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Nine Perfect Strangers - Episodes 7&8 - Review

With only one episode to go, Nine Perfect Strangers has accelerated in the second half of its season, dropping twists seemingly at every turn. Twists that don't always seem necessary, or even, if I may... sensical. Despite the first few episodes feeling a little repetitive, I was hoping the season would get better once all the players had been introduced, along with their shadowy backgrounds, but the truth is, Nine Perfect Strangers seems to both pile on too much and too few elements to make the show work.

It does have its moments though, largely thanks to its stellar cast (I've been seeing Morning Show reviews this week and this seems to have become one of Hollywood's recurrent problems: combinations of acting juggernauts in so-so shows), but sometimes that still isn't enough. Part of the problem, to me, is still that the show decided to stray from the book so much, and as a reader I was willing to accept the changes if they made the plot better but for the most part they..., well, don't.
Disclaimer: this review isn't spoiler free, so if you haven't watched the last two episodes, proceed with caution!

9 things that make 0 sense on Nine Perfect Strangers

1. Carmel. What the hell is going on?! Far from the weight-obsessed, slightly downtrodden yet humorous mother of 4 the book depicted, Carmel has become a timebomb who seems like she could go off at any given second. Even in the show, the constantly simmering rage that emanates from her under the cover of an overly sweet exterior (her voice?!) is, at times, terrifying. And with good reason, since we learn that Masha is actually one of the women Carmel's ex cheated on her with.

2. Again, WHAT? How did Masha miss this? Surely she vets each and every one of her "guests" more thoroughly than future FBI recruits?! Or was this planned and did she think it would be cathartic for both of them to finally meet? In any case, this is beyong any "wellness" plan either of them could've had, since Carmel is clearly here for vengeance, and Masha's idea of solving people's problems involve an increasing amount of (not so microdosed) drugs and hallucinations. Is it any surprise then, that Carmel is the one who shot Masha all those years ago, and actually came to Tranquillum House to finish the job?

3. Speaking of hallucinations, there might as well be ten perfect strangers here, since Zach is now a new fixture for the entire Marconi family. How is this going to help them? It's one thing to be in a pretend situation where you think you cay say everything you couldn't to a person you can never reach again, it's another to make it last. I (again) have trouble believing in quick fix therapy solutions where issues as deep as these aren't worked through. I worry about what Masha's next steps are going to be, provide the Marconi family with a weekly delivery of drugs that allow them to still "live" with Zach?! Reality isn't a perspective, Masha, and using people's grief as a commercial device is despicable. Also, in what world would Masha saying she'll take the drug cocktail with them, be reassuring? The Marconis' decision to go along with all this is baffling.

4. Even worse though, this newfound peace is only tentative, since the revelation that the asthma prescription contained a suicide ideation warning as a side effect is suddenly dumped as one of Heather's repressed memories. Heather works in the medical field, and I'm having a really hard time believing she wouldn't have made that connexion either by reading through her son's medication guidelines when he got it, or afterwards seeing as his act seemed like it came out of nowhere. Based on Heather's behavior, it seemed that she, along with Napeleon (who didn't get up early enough) and Zoe (who was playing the silent treatment game), already blamed herself for Zach's death, so this tardive addition feels completely tacked on.

5. It takes seven, SEVEN episodes for someone to finally crack and leave. Delilah has had it, and one can only hope an end to the madness will finally come through in the form of Masha being put behind bars (along with Carmel), for a very long time.

6. The drug cocktail she gave the Marconi family to commune with Zach has already caused one death, and yet Masha doesn't blink an eye as she sees them take it. As part of Lars's investigation, and because Delilah and Yao were actually there when it happened, we learn that during the last retreat, a certain Mr Connelly had a heart attack and never made it. How did Tranquillum House not close after that?! Masha blamed it on an unhealthy lifestyle but surely there are investigations when someone dies at a wellness retreat? Or did she drug the detectives too?

7. It's also revealed that at least part of Masha's obsession with death isn't solely her own brush it it when she got shot. She also lost a child, and understandably seems to never have recovered from it. Which sheds a lot of light on her motives, but still doesn't make them acceptable. Drugs don't make deceased loved ones come back, Masha, and never will.

8. Meanwhile, Ben and Jess seem to be on a completely different show, and are actually renewing their vows. Yay for love in the face of... winning the lottery and being miserable, I guess?

9.Similarly, Frances and Tony finally get together, and it's lovely and feels genuine but, again, how are they not seeing what's going on and running away from it, Delilah-style? The darkness of Tony's past also make me wonder if he'll ever really be able to move on from it, and what that bodes for his blossoming relationship with Frances.
With the finale almost upon us, one can only wonder how the show will wrap up and if it can salvage the parts that made it good, i.e. the characters. As usual, sound off in the comments as we wait!

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