Thursday, August 20, 2015

REVIEW: 'Review' - Forrest's Need to Explore Cults and Fitness Leads to the Most Tragic Event Yet in 'Cult/Perfect Body'

Comedy Central's Review - Episode 2.04 "Cult/Perfect Body"

Forrest gathers followers for his new cult and employs a regimen of bodily enhancements in the pursuit of perfection.

Despite every horrible thing that happens to Forrest MacNeil and the people who decide to get close to him, Review typically handles the increasingly tragic moments with comedy and a willingness to just move onto the next review. So many things have happened to Forrest over the course of the show. And yet, he is still committed to the show above everything else. He puts the show first because he believes his fans need him more than his family and friends do. He has lost his sanity a little bit. It has gotten to the point where not even a mass murder of people can get him to stop doing the show. It's a somber moment of self reflection for him and the entire process. But it's still a moment that than transitions into a joke about Forrest's no longer enlarged penis.

Finding the comedy in the tragedy has always been Review's strong suit. As horrible as things have gotten, they have been outrageously hilarious to watch as they unfold. The audience understands that if anyone gets close to Forrest they are doomed to being collateral damage to whatever his latest review is going to be. That's exactly what happens to Mrs. Greenfield here. She left her hometown in Iowa to be with Forrest and take a shot at chasing her dreams of being an actress. She left behind a stable life with a husband and teaching job. That was entirely because she put all her faith in a stranger she met in a bar. He never had the resources to help make her dreams come true. And yet, she fell under his charms anyway. She was so willing and in love with Forrest that she would listen to anything he had to say because of what she thought he was doing for her career.

Forrest can be so blinded by doing the reviews his loyal fans have tasked him with that he can't see the destruction he is bringing into other people's lives. Mrs. Greenfield was innocent in all of this until the power of being a cult leader got to Forrest's head a little bit. He enjoyed the love he shared with Mrs. Greenfield. She was his first girlfriend this season to last more than one episode. And yet, she is doomed as soon as he starts forming his cult. It's not a cult with any kind of original message. He just targets people who are susceptible to the ideas of forgiveness and acceptance and then keeps adding concepts to keep people engaged by the experience. He doesn't have a vision for this cult. He's just doing it for the experience. And yet, the community that he has built has accepted a new lifestyle. One that's filled with new systems and a mission to work towards. Traveling to space to live amongst the stars is an unobtainable goal. Forrest admits it himself in his narration of the story. And yet, he still makes everyone else believe it is possible.

Forrest has control over their lives. That creates power for him and he has never been able to handle power all that well. He thought he was controlling the other people well but in fact he delegated way too much and gave the other people the chance to eventually take over the cult and kick him out. It's exactly like the model airplane club in sophomore year as Forrest's father points out. Mrs. Greenfield was passionate about the cause and didn't see it as unobtainable. Forrest molded her into the person she became which stood in severe contrast with the women she used to be. She's the person in charge of the cult. Even when Forrest moves onto his next review, she and the rest of the followers are still in the field growing more passionate by the day.

Forrest's next review, of course, is for having the perfect body. A simple task that Forrest agrees to do because AJ doesn't think he can. She points out the veto option again and he scoffs it off in order to prove her wrong. That's just the type of character he is. He wasn't willing to put in the work to get the perfect body. But he was able to drastically change on the outside due to fancy procedures that gave him perfect teeth, six pack abs, muscles and an enlarged penis. He experienced a change in this episode just like so many other people. He got bigger and more violent - due to the steroid injections he also sought out.

Despite all of that change though, Forrest still reached the same conclusion as before. The byproducts of the two reviews converge out in the field when Forrest angrily decides to attack because of the cult's incessant drumming. They have now armed themselves heavily in order to protect their space mission. That leads to an epic shootout where the cult and the police are passionately firing at each other while Forrest is helplessly running around the battlefield trying not to get hit. Every time he goes near another person, they immediately get shot and die. He emerges from the battle unscathed. But many people have died and his father's "second and final house" has been destroyed - just like the previous one. It was a devastating conclusion. One that Forrest does recognize in the issuing of his review. But again, it's not something that overwhelms him against the show. So much personal devastation occurred just because of what he was asked to do. And he is still committed to doing more of it. So, one wonders, how much darker and more tragic can things get than mass murder?

Some more thoughts:
  • Forrest's reviews are: Being a Cult Leader - 2 Stars. Having a Perfect Body - Half a Star.
  • Gotta love that Forrest included a picture of Dr. Phil on his board of famous cult leaders.
  • It's surprising that Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair didn't appear in a scene together. And yet, Parham was so great in these two episodes. The two appearing together wasn't all that necessary.
  • Theo: "I recently saved enough money to open a CrossFit gym. What's it like to be a cult leader?"
  • Lucille: "Trust me, I've seen every cult documentary ever made."
  • AJ counting the stars after Forrest's cult leader review: "One. Two. I guess that's it."
  • Forrest: "I did not like working out. It was boring and it hurt."
  • Forrest: "All this time later, I'm still coming to terns with the horror of what happened in that field. How did my quest for the perfect body, cost so many other people their bodies? It is by far the most terrible experience this show has subject me to."