8.0

Review: “Murder/Magic 8 Ball/Procrastination” (2.08)

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Review: “Murder/Magic 8 Ball/Procrastination” (2.08)

By this point, we can all agree Review is a dark show. Like much of Andy Daly’s comedy, its darkness is masked by a beige, perhaps even chipper sheen. However, as the show goes on, the darkness rises further and further toward the surface, and things hit an all-time low in “Murder/Magic 8 Ball/Procrastination.” Yes, this takes into account that earlier this year an entire cult was mowed down by the U.S. government.

The first thing Forrest is asked to do is review what it is like to kill somebody. This is too much for even Forrest, and since he can’t think of a workaround, he is resigned, much to A.J.’s glee, to use his first veto. The veto ceremony is delightfully overwrought. Grant hands him a hammer and some protective goggles. Grant asks Forrest three times if he wants to use the veto. Then, while A.J. happily shields her eyes, Forrest breaks the glass, and gets a veto scroll out of the case. It speaks to how serious Forrest takes his job. Using a veto is worthy of nothing less than glitz and glamor. So while it looked like for a moment the show would have to figure out some way for Forrest to kill somebody, he’s off the hook.

Instead, his first task is to see what it is like to let a Magic 8 Ball make all his decisions for him. For Forrest, this means all decisions. Also, he wears the ball in a pouch in front of him that makes it look like he’s masturbating every time he uses it, which is, admittedly, a bit silly. It seems, at first, like this is going to be the joke of the piece, which would have been a bit of a disappointment, but then things change. At first, it’s all fun as he goes chasing a squirrel up a tree based on the 8 ball’s wishes. However, soon it is keeping him from eating hot dogs.

Also, it is keeping him from talking to his wife properly, because, eventually, he’s just repeating what the 8 ball says as his answer to her questions, and the Magic 8 Ball tells him not to say he’s sorry. Oh, and then he finds himself mixed up in a drug deal gone wrong that leads to a vicious beating. Alas, the 8 ball refuses to let Forrest leave, or to tell the cops that the man they found is, in fact, the man who committed the beating. The 8 ball has it out for Forrest, it would seem. The world does not want him to succeed, and, to be fair, who can blame the world?

The next review asks Forrest to review procrastination. As he is about to go on his merry way to try and figure out how to use a Tumblr, he realizes that, since his task is to procrastinate, procrastinating would then mean he wasn’t procrastinating on his task of procrastinating. It’s a logic loop, which shuts the show down and leads to Forrest using his second veto, since he can’t figure out a way to avoid the proverbial snake tracing its own hand scenario. As such, with less pomp and circumstance, Forrest uses the second veto. Then it turns out the “kill somebody” lady sent in her review twice, and this time it counts.

So yes, Forrest is tasked with killing somebody. This leads to the best scene in the episode, and one of the best scenes in the show’s history, where Grant the producer and the show’s lawyer talk to Forrest about this task. Obviously, they say, you can’t do this, but Grant keeps needling and needling Forrest. Sure, he can’t do this, and that means the show is over but, hey, people will remember him fleetingly as the guy who ate pancakes until he got sick. That’s not so bad. Of course, Forrest could walk away. He could fight this. However, since he is Forrest, and since Review is everything to him, he takes this as a sign that, yes, he must kill somebody.

His first idea is to kill the guy in a coma from the beating, since he is basically just playing out the string until he dies, having been given less than a one percent chance of surviving. For once, though, Forrest can’t do it, and he actually walks away from his first idea. He then turns his attention to Ray, the guy who did the beating. This is a man he could justify killing. That is, until he really meets the man, and Ray seems to have turned his life around. Until, at least, he finds Forrest’s microphone, which he takes to be a wire, which leads to a fight, which leads to a gun going off, which leads to Ray dying. Forrest, even if he won’t admit it on air, has killed a man, and, in theory, he gives it half a star. Oh, and the coma guy died too.

As previously stated, this is a dark episode of Review. The show has brought Forrest to a point where he has, apparently, killed a man, albeit in self-defense. He’s turned his life over to the show, to a Magic 8 Ball, to his producers and his audience. It has destroyed everything around him, and now it has destroyed him too. It will be interesting to see where Forrest goes from here, out of vetoes, and out of hope. At least A.J. usually remains chipper. She has to be brave for the both of them now.

Chris Morgan is not the author of THE book on Mystery Science Theater 3000, but he is the author of A book on Mystery Science Theater 3000. He’s also on Twitter.