Reverie explores a world of dance in a quite typical episode
Episode 6 of Reverie takes its title quite literally, with an episode centered on Holly Maxwell (Sally Pressman), a dancer who is facing the fact that she will never walk again. Mara (Sarah Shahi), as always, goes into her Reverie in order to try and convince her to leave. While uncovering Holly’s hidden drama, a figure from Mara’s past makes a return. Holly’s therapist happens to be a man named Chris Condera (Sam Jaeger), who happens to be Mara’s ex. The tension between them is further escalated between them with the fact that Chris knows much more about Holly than anyone else, but can’t tell Mara because of patient privacy laws.
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Fortunately, Mara is able to find out exactly what Holly is hiding: sShe was pregnant with her boyfriend’s unborn child at the time she had her accident. In her Reverie, she is not only able to dance, but is also able to see her daughter, Sadie (Ireland Richards), grow up. With such a tearjerker of a story, it’s hard to believe the episode gets even more emotional at the end. The huge plot twist revelation that Ray (Christopher Redman) is alive and in a coma, having survived the event we’ve seen so much of, is a real game changer for what motivates Mara. That being said, there’s a ton to discuss, so let’s meet this week’s roundtable guests!
Jules (@julesbrindisi) – Chef who loves to immerse herself in TV and clings onto strong female characters
Ryan (@RyanBartholomee) – Positivity with a hint of sarcasm wrapped in way too many dad jokes
Kim (@KDL0888) – TV show addict, hardcore fangirl
Ian (@DoKnowButchie) – Translates Spanish to English and vice-versa, and will not shut up about the CW’s Nikita.
Chris (@filmwritr4) – Journalist, screenwriter and filmmaker
1. First off, what did everyone think of Holly’s story?
Jules (@julesbrindisi): This is probably my favourite episode so far. I really enjoyed Holly’s story because you can see the parallels between Mara and Holly’s story in terms of a traumatic event affecting both their lives as well as a relationship ending. Additionally, it highlights Mara’s past and showcases that Mara was once attached and possibly was content with her life prior to losing her family.
Ryan (@RyanBartholomee): Holly’s story was heartbreaking and full of a lot of emotion. Between imagining a relationship with your daughter that didn’t survive and having the ability to dance again when you can’t even walk in the real world, I totally get why Holly wanted to escape to her Reverie forever.
Kim (@KDL0888): She lost her legs, her man (admittedly on purpose) and her baby all at once so her depression/avoidance is understandable.
Ian (@DoKnowButchie): It was a better fit for the series than some of the past few we’ve seen. The show has demonstrated a tendency to try and make the people Mara saves into Sympathetic Souls with Good Intentions, even in stories where it feels counterintuitive, and it hasn’t always worked. This does, because we know from the start that that’s where they’re going. That said, the resolution to the story, or at least its tone, did not work for the story, I feel. The way the episode approached the story, Holly choosing to remain awake isn’t inherently a happy ending, but a sacrifice. I wish the series had committed to that, instead of making it seem as if everything is okay now. On a different note, I was wary about the show telling the story of a disabled person using Reverie to not to be disabled, and the episode wasn’t exactly reassuring on that score. It’s a natural use of the technology, and I imagine that if perfect VR existed in real life there would be loads of disabled people who would use it for that very purpose (note: I am not disabled) but it’s hard not to see the message here as “being disabled is inherently terrible (but attempting to mitigate that terribleness is bad).” The story still sort of works on an individual level — Holly shouldn’t represent all disabled people — but it’d be cool if, in the future, we saw disabled Reverie users who choose to remain disabled within their Reverie, and use virtual reality to enjoy a world which better accommodates their disabilities.
Chris (@filmwritr4): Holly’s story was one of the best that I’ve seen on Reverie this season. There was so much emotion and mystery behind it, and I wasn’t even sure why Holly didn’t want Mara to go behind the dressing room door in her Reverie. I thought she might have wanted to avoid repeating the same accident that paralyzed her. I even thought that her ex, Zeke, could have hurt her in some way and she was trying to avoid that. Everything changed when she revealed that the doctors told her she would never have a child after the accident. It was a remarkable twist and it really upended the entire direction of the story in a powerful way.
