The first season of Mark and Jay Duplass’ anthology series Room 104 totally blew me away. The show takes place in an archetypal American motel, with each episode focusing on the different people who've stayed in this particular room over the years. Genres fluctuate wildly from episode to episode, but that's why I love it—there's a psychological thriller, a romance, a family drama, a tragedy, and a ghost story. Inexplicable phenomena forces you to question whether this unassuming motel room is haunted or possessed by demonic spirits or a portal for time-travel (or all three).
Last weekend, the final episode of Room 104's second season dropped on HBO. Although it's fun to watch the Duplass brothers continue to explore the possibilities of what could be happening behind closed motel room doors, the second season just isn't as consistently great as the first. That said, it's an anthology series, so you don't have to watch every episode for plot, and there are a few gems that deserve recognition.
The first episode, "FOMO," centers on Grace (the always wonderful Charlyne Yi), whose overbearing sister crashes her 30th birthday party. "Mr. Mulvahill" stars Rainn Wilson as a man who confronts his third-grade teacher about an interaction they had decades ago. "Swipe Right" is worth watching for the presence of Katya Zamolodchikova (who was on the seventh season of RuPaul's Drag Race) and Michael Shannon, who plays a Russian political technologist trying to woo an American woman he met online (Judy Greer) with an elaborate rap.
"Hungry" was directed by Patrick Brice, who also directed Creep and Creep 2—two amazing found-footage films written by and starring Mark Duplass as a very friendly serial killer—and it's about two strangers who meet to take part in an unusual feast. On "Artificial," Mark Duplass dips his toe into some Black Mirror-style storytelling, which would be an interesting direction for Room 104 if the result weren't so boring. The last episode, "Josie & Me," delves into the ways we relive our past traumas, but might be a little too intense for viewers with their own personal traumas. That's the fine line Room 104 walks in trying to deal with uncomfortable subjects in a way that's still watchable—sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.