Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3/5
The Consultant squarely falls in that category of shows that boggle you with their high concept but frustrate you with their lack of rudimentary narrative poise. Apple TV’s Servant might have accompanied the show but the creators redeemed it over the course of its four seasons. Similarly, The Peripheral and The Nevers are recent instances of this phenomenon. Perhaps all these shows need is more time. But in their existing conditions, we aren’t prepared to embrace them for their pitfalls.
In an attempt to make The Consultant more edgy and contemporary, creator Tony Basgallop and the writers miss the undeniable potential in satire that could have made it great.
CompWare, a waning mobile gaming company, is in dire straits. Not only has its mercurial creative prodigy Sang-Woo (Brian Lee) been shockingly killed by a school kid Tokyo with a gun, the company is on the verge of wrapping up. Business is down and they have not been able to come up with a hit game for a while. Craig, a talented yet uninspired coder, and Elaine, an eager and ambitious low-level assistant, are just beginning to look for other opportunities when Regus Patoff (Waltz) joins them. He introduces himself as the Consultant, presents the necessary enabling documents, and just takes over.
That kickstarts a maelstrom of events that not only transform the fortunes of the company but also shape the lives of its employees, especially Craig and Elaine. Given all the shady technological advancements of the 21st century, the plot of The Consultant seems like a plausible reality.
Although the show never says so, Regus Patoff is most probably a humanoid/robot of some kind created by the deviousness of human curiosity. It is in the name itself, as Florez pointed out. On that tangent, that is the biggest disappointment of The Consultant; the glaring absence of answers to key plot points.
For most parts, the show keeps up the mystery behind Patoff and those behind it intact, raising expectations. But as we sit in front of the screens drowning in anticipation, we never get a salvaging hand to pull us up. The result is that we go deeper into the bottomless abyss looking for answers when there aren’t any. Even with eight episodes, The Consultant never fully capitalizes on the opportunity to make itself ironclad and irresistible to us. The tone remains inconsistent with flashes of brilliance embracing us every now and then. That occasional spur is not enough given the high standard of acceptance for television shows.
The most tectonic upheaval in terms of characterization comes from the character of Regus. The creative choices made with his character late on are jarring and really off-putting, but perhaps necessary if the creators want to expand the show over more seasons.
Christoph Waltz, Nat Wolff, Brittany O’Grady, and Amy Carerro make up the star roster. And it must be said, all of them give worthy performances, especially Waltz and Grady. Their weirdly hypnotic and symbiotic relationship in the context of CompWare is relished due to the brilliant plotting of their dynamics. One can even go on to compare the two with a host and a leech; but a relationship that goes both ways when you look at it.
If that theory about Patoff’s genealogy is correct, that is where The Consultant’s most compelling weapon lies. There are shades here of Under the Skin; how Regus sees the world of CompWare. It is almost as if Johansson’s Laura reported her findings to the makers of Regus and now he has come to rectify them. Stretching that tangent of the story, even if it was at the cost of making it less “thrilling” in the conventional meaning of the term, could have elevated the show’s appeal and impact. In its current shape, The Consultant’s mixed bag of compromises and surprises is not as compelling.
Verdict - 6.5/10