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The Lost Symbol - The Araf - Advance Preview

Previously on “The Lost Symbol”: In the present day, Robert Langdon (Ashley Zukerman) and Katherine Solomon (Valorie Curry) are on the run from the CIA following an attack on the U.S. Capitol, just as the search for Katherine’s father, Peter Solomon (Eddie Izzard), begins. Elsewhere, the mysterious Mal’akh (Beau Knapp) pulls strings from the shadows as he instructs Langdon’s reluctant search for an ancient portal and taunts Peter in captivity. In flashbacks, the origins of Robert and Katherine’s prior relationship are explored while Katherine’s troubled brother, Zachary (Keenan Jolliff), plans a trip to the Middle East with the specific intent of getting away from his extremely privileged family.

This week’s episode is entitled “The Araf,” a word used last week by Mal’akh to describe Peter Solomon’s location. The word comes from the Quran and refers to “the borderline between heaven and hell,” essentially a spiritual domain with no degree of suffering, but also a definite lack of paradise. This realm could be described in other religions as purgatory or, if you watched “Lost,” the flash-sideways universe of the sixth season. While Mal’akh certainly seemed confident in this description of Peter’s current disposition, audiences should be careful to reconsider the validity of anything they think they see on “The Lost Symbol,” especially when focused on Mal’akh. Having his hand forcibly amputated for the sole purpose of a twisted art project is sadly only the beginning of Peter’s troubles. Expect to see Peter struggle a great deal in this episode, both in the present and in the past. The writers have chosen to make a significant change from the book in this particular storyline that, so far, works pretty well.

While the title of the episode is clearly intended to reference Peter’s situation, it could also certainly describe the set of circumstances that Robert and Katherine find themselves in. Having successfully evaded the CIA at Mal’akh’s insistence, the pair spend their time evaluating the assistance of a new character. An important element of every Robert Langdon story includes an educated person of prominence who serves as a sort of NPC capable of providing additional exposition and a few answers to the questions at the center of the story (answers that lead to more clues generally speaking). For “The Lost Symbol,” this character is the Capitol Architect. Unfortunately, the Capitol Architect is one of two characters in this episode who conveniently appears just to provide assistance and then neatly disappears into the background when not needed. Rick Gonzalez’s Capitol Police officer is also back and the plot contrivance that forces his short return to the screen is hardly worth its salt. Neither of these story points are particularly bad, but they feel lazily written and singularly focused on moving characters from point A to point B.

On the positive side, Katherine Solomon takes center stage for the best parts of this series’s second hour. An excellent use of flashbacks shines a light on Katherine’s strained relationship with her late brother, Zachary. While the first episode made it clear that things don’t go well for Zachary on his trip, this episode shows a significant level of detail in the messiness of the family’s ordeal. There is a lot of tension in the Solomon family where Zachary is concerned and Katherine finds herself in the middle of it all. Of course, Robert is at her side throughout the majority of these flashbacks, but the writers wisely focus these scenes on Katherine’s relationship with the rest of her immediate family. If you read the original book, you probably have a pretty good idea where this story is leading now and why it's so important.

Rating: 7.9/10 - The high number of conveniences and plot contrivances that lead Robert Langdon along (with the CIA only a few steps behind him) are a glaring issue here in a way they were not in the pilot. Somehow, the flashbacks and secondary storylines are more interesting than anything the main character is doing in the present. Not everything about this episode is bad, but most of it isn’t great either. At least you can say the episode is living up to its name.

Tune in to the “The Lost Symbol" on Thursdays on Peacock. Be sure to come back here to SpoilerTV to let everyone else know what you thought of the episode.

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