Reverie’s pilot episode sets the scene for an action-packed emotional season toeing the lines between dreams and reality
The first episode of NBC’s Reverie certainly did not waste time getting right to the drama and emotion, as well as the beauty we might come to expect from the series. The opening scene starts with a gorgeous city skyline riddled with hot air balloons, giving a first glimpse into what someone’s perfect dream world might look like. However, the stark reality of this particular Reverie is revealed just as quickly. It seems that dreams are a bit too enticing to some, creating a cause for concern for the key players at Onira Tech: Charlie Ventana (Dennis Haysbert) and Reverie’s creator, Alexis Barrett (Jessica Lu).
Moving into the third(!) minute of the episode, we meet Mara Kint (Sarah Shahi), a pill-popping former hostage negotiator with some serious baggage: feeling responsible for her sister, niece, and brother-in-law’s deaths. Approached by her old friend Charlie, Mara’s new job quickly takes shape: entering other people’s Reveries to bring them back into the real world.
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The cast of characters, rounded out by tech genius Paul Hammond (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and Onira Tech investor Monica Shaw (Kathryn Morris), along with Shahi, Haysbert, and Lu, are already bringing a promising depth to the show. From the mystery behind Dylan (Kai Scott) the AI and his involvement with Alexis, to Mara’s remaining trauma from the death of her sister’s family, there are lots of potential subplots developing in the background.
As Mara learned the ropes of the virtual reality system and saved her first patient, we were asking a lot of questions with not too many answers. While the premiere of Reverie was jam-packed with revelations about our characters and the world they live in, we have a feeling that there’s much more to come…
So, let’s get to meeting our roundtable and see what they thought of the episode!
Tex (@czechTexan) – TV enthusiast, Sarah Shahi fan, fourth horseman of the apocalypse
Ryan (@RyanBartholomee) – Positivity with a hint of sarcasm wrapped in way too many dad jokes
Jules (@julesbrindisi) – Chef who loves to immerse herself in TV and clings onto strong female characters
Yusuf (@YusufM500) – Canadian, Loves One Chicago, Blindspot, The Voice, and a bunch of other shows!
Whitney (@WhitneyFurr1) – Proud mom of 1, Armchair Detective, TV addict
1. So, first off: What did you think of the Reverie series premiere as a whole? How is the cast of characters coming together?
Tex (@czechTexan): I was blown away by the series premiere, quite honestly. Rarely, RARELY do tv shows surprise, and impress me to the extent that this show did in just the first half of the episode. There’s a great attention to detail that warms my Person of Interest fan heart and mends the void still left behind. The cast is excellent and each of them seems to play well off of each other.
Ryan (@RyanBartholomee): Once I stopped saying “You’re in good hands” after every Charlie Ventana (Dennis Haysbert) line in my deepest voice possible, I realized that this new TV series is fascinating and has a fantastic cast. I am wary of watching too many new shows (because I already watch too much TV), but we were on the channel and caught the whole debut episode. It draws you in quickly, and I like the concept. The core cast of Mara Kint (Sarah Shahi), Charlie Ventana (Dennis Haysbert), Monica Shaw (Kathryn Morris), Paul Hammond (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and Alexis Barrett (Jessica Lu) is diverse, talented and a solid team. I especially like the chemistry between Sarah and Sendhil onscreen. It was great to see several cast members live tweeting with the episode. I already like Sarah and Sendhil from other shows that they have worked on (Person of Interest and Covert Affairs, respectively). And who couldn’t love Dennis’ voice? I would watch the episode again to catch additional details, which is saying a lot. I typically can’t stand watching anything more than once.
Jules (@julesbrindisi): The season premiere was a good setup and certainly highlighted a range of emotions from the headliner, Sarah Shahi. It really sets the stage for the season and showcases each of the characters’ development. Thus, it has certainly illicit questions concerning the motives of the those involved with the technology of Reverie; in addition to how long ago did the tragic event of Mara losing her sister, niece, and brother-in-law occur. Also how long has she been working with college kids? Since the tragic event with her family?
Yusuf (@YusufM500): The premiere was great! I got invested into the show pretty quick, about halfway through I looked at my clock and I was surprised because the episode was going by really quick! I have followed Sarah Shahi in the past, so I was looking forward to seeing her. I’m very interested to learn more about that scene where her sister was shot.
Whitney (@WhitneyFurr1): The premiere was great, very intriguing. Great cast, very diverse, and of course my favorite actor Dennis Haysbert!
2. As for our heroine, Mara seems to be a bit of an addict (if popping pills and drinking before a class is any indication). She seems to want to reform, but it can’t be as simple as tossing her booze and pills out, right?
Tex: Alas, addiction is never an easy demon to conquer. The Reverie program, I feel, will prove to be just as influential on Mara’s personal journey as it is to the people she’s been enlisted to help.
