Dispatches from Elsewhere: Fredwynn Review
On this week’s episode of AMC’s Dispatches from Elsewhere, Fredwynn, we get a glimpse into the analytical, determined, and self-reliant mind of Fredwynn (Andre Benjamin) as he attempts to piece everything together to figure out what’s really going on.
Instead of the usual backstory were given by Octavio (Richard E. Grant), we get to see what Fredwynn was up to after he hopped into the trunk of Octavio’s car. Once he arrives at the Jejune Institute’s event, Octavio seemingly already knows he’s in the trunk and treats him in a rather strange way – even for Octavio. Rather than being the more positive-minded and seemingly nice guy that he’s been with the rest of the group, he actually acts a little cold towards Fredwynn. Chastising him for wanting to play alone, leaving his teammates behind, and his desire to expose them for what they are, Octavio is almost taunting him and it only makes Fredwynn more determined to take him down as he’s forced into a closet.
Although most people would just crumble and give up, Fredwynn isn’t like that and we finally get to see what he’s all about. As he creates a McGyver-esque device to free himself, his more self-reliant and capable side begin to show as he weasels his way to getting a script that allows him to see what’s really going. However, while there’re certainly some positive attributes to Fredwynn’s self-reliance, the negative parts are what makes him much more intriguing to figure out. For most people, having a drive or ambition would be seen as something that pushes them forward in life, but for Fredwynn it’s something that constantly keeps him in isolation. He’s always putting his own ambitions and passions before those around him and it’s caused him to be become very narcissistic and self-minded as he believes there’s no one as great as him.
Eventually reuniting with the group, Fredwynn immediately wants to follow up on his findings even though the rest of the group wants to call it a night. Thus, we cut to the next day with everyone meeting up at the diner and Fredwynn loudly making some strange drink that is flavored with efficiency – which made me laugh. The group then goes over the excerpt from the script Fredwynn stole and begins to question what the endgame to everyone scrambling to find Clara (Cecilia Balagot) is. While everyone else still believes there’s nothing serious behind it, Fredwynn is determined that there’s something more and slams his fist in anger when Simone (Eve Lindley) jokingly asks if he knows what fun is.
He then basically gives the two-minute biography that Octavio probably would’ve given at the start. In short, he’s incredibly smart and rich – which Fredwynn goes into more vivid and braggy detail because, well, he’s Fredwynn. I have to say though, that Benjamin is truly at his best here and gives Fredwynn self-reliance a sense of charm and wit that makes him more endearing than annoying. I’d even say its on par with Sally Field’s performance from the previous episode and certainly has that award-worthy quality to it. Regardless, the big pull from Fredwynn’s long speech is that he believes that there is a larger group out there utilizing people’s online choices and social media to gain influential power. Now, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise since this has been talked about for years, but it’s nice to see the show tackle familiar issues with media that viewers can relate to.
So, after Fredwynn proclaims that they can no longer be just innocent bystanders and becomes detectives and everyone else proclaims their love for Law and Order: SVU, he delivers a great monologue to the audience that invites everyone along as they investigate the letter that Janice (Field) stole from Octavio. I guess my sneaky suspicion of Janice not being a random choice for the VR experience was correct as the envelope contains a list of participants with her name being there.
Fredwynn then takes the group to the apartment of a woman he saw handing Octavio the envelope. His blunt and slightly hostile behavior spooks both the group and the woman, so they drag him out of there as the woman secretly signals him – only making Fredwynn even more obsessed to find the truth. It’s almost like Fredwynn is just being played with and it makes this really engaging and makes viewers understand a little more why he’s so driven.
Still wanting to dig deeper, he urges the group that they need to continue, but eventually gives in when Peter (Jason Segel) suggests they stop playing outside the rules. However, when Peter and Simone walk away, he takes Janice aside to try to convince her that there’s still something more to this. The dynamic between Fredwynn and Janice is probably my favorite aspect of the show thus far as it comes off like a meaningful mother/son relationship. The way their arcs become intertwined in this episode as they become more personable with each other is very touching and seeing layers of Fredwynn’s closed off personality be peeled back to bring out some growth.
For now though, Fredwynn just returns home to pray in his own analytical way and Benjamin delivers a great monologue that simply asks God for help in figuring out what’s really happening, help in understanding his teammates better, and help in getting one night of good sleep. However, since there’s still more work to be done, there’s no chance that Fredwynn catching z’s instead of clues. So, deciding that there’s still more detective work to be done, he decides to retrace his steps and see if there’s something he might have missed. What follows is a very strange but intriguing sequence of Fredwynn entering his “memory palace” – which is basically a more calming and trippier version of Jimmy Neutron’s brain blasts. It’s here that Fredwynn glances over everything he did during the Jejune Institute’s event and realizes that the other envelope that Octavio told him about is in Janice’s memory and that he needs her help.
While reluctant at first to let him in, Janice decides to hear him out and he discovers what viewers did last week with her husband Lev being in a comatose state. Field continues to deliver an award-worthy performance as she talks about her relationship with Lev and why it still means so much to her and Fredwynn genuinely seems interested. What’s even more interesting though is hearing Fredwynn talk about his past with his mediocre upbringing and failed heterosexual relationships because of how he uses it. It’s almost like he’s using personal details about himself as bargaining chips to make Janice interested in helping him and it says a lot about how his ambition and drive get in his way of making personal growth.
Eventually, with some convincing, Janice agrees to help Fredwynn and the two enter her memory palace to see what the clue was. There’s actually a very funny moment with Fredwynn attempting to deliver a serious mantra to help Janice reach her memory palace and she does what anyone would probably do and starts giggling because of how silly it is. However, Janice eventually is able to enter her memory palace and reunites with her younger self again. Together they help uncover a strange riddle that Fredwynn is able to solve and the two go and gather Peter, who is hilariously embarrassed to have them be by his lame apartment, and Simone to continue their adventure.
Episode four of Dispatches from Elsewhere finally delves into the group’s final member and displays Benjamin and Fields giving incredibly personal and unique performances. With all of the major players now introduced, it seems like Clara is the only mystery left to be solved and it looks like next week’s episode will delve into her role in all of this.