HBO’S Room 104
Season 1, Episode 1: “Ralphie”
Directed by Sarah Adina Smith (Buster’s Mal Heart/Holidays segment “Mother’s Day”/The Midnight Swim)
Written by Mark Duplass
* For a recap & review of Episode 2, “Pizza Boy” – click here
At a hotel room, Bradley (Ross Partridge) waits, looking stressed. Soon, Meg (Melonie Diaz) arrives. She’s there to babysit. In the bathroom is young Ralphie (Gavin Kent). Dad has to go, so he doesn’t introduce the kid. Dad leaves Meg in the dust, she’s a bit confused.
But soon the little guy comes out. Although he says that he isn’t Ralphie; he’s Ralph. They’re two different people. Ralphie “doesn‘t like girls” and he isn’t a very nice boy, it seems. The babysitter nicely tries to ingratiate herself to him, not believing the kid’s silly little stories. Believing it’s a case of dual identities. Meg even calls out to Ralphie, which gets her a half slap across the face.
Then Ralph says that Ralphie wants to talk with her. She starts getting curious, even a little worried. There’s been no word from dad, either. Suddenly Ralphie runs out in his underwear, a cape around his neck ,screaming: “I‘m gonna get you!” He tosses the room and scares the shit out of the babysitter. Then he’s gone again. Out comes Ralph, dressed in his normal clothes again and apologising for Ralphie’s behaviour. Very, very unsettling.
They continue their night, and even though Bradley hasn’t returned Meg isn’t too worried. Just looks like the boy has issues. She talks with him, making him feel at ease. She’s not really at ease, it’s not so fun from her end. Then Ralph wants to talk about sex. Stuff his dad won’t tell him about yet. Certainly makes Meg uncomfortable. But the kid wants to know what his dad’s doing on his dates.
Afterwards, Ralph talks about how his dad “made up a story” about his wife dying, and that’s what they tell people happened to her. Suicide – Bradley claims mommy hung herself in the closet, couldn’t take it anymore. Is it because she was depressed? Or is it… because of Ralphie? Is it even real? Ralph says it’s make believe.
So, what really happened to mom?
Real talk, Ralph claims Ralphie killed her. OHHHH, NOW WE’RE GETTING TO THE MEAT! Meg’s got no time for the boy’s games. He’s super worried about Ralphie, says that he wants to kill him, too. When the boy disappears in the bathroom again, screams of “Die, die, die!” ring out. Bradley won’t answer his phone. This leaves Meg no choice but to call 911.
You wouldn’t believe it, but then the two boys emerge from the bathroom: Ralph AND Ralphie; two separate identities Meg can see. Ralphie jumps on top of his counterpart, smothering him with a pillow. The babysitter tries intervening, getting her nose smashed in the process. Ralph goes limp, dead, and the only boy left now is Ralphie, a sinister look in his eyes. Like a primitive animal.
When Bradley shows up, there’s no more Ralphie; only Ralph. He’s not breathing. Dead. The father’s distraught and trying to get his boy breathing again. To no avail. With sirens in the background, Meg laughs and laughs. Behind her a door slams shut. Is this by her own power? Weird. It’s almost as if she helped conjure up Ralphie, awakening a strange power in herself. Or maybe Ralphie’s real, and he’s just sneaky, devilish.
Who knows. The mystery’s more exciting than any answers could be.
Next episode is “Pizza Guy” and from the looks of this one we’re in for something weird, something wild, something altogether unexpected. Because this one came out of nowhere. Wasn’t sure what to expect. Now I’m looking forward to more. Like a sort of modern Twilight Zone and Outer Limits-style series off the bat.