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The Mosquito Coast - The Damage Done - Review

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After a long extended break in which The Mosquito Coast’s absence gave me time to read Paul Theroux’s brilliant novel that the series draws its inspiration from, this understated series returned for its second chapter which finally gave us some answers in a moment that proves it was absolutely worth the wait for fans of the first season – explaining why Allie and Margot become the fugitives from the US Government.

Their marriage was on the ropes going into this season and they were seeing other people; but on top of that – Allie is displaying stalker-like tendencies, following Margot’s car to the high-end restaurants where she sees her on a romantic dinner. It’s messing with Allie’s head at the same time that he has to go ahead and plan a big speech at his new, very corporate job – announcing who he is and why he’s there, opening with the big open-plan office rooms feeling very much like a change of pace compared to what’s come before, and director Stefan Schwartz really making the jarring mix of location change to tell a compelling flashback narrative that spends so little time in the present with Allie and Margot’s family on a boat hurtling down the river that it might as well have left it entirely to the end.

We see how much they care for the kids and we see that Margot was as extreme as Allie, just in their different ways – Margot was an anarchist activist who plotted to blow up a building with new man Richard and successfully does so – but is left behind and ends up living with the guilt that she killed someone. Allie could have, Catch Me If You Can style, worked with the law enforcement to bring Margot down, but Allie using his own data is a very Edward Snowden-type level of character and the consequences are big enough on their own – using it to spy on his wife’s new boyfriend undermines his argument completely about the corporate overlords selling his data to the government – but it’s still a very valid concern; even if in his view, nobody cares even when the news was made public – ease of access prioritised over privacy. But what the kids don’t know is that Margot’s the real reason behind why they’re in so much trouble, a murder charge on her hands.

There was more story in this episode than the entire first season and I wonder if The Mosquito Coast’s change of gears was always part of the plan or this is a response to the criticism of the first season for being slow, I liked the lack of answers and the pace it moved at was really good. It doesn’t explain how or why Margot and Richard knew how to build a bomb given Margot’s distinctively upper class background (Rian Johnson or Ruben Östlund would have had a point to make about that more than this show has so far), but she’s known to the government so there’s a track record there. At the beginning of the premiere it makes it very clear that she’s very much moved on, left Allie behind – what happens now they’re isolated and struggling for survival? The Mosquito Coast is very much reminding me of Outer Banks and the drama from that teen show in that regard, but this feels more mature without the YA tendencies.

The Mosquito’s Coast premiere raises just as much questions as it answers – and it returns with a strong, solid start for Season 2.

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