Friday, March 31, 2017

REVIEW: 'Review' - Forrest MacNeill Reviews His Last Life Experience in 'Cryogenics / Lightning / Last Review'

Comedy Central's Review - Episode 3.03 "Cryogenics / Lightning / Last Review"

Forrest sets out to cryogenically freeze himself and get struck by lightning, then receives a surprising message from Suzanne.

This season of Review only included three episodes. On one hand, it's very disappointing because it's the final season and it's not enough episodes to truly send off this remarkable and horrifyingly funny show. And yet, it's also great that Comedy Central allowed the creative team to wrap things up like this instead of ending on the ambiguity of Forrest and Grant falling off a bridge despite the low ratings. Plus, the show could end in any number of ways. Part of its success was its unpredictability. Tragic things were going to happen to Forrest because he continued to do this show at the expense of everything else in his life. But it was always a mystery of how bad things would get for Forrest. The show has already taken him to some really dark and horrifying places. This season he was even on trial for murder. The ending easily could have included that somehow. Would he have to stop the show because he was convicted of this crime? Or would Forrest actually die during a review? This finale has big life-or-death stakes to it. It shows that this is the end for Forrest in more ways than one. And yet, the ending that the show actually goes with is completely inspired and different than anything I could have imagined. And thus, it ends its run once again showing just how brilliant it has been all along.

The first two reviews of the finale happen in quick succession. Both of them are built up with large stakes. They could both possibly kill Forrest somehow. The first is cryogenics. Forrest truly believes that he is being asked to cryogenically freeze himself and then be waken up once the technology is invented. He does it knowing that he will die in the process. That's his belief. And yet, he still does it. He's willing to give his life to this show. That's why he keeps coming back season after season despite knowing its all a conspiracy to inflict as much damage on him as possible. There is also no coming back from all the horrible things he has done in the name of the show either. Forrest MacNeill can't just happily walk back to the life he had before the show. His mentality and obsessive need to follow the rules of this television program have highlighted just how disturbed and clueless he really is. It's an eye-opening experience for the people around him. And yet, he continues forward. He continues to do whatever is asked of him because he believes he has a duty to the show and the viewers to review these life experiences.

That makes it very funny when the show reveals that Forrest is simply having a cosmetics procedure and not actually dying. That's a fun reveal. It's crucial too because it shows Forrest's devotion to the show. He is never willingly going to leave because he thinks the work is too important. But it's also just hilarious to the audience because Forrest isn't let in on the joke right away. He's always been a man out of touch with reality. He doesn't understand technology or the modern culture. He's constantly confused and befuddled by a number of a things. So of course, he thinks he's awaken in the future because he's not aware that hover boards and Apple watches already exist. It's a sigh of relief that he was only gone from the world for 45 minutes. This review allows him to have more appreciation for his family. He thought he lost them. He didn't like that feeling and needed to discover what happened to them. Nothing did except Suzanne opening the door to Forrest once more asking him to remember this feeling before he does something else crazy in the name of the show.

But of course, that lesson doesn't actually stick. It never does with Forrest. His family keeps trying but it's never successful. He thought he had died and was revitalized by science. And then, he turns around and decides to review getting struck by lightning. That too could very well kill him. It's amusing to watch him simply replace a few words in his goodbye letters to Suzanne and Eric. He's willing to send these letters all over again even though he was relieved they wouldn't have to read them after the first review. That just shows the power the show holds over Forrest. He runs into the middle of a storm hoping to get struck by lightning. It plays like a very rational thing for him to do. It too has major consequences. Josh and his girlfriend Tina have been loyally by Forrest's side for a long time. Josh is basically as oblivious as Forrest is to the horror of these reviews. And now, Josh gets hurt this time. Not only does Forrest lose his sense of smell, but reviewing getting struck by lightning also breaks several bones in Josh's legs. And yet, the two of them are committed to this relationship and the show.

Those two reviews easily could have killed Forrest but they didn't. He faced them head-on and survived. It's miraculous. And yet, the next review is what causes him the most stress. Suzanne sends in a request for him to review not reviewing anything else for the rest of his life. It's something he believes he needs to do because he's committed to the show. He promised never to use a veto again after how everything went wrong last season with them. And yet, never reviewing anything again for the rest of his life would essentially end the show. It would allow him to go back to his family. This is Suzanne's last plea to restore their life together. It's her final ultimatum. If he vetoes it, she and Eric will disappear. Forrest will never see them again. That should serve as all the motivation Forrest needs to leave the show. He's still in love with Suzanne and wants his family back. But once again, all it takes is a conversation with Grant for everything to become even more twisted. Grant is the true villain of this story because he convinces Forrest to always respect the show and follow the rules. Forrest's devotion to his reviews is because of Grant. Now, Forrest is a villain too because he has destroyed so many people's lives. He does so completely clueless to the consequences. Grant saying Forrest still has his best review yet in him is all it takes for Forrest to stay with the show. It's a brutal moment that shows his obsessive commitment to the show.

That's what makes it such an inspired ending for the show to then get cancelled and Forrest be in complete denial about it. After using the veto, he is asked what it's like to be pranked. So he spends the final minutes of the series refusing to believe that the show has been cancelled. At first, he doesn't see it that way. It's tragic irony because he just gave up his family to do the show only for the network to cancel it. Grant manipulated Forrest into staying only to get the cancellation call. It makes no sense to Forrest. He's angry because he believes he's doing a great service to the world by reviewing these life experiences. It's not surprising that the viewership for the show is low and Forrest is oblivious to it. He believes it's a hit simply because that's what he's been told. But it's truly fantastic for him to continue believing that all of this is just in service to his latest review. It's simply everyone going along with a story Grant created so that Forrest could review it. It's a dark and tragic ending for the show. Yes, Forrest is still alive. But he's also seemingly trapped in that studio reviewing life experiences to no one and thinking he's doing one of the most important jobs in the world.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Cryogenics / Lightning / Last Review" was written by Andy Daly and directed by Jeff Blitz.
  • Forrest's final reviews for the series are: Cryogenics - two stars; Being struck by lightning - two and a half stars; Never reviewing anything ever again - veto; and Being pranked - five stars.
  • All of the characters except for Forrest seemingly get happy endings. Grant becomes the Vice President of the network. A.J. will host a new travel show. Josh and Tina are hired by A.J. and will actually get paid. Plus, Lucille has written three erotic novels.
  • Suzanne and Eric running away from Forrest feels like the appropriate ending for them. I'm sure he'll try to track them down once he finally accepts the show's cancellation. But that could take a very long time. More than enough for them to establish new lives somewhere else.
  • A.J. has been completely baffled by Forrest all season long. It's great that that builds to her refusing to do her co-host duties after he vetoes Suzanne's review. But the punchline of Forrest knowing how to do A.J.'s job is pretty fantastic.
  • Is there still a film and technical crew to help Forrest give his final review of getting pranked though? The rest of the studio has been torn down. Or did he simply have to do all of those jobs himself out of denial for the truth? Or was it one last way for Grant to trick him by leaving behind a camera?
  • This series was just so fantastic. It produced three terrific seasons that did a wonderful job in exploring how these reckless choices destroyed this man's life without him ever realizing it. It's a fitting ending for the show. But I can't wait to re-watch the whole series and continue recommending it to others. It may hard to watch at times but it was extremely funny throughout all of it.