God bless the quiet dignity of Shea Whigham’s Thomas Carrasco. The man can get the runaround from practically everyone he speaks to, endure gentle mockery and sneering condescension alike, but still stand stolid in the face of such scorn—and even hang up on his boss mid-dressing down. You go, Thomas. The constant cross-cutting between Thomas and Heidi’s respective explorations of the Mirror Pond Wellness Center in “Protocol” is effective, but comes close to a case of overkill in terms of layering on the symbolic “mirroring” of their journeys. Heidi (and Colin) walking into the food court as Thomas enters the abandoned cafeteria, the two entering the offices at the end of the hallways at the same time…we don’t get to sit quite long enough with either of them to let their experiences register. There are a few moments that come close, but sacrifice emotion for aesthetic (I’m thinking specifically of that lovely but detached shot of the back of Thomas’ head in shadow, framed by the outline of the palm tree-engraved window). That was obviously intentional—there’s more than enough intensity to go around in the antepenultimate episode of the season—but both Roberts and Whigham are so good when Esmail’s camera does linger on their faces, it might behoove the director to lean into it a bit more. Still, that’s a minor quibble for the most exciting episode of the series yet, as the confrontation between Heidi, Colin, and Thomas forms a hydra-headed bundle of fraying tension—and, in the case of… [Read full story]
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