Room 104 season 4, episode 2 recap – “Star Time” chasing the... hamster?

August 2, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
HBO, TV Recaps
3.5

Summary

“Star Time” explores the nature of addiction through surrealism, a big hamster, and some mixed messages, as we stay once again in Room 104.

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3.5

Summary

“Star Time” explores the nature of addiction through surrealism, a big hamster, and some mixed messages, as we stay once again in Room 104.

This recap of Room 104 season 4, episode 2, “Star Time”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.


“Star Time” is, in the latest episode of the Duplass Brothers’ oddball HBO anthology series, a euphemism; a polite, vaguely childlike way of saying, “I’m high as f*ck.” Sam (Jillian Bell) is that high all throughout the episode, at least until she’s crushingly low, which in many ways is the same thing. We’re introduced to her munching crisps on a motel bed. When she starts talking to Jon Bass dressed in a giant hamster suit, it’s obvious she’s tripping even before she leaves her unconscious body and observes it, which is the first time we see the needle hanging out of a suffering vein.

Room 104 season 4, episode 2 is an exploration, then, of addiction, tracing the source and trajectory of Sam’s habits through a series of surreal flashbacks, all featuring Bass’s hamster, recast as slightly different figures in Sam’s life. We see a child version explain how she was accidentally given a double-dose of cough medicine and enjoyed “Star Time”; we see an adult version trying to chase that sensation in ways both chemically-assisted and not.

Sam ultimately has a decision to make. The needle is halfway in, halfway out. Is she too seduced by the plunge into fantasy, or is she ready to break free of her addiction and get clean? Confined all the while to Room 104, where all the different flashbacks and scenarios are contained, Sam has to reckon with herself.

Room 104 season 4, episode 2 has plenty of good ideas, and some basic ones, and some questionable ones. It’s re-treading familiar ground in a largely familiar way, with the occasional smattering of well-used surrealism or a sharp formal conceit or a zinging line. The use of the hamster is played mostly for laughs as opposed to any real metaphorical significance, and at one point for a questionable sexual encounter that perhaps takes the self-indulgence of addiction too literally. It’s an up-and-down episode, a trip with a high and comedown of its own, which I suppose is fitting enough.


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