Ryan: I gathered that Mara does want to change – which is a great first step – but figured it was going to be quite the challenge considering what she is trying her best to forget. Perhaps experiencing reform within Reverie will give her confidence in reality? Or perhaps helping others within Reverie will lead her to make better choices in her reality?
Jules: Certainly, Mara made progress from popping pills and drinking before class, when you cut to the end of the episode where she cleans up her home, carries around a garbage bag, tossing all the alcohol in the trash, and eventually tries to flush her pills down the drain. However, unfortunately, she’s interrupted by something rather disturbing.
Yusuf: I think Mara just needs someone she can vent to and someone can pull her out of the whole she’s in, perhaps this new job will be a good way for her to meet some new people that can hopefully help her with that!
Whitney: Right, not simple to kick a habit, but I think her passion to help others forces her to help herself.
3. In Tony’s Reverie, Mara sees the rabbit toy her niece owned. Could her subconscious be influencing other people’s Reveries? If so, what could that mean for her and the tech?
Tex: It’s certainly possible. It’s also possible that the rabbit, by coincidence, was Tony’s own projection. As for what that could mean for Mara’s connection to the tech, I think the ending of this episode may provide some insight.
Ryan: That was my question while watching. I assume that since she can see the rabbit toy, the other Reverie user can also see it. But that may be an incorrect assumption. If she is influencing other people’s Reverie’s, I suppose that will come in handy as she tries to free those that are having trouble letting go of this virtual reality. And now I want to go and watch Inception again.
Jules: With the idea of multi-user Reverie, I definitely believe it’s possible that regardless of whomever’s Reverie is considered “primary”, each person that may enter (which as we know is only two at the moment) will influence what may exist inside the alternate reality. While it’s only the premiere, if this is the case, then there are definitely flaws that may set up for potential dangers in the series.
Yusuf: Oh that’s a bit of a tough question, though it’s quite obvious that they try to make the individual’s Reverie based on them…. so maybe when Mara went in, because she was thinking about her niece not too long before, it could’ve just been her seeing things? I guess we’ll find out!
Whitney: Her subconscious is coming into play. I think it could force her to deal with her own issues.
4. That woman seemed concerned that Mara might have an “underlying psychiatric disorder.” Is she paranoid, or could she be right?
Tex: A bit of both, maybe. From almost her first scene, Mara shows clear signs of addiction, which we later learn is both a coping mechanism and symptomatic of PTSD related to her past trauma. It’s also quite clear in how she approaches Tony that she’s a bit gun shy and fears another negotiation gone wrong. Given the nature of her past and Reverie, a cause for concern seems justified. It’s possible, even likely, that Mara may become trapped in Reverie herself.
Ryan: Considering what Mara witnessed and tried to stop and has consistent nightmares about, who wouldn’t have an “underlying psychiatric disorder?” That haunting moment and the guilt that she apparently feels must be overwhelming.
Jules: This begs the questions of whether or not this is in reference to Mara’s clear alcohol and drug addiction; however, I could see something else stemming from the past that could affect her presently through a trigger being in Reverie, such as PTSD.
Yusuf: Again! Another tough question, Mara said that she was still struggling from what happened to her sister, so I think it is possible for her to have some kind of void, whether that’s psychiatric, I’m not sure.
Whitney: Yes, she’s on to something! That comment made me think about Mara’s addiction.
5. Let’s talk AI. What could Dylan’s real purpose be? He’s clearly an important part of Mara’s research into Onira Tech’s patients. Is he just a comfort for Alexis, or could he go full Hal 9000 on everyone?
Tex: Never trust an AI! That said, I feel like it’s too early to tell much about Dylan.
Ryan: AI taking over the world (or at least the protagonists’ lives) is an important motif for entertainment purposes and perhaps an important warning for us. Have we not learned anything from Eagle Eye, I, Robot or 2001: A Space Odyssey – to name a few? Dylan can’t merely be a comfort for Alexis. HAL 9000 is the reason we don’t have Alexa in our house (that and we don’t want to terrify and confuse our 3 young children). Our family’s motto is “Yesterday’s technology tomorrow.” We will let everyone else be the guinea pigs and work through the initial troubleshooting. Meanwhile, our family is prepared for the zombie apocalypse or an AI apocalypse – whichever comes first.
Jules: Certainly, Dylan is a comfort for Alexis; however, we have no idea, when Alexis’ brother died and under what circumstances surrounded it. How was Dylan integrated as an omniscient entity from its deceased human counterpart? I think Dylan’s purpose is to be helpful as integral part of research for Onira Tech, though it could be really interesting to see how much Dylan really controls and affects Reverie if at all. I’m really just likening Dylan to The Machine in Person of Interest, however clearly we haven’t seen demands nor sorts of manipulation that could stem from a technological overlord.