2. What would actually be the repercussions for Onira Tech if a patient was allowed to die under their care? Exactly what kind of ethical questions does such a scenario bring up?
Jules: Like Alexis said, she didn’t create Reverie as a way to assist with suicide. Paul brings up a great point that they have no idea about the consequences for the removing someone from Reverie involuntarily as well. I think possibly in the contract (assuming they have one) they should include being able to remove someone if their life is in danger; however, I really think they should test with someone who is willing to see if there are immediate repercussions. Of course, it could affect everyone individually.
Ryan: If you are a family member of the patient, you would certainly be tempted to pursue legal action. I would be curious about all of the provisions that you have to agree to in a written contract before participating in a Reverie. Onira Tech needs to have a healthy budget for legal fees, that is for sure. I thought both Paul and Alexis made valid points in their argument in this episode. You don’t want to enslave someone to an alternate reality and be responsible for their demise. Reverie is supposed to be a blessing. Yet, adults have the right to make their own decisions and live with the consequences. When and why should Onira Tech intervene? These are issues that must be answered before a person ever enters a Reverie.
Kim: “Allowed” to die — that’s a different way of looking at it. Are people told that someone from Onira Tech is able to enter their Reverie? So far Mara has been able to get all of her “patients” to choose to come out (exception being bomb girl from last episode) so the ethics haven’t changed, at least not for the job Mara was hired to do.
Ian: Dying would be bad, but it would just be icing on the cake of badness Onira Tech has invited just by choosing to care for Reverie addicts. Taking them in may be ethical (although it’d be even more ethical if they also buckled up and recalled Reverie), but they are essentially admitting that yes, Reverie is addictive, and may lead to serious health repercussions, which is all a plaintiff needs to sue the pants off the corporation. A Reverie user actually dying in their custody, in this context, just means that when Onira Tech loses (or settles the suit, which is a far more likely outcome) they’ll have to pay that much more.
Chris: I think the repercussions of that would be extremely severe. Reverie was never intended to be used to assist suicides. If anyone ever used or wanted to use the program as a means of permanently living in the Reverie they created – thus ending their life in reality – the legal and moral issues would be numerous. There would be lawsuits, and possibly prosecution, not to mention the huge financial hit that Onira Tech would take as a result.
3. We’ve talked a lot about the pros and cons of the software, but does Holly’s use of it change anything? How could it be good (or bad) for those with illnesses, injuries, or disabilities?
Jules: Of course, nothing in excess is good. It could clearly be used to help with those with illnesses, injuries, or disabilities, but as we see with Holly and the others is it’s never enough to fill that void. Alexis wants and wishes to use Reverie to save lives and make lives better, though the main helping factor in that is the people must wish to change their lives. Considering that, it makes it extremely variable to how well it helps others, if at all unfortunately.
Ryan: If you are disabled, I feel that becoming addicted to your Reverie (in which you don’t have your disabilities) becomes even easier. While it could be good for dealing with depression that comes from a significant negative event in your life, it could also be quite dangerous. Walking the fine line between therapy and addiction is a daunting challenge. Coming back to your reality could make overcoming depression even more of an issue.
Kim: Holly can’t be the only one who uses Reverie to have something they can’t have real world, isn’t that the whole point of it? So unless there’s a problem with the person outside, the ethical question hasn’t changed. My only question would be the ethics of introducing Reverie to a person already in a coma (one not caused by them already being in Reverie) to bring them out.
Ian: Despite Alexis’ horror at what she termed a suicide machine, the potential use of the Reverie tech to provide end-of-life care is one of the most interesting things the series has explored, and I see little wrong with allowing dying people to use it in order to make their last moments better. And while the existence of Reverie may affect how the world at large treats disabled people in some horrifying ways, the technology itself has the potential to do good.
Chris: Considering how far along they are in their recovery, I think people with disabilities, injuries and illnesses could benefit by having Reverie create situations where they can easily learn how to adjust to their new situations. Reverie could help them to relearn how to do physically complex tasks and other life skills, or offer them new ways to cope with their physical problems in an emotional sense. I assume Holly has been disabled for a considerable period of time, so she might already know how to do the things that once came naturally to her. If not, though, then I think Reverie could help her to understand and deal with the challenges she faces.
