I was prepared this week; I sat down to watch Episode 4 of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency with a caffeinated drink and absolutely no distractions. I knew I’d have to have my wits about me and be wide awake to follow along—I mean think about it, the episode is called “Watkin,” and it’s anyone’s guess what that might mean. I’m quite invested in this story and am determined to figure out what’s going on and how all the strange pieces fit together. As we know, everything is connected.
This episode reminded me of several different movies and shows … in a good way. I don’t know if they were intentional shout outs or unintentional similarities, but I thought I would point them out as we go along, just for fun.
The episode opens up with a confirmation of what most of us suspected: the strange bald men and Gordon (Aaron Douglas), who appears to be their leader, are body switching. There is some sort of machine that takes them from one body to another. To demonstrate, and to further their sinister intentions, they switch one of the strange bald men into the FBI agent’s body. They put the agent into the body of a mouse, then sick Lydia on it. Remember, she is still barking (literally) because she’s been switched into the body of the much sought after Corgi. I know, it’s strange—but keep following along.
The body switching reminded me of Rocky Horror Picture Show, where Frank-N-Furter is making his own man. The resemblance is not just for the sci-fi aspect, though. Rocky Horror has one of the biggest cult followings of all time, and I could definitely see Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency becoming a cult classic. Of course, there's no singing and a lot less makeup.
Meanwhile, Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett) and Todd (Elijah Wood) are following the map and suspect that there is an unlimited energy device hidden below the apartment building. They believe that Patrick Spring buried a power grid down there and it’s the key to everything. Here’s where we get a little bit of an Indiana Jones effect. Dirk and Todd are underground in what Dirk calls the “death maze,” and they come across a crazy room full of light bulbs that is slowly closing in on them.
They escape the room, using their wits and a weird light bulb they stole from the laboratory in the last episode, only to be confronted with a rhinoceros head that seems to be electrically charged. This takes a little more effort to overcome, and they don’t figure things out until they’re almost electrocuted and have to strip down to their underwear because their clothes are on fire.
Once they get through the maze’s challenges, they are briefly shown several computer screens that contain a puzzle of sorts. For some reason, Dirk gets the puzzle and solves it. The payoff is that the computer screens change their displays and, when put together, make up another map.
Their discovery is quickly overridden by the fact that everything goes haywire, and they need to be saved by the Rowdy 3. As payment, or just because it’s something they do, the men stand over Dirk and suck out that blue light that they are so fond of. We still don’t know what in the world it is, though.
The kids figure out that Edgar Spring built the power node and the maze for his unlimited energy device, but Patrick Spring created the traps. They are, however, no closer to finding it. That is, until Amanda (Hannah Marks) figures out how to access the map again and they realize that it’s only a four-hour drive away.
Before we wrap up, Gordon explains the body switching further. We find out that they found the device in the ‘60s and figured out they could swap bodies with it. They started on animals first, but then quickly figured out they could kidnap rich people and swap bodies with them. When they outlived their usefulness, they could kill them and swap back. They’ve been doing it for 50 years.
The episode’s comic relief mainly revolves around Dirk and Todd’s exploration of the underground death maze. There’s a little bit of a Scooby Doo feel to the two main characters and their antics. There is some physical comedy and one-liners that are amusing. There is also a possible love interest between Todd and Farah (Jade Eshete), but it’s subtle and, as of yet, unexplored. I’m kind of hoping the show doesn’t go there. There’s way too much going on for that, and any sexual tension might not fit in with the rest of the action.
We don’t get any hint of what is happening with the holistic assassin, who is usually the source of our dark comedy. Perhaps in the next episode we will catch up with her.