HBO’s Room 104
Season 2, Episode 6: “Arnold”
Directed by Julian Wass
Written by Wass & Mark Duplass
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Woman in the Wall” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Man and the Baby and the Man” – click here
In Room 104, Arnold (Brian Tyree Henry) wakes up soaked, unsure of how he got to the motel. “I only came to drink one beer,” he sings to himself in an attempt to recall the previous night. A cellphone starts ringing. Arnold finds it under a pillow. The caller – P-Dawg (Phil Matarese) – has already hung up before he can answer. He gets a voicemail from P-Dawg suggesting he might’ve spent the night with a woman. WHAT woman? Nobody else is around.
Arnold sings to himself more.
Soon, he recalls his Saturday night. He was home re-reading Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein “for the seventeenth time.” He got a call from P-Dawg to go for a beer. He didn’t want to go party. P nagged until he went. Arnold got talking to a lady in a yellow jacket called Vicki (Ginger Gonzaga). He messed up her name, which he thought would end things right there. She kept talking to him. They started to get to know each other a little. They had lots of things in common.
Of course it “all went to hell.” Some dude got all toxic masculinity on them, before Vicki shunned him, calling Arnold her boyfriend to thwart the guy’s nonsense. Arnold got himself a kiss, too. Then the two of them left together.
That’s where Arnold can’t remember anything else.
He searches for a hashtag that’s actually a password for entrance to a party. Out of nowhere, he gets tons of texts from people asking about him being at the party. Pictures online have everyone wondering what Arnold was up to last night. He obviously got into some wild shit. Love how the soundtrack’s all about him with that great refrain: “Arnold‘s out tonight.”
Apparently he took ecstasy, then went buckwild on the keg, jumping off tables, and generally being a party animal. But what happened after? He still can’t remember. He sings little shards of the night, words in pieces that don’t quite connect. More eventually comes back. He sees a picture on his phone of him and Vicki.
Soon he’s back at karaoke with Vicki, singing a duet. (As far as Father Gore can tell the song Arnold mentions, “Sorry Not Sorry” by Dante Dupree, is part of Room 104‘s original soundtrack. Please let everyone know if you find anything different!) He apparently misread a romantic advance from Vicki. His attempts at a kiss were rejected. He was falling for her and getting too far ahead of himself. So, they parted ways.
“How did I end up here?”
Arnold curls up in bed depressed. Moments later he gets a text. He sees a video of Vicki fighting with the dude last night. It was her ex-boyfriend Chris. Things got serious when the ex put his hands on Vicki, prompting Arnold to confront the guy. The two men fought until Chris tossed Arnold over the side of the rooftop where they were partying. Arnold sees himself lying down below, bloodied, dead.
He can’t be dead. Can he?
Arnold sees Vicki in the motel room calling his mother to give condolences for the accident that killed her son. Vicki takes responsibility, believing it was her fault that he wound up dead. She’s devastated, especially due to how things ended earlier in the night between them. Arnold’s ghost sings to her as they sit across from one another on the beds in Room 104. It’s almost as if she can hear him.
WHAT A BEAUTIFUL, TRAGIC EPISODE! Good lord. Brian Tyree Henry, as usual, shows off his amazing range. You get to see so much of him here that it’s stunning. Ginger Gonzaga is excellent, even if her role is a brief compared to Henry’s lead. All so great and amazingly affecting.
“The Man and the Baby and the Man” is next.