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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled emDispatches From Elsewhere /emsuggests the end is nigh, while delivering a key moment of joy
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It’s the end of the game of Dispatches From Elsewheretheoretically. Certainly the public-facing event has been concluded, bringing with it the confirmation that Octavio Coleman and Commander 14 were being played by identical twins, and that this is actually a game. But then there are the episode’s final moments, acknowledging that there’s something bigger beneath the surface, and our gang has the chance to learn the answer to the big question of who Clara is. Or, um, was?

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Before digging into that issue, let’s deal with the substance of the episode, which was largely about confronting our gang of puzzle-solvers about their difficulties in engaging with the outside world. After the events of last week, the gang is struggling to decide whether or not to alert to the authorities as to what they found in the penthouse apartment; that decision gets pushed aside when a man comes up in the elevator, fleeing as soon as he sees Our Heroes.

Chasing the man, known as the milk man because that was what he was drinking when Peter and his friends started chasing him, brings the gang first to a wardrobe closet for the game, and then eventually to what appears to be the endgamea showdown between Octavio Coleman and Commander 14, accompanied by a live performance by an actress playing Clara.

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This scene is all about celebrating the duality that has been a key aspect of the game from the beginning: the battle between chaos and order, and so many other qualities, as exemplified by how the Jejune Institute presents its ideas opposite the Elsewhere Society.

It is a war which the show, at least for now, reveals to be an artificial construct. It also gets ruined by Peter, as he interrupts the “fake” Clara’s karaoke rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” which was part of the finaleleaving Peter humiliated in front of all the other gameplayers.

Once the game is over and the after-party for the game has begun, the team tries to take stock, with Fredwynn pushing the actor behind Octavio for more information, and both Peter and Simone chatting with the yeti, who identifies himself here as the “Elegant Squatch,” and feels free to admit that he’s horny for Simone.

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However, he doesn’t get his chance, because the after-party is one that brings with it a few important reveals, most important of which was the big climatic moment that yes, literally had me yelling “YAY!” when I watched: Peter and Simone, after the Elegant Squatch taunted them over their obvious mutual attraction, finally kissed. And it was a good kiss, too, preluded by Peter serenading Simone with “On My Own” from Les Miserablesmaybe not the most romantic of songs, but remember that Peter’s musical repertoire is limited to the Les Mis soundtrack... and end of list.

It’s a long-awaited moment, and a lovely one (not kidding, really did yell “YAY!” in my quiet apartment while watching). The groundbreaking nature of this feels almost rude to hang a hat on, but it does feel important to mention how beautiful it is, the casual way in which this show presents a romance between a cis male and a trans woman, because what matters, in the long run, is how they feel, not who they are.

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Meanwhile, at the same time, Fredwynn is having an extreme series of recollections that pinpointed how past interactions have only ensured his isolation, while Janice’s younger self reminded her that she’s a bit out of place in this scene (not cool, Young Janice!). The unexpected effect of this is that it’s Janice, ready to go home, who ends up encountering The Architecta woman who admits that “the truth is that Clara is dead and it’s all my fault.”

So maybe there’s more mystery yet to come. But in the meantime, here are some moments of joy, followed by some intrigue. The world is hard to handle right now. Thank you, Dispatches From Elsewhere, for doing your best to help.

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Stray observations

  • Janice breaking that beer bottle was one of her most badass moments to date.
  • Fredwynn’s very real knife came initially as a surprise, but did end up making sense.
  • Richard E. Grant as Dirtbag Actor is one of his greatest types. He really should have won the Oscar for Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Peter is sometimes a bit hard to grok as a character, but his embarrassed admission that “I never want to talk about it ever again” is perhaps him at his most relatable.
  • “You told me I was special.” “I said that to everyone.” Such a brutal response.
  • Such a perfectly observed line about Peter, from Simone: “When he leans on something, he does it all careful like, to make sure he’s not going to break it.” There is no doubt, with moments like this, how much of a love story this show is.
  • Fredwynn playing vocal coach to Peter as he struggles to find his chest voice... This show is truly capable of beauty sometimes.
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Liz Shannon Miller is a L.A.-based writer who recently spent five years at Indiewire. Her work has also been published by the New York Times, Vulture, Variety, THR, the Verge, and Thought Catalog.

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