“Lee” makes a point of addressing the show’s own internal logic and plugging what you thought were plot holes, while also doing important and often touching character work.
This recap of Dispatches From Elsewhere Season 1, Episode 8, “Lee”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Dispatches From Elsewhere Episode 8 is largely about context; about the reasons why someone would go to the lengths required to construct the game that has been played throughout the first seven episodes. And it isn’t a simple answer. But the titular Lee (Cherise Boothe) is an architect, and architects tend to relish fitting the pieces of complex puzzles together.
Admittedly, Lee wasn’t always an architect, as we learn by revisiting major events of the season from her perspective. When she originally approached Clara (Cecilia Balagot) to propose buying her ideas, she was a Digital Project Manager. Clara’s death occurred not long after, and it was that loss, which deeply affected Lee, which compelled her to create the game in the first place.
The behind-the-scenes perspective of Dispatches From Elsewhere Episode 8 is illuminating on several levels; logistically, in terms of how the details were arranged, but also emotionally, in terms of how Lee saw the game’s construction as a form of atonement for Clara’s death. Despite all the concessions made to allow the players to continue the game, their constant unearthing of new clues and secrets that lead them beyond its prescribed boundaries is a source of consternation for Clara.
The game is supposed to be over, of course, but that’s a difficult pill for the players to swallow since the game is really all they have in their lives – beyond, that is, each other. The relationships that have been formed between the characters are supposed to extend beyond the confines and lifespan of the game, and it seems they might when Peter (Jason Segel) asks Simone (Eve Lindley) out on a date. But the date’s a disaster since Peter, despite all the progress he has made in making decisions for himself and getting out of his comfort zone, still can’t bring himself to open up emotionally. His belief that admitting he likes Simone a great deal automatically suggests compatibility is painfully naïve; not only can he not make basic decisions between things like cake and pie – which Simone, perhaps cruelly, mocks him about – but he also can’t understand that Simone’s view of the world is very different from his own. That Simone is trans genuinely doesn’t matter to Peter, but he can’t fathom that other people don’t see her the same way; this is, obviously, a problem for her.
Peter and Simone’s relationship isn’t the only one that suffers in Dispatches From Elsewhere Episode 8, since Lev, Janice’s (Sally Field) husband, has had another stroke. But this is perhaps not as bad as it seems since Janice is finally able to let go; to decide that now is the time to say goodbye, despite protestations from Young Janice (Tara Lynne Barr). Her partner in this is, perhaps surprisingly, Fredwynn (André Benjamin), who despite his inherent awkwardness holds Lev’s spare hand as he passes. It’s a remarkably touching moment.
At Lev’s funeral, the gang awkwardly reunite, with Fredwynn handing them all their player files from the game – the game that’s supposedly over but of course isn’t, since Clara’s ashes aren’t where they’re supposed to be. The question of whether the game has really ended remains the show’s most essential one, though also one that’s beginning to feel tedious and reiterative. However, the characterisation remains top-notch, and the emotional beats land with real impact. Dispatches From Elsewhere Season 1, Episode 8 may not have been the end, but it was the first episode that really felt like we’re heading towards it.
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