Fredwynn is you if you have ever obsessed over something so much that it hurt your chest. Fredwynn is you if your drive becomes all consuming, then it devours everything that stood in its way. Fredwynn, played to precision by André Benjamin, is the focus of episode four of Dispatches from Elsewhere.
Benjamin’s portrayal of the fourth character in the show’s unlikely quartet of heroes completes the initial portraiture of each character. The last of these characters to be featured, Fredwynn has been a small aspect of the AMC’s drama’s first three episodes. He’s been ancillary, largely unimportant and somewhat of a nuisance. His self titled episode “Fredwynn” changes those ideas.
Clue 1: Fredwynn’s Got Brains
After Octavio (Richard E. Grant) pulls Fredwynn out of his trunk at the rally, he immediately locks him into a closet, which gives the audience its first impression of Fredwynn’s ability to solve problems. As we learn, Fredwynn is a genius and a millionaire, graduating from college at the age of 19. He even operates his memory categorically, in something called a mind palace.
Fredwynn escapes the clutches and confines of the closet, stealing pages from the producer’s booklet during the production of the Jejune Institute show. After meeting back up with the group and drinking an “efficiency” flavored protein shake, Fredwynn convinces them to head to a woman’s house, one he believes is involved with Jejune and Octavio. He tracks her down and confronts her as she opens the door, prompting a small, but necessary intervention from the group. Peter (Jason Segel) becomes especially nervous and anxious, and the rest of the foursome agress it’s time to take a step back and calm down, resuming the game another day.
Clue 2: More Sally Field Please
After her self-titled third episode, Janice (Sally Field) became a focal point in Dispatches from Elsewhere. Sally Field’s performance was all-consuming, the type of acting that made audiences remember just how incredible she can be, given the right moments. Following the group’s disbandment, Fredwynn, unable to fall asleep amid a heartfelt prayer, heads over to Janice’s house late at night.
Janice, always a giver, invites him into her home and introduces Fredwynn to Lev, her husband who we now learn suffered a stroke the previous year. Once again, Field absolutely nails every beat, speaking of her inability to let him go, and her need to continue caring for her husband of 50 years. In an attempt to relate, Fredwynn speaks of his three-week relationship and his incessant texting habits, and for the first time, he and Janice share a moment of emotional vulnerability. Dispatches from Elsewhere thrives in these moments. We were given a special scene between Peter and Simone (Eve Lindley) in episode two, and the other pair in the group gave us moments of clarity and feelings in this episode. As Janice says, “Three weeks or 50 years, heartbreak is heartbreak.”
Sally Field (and Eve Lindley for that matter) deserve more screen-time in Jason Segel’s show, and if they get it, the drama will only continue to fill emotional depths while still making you laugh.
Clue 3: Memories and Movement
Inside Janice’s home, Fredwynn teaches her about the idea of a memory palace, and calls on her to remember the previous day’s events. He asks her to relive her wedding day once again. As an aside, it’s hard to describe the feelings that well up inside of you when Sally Field’s Janice begins to look at this happy day. It’s just tremendous.
With Fredwynn’s guidance, Janice enters this memory and finds the shining tag on one of her gifts on this day. The tag features flowers in all four corners, with a sun, a snowflake, and a leaf in the center, in lieu of a name. As Janice explains what the tag looks like, Fredwynn’s mind moves in rapid fashion, as we see numbers, words, and connections fly above his head, while the both of them are surrounded by a backdrop of utter blackness. Fredwynn figures it out: 3125 Spring Street in Fishtown.
Janice and Fredwynn, armed with this information, go to visit Simone and Peter, convincing them to join back in on the game. They travel to Fishtown to this address in the middle of the night, and you become aware that this game finally has a sense of direction. They accidentally find a fake manhole/ditch outside the apartment and open up the doors, yelling “Clara” in hopes of finding the missing (maybe genius) girl.
Four episodes into Dispatches from Elsewhere and creator Jason Segel has focused on each of the main characters, individually and in their respective pairs. The show looks to be shifting onto the group, a hodge-podge of outsiders, geniuses, survivors, and feelers that are working together for different reasons. With a cast that has shown its potential on a personal level, the sky’s the limit once all four of them tackle an episode, and this game, as the team Segel meant them to be