
I welcomed the more personal character moments of The Key and episode that finally started to deliver on the show's potential. I've enjoyed the cases of the week; the emotional journeys of the people Mara has helped has made for an engaging series but it has often felt too nice and safe to have any real sense of tension. Every one of the people Mara has helped has been saved. But in the penultimate episode, we saw the psychological trauma the program could unearth and how even the loveliest dream can be used to manipulate. I would like a second season but if we don't get one, then I hope next week's finale is a satisfying conclusion to this little sci-fi drama.