Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Dirk Gently masters the late-season big twist

Samuel Barnett, Jade Eshete
Module B of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency hard at work. / Katie Yu
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You know things are coming to a head when everything bad starts to happen to everyone. Todd tells Amanda the truth and she tells him she never wants to see him again, Dirk and Todd get captured, Farah gets hit in the head, and Bart confronts the nature of her existence.

But perhaps the highlight of the episode is the moment where Gordon, after going to a great deal of effort to capture them, has no idea what Dirk and Todd are doing there. Instead of the typical “villain explains the nefarious plot” sequence we’re expecting, we get a very bewildered, very frustrated Gordon wondering what the hell is going on.

And think about it: From his perspective, a wealth of people have showed up to disrupt his secret plot, when no one should even know anything about it. As things wind to a close, Dirk Gently is really committing to its holistic framework. The universe is acting to set something right, and using many unconnected players to make it happen. For a show that has often been as confusing to a viewer as it has been to the characters within it, things are finally starting to make sense. Namely, we get a huge missing piece of the puzzle, which is that Todd and Dirk were present for the murder of Patrick Spring.

A lot of the time, a massive last-minute twist can turn into a deus ex machina, an effort to desperately weave together a story that has gone off the rails. But since the show started off the rails, the last-minute twist pulls things back together. We’ve known since the pilot that Todd and Dirk were in the hotel the day of the murder. Why wouldn’t they have been at the scene of it? Putting them there now, when they’ve gained a lot of information about what’s going on, means that they affected everything that happened from the start of the show.

The downside to all of the pieces beginning to cohere into a whole is that most of the episode feels like setup. Conflicts come to a head, but aren’t resolved. Estevez finally starts to figure things out, but has to keep not trusting Todd to keep things moving, despite the fact that Lydia-as-corgi tells him that Todd set her free. And now that he’s interacted with both the bald weirdos and Todd, it should be pretty clear that Todd isn’t involved with them. Given that everything Estevez trusted in was set up against him, it’s possible Todd should seem like a lifeline rather than another potential nemesis. On the other hand, it’s not like he and Zimmerfield had created the impression prior to this that they were exactly a crack team of investigators. And he’s pretty depressed at the moment.

But the emotional crux of the episode is what happens between Todd and Amanda. Outside all the chaos of Dirk and his associated entanglements, this show has been a story about a struggling guy and a sick woman, who really only have each other in the world. And now they don’t have that.


It’s a little hard to imagine the past version of Todd. He’s so relentlessly self-sacrificing when it comes to Amanda that it doesn’t seem possible that he could ever have been as much of a heartless monster as he apparently used to be. Part of the problem is that this is Elijah Wood playing him, and he’s been in pure wide-eyed innocent Elijah Wood mode the whole time. He doesn’t really read as someone capable of what he’s describing. His confession scene is so chaotic that he never really gets a chance to explain why he did what he did. Certainly, telling one lie can lead to a lot more to protect yourself, but it would be helpful to get a little more nuance to explain why he did what he did.

There’s still two more episodes for him and Amanda to reconcile (although at some point, someone is going to have to explain to Farah what he did, which might crush any potential feelings she has for him). In the meantime, we’re back once again with a lot of disparate groups working at cross purposes for an outcome they don’t totally understand. Sounds a lot like life.


Stray observations

  • That opening scene with Julian McMahon as Zachariah Webb felt straight out of an episode of Drunk History, from the goofy costuming to the nonverbal storytelling. Here’s hoping people stopped letting Webb have pets. He doesn’t take very good care of them.
  • “The universe is already weird, Todd.”
  • “How many sets of guys are in this situation?” –Gordon, speaking for a lot of people watching this show.
  • Suspension of disbelief is of course a prerequisite for watching this show, but even that does not quite stretch to cover the fact that Todd has not redeemed the lottery ticket or done anything to keep it safe.
  • We all knew what would happen as soon as Dirk started yelling his name, right?
  • So are the Rowdy Three just, like, waiting around for Amanda to have an attack? What do they do the rest of the time?
  • Will Dirk and Todd actually save Patrick? And more importantly, how many more coats will Dirk go through before the end of the show?