Yusuf: Dylan kind of reminds me of Alexa haha. So far he seems harmless… but that could go south
Whitney: Dylan’s purpose is to observe, interact, and learn. Once he learns enough he could and might go rogue. I have my suspicions about Dylan and Alexis.
6. That ending, RIGHT? Is Mara seeing things? Is she still in Reverie? So many theories!
Tex: I don’t think she’s still in Reverie, but it also doesn’t seem like that was just in her mind. My best guess is that spending extended time inside Reverie may cause it to bleed into the conscious reality.
Ryan: Mara’s perception of reality could be distorted from the Reverie use or she might still be in Reverie. What if the entire series is inside Reverie and we don’t find out until the end? What if we are all in Reverie right now? It certainly was a clever and thought-provoking ending! Happy REM sleep to you readers!
Jules: Since Reverie’s programming is fairly new and they are not going to release commercially yet, we have no idea about the repercussions of the simulation program. It’s possible that the program certainly has side effects and/or it could be an indication of a symptom concerning the “underlying psychiatric disorder”. Or perhaps Mara was under the influence even though she trashed her alcohol and pills which were oh so close to making it down the drain.
Yusuf: That ending was pretty intense!! I think that maybe it’s just Mara seeing things again, though I could be wrong and maybe somehow what Mara sees in Reverie is following her outside of it!
Whitney: I think the longer you stay in Reverie the more you bring that realm into reality. I believe it has to do with one’s memory.
7. In the preview for next week’s episode, we saw some pretty intense things. Cars on fire, bruises, and some high strung emotions! It looks like Reverie might take a physical and emotional toll on Mara. So, what’s next for our hostage investigator? What might happen next?
Tex: Clearly, Mara has hang ups about her job after her failure to save her family. It makes sense that the more she engages with the people stuck inside Reverie, the more she’ll have to confront her trauma and the emotions surrounding it that she’s been self medicating.
Ryan: One thing is for sure, I can’t wait to find out! I imagine Mara’s reality will keep getting influenced by her experiences in Reverie. Hopefully, she won’t get stuck like the others as she comes to grips with her personal tragedy. She seems too clever to allow that to happen.
Jules: As someone who was used to high-intensity moments from her former hostage negotiation days, it wouldn’t be surprising if those memories happen to leak into Reverie and start affecting Mara seeing apparitions of the past in her own reality. I’m very interested as to what the “underlying psychiatric disorder” may be and what is the background of Charlie. I do not find him a trustworthy character at all, considering he seemed to play a role in Mara’s sister’s death. You know alerting the hostile they could potentially be surrounding is always a solid play, ya? That’s a big fat nope.
Yusuf: Next week looks intense alright! I think maybe Mara might see someone in the game that will tell her something that may lead to her losing trust in her team, hopefully it all works out though.
Whitney: I believe Mara will have more visions that will bring on more emotions. This could get very hard for her to face her own issues. I don’t think this will be an easy journey. This also might expose Dylan’s purpose, which makes me wonder if he’s in Reverie. Does he want to crossover into reality?
Reverie is revving up to be a smart and emotional drama about reality and modern technology-and we can’t wait to see it unfold
This first episode of Reverie is filled with stunning, surreal visuals that don’t fail to impress (that library though!) while Shahi’s insane acting chops bring a necessary depth to her character as our heroine. From laughter and happiness to tears and distress, Mara’s character comes off as an independent intelligent woman with secrets; a perfectly complex protagonist. Her backstory provides motivation for her actions and viewpoints, and the slow reveal of what happened kept our eyes glued to the screen from the very beginning to the very end of the episode.
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There’s still a lot to sort out in the premise, and we clearly have a lot of questions. However, we’re sure everything will start to unravel throughout the course of the season. The episode places 90% of the focus on Mara Kent, sort of sidelining the rest of the ensemble. While we feel like we know who Mara is, and where her ideals lie, that can’t be said for the others like Alexis and Charlie, who revealed a lot less about themselves in comparison. We’d love to get to know these characters much more.
The first hour acts as an overabundance of exposition and a quite literal test run of what to expect from Mara’s adventures. What might usually be considered a downfall, works particularly well in this case, as it seems that we have gotten all of our exposition done for the season, allowing the rest of the season to develop what we learned in Apertus.
We’re certainly excited to return to Mara’s life and new job next week and meet another victim of Reverie’s allure! Hopefully, we can learn a bit more about the rest of the characters, and maybe even the history of Onira Tech. Are they hiding something? What does the government and Monica Shaw want with Reverie? What happened to Dylan? Who was/is he? There are SO many questions, and hopefully next week’s episode will start to answer some of them.