HBO’s Room 104
Season 1, Episode 3: “The Knockandoo”
Directed by Sarah Adina Smith
Written by Carson D. Mell
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Pizza Boy” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “I Knew You Weren’t Dead” – click here
A woman named Deborah (Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris) arrives at the motel, Room 104. She heads inside, pouring herself a mixed drink of vodka. Before taking a sip she murmurs something to herself, almost a mantra.
Soon, a knock at the door. It’s Samuel (Orlando Jones), she’s been expecting him. This is the first time they’ve met, face to face, in the flesh. He’s got all sorts of stuff with him, too. Binders full of things. Deborah says it’s “like a celebrity is in the room,” though he shrugs this off. They’ve talked a long time before meeting. Then he gets ready to change, asking for her to put a DVD in. Except there’s no DVD player, so she has to call the front desk while he changes.
When Samuel comes back out, he’s wearing an elaborate robe. He has another robe for her to wear. Can’t be wearing any “synthetic fibres.” Weird. She goes to the bathroom to put it on. She’s apprehensive, but out she goes eventually.
Another knock comes at the door: staff with their DVD player.
Samuel puts on a DVD. The Father (Tony Todd) appears speaking to “kindred spirits” whom he sees as his children. He talks of a door, different worlds, planes, so on. Lots of that good hippy cult shit. Father’s deep, soothing voice captivates Deborah; behind her, Samuel sets the mood.
Next up – the crossroads, whatever they are ultimately. This is the point of no return, the “procedure” must go on all the way now. Well, not before money changes hands, and Samuel rants about cash briefly. Another DVD plays, Father sitting at a Casio keyboard this time. He uses words similar to Scientology, such as “operators.” He plays a note on the keyboard and the next part of the procedure begins. Father preaches, going backward through life, Samuel puts his hands on Deborah’s head, supposedly cradling her brain. The intensity swells. After which Deborah goes through her memories, seeing one where her mother smacked her in the face. Next, a memory from school where her friends rejected her because she lived “on the wrong side of town.” Further and further, they look for unexplained things in her past.
She recounts another memory, walking home after school with a friend named Herman. He pulls her into the woods to show her a “knockandoo bird.” They get to a cabin where Herman claims the birds come out of the holes in its exterior. She smells something ghastly, though. He pushes her forward, saying a bird is about to come out. And when Deborah looks up close, he sticks his penis through the hole. She followed her mom’s advice, picking up a rock and smashing it. She ran away.
Next day, Herman got on with a lot of nonsense, sending her to go to see the doctor who looked after him. However, it’s no doctor she talks to, rather a magician named John Knockandoo. He floated in front of her. That day, she also got her period.
When they finish, Deborah feels no different. Samuel assures her “transcendence” takes some time, of course. There’s a last blockage keeping her from it, he says. Reels off a load of bullshit about Father’s methods concerning incomplete entities, which create these blockages in us. Apparently ridding people of them is no more difficult than popping a pimple; one deep up inside your nose. And Deborah can’t stop now, right?
She wants to stop. Samuel keeps hitting her with all that rhetoric. Wearing her down. So, she agrees. He starts running the long instrument up her nose, deeper, deeper. The creepy magician appears. Random edits of penises. Not long until she snaps, hauling the instrument from her nose and jabbing him with it.
Cut to black amidst her screams of “knockandoo” and Samuel wailing in terror.
These episodes are so weird and wild, each with their own unique, fresh twist. This was very out there. Not sure anything’s topped “Ralphie” so far. Still a lot of interesting stuff happening. Excited for more.
“I Knew You Weren’t Dead” is next.