4. In other news, what’s up with Chris’s attitude towards Mara? What could’ve happened during their split? Do you think they have a chance at reconciling?
Jules: I feel that the reason for the split was the trauma that Mara was dealing with concerning the mourning of her family. It seems she cut him out of her life, drinking and overdosing on medications. I think they could reconcile though we still don’t know much about their personalities together or history. How long did they date? Were they still in a good place before? However, with Chris’ ‘blow-up’ at Mara, I’m not particularly happy with his inability to separate work from personal life.
Ryan: You can tell that Chris is still hurt for Mara shutting him out while she was going through such a dark time. Being a therapist, he undoubtedly wanted to be there for Mara. She didn’t want anyone to try to “fix” her because you can’t bring back those that she has lost. I definitely think they have a chance at reconciling. It will just take time.
Kim: Chris is acting like a typical man. Booo! The loss is Mara’s but he’s all “what about me”. I got the impression that they could’ve been more but hadn’t gotten to that point before her family was killed. They had the beginnings of a thing but after her loss she shut him out. As reconciliation, they said they loved each other but personally as a viewer, I am hoping they wait ‘cuz Mara is so not ready for that drama.
Ian: Eeeehhhhh…do they have to reconcile? I did not love Chris, and wouldn’t mind if this were the last we saw of him, if he’s not going to play a larger role in the corporate drama.
Chris: The relationship between Chris and Mara was very interesting to see. I was wondering if Chris knew something about the incident that Mara keeps getting haunted by. Maybe he knows her family. Maybe he’s got something to hide that Mara doesn’t know about. Either way, it’s an intriguing part of the story that adds more depth and mystery to Mara’s character. The last time they saw each other, though, Mara did act like she had at least some affection towards Chris. They almost kissed but he pulled away. For now, it’s little more than a professional relationship – but I’d be very interested to see where it goes.
5. Speaking of relationship drama, does Paul seem a bit… jealous?
Jules: He seems a bit distraught that Mara’s ex is around. I feel he genuinely cares for her. However, I’m rather glad there hasn’t been much concerning what their relationship could be since Mara is still trying to work on her life and finding her place.
Ryan: There is a hint of jealousy, but Paul is quite professional. You can tell he cares about Mara, and they have great chemistry. Paul has class and certainly tried to consider Chris subjectively and even compliment him to Mara. The true sign of jealousy will be if Paul tries to grow a mustache in the near future!
Kim: Paul? Jealous? Noooo… wait HELL YES. Ha ha ha! I laughed so hard at Paul making sure to say he thought Chris was cool. I’m still laughing.
Ian: A bit. That said, given the threat Chris represents — he’s given access to quite a lot of compromising information, without even the suggestion that he had to sign a non-disclosure agreement to get it — I totally understand him being unsettled by the guy, even if jealousy weren’t a factor.
Chris: Seeing how Paul interacts with Mara, I don’t get the feeling that he has any real romantic feelings for her. I could be wrong, though, but now that I consider the question I wonder if he’s ever had any kind of romantic relationship. He’s brilliant, of course, but I don’t think I see any real indication that he has feelings for Mara. Again, I might be wrong about that.
6. Holy plot twist, that ending! Ray is alive? What were your reactions to that crazy reveal?
Jules: I’m a bit surprised, considering I figured a gunshot wound to the head would’ve been pretty much an immediate death. However, it certainly adds a plot twist and doesn’t help I saw this question before I saw the episode hahaha. Huge spoiler alert. Sarah absolutely looked like she was radiating Shaw from Person of Interest in that scene.
Ryan: This was shocking to me, and it makes sense why it would be so hard for Mara to see Ray alive. I believe that she still blames herself for not being able to stop the tragedy. When she sees Ray, she sees guilt, rage and heartache. That flood of emotions must be overwhelming. She has certainly come a long way in dealing with them. Helping others with their problems has certainly been therapeutic for her.
Kim: My reaction ..WHAT..NO. Well no wonder Mara isn’t over her sister and niece’s death. The person who did it gets to live while they are gone.
