“No Dice” is another grounded episode with great performances and a touching underlying message.
This recap of Room 104 season 4, episode 8, “No Dice”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
After “Foam Party”, “No Dice” definitely feels like a return to form for HBO’s Room 104. But that’d probably be underselling it. This episode, which explores the ideas of long-held grudges, the prison of celebrity, second chances, and why one should never meet one’s heroes, is a funny and poignant actors’ showcase and another standout episode of the season.
Gary Cole is masterfully cast as Chip Crawford, a smarmy long-time game show host who has spent three decades catering to the whims of that show’s substantial, outspoken fanbase. He has even kept the mustache, which is a point of personal consternation for him because a clean-shaven Chip didn’t test well. Now, he spends the few days off he gets visiting with the show’s super-fans, one of whom is Enid (Linda Lavin), who meets with him in Room 104 chaperoned by her nurse Julius (Terrence Terrell in a small but effective part.)
Chip wants to get in, fake enthusiasm, and get out, an approach facilitated by his long-suffering assistant Stephanie (Jennifer Kim). “No Dice” is another episode with a lot of surrealist excess boiled away; Chip and Enid have a history that is unspooled throughout, and they eventually re-enact the gameshow in a fanciful way, but their interactions are grounded and made all the more effective by the claustrophobia of the motel room setting.
Cole is masterful as the despicable minor celebrity who is nursing enough pain and frustration to make him compelling beyond being a one-note caricature of a game show host, although he’s kind of that, too, and a funny version of it, while Lavin reveals many layers behind her character – the transition from elderly vulnerability and innocence to more youthful anger and indignation is a particular highlight.
“No Dice” is funny, then, but it’s also touching and warm and a little – perhaps even a lot – sad. It’s about two people who’re both, in their own way, a little bit lost. They find each other very temporarily, and in that, maybe they find themselves for a little while too.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.