Room 104: Ranking the season 2 episodes

5 of 7

Photo Credit: HBO

6. The Return

A tender look at grief as a mother, Sarah (Stephanie Allynne), accompanies her daughter, Elle (Abby Ryder Fortson), to bid farewell to her recently deceased husband. So Yong Kim directs a genuinely heart-breaking episode where the two characters are seen dealing with their pain in different ways.

But it was especially fascinating to watch Sarah’s complicated feelings about her daughter’s inability to cope with grief – Sarah put her sadness on the backburner for Elle, but it’s evident that she wants to move on from this chapter as well.

Young Fortson was a delight to behold, channeling Elle’s conviction that the Harry Potter universe can help her reconnect with her dead father, while also showing us her pent-up hate and anger about losing him.

Yes, there is a twist at the end, but it didn’t preclude the heavy emotional turmoil of the two characters that had come before.

5. Artificial

Charles (Sheaun McKinney) has come to interview a woman claiming to be an android. Helen (Katie Aselton) is the first of her kind, but she is certainly not the last. Can she convince Charles of what she is? And what will this mean for humanity?

Natalie Morales gets behind the camera to direct this Philip K. Dick-esque quandary into the frailties of humanity and the impact of artificial intelligence on the human race.

What elevated this episode was Aselton’s unbelievable performance – from emulating a robotic voice to the forced emotions Helen projects, she was eerily uncanny.

McKinney is equally stunning as partly bemused and terrified Charles. The whole universe of the episode is fleshed out and Duplass does it without relying on boring exposition.

This is definitely one of those installments that could easily evolve into a complete film, which I would happily watch.