And the wheels are officially starting to come off. You can have the noblest of goals (and even though it is as wispy as a cloud, total world enlightenment is a noble goal), but your thing will fall apart if you don’t have good organization at the heart of the project. The number of lofty projects people’s quotidian, petty bullshit has brought down is incalculable. From the Arthurian Round Table to that time that Columbia professor tried to teach a chimpanzee language, people’s everyday stuff (and especially their weird sex stuff) gets in the way.
The first of our quartet to stray from Dory’s path is Elliott, because of course it is. Elliott doesn’t have a backbone; it’s just VIP wristbands holding his head up back there. Marc and Elliott return to Kiddos and demand that Dr. John Waters let them return their murderous little weirdo. Waters explains that there is a no-returns and “no fuss” policy, but he is willing to take Aspen back if Elliott can get some enlightenment pills so he can fix his wife’s terrible family. The idea of Waters playing a straight man who hates his in-laws is the epitome of camp. Wonderful, wonderful. Elliott decides to fuck over global enlightenment so that he can get Aspen out of his house.
Meanwhile, Portia is doing the influencer’s dry cleaning. Personally, if I were in some sort of commune to make the world a better place, I wouldn’t wear anything that requires dry cleaning. It’s so bad for the environment! Anyway, while running bullshit errands for Dory, Drew and Portia spy Dory having brunch with the disciples. And without them. Dory and Portia are banished to the far end of the brunching table, which is devastating. Greta Titelman’s British celebutante offers to set up Dory with a Shah’s son, something that deeply upsets Portia and Drew. Guys, she said she’s into free love. Get poly, or get over it! We’re treated to a lovely moment in which Drew flexes about being six-foot-five, but it’s ruined when a woman slashes Dory’s face and claims that she ruined her life. Portia sweeps in to take care of Dory, and Drew picks up the knife. A clue.
Meanwhile, Elliott is getting made up to look like one of the scientists at Tunnel’s campus. The final effect is … stunning is too small of a word. The freckling the makeup artist did, the Three Stooges Larry–ass wig — it’s a nasty sight. Elliott sneaks into the lab as Dr. Carpet and is immediately stopped by Dr. Benny. She thinks they fucked at a conference and asks him to instruct the interns on how to kill rats and harvest their livers. Between this and the bathwater-chugging the last episode, we’ve got some real competition for the most disturbing visual this season.
Elliott successfully yoinks some of the prototype pills and gives them to John Waters. He says they’re just jelly beans. Oh, and Aspen sings to himself about being the bestest boy while eating raw meat. So there’s another upsetting visual for season five. A post-slashing Dory is informed that her Great Work is literally sugar pills, and she confronts Tunnel about the hollowness of his vision.
Gotta say I am somewhat underwhelmed by the standard-issue Jeff Goldblum we are getting in this show. Tunnel Quinn is indistinguishable from the Apartments.com guy, and that kind of sucks. I was watching a supercut of Glee lines (cannot explain why — I don’t control my brain; it controls me), and I was struck by how much more of a character he was while playing one of Rachel Berry’s gay dads. Casting Goldblum as Tunnel is quite a get, but does it serve the story and/or the comedy? Also, the real billionaires are so much more boring/inhuman than Apartments.com Goldblum. You’ve seen Bill Gates dance or Jeff Bezos’s NYE Pitbull impression. They are dull and think they can buy a personality.
I think I was hoping for more menace in this confrontation. Where’s the guy who was bowhunting himself a few episodes ago? Tunnel says that, no, he doesn’t think an enlightenment pill will work out. He tells Dory just to keep playing along until he can sell the company and they can both make out like bandits.
Disillusioned and woozy from the knife stuff, Dory yells at her apostles for being fake fans and collapses. She wakes up in Portia’s room. Portia says she is just overworked, but Dory says her stomach also really hurts. So Portia gives her some kind of tea. Look, I’m just going to say what we’re all thinking: Is Portia doing a Phantom Thread to Dory? You can tell me — this is a safe space. Portia only feels useful when she’s taking care of Dory, and what better way to make sure that’s necessary than by doing a little light poisoning?
Back at Lyte HQ, the influencers are freaking out. If Dory abandons them, they’ll have to go back to their stupid little lives. They need to come up with a way to make sure Dory knows they’re loyal to the cause. “I have an idea,” says roller girl, “but it does involve killing myself.” Yellow Lyte comes up with a better idea, one that the group unveils at Portia’s apartment.
Before the acolytes come through, Dory is starting to lose faith. Total world enlightenment was a stupid idea; she was stupid to try it. Portia says everyone becoming the most self-actualized version of themselves could be as useful as toilet paper and that Dory shouldn’t give up. Almost on cue, the influencers arrive to show their commitment to the cause. They have all disfigured their faces with some sort of chemical that makes the wounds crystalize in their assigned color. Not sure how that really forwards the goal of ego death and ultimate consciousness, but Dory seems heartened. Yay?
Stray Pages From the Book of Dory
• Drew investigates the knife the woman used to slash Dory’s face and finds that it’s from the Jesper Society in Maine. You can hear five years of mystery-shenanigan weariness in Drew’s voice when he says, “Am I really gonna go to Maine?”
• A one-scene wonder from Bryan Safi as Elliott’s makeup artist. Thank you for your service!
• I want Marc and Elliott to give Aspen to Lyte. He belongs there. Let’s just group all the sci-fi together. It’ll keep everything tidier.
• The idea of your skin turning to crystal is very upsetting. Especially if you’ve read anything about Morgellons or listened to/read the Crystal Kingdom arc of The Adventure Zone.