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Dispatches from Elsewhere S1E8: Lee and Redemption

Photo Credit: Jessica Kourkounis/AMC

Dispatches from Elsewhere S1E8 “Lee” isn’t as much about Lee as you might expect from its title. It starts with her, showing us how she was the architect of the game that ended in S1E7. And it is clearly suggested that her motivation involves a quest for redemption. It is said that she got Clara to sell out her vision, but it isn’t made clear what would lead Lee to say she was responsible for Clara’s death.

What we do see is that the game outside of the game that our friends Peter, Simone, Janice, and Fredwynn went through was apparently ad hoc and occurred on the basis of their actions. That is hard to believe with regard to the house where they found Clara’s story. Perhaps that had been set up from the get-go and there were other ways of possibly getting there. And the apartment where Janice and Simone found the dragon painting would seem most likely to be a real thing and not something created for the game.

But the scene they discovered at the end of S1E6 is revealed in Dispatches from Elsewhere S1E8 to have been staged by Lee and the Milkman. He then led them to the finale of the game, as I suggested might have been the case last week.

I was a bit wrong, however, in what I said about Lee. As Octavio points out in S1E8, we (and our friends) had seen her before, and not just in the story of Clara from S1E5. I don’t know what that does to my broader point there, though. Why would this be the person imagined as the antagonist in Clara’s story? But, again, maybe I am over-thinking things.

Lee and Milkman look through glass
Photo Credit: Jessica Kourkounis/AMC

The crux of Dispatches from Elsewhere S1E8 pertains to the characters we have come to know over the course of the season. And it returns to the pairings we started out with initially: Peter and Simone on the one hand, and Fredwynn and Janice on the other.

Peter asks Simone out on a date, and it does not go very well. But it’s interesting what the problem ends up being. Dispatches from Elsewhere has been so good with the fact that Simone is trans that I was pretty sure my concern about the possibility of Peter having a hang up about that was going to be unfounded, but it was there nonetheless. Other shows have done this in various ways, but not Dispatches from Elsewhere.

Instead, the worry comes in the other direction. After seeing some menacing fellows as they walk on their date, Simone decides that Peter isn’t ready for this. He’s behind. He doesn’t know what he would be getting himself into dating a trans woman. He didn’t even register those assholes as a threat. Who he wants to be—and who she could see him becoming—isn’t who he is. He’s too naïve for this to work.

I’m not sure if she’s right, or if he is in his rebuttal about making things as they want them. I have to admit that my knowledge here is secondhand, and as much as I want to understand things there is a certain level at which I just can’t because I don’t have the direct life experience. Perhaps I am like Peter, honestly wanting be the right kind of ally but unable to truly grasp the reality of Simone’s situation.

Remember: Peter is you.

Or maybe he has a point about her having thought about this for a long time in a way that has nothing to do with him. Perhaps at least a part of it does stem from her own fears and insecurities. That would track. So maybe these two possibilities aren’t mutually exclusive. Perhaps it’s both?

Regardless, this relationship that I was ultimately so happy to see come together in S1E7 falls apart pretty quickly. And part of that is surely that they no longer have the game to bind them.

I guess it was “just” a game, but its point was in the interpersonal connections, and so is the point of Dispatches from Elsewhere. The story of Simone and Peter isn’t done yet.

Simone and Peter walk together
Photo Credit: Jessica Kourkounis/AMC

The other main story of Dispatches from Elsewhere S1E8 is that of Janice and Fredwynn. She gets a call at the diner and leaves suddenly. He, sensing that something is wrong, follows her.

It turns out that Lev has taken a turn for the worse, and Janice ultimately has to decide to pull the plug. It’s sad, but Fredwynn’s actions in light of this turn of events are sort of inspiring.

He’s realized the way in which he’s been a bad friend throughout his life, and he’s trying—in his own awkward way—to correct that. He cares about Janice. That is apparent here, and it’s important for her character to feel it.

By the end of S1E7, Janice was feeling like maybe these people she’d come to know through the game weren’t really her friends. And that hit hardest with regard to Fredwynn. He asked her to help him find the architect, but when she suggested they do it together, he said it would be more effective if they split up.

Classic Fredwynn.

He’s so focused on the goal that he misses the element of human connection. But he’s starting to get it, and we see that in S1E8 as he decides to just be there for Janice. He doesn’t know whether he should leave or stay in the hospital room, but after she asks him to stay he takes Lev’s hand and the heart melts.

Fredwynn is good people, no matter his view on the possibility of a hollow Earth.

Peter, Simone, Fredwynn, and Janice walk in the cemetery
Photo Credit: Jessica Kourkounis/AMC

Everyone ends up at Lev’s funeral, and there are hugs all around (except between Simone and Peter).

Then we see Fredwynn go back to the mausoleum where the gang found a recording from Clara and open up the urn. He eats some of what’s inside, which would be gross except it turns out to be filled with cereal, or Skittles, or something.

It would seem that the game isn’t truly over for our friends after all, or that they have entered a new game Lee has created just for them. She led them to that urn, after all, and put the tape recorder there. That could have been the end of it, but she knew Fredwynn’s nature would likely lead him to go further and make the discovery that he makes at the end of S1E8.

So where does Dispatches from Elsewhere go from here? And what’s up with Clown Boy? He’s surely going to be significant to the endgame.

Caemeron Crain

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain studies philosophy and is a writer and head of the TV department at 25YL. He is a party to a Twin Peaks podcast that then did a few episodes on Surrealism before entering an indefinite hiatus. He also has a cat.

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