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The Mosquito Coast - The Burning of Judas + Dead Totems - Reviews

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Episode 7, The Burning of Judas

The aim of the rest of the season is now established, can the Foxes betray Richard to the National Security Agency, Raban, and the Government in exchange for safety? It’s certainly an interesting prospect – they have a direct threat to their own wellbeing. Margot believes that she’s going to start working on Richard, but Allie is less than keen. In an effort to creating some more symbolism we get a vigil for the Burning of Judas – Christ’s betrayer – that keeps Charlie awake at night. And now they wait – for Christ’s resurrection. The show has been quite blunt with symbolism – and just to evident that; Allie’s bluntness about not being able to trust the government feels like a warning that defines his character a mile away.

Marisol Adler’s direction for this episode is crisp and slick, very beneficial of the budget that The Mosquito Coast has like all of its Apple originals – the director’s work on shows like The Cleaning Lady and Power Book II puts her right at home here. I can’t help but wonder if the show wasn’t in its second season already whether this season would have been enough to renew it to a second; but it certainly feels like such a comedown after the first it’s almost hard to talk about the same things seven episodes in.

No matter where you go there’s always a landlord – Allie must work to pay the rent. Now, Dina is a bit less harsh on Allie as she knows it wasn’t entirely his fault – and wants to apologise for blaming him – if it’s not the apology that Allie was entirely expecting. It’s a chance for Dina to come clean, she doesn’t hate either of them – but it makes sense, she says – as to why both are incredibly fucked up. Both are fucking things up for Dina and Charlie; for the family – that they love them, but never once acting like it. I was cheering for Dina in this moment – finally getting to come to terms with her toxic parents. She doesn’t respect them; and now she’s lost respect for Margot too. Dina wants out and wants to leave today – with Allie perfectly fine to let her go, but the door locks behind her. This is a terrifying performance by Justin Theroux here, a reminder of just how scary Allie can be – to Dina, he’s a bully – and she’s right – the show has been deliberately obscuring a grander villain here, because Allie and Margot might as well be them. They certainly win the award for the most toxic on-screen parents of 2022.

The Burning of Judas is a sombre and beautifully portrayed procession – handled all too briefly to let the show sink in. The Mosquito Coast’s best ideals are its location – and it helps give the show a sense of identity and real purpose that makes you aware of its surroundings.

Richard and Margot have a heart to heart about Charlie; Richard’s worried about him and his usage of the gun. It scared him – we all saw how scared he was in the episode before that. It’s enough to make Margot worried about Charlie. Margot’s strategy of working Richard is asking what Richard wants and why he’s here – very direct – but Margot’s always been such. Isela brought him here to do something for someone important; but that’s a cover story.

Meanwhile, Allie and William Lee take the motorboat out to the woods and the car; off on another adventure at the same time as Richard and Margot – can’t be a coincidence, right? The beautiful exotic locations of the beaches are evident and clear, but The Mosquito Coast cuts away from them too quickly – let the show bask in the moment.

Charlie and Dina get torn between the two worlds – Dina wants to leave, but Charlie has gone native and really wants to stay; he’s at home with the natives. It’s Dina’s turn to have some agency and be mad for a change – but she’s deliberating – does she want to leave Charlie behind, who’s clearly a lot happier here? He’s not to blame the same way Margot and Allie have been. Dina’s got to get her head around a lot this season, her own arc being pushed to the forefront the way Charlie’s was the first time out gives both characters a sense of purpose this time out. Adolfo gets the chance to reveal more about his parents to Dina to figure things out – his dad shot himself when he was 8, and as a result, clearly Allie and Margot deserve second chances. It’s a reminder of the relative privilege that Charlie and Dina have.

Daniel Raymont’s Guillermo brings Allie and William Lee under one roof. He wants them to make the police interference go away so he can conduct his business, recruiting Caleb – an MIT graduate who’s a fan of Allie’s past work processing the data for his arrival. They want Allie’s algorithm, sandpiper – to predict and analyse the movement of law enforcement. But at what cost? Allie doesn’t wand sandpiper to be taken from him – he won’t work with Caleb, nobody else. This is his baby. Guillermo’s decision is to let Caleb go; cold and brutally.

The past is coming back to haunt not just Allie in this episode, but Margot too – she’s also faced with a reunion with Richard. Their direction takes them to a destruction of land in the middle of the destruction of land by excessive corporate greed – diggers tearing apart the world. They stopped genetically modified material from entering the food chain at the company that they destroyed when they attacked the company in the past; and now they have bigger targets in play – recognising with the guilt of their actions is just part of that. Their target is Andrea Bautista, Guillermo’s sister, who’s hoping to sell the land to Carter. This puts – as predicted – William Lee, Allie Fox on one team, Richard and Margot on the other – and a path for the future of the series has never become clearer. History is about to repeat itself – with Allie a 72-hour deadline to get sandpiper online.

