Room 104: Ranking the season 2 episodes

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Room 104 episode 2.2 / Image by HBO

10. Woman in the Wall

Dolly Wells played Catherine in this unusual story about a seriously ill woman who starts talking to the wall in Room 104. The wall convinces her that she may be a hypochondriac, which turns out to be an incorrect observation. Eventually, it looks like she’s headed for a happy ending, that is till she decides to bid farewell to the wall.

The horror-movie denouement certainly made this episode memorable, but there was little precursor to it. I also felt like the writing was rushed and haphazard – in an effort to project the passing of time, we lost out on much of Catherine’s characterization.

But there’s no denying the caliber of the acting on this show – Wells is incredibly believable as a woman resigned to her lot in life. She easily carries the entire episode’s bizarre premise on her capable shoulders.

9. Mr. Mulvahill

Rainn Wilson’s Jim has invited his grade school teacher Mr. Mulvahill (Frank Birney) to Room 104, ostensibly to thank him for setting him on his journey in life. But Jim’s obsequiousness soon devolves into a tense argument over what Mulvahill actually did to him during one fateful music class.

There’s a part of me that wishes this episode had followed through with the premise that Jim was confronting his childhood abuser, but in a way, it does exactly that. The fantastical elements aside, there’s plenty of subtext to be gleaned from the interaction between Jim and Mulvahill, not least because of the intensity of Wilson’s performance.

We’re so used to him being an over-the-top comedian, it’s hard to imagine that he can use those same skills to subvert expectations. The way director Ross Partridge ekes out those final tense moments makes this a particularly outstanding entry of the season.