The mystery over what happened in the house at the end of the pilot was answered.
Everything is still far too complicated to follow.
Burton's story is potentially ended and/or uninteresting from this point.
The water means something that the show isn't even willing to hint at.
Two episodes in and Falling Water hasn't made any of the characters' dreams - or lives - worth investing in.
In a bad second hour, Falling Water provides one answer and several more questions.
Falling Water’s premiere was a complete mess, a failing attempt to blend several intriguing and complicated elements. As a concept, the show is fascinating. In practice, the opening hour was a drawn-out effort of making a coherent show that ultimately left the series’ prospects already looking bleak. The second hour, “Calling the Vasty Deep”, had the job of course correcting, but that wasn’t quite what happened.
In “Calling the Vasty Deep”, Tess (Lizzie Brocheré) took part in Boerg’s (Zak Orth) study fully for the first time, Burton (David Ajala) dealt with the aftermath of Jones’ (Michael O’Keefe) suicide and attempted to further his search for The Woman in Red (Anna Wood), and Taka (Will Yun Lee) continued his investigation into Topeka.
A series of sketches of a boy that may or may not be real.
For a boy that might not even be real, the face of Tess’ son is mighty popular. Not only are the mysterious cult being taken on by Taka using them in their posters, musician Bobby Eacey drew a sketch of his face not long before his death in the 1980s. The added information nugget that Eacey reportedly went mad in his final days provides another layer to the story.
Unfortunately, Falling Water is so vague in its portrayal of what’s happening with the boy in the dreams that it’s tough to know what to believe about him. Couple all of that with Tess’ $10 hospital charge having no accompanying medical file and the entire plot is a poor attempt at intrigue. Once Tess’ belief dwindles, Boerg even having to convince her that the boy is real and that he can help her, it becomes difficult to invest in the story at all.
“So have a little faith in those of us that have faith.” – Bill Boerg
Our two sightings of him this week did little to help the show out, only creating several more questions. Initially, the mostly faceless men in suits appeared to scare the boy during Tess’ dream, but by the time he appeared in Taka’s dream, he wasn’t remotely scared of them and they even rolled him a ball of some description. Perhaps the men were there to keep Tess and her son apart. Perhaps Taka’s appearance in the dream meant that the men needed the boy.
Regardless of the eventual outcome, for now, Falling Water is taking great pleasure in misleading and confusing viewers, daring to base most of its plotlines on that very concept. That’s not good.
So, The Woman in Red isn’t real, right?
There’s a moment towards the end of the hour where Burton explains that “You can’t have a relationship that only exists in your dreams.” It’s almost worth admiring the lack of subtlety in that statement’s irony, if it weren’t so utterly infuriating and terrible.
Indeed, “Calling the Vasty Deep” established what we pretty much knew last week in showing Burton that The Woman in Red was, in fact, not real. The conversation they had in the lobby didn’t really happen because she was never there – confirmed by security footage. And thus ends this storyline.
Or so it should. Because where else is there to go with this? Burton was already questioning her existence after the events of the premiere, but he now has indisputable proof that one of his encounters with her was completely in his mind. Unless Falling Water plans to put Einstein’s insanity theory to the test – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – Burton’s search for his girlfriend will continue to come up empty.
Which is why it would almost certainly be foolish to place any faith in Falling Water not pulling the rug out from underneath and eventually revealing that she is real. It’s the only way Burton can continue to have a real storyline; his knowledge and very slow investigation of Topeka is only engaging and worth following if he believes that she exists and Topeka is involved in her being kidnapped. While it’s not a huge jump for him to consider the possibility of her existing and Topeka being responsible for hiding her, does that idea make for great television? Not especially.
What is the meaning of the water, and can Falling Water be any less subtle about its importance?
We get it. The water that keeps appearing in everyone’s dreams is important.
The problem Falling Water has is twofold: One, there hasn’t even been a hint of an explanation as to why the water is appearing (or why there’s such an insistence on using it even outside of the dreams; the shot early on of the ocean outside Burton’s window was the equivalent of being smashed over the head with metaphor) or what it means or how it affects the dreams and the data.
Certainly, Falling Water shouldn’t give away all of its cards too soon. That would be a moronic move. But so too is keeping viewers so far into the dark that even the smallest spec of light is completely invisible. Based on the first two episodes’ reluctance to give away anything about what is going on, or to even make any kind of logical sense, it’s difficult to believe that the water’s meaning will even amount to much worthwhile. Yet any insight into the use of the water might actually make for better television.
The second issue is how prominent the water has been for how little the show has explained it. At this point, it’s essentially dealing in metaphors for the sake of dealing in metaphors, perhaps simply as a synergy between the show’s title and what’s happening on screen.
And even amidst its overuse, “Calling the Vasty Deep” manages to create yet more questions. As Tess is involved in the group dream, the bath tap in the middle of the room – again, no idea – is seen to have water dripping the opposite way. That alone indicates a reason for being there.
Giving away the secret in its entirety now is a mistake, but making it clear that the water means something and yet providing no hints as to what it means – or as to why it began to defy the laws of gravity – is just frustrating.
Final Verdict: This thing is getting worse.
HBO’s Westworld had a complex, arguably overstuffed, debut hour, but it was one that cleverly and methodically established the show’s world and told viewers everything they needed to know. From that, they were able to expand the universe and tell a coherent, interesting story based on their foundations.
Falling Water is not Westworld.
Last week’s premiere was a pathetic attempt at world-building, the lack of distinction over reality versus dreams diluting anything and everything that was happening on-screen. Really, the second episode didn’t have too much of a chance to succeed, not unless it hit reset. That didn’t happen and, as a result, “Calling the Vasty Deep” was a somehow more frustrating, weaker episode that did little to suggest any valid reason as to why Falling Water deserves people’s time.
Questions and comments:
- So, the old woman at the end of last week’s hour didn’t die. She was, in fact, involved in the Topeka conspiracy and was hiding Ann-Marie Bowen (Melanie Nicholls-King) and her group, who were hiding the evidence of their hundreds and hundreds of posters. Curious.
- Jack Bender directed this one. It wasn’t even the worst hour of television he’s directed. That’s something, right?
- The opening voiceover was reminiscent of Mr. Robot, just not nearly as or meaningful.
- Tess has a love interest in Levon (Shiloh Fernandez), the guy she met during the group dream. Except he probably isn’t going to be a love interest since he had one of the posters on his bathroom wall. Maybe he’s involved with the cult and he’s gone undercover into Boerg’s study.
- The Woman in Red wears black far too frequently.
Falling Water airs on Thursdays at 10/9c on USA Network.
Falling Water Review: 1×02 – “Calling the Vasty Deep”