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Rabbit Hole - The Playbook - Review

23 Apr 2023

In the immortal words of Kent Brockman: So, once again, I’ve been had.

“The Playbook” plays tricks on its characters yet again in a reminder that Crowley isn’t actually 10 moves ahead – he’s playing an entirely different game to our protagonists. But its most substantial piece of trickery comes at the end, with the revelation that Miles is seemingly alive and trying to reach John.

In big picture terms, this remains a concern. The fact that “Rabbit Hole” begun with John’s admittance that he can’t tell the difference between real and not is no justification for the whiplash the show has provided on an episodic basis since. There are two episodes left, and it is perhaps a futile wish, but I wrote last week that we’d be naïve to assume we know the whole truth, and once again I am left wishing that we didn’t have to be naïve.

To be clear: twists work on the basis that viewers don’t expect the next plot point based on one or many that came before. They should change the reality of the situation. But in order for that to work, there needs to be a solid reality. The show has continually made a point that nothing should be trusted, so the only reasonable response to this latest head-scratcher is one of two things:

a) distrust towards the reveal, using the logic that nothing else has stayed as it seemed for very long, and therefore either it’s someone pretending to be Miles or he’ll be killed immediately or something else,
or B) complete apathy towards it, because at this point, why does anything we’ve been shown matter?

I’m in camp B. The supposed death of John’s team was passable given we saw an exterior view of an explosion, with no certainty that the people inside were his team – the fact that there was latterly a twist in which they were killed is fairly irrelevant. Ben’s fake death, first as a funeral and then via a shotgun to the head, was a stretch, but the fact that he was shown to be alive immediately helps soften that blow.

But this? For five episodes we – and John – have been left wondering first whether Miles turned on the plan, and then how he was turned by Crowley. It makes sense from Miles’ perspective: Crowley can’t control a dead man. It’s frustrating to watch, though, because so much of John’s emotions and motivations are fuelled by that one moment, which is now fake. Also, it’s assumed that the present day is still before the pilot’s in media res opening. Should we expect another Miles death – this time for real?

It's especially frustrating having come after a rug-pull that did work. Kyle’s role as the unassuming intern has absolutely been debunked. Not only did Ben underestimate him before, it seems we, the audience, have too. He’s not just Crowley’s lackey – he’s much more dangerous than that. Revealing his eastern European accent and sociopathic tendencies to Eliza as he murders her, we see that Kyle’s a huge danger to anyone he deals with. Walt Klink is particularly impressive in the way he has flickered between the two personalities.

Kyle kills Eliza right after she assassinates Senator Evers, who Crowley is controlling simply for the purposes of killing her. His true focus was the Shared Data Act, which, once passed, will allow him access to data points on anyone with a phone or computer. John and Ben have tried to anticipate many of Crowley’s moves and yet have continually failed to see what’s really going on, and this is no exception. It’s particularly troubling for Ben given the pair used to work together, and he knows first-hand how easy it can be to find lackeys to pull hits on politicians. How much of Ben’s motivation is about saving the country, and how much of it is about regret of not stopping Crowley at the beginning – or, in fact, joining him?

Crowley’s latest move nullifies all of the effort John and Hailey went to in order to retrieve Senator Evers’ blackmail files, with a nervy and entertaining heist sequence at 1550 Girard, the private depository for shady rich people. Hailey’s becoming increasingly good at this job and John occasionally sloppy, picturing the death of his team – at Ben’s hand – while completing the mission, and almost blowing it by leaving the rogue key.

Once again, he and Hailey get close, and he admits wanting to kiss her. And he does. We’ve just seen how deep one of Crowley’s operatives can manipulate someone. I said it last week and I’ll repeat: there is no way this season ends without a scenario in which John’s relationship with Hailey is used to control him.

Two episodes remain. Things have to start staying real soon – right?