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The Lost Symbol - L'Enfant Orientation - Advance Preview: "Meandering Nonsense"

Previously on “The Lost Symbol”: Robert and Katherine discover evidence of a supernatural phenomenon, Katherine’s research assistant is killed after Robert fails to heed Mal’akh’s orders, and Capitol Police Officer Alfonso Nuñez is still searching for a reason to stay on screen.

Most of the scenes in Dan Brown’s original novel focus on Robert running around Washington DC trying to find Peter and solve the big mysteries at the heart of the novel. With a TV show, a setup like that was never going to work and the cast was going to need to grow to spread out screen time. Unfortunately, the writers of this series have repeatedly chosen the most ham-fisted and half-assed reasons for employing more actors, specifically the role of Alfonso Nuñez (Rick Gonzalez). Gonzalez was fantastic in “Arrow” and he’s arguably one of the most recognizable stars in “The Lost Symbol,” but after four episodes his character simply has no reason to exist. “L'Enfant Orientation” works so hard to include the actor that it legitimately weakens the character. Doesn’t he have something better to do than constantly show up just to solve Robert’s problems and then depart? It may seem like a small point, but I truly hate to see Rick Gonzalez’s talent wasted in this way. Writers are similarly wasting Eddie Izzard in the role of Peter Solomon. With the exception of a short flashback, Peter spends this entire episode chilling in a sensory deprivation tank, the same place he’s been since the pilot. Placing Peter in the so-called "araf" this early was interesting to me, but at this point, it just seems like a delay tactic.

Meanwhile, Katherine focuses on finding her father through mumbo-jumbo noetic science after being forced to split up from Robert so Mal’akh doesn’t kill anyone else (especially another meaningless side character). Yes, that’s right, the person whose entire character is defined by her belief in noetic science has just now realized that she could try to find Peter using that science directly. Katherine attempts to locate Peter by talking to a professional “remote viewer.” Basically, someone thinks about someone else really hard and then they can magically sense their presence in the world. If it sounds really lame, that’s because it is really lame.

While Katherine is busy wasting her time, Robert does his best to track down the capstone supposedly capable of revealing the mysterious portal. He meets up with the Architect of the Capitol for a short meeting that could easily have been replaced with a quick Google search. Their meeting points Robert towards the belongings of Pierre L’Enfant, the original designer of Washington DC. The fact that this man designed Washington DC is not of any real importance to the plot, but look! It’s a historical figure that some people are probably vaguely familiar with! Hooray, I guess. Later, a minimally exciting sequence shows that Robert can leap from stone to stone and probably watched “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Sadly, what should be a fun scene in a cave on the side of a cliff is devoid of any real energy and just falls flat.

We also learn some backstory on Robert’s claustrophobia. In short, whereas Bruce Wayne wielded his fear to transform himself into Batman, Robert Langdon became a giant nerd who maybe, kinda, sorta believes in God. In the books, Robert’s claustrophobia is one of his defining characteristics (along with his love for symbols and Mickey Mouse) and is something that he constantly works to combat. In the TV show, however, his condition is used as a method for conveying whatever message the writers have decided on at the moment. In the first episode, Robert’s claustrophobia shows that he needs help in this dangerous scavenger hunt. In the second episode, Katherine helps him through a tight space in order to show the closeness of their relationship. In this episode, his claustrophobia is used to explain the complexity of his belief or non-belief in a higher power. It’s a lazy catchall for the writers desperately grasping for a deeper meaning than the meandering nonsense that has plagued every episode since the pilot.

Rating: 5.6/10 - As I said in my last preview, every episode of this series has been worse than the last. The pacing is slow and the writing is just nonsensical. As someone who adored the novel and admired the pilot, the trajectory of this show has been a genuine disappointment.

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