Now they have the evidence to show a conspiracy, John and his team see no other choice but to put Homm in front of the cameras, proving he’s still alive and reclaiming the narrative. But that could be easier said than done. Crowley has initiated the connecting of datasbases and is able to get information on just about anyone – and blackmail them into doing his will. But even as crowley makes a move on John’s associates, using them to stop the broadcast, how far has Weir been planning ahead and will it come to triumph of tragedy?
“What the blue bloody fuck was that?”
The basic idea of Rabbit Hole isn’t unique or original in itself – the concept of a conspiracy to take over the country (world?) and a race against time to stop them. Perhaps the difference is the timing – Rabbit Hole is being streamed at a time when the themes of not trusting the media, partisan politics and a complicit cocktail of both anger and apathy are there for the taking and when notable figures are playing opportunistically to such elements, using the results for gain and influence on an unprecedented scale. In short, Rabbit Hole takes us down that warren of worry and timely ideas and uses them as a springboard… there’s a necessary suspension of disbelief and a dramatic shorthand to keep up the pace, but it’s a high tightrope act that isn’t a high as it once was.
What this finale episode does well is set up a series of events that we’re primed for being skeptical about. Agent Madi’s actions obviously have more going on with them than we originally see and Weir’s trust of people is suspiciously convenient throughout… so we absolutely know that we’re being played, but not sure how.
All the characters have some moments to enjoy. An interesting scene is an early one with Homm. up until last week he was delighted that rumours that his demise wasn’t real had made him something of a celebrity and now we find out that most of that bandwith came from a ‘click-farm’ that John and Ben had set up… letting their own conspiracy theory set-up boil under in case they needed to grab back the public interest. Homm has largely been a character played for his naiveté or punchlines, but the forlorn look on his face when he realises he’s no kind of influencer is a stinger.
Once again, Rabbit Hole‘s secret is in the editing choices. Here, the finale switches things up, making the most of cranking up the tension by what we don’t see. We often experience John’s perspective, a quick-cut montage of options, but in a scene where Hailey confesses she’s given some information to Agent Madi because she was worried about John’s sanity goes a different way. We don’t see what John ‘sees’ but the merest twitch on Weir’s face shows him processing all responses before he – surprisingly – seems to settle for understanding. Some of the best ways to raise tension are in old-school techniques rather than modern VFX. When Ben and ‘Liv’ (John’s ex) are waiting at home for her son to arrive back, they check the phone and it rings… and rings… and rings without answer and every tone and exchanged look vainly looking for reassurance cranks it up one more notch. When the woman we believe is Madi’s wife is freed from her captivity, we hear gunfire and see a blurred background while the camera stays on her face.
About halfway through, some of the reveals start to happen – a la Ocean’s 11 – when we revisit moments and see them from a more honest perspective. The reveals are mostly fun. The person we believed was Weir’s ex-wife is nothing of the sort. The kidnapped woman sequence is actually a flashback to the time John’s real ex-wife was kidnapped and had her finger cut off (she never spoke to him again after being rescued) – we’ve never met Weir’s real ex-wife before… the person we know is actually a high level operative running interference and she’s the one who has been posing as Liv during this story and then essentially saves Ben from Crowley by taking out all his men. (It’s… complicated!) When it comes to Crowley the option was to never reveal his identity (a valid, if frustrating way to go) or have another big name play him. It turns out to be none other than Lance Henriksen, another dramatic heavyweight worthy of the role. It’s also savvy casting on a visual, story-side – both Ben/Crowley (Dance and Henriksen) look like they could be brothers and are flipsides of the same coin. The ‘you can’t do this/I already did it‘, also echo the same idea in the Watchmen graphic novel where Ozymandias makes a similar proclamation. One does wonder how it’s all undone thereafter – a magic button disconnect?
The show has its broad dramatic strokes and conceits that work to varying effect: the opening montage of Evers’ Shared Data Act being pushed through and ‘Crowley’ pressing a few buttons that start to link up just about every prominent database in the country (a la Person of Interest) are very much of the displays that are only found in television, alongside forensic computers that take seconds, not weeks, to identify suspects for the sake of the plot. Homm and Hailey arriving exactly at a designated spot at a designated time seems awfully contrived given the preceding escape scene relied so much on luck. Later, the manipulation of a security-guard by trawling through his cross-connected files also feels convenient (suppose there had been no great sins worthy of his betrayal?) and the fact the guard complies yet is left alive by the murderous Kyle doesn’t make a lot of sense. These moments show the seams but don’t ruin the experience.
The dual worries going into this finale were that it would wrap things up too neatly or, alternatively – and more likely – leave so much dangling in hope of a renewal. Interestingly, it’s the former, though it does tie-up a lot in unexpected polish and style and proves fun. Perhaps inevitably, there’s unanswered questions and a moment at the end that at least leaves enough of an opening to continue the concept if someone wants to (no revelation as to whom Hailey was contacting, Kyle the Intern still running free and the strong possibility that Henriksen’s character might not have been Crowley either). It’s likely a deep-dive rerun through the season would produce a delicate balance of ‘Oh, that’s clever foreshadowing!‘ and ‘But that doesn’t make sense now?‘ elements that you have to admire or gloss-over but otherwise this was a tie-up of a mini-series that made some sense and however much the show has been a guilty pleasure and there’s some scope for more, part of me tends to hope this is a one-and-done or is duialled back to less ‘end of the world’ mechanics.
- Production Design / VFX8