The Memory Palace
Dispatches From Elsewhere returns this week with a slightly different tone, oozing more of an espionage flavour whilst progressing the narrative with a drip-feed of more information about the Game of Life. While the surreal imagery is kept somewhat to a minimum, the series makes up for that with some decent characterisation, this time for Fredwynn who takes centre stage.
Episode 4 of Dispatches from Elsewhere takes us back to Fredwynn at the limo, as Octavio narrates about his life and how consumed he is to find out the truth. When Fredwynn arrives at the theatre, Octavio helps him out the limo. His two bodyguards tell him that Fredwynn is a “hardcore”; a man who takes the Game of Life too seriously.
Fredwynn escapes from the room and starts asking questions. He receives a tip-off surrounding a Prompt book that may hold some clues, and this is where we see his call to Janice last episode about the envelope – as the screen splits in half to see both parties’ reactions.
The Jejune Institute presentation gets underway, and Fredwynn finds himself backstage looking at the Prompt Book, as we learn the entire VR construct for Janice was a fabrication – conjured up by Octavio and the others using social media and “VR magic”.
This catches us up to where we left off last episode, as Fredwynn joins the others in the diner. As they sit together, Fredwynn starts reading off a pre-prepared speech before showing them the script, becoming very emotional when Simone asks if this game is just a bit of fun, rather than a conspiracy.
Fredwynn then reads off some exposition to explain more about his life and history, going on to talk about company data and how everything has changed in the world from making money to gaining power. From economies collapsing to people being manipulated – this is what the game is all about according to Fredwynn; power hungry sociopaths capitalising on people.
In the hallway of an apartment building, Fredwynn shows the contents of Octavio’s letter, which holds a number of different names and a P.O. Box address, which leads them to D1. A lady answers the door and Fredwynn threatens her surrounding the envelope. As she tells them to leave, shouting that she’ll phone the police, the group drag Fredwynn away as the lady puts her finger to her lips and tells him to be quiet.
With the group splintered for now, Fredwynn heads back to the theatre, intent on trying to find clues that he may have missed. Breathing deeply, a pink neon light beams down on him as he relives that night through a new ominous glow thanks to his Memory Palace. He realizes a clue is being held on one of the presents in the VR construct and bemoans his luck as he can’t figure it out.
Instead, Fredwynn heads up to see Janice who shows him Lev. As they talk, we learn more about Janice and Fredwynn’s upbringing. Despite connecting together in a meaningful way, Fredwynn jumps right back to the topic of Octavio, as they sit together and he tries to activate her Memory Palace.
Eventually they do manage to find clues, with help from past-Janice as they figure out the meaning of the tag on the glowing present. Together they read out the clue – “3125 Spring Street”. This happens to be an address somewhere in Fishtown.
With the gang together, Fredwynn leads them to the address where they find a trap door. As they open it, Peter calls out for Clara, which is where the episode ends.
Dispatches From Elsewhere returns this week and rounds out our quartet of protagonists with a Fredwynn-centric episode. Unlike last week, this time around we get much more of an espionage feel to proceedings as Fredwynn tries to piece together the clues and make sense of what’s going on around him.
Unlike the dreamy, emotionally-charged nature of last week’s episode focusing on Janice, this week it’s all about hard facts and piecing together evidence. It’s a clever tactic to steer the episode in a direction more befitting for Fredwynn’s demeanour and thus far, we’ve seen the show take multiple surrealistic approaches to its storytelling, with a slight tonal shift in every episode. Whether it be the cartoons in Simone’s episode or the neon-glow of the Memory Palace this week, there’s no question that this show is incredibly stylish.
With the promise of answers next week surrounding Clara, inevitably this episode may well be a make-or-break midway spike in this show. Whether Dispatches From Elsewhere can back up its strong visual flair with some meaty storytelling remains to be seen but for now, the show continues to offer up one of the more unusual and different slices of drama each week.