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Into the Dark - Pooka Lives! - Review

Just once, I’d love to come out of an episode of Into The Dark that I’m excited to talk about and fully in love it. Unfortunately, this month’s installment does not deliver that for me. It does, however, deliver Rachel Bloom committing murder so, you win some you lose some.

With this episode, it feels like they tried to pack in way too much in a small amount of time. Which is ironic, because it’s movie length, so it’s not even the usual 42-minute length that a normal TV episode is. They had their token gay character, a cringy overactive social media star, and they even had a small subplot of marital problems.

Let’s meet our cast of characters: Derrick (Malcolm Barrett - Timeless) is a writer returning to his hometown after something (something that takes way too long to reveal itself) happens that essentially runs him out of his successful old job. He’s staying with old friends Molly (Felecia Day - The Guild) and Matt (Jonah Ray - Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return) who can never seem to actually get along and have a daughter that at no point becomes relevant to the plot.

Then we have Bennie (Gavin Stenhouse - Allegiance) the local silly, dumb cop who has wonderful chemistry with Derrick, and yet nothing comes of it because… Susan exists. Susan (Lyndie Greenwood - Sleepy Hollow) is Derrick’s old flame who he tries to rekindle things with because nothing says “let’s get back together” like a 15-year separation and an attraction of convenience.

There’s also Ellie (Rachel Bloom - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) and David (Wil Wheaton - Star Trek: The Next Generation) who are there, and then they’re not. Ellie is the original creator of Pooka, unhappy about the company trying to change Pooka, and David is her husband, unhappy about pictures being released of Ellie being dragged out of her work by security. Naturally, Ellie responds to his anger by lighting both of them on fire.

The plot of this episode is insane because it actually seems like it came straight from a Reddit board. Like the writers got together, put up 50 pages of random words, and threw darts. First dart: Internet challenge. Second dart: Ash. Third dart: Tulpa. Thus creates: Pooka Lives!

The major problem with this episode is that while it seems like so much happened, I’m struggling to write this because actually, not much at all happened. Derrick was run out of his town. He got angry and created an internet challenge. The internet challenge blew up. Then, it gets weird, because apparently, they have to save the world? And then they don’t even do that. It literally ends with them not saving the world. Huh?

I will say, though, they did shock me by using a tulpa storyline. I’ve heard of tulpa’s before, but from what I know, they’re not incredibly popular, so to see it on a show like this made me genuinely surprised. A tulpa is defined as “a concept of a being or an object which is created through spiritual or mental powers.” So they’re saying that the internet spread this challenge so much, they created artwork and wrote stories so realistic that the power of the internet made it into a physical reality.

Oh, and by the way, relating to the challenge that created the tulpa, anyone who willingly eats ash for an internet challenge probably isn’t surviving the end of the world anyway. Survival of the fittest, y’all.

I do have to throw it out there, with the script as weak as it was, and the directing definitely not my favorite, the cast is really what made this still enjoyable. They all had pretty good chemistry together as a whole, and they bounced off of each other fairly well, which was nice to see since sometimes with anthology casts they don’t fit as well.

I will say, one thing I really liked about this episode was the things in the background that pieced it together. More than once we saw instances where there were Pookas in the background, whether a poster, or a doll, or a light, where we watched Pooka’s eyes go from blue to red. It was subtle but still noticeable, and I thought it was a great detail.

Bringing back Pooka comes with a high set of standards, ones in which Into the Dark failed to meet, but they gave me Malcolm Barrett and Rachel Bloom on my screen again, so how much can I really fault them for it?

My favorite quote from this episode came from Matt when Molly admonished him for getting a beer as they were discussing how to fix this problem they now had: “If I’m gonna get murdered by some demonic toy, I’m gonna be buzzed when it happens.”

What did you guys think of the episode? What was your favorite scene? Who were your favorite characters? Did they leave that ending open enough to bring it back for a third and final time? Let me know what you think in the comments!

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