In a word: Wow. Don’t talk, don’t blink, and don’t get up to get a drink of water. If you miss even one second of the first episode of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, you will be completely lost.
Ok, so I feel that I must be honest—even if you see every single second of it, you will still be lost. But keep watching, because everything is supposedly interconnected, and I am sure—or at least hopeful—that things will start to make sense.
Viewer discretion is advised, and we find out why in the very beginning: The opening sequence is quite a gruesome crime scene. Blood spatter everywhere, a severed arm on the floor, and the complete destruction of what looks to be a hotel room. The only thing living is a cute black kitten. This may seem innocuous, but trust me, it will come up again later.
More destruction follows, but this time in the form of a crazy man destroying a car with a hammer and demanding his money from Todd (Elijah Wood). We follow Todd to his job as the bellhop of the Perriman Grand hotel. Todd is a sad sort: dead end job, broke, and—once he comes across the penthouse crime scene previously described—a police suspect.
When Todd is on his way up to the penthouse, we see a weird scene that the show will need to come back to and, hopefully, explain at some point. The elevator opens on floor 18, and Todd sees himself dressed in a white fur coat with blood on it, yelling to a man who is out of view about a time machine. The two make eye contact and the elevator doors close—and that’s the last we see. Told you it was weird.
The only security footage the police have of the area outside the penthouse shows a man wearing a gorilla mask possibly using Todd’s key card to enter the penthouse. We learn that the crime scene is covered in paw prints and there are bite marks on the ceiling. Curiouser and curiouser.
Enter Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett)—not just on scene in the show, but through the window of Todd’s apartment. Todd is confused and Dirk is calm, a scenario that is quite common throughout their first episode together. Dirk explains that he is a holistic detective and just needs to figure out if Todd is a clue, an accomplice, or an assistant. I’m sorry, what?
As some sort of proof of the fated meeting, he asks Todd:
“Have you notice an acceleration of strangeness in your life as of late? Perhaps a series of intense or extraordinary events which, as of now, seem unconnected with the exception of each being separately bazaar. Perhaps every day before now has, for the most part, been humdrum and inane; your life a mundane, unvarying slog through unfulfilling jobs, shallow depression, and boring, boring sex. And suddenly, today, everything changed and your life became a swirl of interesting activity.”
Clearly, all of this is true. Are things sufficiently weird yet? Well, they’re about to get even weirder.
Our next scene involves a machete wielding crazy person who kills one man—viewer discretion is, after all, advised—and then chases down another. Right before she kills her second victim, she calls him Dirk Gently, at which point he tells her he has no idea who that is. Well, what does a machete-wielding psychopath do when she realizes she has the wrong man? She kidnaps him and takes him for a drive, of course. But, to be clear, she doesn’t describe herself as a psychopath; she’s a holistic assassin. Glad we cleared that up.
But, back to our holistic detective. Dirk goes about trying to explain to Todd just what a holistic detective does. He explains that he “[does] not concern [himself] with such petty things as fingerprint powder, telltale pieces of pocket fluff, and inane footprints.” Make sense? Of course, it doesn’t. Even Todd points out that he's “a detective who doesn’t find clues. That sounds, you know, insane.”
The underlying issue in the whole episode is the missing girl, Lydia Spring. We see her photo displayed around town, and the police are investigating her disappearance. I can’t even begin to touch on the clips we see of a woman who is tied to a bedpost with duct tape on her mouth.
The last confusing incident that occurs is the attack on Todd’s apartment by the Rowdy 3, which are really a rowdy bunch of 4, not 3, men. They tear his apartment apart, smashing everything in sight. Could be gratuitous violence, but there is another weird part at the end where they seem to suck the soul out of Dirk.
The whole show was surreal and reminded me of Twin Peaks. I even checked to make sure that David Lynch wasn’t involved in the production of Dirk Gently in some way, but found nothing. The main premise of Twin Peaks was to find out what happened to a murdered girl, Laura Palmer. In Dirk Gently, we’re wondering what happened to the missing girl, Lydia Spring.
Rather than individual episodes, it appears that each installment will get Dirk and Todd closer to the truth of what happened in the penthouse of the hotel, also very Twin Peaks-esque. If there is a dancing dwarf in a room with red curtains, I don’t know what I’ll do.
The show is part comedy, part mystery, part science fiction. I have no idea where it’s going or how it will end, but it is very intriguing—if sometimes hard to follow. And, much like a train wreck, I found it very hard to look away.
Kerry Hammond loves all types of mysteries. She is a Book Reviewer and Blogger for Mystery Playground. Follow her on Twitter @kerryhammond88.