Season 3 Episode 5
Genre takes its cues from last week (and the season as a whole in general) in that it focuses on one character for the most part. This week our muse is Serac and his backstory and in the background is Caleb on a drug induced fire fight through downtown LA.
The latter part ends up being a bit of a dud in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy a good action set piece (and this one was good) but there was something lacking. For an episode that takes its title from the drug that Caleb is on it sure doesn’t feel like its all that bad. The drug is a mood-altering substance that messes with brain chemistry and implants to recreate familiar film archetypes. The episode shows this off through the music and some visual effects. The best one is the first part where Caleb is in a black and white film but the rest seems kinda bland. There was a funny bit where he experiences the romance section and fawns over Dolores mowing down a bunch of henchmen.
But other than that and Caleb looking high these scenes just fell flat. There was a real opportunity here to experiment with form and produce some really trippy scenes but that didn’t happen. We then get the next part of Dolores’ plan which is to release everyone’s data from Rehoboam back to them. It’s an interesting play but one that I thought might have happened more towards the end of the season. Having it play out in the middle of the season is odd which makes me wonder what else Dolores has in store. The problem with this reveal though is that much like the portrayal of ‘genre’ it just kind of falls flat. You can tell this was supposed to be a big moment and it is but the episode has a difficult time showing the gravity of the situation. Sure, you get images of people, crying, arguing, cars on fire but because we don’t these people it’s all a bit detached.
And even the people who we do know, Ash and Giggles take their reveals as water under the bridge. All they do is mope for two seconds and then they’re on their way. Inbetween all of this are brief discussions about free will and determinism which are handled in a very haphazard way. All of this to say that the B plot didn’t really do much for me. The only interesting thing was that we get a hint of a darker backstory for Caleb. What this could is keeping me interested in him for now.
The main plot centers around Serac and his backstory as he fly’s from Singapore (to the U.S.?). We come to learn that it was he and his brother who embark on building Rehoboam after they witnessed the destruction of their hometown Paris. They get financial help from Liam Dempsey’s dad and the plan was almost dead until they perfected the algorithm. They do this by showing stock market predictions making Dempsey incredibly rich. The brothers come to realize that there are certain humans who will inevitably disrupt the system if allowed to operate unchecked; Serac’s brother is one of those humans, and Serac has him committed to a place where he can experiment on “editing” him. It wasn’t quite clear what editing meant in the episode, at least not to me, but what I understood was that it was a way to ‘reconfigure’ certain problem individuals back into society. Dempsey finds out what’s going on and is once again going to pull the plug but Serac stages a plane crash and murders him in order to protect the algorithm machine.
This part of the episode was a lot better albeit quite predictable. Serac playing ‘God’ and charting a path for the whole world is textbook villainy. But we at least get to see where he came from and what his motivations were and how he adapted to his new ‘godhood’. After this episode, the show certainly wants us to struggle to decide who to root for. Serac truly believes he can make the world a better place through a species of pre-determination while Dolores, for now, would like to destroy all of that and strip human society down to its core.