This show was one of the most interesting shows I have watched in the last 5 years, the sheer amount of layers to the work done throughout the show is a testament to the thought and effort that went into it.
This follows four people (Peter, Simone, Janice, Fredwynn) grouped in a sort of scavenger hunt, kind of game. Each member of the group has different reasons for participating in the hunt. Peter, who lives a boring and mundane life finds himself craving any sense of intrigue and is thrust into it when he is invited to the Jejune Institute and later is lead to Simone, and you can see Peter is infatuated with her. Simone seems to be struggling with who she is. It is implied that even though she came out transgender it didn’t solve all her problems with her identity as a person. Simone finds it hard to reciprocate the feelings Peter has for her and is often the most hesitate member of the group, despite all of this she seems to enjoy the beginning of the game. Janice, just like Peter, joined the game for intrigue and something new because her husband is in a coma and her kids are all grown up. Despite all of that she cares deeply for all the members of the group, particularly Fredwynn because just like Simone and Peter that’s who she got paired up within the beginning. Now, Fredwynn joined the game cause he suspected something amiss with the scavenger hunt, he thinks a there is a conspiracy involving the members of the game as well the people who organised it. I like Fredwynn, I do, there is something to be said about Andre 3000’s portrayal of him, his ability to capture Fredwynn’s obsessive and critical nature was outstanding and if anything people should watch the show just for that.
So the scavenger hunt follows Clara around a girl who worked with her friends (The Elsewhere Society) to make Fishtown a better and more beautiful, she catches the eye of someone from the Jejune Institute and they offer her an opportunity, which she turns down but soon after goes missing. Following this story, I was pretty sure we were getting to the conclusion that Clara was dead but honestly I couldn’t ignore how both Octavio the head of the Jejune Institute (and narrator) sounded exactly like the leader of the Elsewhere Society opposition. Of course, the realisation that it was all staged is disappointing but makes sense although I followed the logic of Fredwynn who questioned why one would create a game like this in the first place. What was the endgame?
So this follows the architect of the scavenger hunt or game Lee. Lee had previously said that Clara was dead and that it was all her fault. Lee had chosen all of them for the scavenger hunt and planned everything out. Lee had been inspired by the Clara wanting to create something beautiful but once Fredwynn reveals that Clara isn’t real Lee admits that Clara is merely a manifestation of her creative side. Once you go over everything again you realise that Lee is Clara and she had sold out her creative side so she could be successful in business and finance. Lee is therefore admitting that everything we found out about Clara was actually about her only she never went missing she just sold out. It’s sad but in a way Lee blames herself for stifling her creative side for money and creating the game was probably just a way to give in to the Clara side of herself again. So I have seen shows/films deal with letting go of one’s inner child or things from the past but to see them being presented as an actual person made things interesting. You feel something for Clara, you wonder who would harm her, who would tamper her dreams and vision and eventually would harm her? The interesting thing is how they presented Clara and Lee as almost antithesis of each other, one being colourful and full of life another calculating and black and white and yet they are the same person. It was really good.
This follows a fictionalised version of Jason Segel as he deals with his sobriety and lacklustre acting career. In it, just like Clara was representative of Lee’s creative side, the Clown-face Boy is a representative of Jason’s career, which leads him to write ‘Dispatches from Elsewhere’ the show. The take away from it is that it’s supposed to get Jason to grow up and accept his shortcomings. I am not going to lie to you, I did not enjoy this ending. There is a part of the finale where everyone talks about the self-indulgence of the episode and I could not agree more, funnily enough. This episode was not needed but at the same time, I was not surprised it ended up being so high level because after everything that happened what would have been a good way to end the show? I just think that the finale episode lacked the quirky and mysterious nature that the entire show had captured.
All in all, Dispatches from Elsewhere is a very good show to watch if you are interested in being taken on a journey. The destination may not be all that great thanks to that finale but it is an interesting story. I loved the dynamics between the people in the core group. Simone and Peter’s relationship was an interesting one to me, I think she was looking for problems with him and she was not truly relaxed the entire time but she had a point about him being naïve about how the world may perceive her and him. It’s hard to teach someone and being in a loving relationship with them at the same time. There are great performances throughout the season for Janice the episode where she gets to go through her wedding day is a good one for all of them. I doubt there will be a second season for this show and if there is, it will probably be an anthology so it will not be the same cast of people. I think it’s good as a limited series though.