Room 104 is an anthology series on HBO that has as its unifying concept a single motel room.
I will use this to chronicle my snap-judgments of each episode:
S1 E1: “Ralphie”
This felt like a 20-minute long version of a bad two-sentence horror story. It subverts exactly one expectation but it’s one that actually has nothing to do with the plot of this short. I feel like this would have been better as a much shorter piece, it strains to fill up the runtime.
S1 E2: “Pizza Boy”
This might actually be James Van Der Beek’s finest performance. This one was pretty fun right from the jump. Manages to be uncomfortable and funny and maybe even a little sexy. Fun payoff at the end of the episode.
S1 E3: “The Knockandoo”
This was a ride. The first 10 minutes or so are practically an ASMR video and then it becomes steadily more disturbing until it reaches a wonderfully ambiguous (but again, disturbing) climax just as the credits roll.
S1 E4: " I Knew You Weren’t Dead"
Affecting, but honestly sort of predictable and doesn’t tread any new ground. Another entry into the Sad Men With Regrets genre. I hope too many episodes don’t wind up being like this.
S1 E5: “The Internet”
This one has been called out in a few places as being one of the best episodes in the whole series and I can see why. 15 minutes of the hardest sympathetic cringe I can imagine that somehow leads to a real emotional payoff.
S1 E6: “Voyeurs”
Feels like 20 minutes of interpretive dance and I’m enough of a troglodyte to think that’s real boring. I skipped through most of this episode.
S1 E7: “The Missionaries”
Two Mormons discover the allure of sinning and get kinda gay for each other. Ultimately pretty predictable but the leads were so charming that I wound up hooked anyway.
S1 E8: “Phoenix”
Ooohh this one was good. Starts slow, suddenly gets very intriguing, and then goes in a wholly unexpected direction (after which it gets a tad predictable but still, it’s a nice pivot).
S1 E9: “Boris”
Genuinely heartwarming and heartbreaking. I love stories where two strangers connect briefly and get something out of each other that they desperately need. This is one of those.
S1 E10: “Red Tent”
This one tries to go topical and I think that’s why it gets so much buzz in reviews of the show, but I don’t think it really hits the mark. They also try to play the ending ambiguously which I’m not sure if that actually makes it better or worse. There’s a way this episode could have gone that would have been interesting, and the episode does sort of dangle the possibility. I would have liked it more if it had committed to it.
S1: E11 “The Fight”
Pretty cool I guess. Another that I think accomplishes the opposite of what it wants to by having the ending ambiguous. Impressive fight choreography for a low-budget production, though. Not sure if maybe the actresses are just actual MMA fighters and that’s a big part of it.