“Positive, Front-Facing Optics” is another long-winded, contrived, and badly-written outing for The Mosquito Coast, which consistently fails to justify its existence.
This recap of The Mosquito Coast season 2, episode 5, “Positive, Front-Facing Optics”, contains spoilers.
The second season of The Mosquito Coast is going to have ten episodes, and no matter what angle I try to view that decision from, I can’t see it as anything other than a bad one. There’s barely enough story here for half that run, and not enough likable characters to fill an episode. “Positive, Front-Facing Optics” tries to breathe some energy into the story by implementing a few badly-written plot turns and hasty new dynamics, but it feels very much like Dina spending an episode trying to plug a hole in a trawler that eventually ended up being sunk anyway.
The Mosquito Coast season 2, episode 5 recap
So, you’ll recall that Charlie, whose function in the narrative seems to exclusively be making terrible decisions that make the plot move, tried to prevent some illegal poaching in Episode 4, which increased the visibility of the secretive Casa Roja and means that Isela has some leverage over Allie. She takes him to the camp’s landlord, who turns out to be the Cartel-affiliated gangster Guillermo we’ve met previously, and basically tells him that he needs to help them carry out a job in exchange for his and his family’s spot in the camp.
One of the funniest things about The Mosquito Coast is how it keeps insisting that Allie is this unrivaled computer genius and MacGyver get-s**t-done maker-nerd, but it never really shows him doing anything especially clever. This episode attempts to rectify that by teaming him up with William Lee – who you’ll recall got a job working for Guillermo in a previous episode – and putting them to the task of sabotaging an investor meeting so that the jungle near Casa Roja can’t be turned into a resort. It’s basically the plot of Yellowstone crammed into a single episode.
Meanwhile, Margot’s eco-terrorist ex-boyfriend Richard arrives for no reason at all. Another hilarious thing about this show is that it expects us to believe that a family of four on the run from the U.S. government simply can’t stay out of the way of a very tiny handful of people. Margot has government agents on speed dial, her significant ex can just turn up at a hidden refuge in the middle of a jungle and pretend it’s a coincidence, the assassin who has been chasing them for a season and a half just to happens to work for the landlord of the camp they’re staying at, and so on, and so forth. It’s just really dumb.
Why is Richard here? There’s no way of knowing at this point. However, he has a relationship with Isela, he doesn’t seem especially surprised to see Margot, and he’s obviously, as we learned in the premiere, intimately tied to the reason that the Fox family is on the run. With all that in mind, his presence certainly means trouble of some sort.
Since this episode doesn’t reveal what Richard is really present for, in the short term, he provides a way for Dina to find out about Margot’s past by eavesdropping on a conversation between the two. Rightly, she’s furious, because Margot hasn’t just allowed Allie to take the blame for them being on the run but has also increasingly vilified him and roped the kids into trying to plot against him as though he’s the bad guy. And make no mistake, Allie is absolutely a controlling weirdo, but Margot is no better. In fact, she’s arguably worse. The only aspect of The Mosquito Coast’s storytelling that I give it credit for is that Dina not only calls Margot out on all this but doesn’t buy her apology either.
Unfortunately, this really doesn’t change much, since the Fox family is still stuck in more or less the same situation, which hasn’t really been altered by this new revelation. Their problems remain the same, and the sudden arrival of Richard can only mean more problems down the line. Will any of them be interesting? Well, that’s another question entirely.
You can stream The Mosquito Coast season 2, episode 5, “Positive, Front-Facing Optics” exclusively on Apple TV+.