After focusing on “Everyone” last week, Jason Segel’s Dispatches from Elsewhere moved forward in leaps and bounds in its seventh installment “Cave of Kelpius”. Giving all of its characters little moments to shine or reflect on the journey thus far, the episode pulls back the curtain of the game, of the Jejune Institute, and of the Elsewhere Society, the mysterious organizations surrounding Segel’s whimsical drama.
Though “Cave of Kelpius” isn’t Dispatches from Elsewhere’s strongest chapter, it gives the audience answers, and allows us to feel the regret and disappointment of losing a game. It loses the whimsy for heartbreak and frustration, along with allowing for a moment of pure happiness that you can’t help but smile. It’s a mix of highs and lows in week 7 of Dispatches from Elsewhere.
Clue 1: Unveiling the Curtain
After finding the apartment in the mental hospital that Clara’s (Cecilia Balagot) story and the game’s playlist could be traced to, the team runs into someone called “the milkman”, a man in a suit that’s been following them for days. They follow him through a trapdoor and we’re off on the next portion of the adventure, one that Octavio (Richard E. Grant) calls “the point of no return”, a point in which “the only remaining part is one forward.”
Peter (Jason Segel) goes down into the door first, proclaiming he’d “rather believe too much than go back to believing nothing at all.” The rest of the group follows suit, finding a room full of information on every player in the game. They come across two groups of players in robes, Jejune supporters and Elsewhere Society supporters, who both are looking for Clara and who they both believe belongs to them. It becomes a cult-like beginning to an episode void of fantasy.
Octavio and Commander-14 reveal themselves to be the same person, and every player puts sensors to their temples to remember their experience. As Simone puts it, “This whole thing was a lesson in cooperation,” as our group sees pictures of themselves on the big screen at the front of the underground room, which happens to be a tent. Everything was recorded and everything was a part of the game, even the murder sublots, the mental hospital apartments, and the mlikman. It’s a sad realization for the team, and an even sadder one for Peter.
Clue 2: Peter Makes a Move
Speaking of the tallest member of the group, Peter grabs the mic during the actor Clara’s performance of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”, understanding that the game was just a game, and he wasn’t special or different from the outset. After embarrassing himself, Peter joins the party being thrown for the game’s participants, in which we learn a few things.
1. Octavio and Commander-14 were being played by twin actors both named Chuck.
2. Someone named “The Architect” planned the entire game.
3. Every plotline and story, even when it felt real to the characters and audiences, was planned and recorded as part of the game. Every single one. It was all fake.
Peter still has one silver lining, as Simone (Eve Lindley) tells a hairy Chewbacca man how much she digs the quiet, now rugged man. She asks him to dance, though he initially spurns her because he feels like he’s being pitied. To regain her trust and win her back, he grabs the mic once again, and sings one of the few songs he knows: “On My Own” from Les Miserables. He crushes a falsetto and with a little voice help from Fredwynn (André Benjamin), he kisses her in front of the crowd, a roaring one at that. The kiss itself is absolutely magical. It felt impossible, for them and for us, not to be happy in that moment.
Clue 3: The Architect
While Simone and Peter deal with their feelings, Fredwynn attempts to figure out where he went wrong and what he missed during the game. He chats with the actress Clara and watches his own memories on multiple TV screens, realizing that it’s his problem just as much as the problem of others, if not more. He learns and grows, even if it’s just a small step forward.
Janice (Sally Field) grapples with her friendships, or lack thereof, getting bombarded by her younger self. She searches for her team members, though they’re preoccupied, and she decides to leave the party early. On her way out, she sees Octavio’s right-hand woman throughout the game, who she now realizes is the Architect (Cherise Boothe).
She gives her a clue. And it has to do with the real Clara, not the one from the story.
“Clara is dead and it’s my fault.”