**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**
“Pay attention. Clues are all around you…”
Dispatches From Elsewhere premiered on AMC on March 1st 2020. The anthology series features 10 episodes that air weekly (approximately 56 minutes in length). It stars Jason Segel, Eve Lindley, André Benjamin, and Sally Field.
Based on the 2013 documentary film, The Institute, the series centers around four main characters who have lost a sense of meaning in their lives. They each stumble upon a game with many challenges and mysteries, as they unlock the secrets behind it and form unexpected connections with one another.
The show is definitely something different and unique, luring you in from the first opening minutes, which feature the narrator staring at you without saying anything. The show throws you right into the mysterious game, as you find yourself playing along, but it’s really more about the characters and their journey toward self-discovery.
While the show may hit you over the head with some of its underlying themes, it does provide us with a lot of reflective moments as well, but does it do enough to earn a watch? Let’s find out…
A mystery that grabs your full attention.
I may not know what’s going on for a lot of these tests and challenges, but they keep me coming back for more. The opening episode is from Peter’s (Segel) perspective, as he finds himself invited to some kind of elaborate test or game, but there are warnings as well about the mysterious Jejune Institute.
Are they friends or foes? I’m not sure, but the clues are fun and interesting, leading to more pieces of the main puzzle.
Electric character dynamics.
The cast is absolutely fantastic. Standout performance goes to Eve Lindley as Simone, who really elevates the rest of the characters that much more, while throwing in some humor as well.
The characters couldn’t be more different and yet the narrator asks us to think of them as us, connecting us to their stories. While each character deals with different obstacles, they somehow find true friendship and understanding in their group, suggesting that the strangers we pass by in the world every day have the potential to become so much more.
A lot going on…
While the show captures our attention, it does go off the rails several times. The show is supposed to be about more than the mysterious game, which we understand immediately, but the plot of the show branches out all over the place.
When you reach the later episodes, things that seemed important fade away and there is some unnecessary fluff that I could have done without. I think that the opening episodes really set the tone for the show and it started to lose steam once some of the reveals were presented.
That being said, it’s also part of the show’s charm, suggesting that our own journeys zigzag rather than travel down a straight path toward understanding.
So am I in or out?
I’m in! At first glance, I put this show on the back burner. However, once I gave the show a true chance, I quickly lost myself within it. It’s honestly the perfect show to binge-watch during your stay at home quarantine, as it really helps you reflect about what’s important in life and it also allows you to transport yourself somewhere else.
While you may see the reveals coming from a mile away, the show has a deeper meaning and as long as you embrace and understand that and expect to be confused a lot of the time, you’ll enjoy yourself.
This show was an unexpected surprise for me and I’m truly glad that I gave it the chance it deserves. While it may not be perfect, it is extremely unique and touching, blending mystery, sci-fi, and heartwarming moments with some glimpses of pure brilliance along the way.
I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Dispatches From Elsewhere in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!
Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl
PLAY BY THE RULES…STAY ALIVE…
A harmless night of fun turns deadly for six college friends but the game has only just begun. Take a mystery thrill ride right from your own living room. Dash and Seek comes out April 28th!
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