Room 104: Ranking the season 2 episodes

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Room 104 / Image by HBO

8. Swipe Right

When you have Michael Shannon and Judy Greer in an episode about an international Tinder date, it’s easy to believe that the story will be a deep study of human dynamics.

Instead, we get a quirky woman who has no clue what she’s got herself into, while Shannon raps, dances and puts on a fake Russian accent. It’s so absurd, you can’t help but love it.

The only reason this episode is so low down in our Room 104 season two rankings is that the other episodes were even better. There’s no faulting how writer-director Liza Johnson has embraced the lack of formula on this HBO show – she keeps the viewer off-kilter throughout with intentional and cringe-worthy moments of humor that will make you anxious.

The fact that this script attracted such names like Greer and Shannon is a testament to how Room 104 has established itself as the new The Twilight Zone.

7. A Nightmare

Natalie Morales plays Jess in the first out-and-out horror installment of the season. Alone in Room 104, Jess battles a masked man, but is he real or a figment of her imagination?

She wakes from nightmare after nightmare, living a kind of Groundhog Day-esque existence, all of which implies a deeper struggle.

What I love about this episode is that it can be enjoyed on different levels – on the surface, it looks like an homage to our favorite slashers, but what sells it is the desperation of Jess, who seems to be stuck in a claustrophobic space.

Does she suffer from agoraphobia, depression and anxiety or is it a case of nightmare disorder? This is a cursory psychological study of Jess, but director Jonah Markowitz and writer Mark Duplass take the subject matter seriously.