HomeTelevision'Dispatches from Elsewhere' Gathers an All-Star, Unexpected Crew for an Wild, Unpredictable...

‘Dispatches from Elsewhere’ Gathers an All-Star, Unexpected Crew for an Wild, Unpredictable Adventure

Dispatches from Elsewhere
Photo Credit: Jessica Kourkounis/AMC

Written by Tyler Zucker 

The past decade has delivered viewers with surrealist and fantastical shows like Netflix’s miniseries Maniac or the third season of Twin Peaks. These shows reveled in their oddities to instill a feeling that something otherworldly is occurring to relatable and otherwise normal characters. In Dispatches from Elsewhere, series star and creator Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) continues this trend bringing along a star-studded cast on his journey of self-discovery. 

The Dispatches from Elsewhere pilot opens up with the narrator (Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?), who is later to be revealed Octavio Coleman, the head of the Jejune Institute, simply staring back at the viewers before explaining himself and the basis of the show. Grant displays a cheery but off-kilter performance as the seemingly all-knowing narrator but immediately shows viewers that there might be some doubt to whether or not what he is saying is true. He promises that he will only mislead the viewers once, but viewers are sure to be skeptical of this as the season progresses. 

Octavio details Peter’s (Segel) monotone lifestyle and how he is “us.” He does the same at the end of the episode when the perspective switches to Simone (Eve Lindley, Outsiders). Peter is alone, depressed, and utterly lost in his life, looking for some form of meaning. He follows the same routine of working, eating, and sleeping each day and barely interacts with anyone else. As we learn about him, his scenes are intercut with his daydreams of science experiments that he imagines himself taking part of after seeing posters stapled on telephone poles. These scenes, along with a later animated sequence, allows for the more surrealist elements to come through and may be some of the most interesting aspects of the show besides the characters. 

Once Peter gets invited to take part in the Jejune Institute’s initiation process, he starts to feel as though he has found a purpose. However, that quickly evaporates once he finds clues that all is not what they appear. He gets a mysterious call that leads him out of the institute toward an antique shop where he meets another lost soul who has also decided to take the plunge. Newcomer Eve Lindley shines in her role as Simone. The trans actress has previously been in minor roles before but this is her first time in a starring role. Despite this relative inexperience, she is a natural fit and frequently steals the spotlight whenever she appears. Her chemistry with Segel’s awkward Peter works so well as he desperately tries to branch out and not be his same old stagnant self. She’s carefree and adventurous while he has never thought of the concept of thinking for oneself. Once she leaves for the night, he still thinks about his encounter until he gets another call a day later to retrieve a package from a dancing Bigfoot, one of the most memorable and hilarious scenes of the episode. 

As Peter races to the park to complete his task, he meets Simone once again and finds dozens of other confused people searching for their respective groups. It is here where he is joined by Janice (Sally Field, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and Fredwynn (Andre Benjamin, Jimi: All Is By My Side). We only spend two brief scenes with these two new members of the group that has begun to form around Peter and these strange occurrences before the episode closes with an intense scene involving Simone almost being assaulted on her walk home. With the first four episodes focusing on each member of the group, it’ll be interesting to see where everyone fits into the world. Whether they are in it to find something like Peter is, or morbid curiosity like Janice is yet to be determined. 

After just one episode, Dispatches from Elsewhere sets up an intriguing premise with just enough promise that I’m excited to see where it leads. Is it just an elaborate game as Simone suggested? Something more elaborate and sinister as Fredwynn theorized? Or Is Peter right and there is really a struggle between two competing factions? We’ll just have to wait and see. 

Rating: 7/10 

Dispatches from Elsewhere airs Mondays at on AMC


Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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