Continuing its weird and wonderful journey through Room 104, HBO’s utterly bizarre anthology returns for another strange episode here, one that makes use of a hand-held camera to tell its story this week. While not quite as prolific or entertaining as the opening episode of the season, Room 104 continues to offer up an eclectic selection of stories here.
We begin this week with Craig inside Room 104 with itchy spots all over him. Through a handheld camera, he addresses a doctor as we learn he’s initiating a video log for him. He’s been using bleach to try and treat the rash but in doing so, it 0nly exacerbates the problem and causes the rash to bubble up.
We continue with this video-log style throughout the episode too, as Craig awakens in the middle of the night and addresses the camera about his nightmare. Dressed in a towel, he then phones his Mum in the morning and asks her questions about his past. She reveals some hidden truths, as well as an address linking to his past. He signs off the camera before picking up again to learn more about what he’s found.
As the spots begin to worsen, he zooms in to show these pus-covered spots and runs himself a bleach bath. As he pours bleach directly on his back, the grotesque rash pulsates and appears to multiply. Deciding he’s had enough, Craig ties a noose before playing a message from his doctor. It turns out he has a rare disease relating to a weakened immune system. He apologises for not catching this earlier but tells Craig it’s preventable and will be cured through three shots.
As the doctor arrives in the room some time later, he shuts the door and warns him the shots will hurt. “Thank you for looking after my babies”, he says cryptically as the shot is administered and Craig explodes in a flurry of crimson. His stomach bursts open, revealing two strange alien-like creatures which the doctor cradles before switching off the camera.
Itchy is an episode specifically designed to turn your nose up in disgust. With Craig wrapped in a towel for the majority of the episode and the spots progressively getting worse, the hand-held camera shots work well to add a level of authenticity to the disease he’s suffering from. The shots of the pus-covered spots bubbling up are particularly nose-wrinkling too but the ending, like so many others in this anthology, is really the make or break of the episode.
Personally, I think it makes the wait worth it and this primal fear of never recovering from an illness is played on to perfection through this episode. It’s not perfect, and at times the episode lacks the same aesthetic edge some of the others have in abundance, but there’s enough here to make for an enjoyable watch nonetheless.