Ian: We’re definitely getting an episode where Mara’s made to enter his Reverie, right? I’m generally unenthused about the Ray story (or, if I’m being honest, Mara’s backstory in general, which is partly why I don’t care for Chris) but there’s potential there. I want to see what Mara has to say to him.
Chris: Wow. That was totally unexpected. That changes everything. His being alive may ultimately hold the key to why Mara has had those flashbacks and hallucinations of the incident, as well as the real story behind his actions. What an amazing plot twist.
7. What are you hoping to see in the next few episodes?
Jules: I do truly l hope to see more of Mara’s past. Additionally, I would really love to see more of Jessica Lu on screen and more about Alexis’ storyline, especially considering her twin Dylan’s death. Also it would be interesting to see what Monica Shaw is doing since she oversees Charlie and was involved in the previous episode. Certainly, that wasn’t the last time we’ll see her and Charlie and her have a bit of tension between them about the operations of Onira Tech and Reverie.
Ryan: I hope to see Mara continue to come closer to a place of peace. I hope to see her relationship with Paul grow stronger. I hope to see more emotion-filled and thought-provoking Reverie scenarios. Each person Mara helps has a unique story. I also love the continued development and growth of Alexis. If you aren’t on Twitter with this amazing cast, you are missing out! They are quite engaging, and their interactions with each other are hilarious!
Kim: I’m hoping all the hanging plot lines get resolved at least a little bit. Dark Reverie, Oliver Hill, Charlie’s wife and daughter story, the other “coma” patients from episode 1, more on Dylan’s story, more of what Monica Shaw and the military’s interest in Reverie entails, AND IN THE PREVIEW HOW THE HELL DOES MARA GET A WOUND FROM INSIDE REVERIE SHOWING UP OUT OF IT???
Ian: What I wish to see every night, namely more exploration of how Reverie fits into the larger world. Perfect virtual reality of the sort Reverie represents should massively disrupt the status quo — just consider what it would do to the multi-billion dollar video game industry alone — and yet we barely get any indications that that is the case. At the very least, I want to see people who are not Reverie users (or are not directly connected to Reverie users) acknowledge that it exists, without having to learn about it from Mara or the other regulars. Also, Onira Tech’s legal team. Give me the legal team show.
Chris: I hope to see more fantastic Reveries, of course, but I definitely want to find out what Charlie and Paul’s real intentions are for Mara and Reverie. I also want to find out what Ray knows, why he did what he did, and what Mara can do to deal with all of these complications. I can’t wait for these next few episodes, and I hope it gets renewed!
A dance for two
One thing the show is definitely still getting right (even 6 episodes in) is playing at our emotions with new and different characters every week. Holly is completely different from any other Onira Tech client we’ve met, which really just shows how diversely people use the software. It was refreshing to see a more down-to-earth approach to fantasy, and lots more questions of what Reverie could be used for. The choreography in the dance sequences is exquisite, and bookends the episode perfectly, tying the beginning, middle, and end together. From the beautiful solo, to Holly’s ‘lesson’ with Mara, and the duet with her daughter, the theme of dance, so important to Holly, cements itself as the most important part of the episode. It’s an interesting showcase of passion and art and its importance to people, and a stark contrast to the previous stories of loved ones and action movie fantasies.
Everything considered, we’d really love to see the show take a lot more risks in what it explores. This particular episode had tons of potential with its setup, but opted for a safer ending anyways. It would’ve been interesting to see what would happen if Mara hadn’t been able to save Holly, or the team had chosen to pull her out. We’re starting to see very similar episodes, and while the standalone storyline of “Pas De Deux” is intriguing and emotional, it isn’t particularly something we haven’t seen before from Reverie.
Hopefully in these final episodes of this season, we’ll get more development as to how Onira Tech operates and what it’s actually hiding (because it’s clearly a lot). We’d love to also see a departure from the patient of the week format at some point. It’s not necessarily bad, as it is a good starting point to draw in more casual viewers, but inevitably will leave more invested fans wanting much more. It’s something we’ve said time and time again throughout these roundtables, but it’s worth repeating. What keeps us really wanting to watch week after week is the potential the show actually has if it’s able to utilize it properly, which we really hope it starts to do.