Room 104: Ranking the season 2 episodes

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Room 104 – Arnold / Image by HBO

4. Shark

Pool player Ollie (James Earl) is despondent at how little money he and his cousin, Franco (Mahershala Ali) have been able to hustle off late.

But that’s not the only thing bothering him. When Franco suggests Ollie enter a tournament with a large cash prize, the duos’ latent grievances come to the surface.

What a fantastic moment-in-time episode this was! Mark Duplass wrote and directed an astute look into the complicated and aggravating experience of being family.

The acting by James Earl, and Mahershala Ali especially, sold the premise of two desperate cousins hoping to make some money off the only skills they have. There’s laughter, sadness, but a lot of love as well between these two characters. A-plus character studies right here.

3. Arnold

Probably one of the most talked about episode this year! Brian Tyree Henry’s titular character wakes up in Room 104 with no memory of how he got there or what happened to him.

To re-trace his steps he raps and sings about the previous evening, slowly coming to the realization that not everything is okay.

The ambition of Julian Wass’ directorial debut cannot be underestimated. He composed the music for the majority of the first season of Room 104, and here he adds a whole new dynamic to the proceedings.

At the episode’s heart is an earnest character who finds out more about himself through the events of one strange night. It’s a stunning piece of art that is so eccentric, but not frivolous.

It’s hard to make a musical episode work, but somehow, Room 104 succeeds where many others have failed.