DIRK GENTLY’S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY is everything you never knew you wanted in a sci-fi murder mystery. “Horizons” makes me wish I hadn’t given up on Douglas Adams three-quarters of the way through the first chapter of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In fact, I’m pretty sure I know what will be on my reading list this year for Christmas.
The show is smart and intriguing – this isn’t a story for the lazy viewer. It’s also serialized, so nothing really makes much sense at this point – “Horizons” is a chaotic toss into the whirring sands of this world, introducing us to character after character after character. In fact, if the episode tried to fit any more characters into the story, the whole thing would turn into Game of Thrones. As is, though, it’s just enough to keep our interests peaked: Who are these people, and how do their lives intertwine? Because after all, if there’s one thing Dirk Gently states very clearly in this first episode – and several times over – it’s that “Everything is connected. And also nothing. Nothing is also connected as well.”
Despite the messy web that’s been woven for us in this first episode, “Horizons” is a solid starting point for this series. The show leaves us with mystery after mystery and question after question, but we’re more delighted than confused. It helps that Douglas Adams’ humor is ripe throughout the show, both in the crazy and quirky characters, their dialogue, and the awkward situations they get themselves into.
Don’t let this fool you: this is not a show for kids or the faint of heart. Though the show feels more like Doctor Who, the grim and graphic subject matter and violent outbursts are much more like Torchwood. Shows like Fringe and American Horror Story are also brought to mind.
The show is great fun to watch, though, and I wouldn’t let this deter you from seeing it – unless, of course, you can’t stomach it. Elijah Wood and Samuel Barnett bring the nuanced humor to life in their portrayals, but I honestly think this show would be good even if those two weren’t starring in it. There’s just so much that is so good about this episode.
Todd (Elijah Wood) is just quite simply having the worst day of his life. He wakes to find his deranged landlord trashing his car because he wants the rent money that Todd doesn’t have. Todd goes to work – he’s a bellboy at a hotel – where he’s tasked with checking on two rooms. The first, where he has to sit with a distraught, half-naked woman until she feels better about herself, and the second, a penthouse which also, as he will soon find out, happens to be ground zero for a horrific homicide. And to top things off, he’s probably going crazy because when the elevator stopped on the 18th floor, he could’ve sworn he saw himself, but not really himself, because that himself was dressed in a terribly tacky fur coat and looked like he hadn’t slept in days. It could’ve – probably was a projection of how Todd was feeling about himself at that very moment. He did find a half-burnt lottery ticket, though, that was nice at least. Also, his hotel key card went missing and he’s not sure when, but it was used to open the penthouse and now he’s suspect number one in a homicide case!
Todd goes back to his apartment, after getting fired from the hotel because he’s suspect number one in a homicide case. He doesn’t have any money, as his boss wouldn’t give him his severance pay because it was a “same day termination.” Whatever that means. There’s a strange man climbing through Todd’s window when he gets home. This is Dirk Gently, holistic detective. He doesn’t really search for clues, he just kind of goes about his life until he solves the case. This is because everything is connected and Dirk has a gift for just sort of figuring out how things correlate.
Todd doesn’t care. This is a crazy man breaking into his home. He kicks Dirk out because he’s a terrible assistant, as Dirk decides. While this is happening, two separate sets of people are staking out Todd’s apartment – the homicide detectives who suspect Todd, and two men who are in charge of protecting the safety of the “Primary,” as we’ll soon find out is Dirk. These two watching the primary, though, aren’t completely with it. There’s an older man calling the shots and a younger, ditzier guy actually making them. In fact, he sends one shot he wasn’t supposed to make straight into Todd’s apartment, through the ceiling of his apartment, and into the head of a kidnapper in the apartment above, which we now know contains a woman handcuffed to the bed. Weird stuff.
The next morning Dirk finds Todd as he’s leaving to go visit his sister. Dirk insists on driving him, and since Todd’s deranged landlord is nearby, he agrees. Todd’s sister, Amanda, suffers from Pararibulitis, a terrifying disease that makes you hallucinate awful, painful things. Todd used to suffer from it too, and getting treatment for it is what has drained their whole family’s life savings. Meanwhile, Bartine, a holistic assassin (the same but also the exact opposite of Dirk) takes Ken, a hacker, hostage – sort of. She’s not holding him for money, but she did tell him that if he didn’t go with her she’d kill him. She thought he was Dirk Gently at first, but then he said “I’m not Dirk Gently,” and everything was fine.
When Dirk and Todd get back to Todd’s apartment, Dirk informs Todd that he is, in fact, living with Todd now because he talked to the deranged landlord and paid him. While fighting about this, The Rowdy 3 – who are actually four men – show up and trash Todd’s apartment. They leave only after they’ve fed on a strange wispy aura Dirk is suddenly giving off, like they’re dementors sucking his soul. Odd. Todd’s deranged landlord sees The Rowdy 3 trashing the apartment, though, and storms up to confront Todd and Dirk. He has a gun and he’s going to shoot Todd, except he shoots the microwave instead because it makes a noise right at that second and the bullet bounces off and hits the landlord right in the head. He’s dead, whoops.
Todd is very angry and in shock at this point. He leaves and gets on a bus. He sees a wandering corgi – one that he’s seen while riding that bus before. He gets off and takes the corgi to the address on the collar, where he sees a strange girl ogling at him. He’s not sure why but he also doesn’t ask. He passes a gas station as the lotto numbers are being announced. He pulls out the burnt lotto ticket. He has the winning numbers.
What will happen next, and will any of this start to make sense? I am so ready for next week’s episode, and will definitely be here to find out!
Season 1, Episode 1 (S01E01)
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency airs Saturdays at 9PM on BBC America
Tasha is a freelance writer currently based in Los Angeles. Originally from Kansas, when she’s not writing about or watching TV, Tasha is searching for the best BBQ place in LA to fill the KC BBQ hole in her stomach.
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Tasha Cerny | Contributor