Back in the village, a bell – and a warning is rung. The family’s land includes Isela’s village, and one-by-one the mercenaries arrive. They take what they want from Guillermo, because everyone’s got a landlord – no matter how remote you are. And this is the price they must pay for safety – Isela giving a speech of protection at the cost of being a Judas with the burning of it in the background demonstrating just how good, once again – the cinematography has been this season. The landscape establishing shots too, equally terrific – a real sense of wonder and Blue Planet to them all. Could be a David Attenborough doc; almost.

I really like how things are coming together now. I was a bit less keen at the start of the episode; but the stakes are wrapped up highly enough now that the tension is there and all the dilemmas that the characters established in the first half are coming together nicely. The slower paced storyline seems to be working in The Mosquito Coast’s favour; but also – never has there been a better advert for binge-watching as opposed to the weekly schedule. It feels like this is one of those rare AppleTV+ originals where a season drop would’ve helped, not hurt it.

Episode 8, Dead Totems

Episode 8 takes time to explore the relationship between Dina and Adolfo whilst Margot’s plan for full immunity is getting increasingly desperate by the hour. One of the main obstacles about their return to society is that Charlie will want to stay; and Margot’s insistent that he needs to be told that he’s going back – but either way, Raban isn’t listening. Richard on his own won’t be enough.

Allie’s destruction of security cameras and traps around the village gives them a bit of privacy. He knows that Bautista will not stop at just getting Allie to do Sandpiper, and he’s forced to embrace the evil that he created to put a stop to it.

We learn a bit more about Richard and his son, whose mother lives in Bristol. He did everything that his mother wants to do but to him, it felt self-congratulatory, performative. To Richard, he looks at Margot and sees that she’s lucky, able to maintain a status of militancy and some sort of a family: but yesterday, Margot was reminded by Richard that she used to care, back in the day. They’re a world removed from the idealistic academic that she used to be, and it’s a fond memory of both adults sharing their less experienced days. Richard warns Margot off, he doesn’t want her to get involved.

Once again, I’m running out of superlatives for the visuals in The Mosquito Coast. The sweeping scenic shots of Allie walking alongside the lake are spectacular. In contrast to Allie, Dina wants a normal life – to live with a family in a suburban utopia, everything her dad has warned her to be. Adolfo and Dina have differences of opinion too, Adolfo’s religious nature puts him at odds with Dina’s atheism – doesn’t it get lonely, he asks? The theological touch of The Mosquito Coast is brought into play with these two characters here – as Adolfo shows her the natural beauty of the village and its celebrations of everyday life: of happiness – the dancing allows Dina to experience a sense of normality that’s a halfway house between that of the nightmarish American suburbia and that of her father’s frugalness – under the beautiful heat of the sun.

Charlie and Allie unite but William Lee is fed up with Allie waiting, and calls Bautista. To Allie, Sandpiper is something that finds order in what thinks is chaos – patterns in disorganisation. It can be equipped to find anything – order and chaos. Sandpiper’s algorithm to predict the future is countered by Charlie’s optimism that chance could happen, but even to Allie – data is everything; using an example of a bird that he could predict its movements, even to save it from dying. Allie using evidence to gain about Bautista, slowly but surely putting a case together to gain advantage so that they can get to somewhere safer but whilst this is happening it’s good to see Allie and Charlie debate the morality of artificial intelligence here. They’re in great form – and the show raises some important, good questions that need to be answered.

Whilst Allie is gathering evidence about Bautista, Margot is gathering evidence of Richard’s own plot – and confronts him about it openly, with the show not wasting any time in having her call out Richard – who wants her to run away with him. Whatever Richard’s doing it’s big, he doesn’t want to drag anyone else in, and he wants to keep Margot out of it. But now she has the passport, a way out – and a new life – but she wants all in, as Richard’s partner, or all out. This show, much of the middle half of the season – has been pushing its characters in separate directions – Charlie staying behind, Dina embracing normal life, Allie being Allie and Margot threatening to run away at any given turn now has a real shot at doing so. Will any of the Foxes be even in the same country at the end of the season, if they make it out alive?

Allie and Richard meanwhile get a heart to heart about Richard and the usage of Charlie’s gun – and it’s a devastating moment. Richard fucked up the Foxes’ lives, so Charlie thinks that they have every right to hurt them – but Allie disagrees. To Charlie, he gets so angry, scared – not sure what’s going on anymore. Richard was a convenient vehicle for that outlet – less so about him being there, but more about Charlie, who is justifiably angry that Allie didn’t call him out sooner about shooting someone. To Allie there’s a difference, right and wrong isn’t clear cut. The messages themselves are coming thick and fast this season – but The Mosquito Coast seems to be pulling them off effectively – and really setting it up for a strong note.

Trouble in paradise is slowly – as it always is on this show, reaching its apex – and with a couple of episodes left to go, the stakes are well and truly raised – I do think the editing could have spaced out the three different storylines a bit better as it keeps feeling like they are each yanked out from us as they’re properly starting – Dina’s departure to leave is thwarted by an Adolfo who wants to help her – but it’s Charlie that finds the letter explaining her exit.

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