Friday, April 3, 2020

REVIEW: 'Tales From the Loop' - Loretta Questions Her Reality While Searching for Her Mother in 'Loop'

Amazon's Tales From the Loop - Episode 1.01 "Loop"

A young girl living in a small town becomes curious about the mysterious work her mother conducts beneath ground at a facility known as the Loop.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Amazon's Tales From the Loop.

"Loop" was written by Nathaniel Halpern and directed by Mark Romanek

Art has long used fantastical elements to tell stories about the universal themes of the human condition. What does each technological advance inform about how we live our lives? What does the world around us reveal are identities to be? These are profound questions that never create easy answers. It's allegorical in its pursuit of answers to life's biggest questions. There is a version of this show wherein the Loop would by mythologized and explained in order to understand what its exact purpose is and whether or not that is a good thing. In this premiere, it simply exists as the one business in small town Ohio employing the majority of the citizens and keeping the town on the map with some prosperity. That's a story unique to so many locales throughout the world. Life can seemingly be defined by the one thing that presents a way to do something of grand ambition while also limiting a world of possibilities to one simple dream. Loretta is comforted at first by the idea of being able to work in the Loop alongside her mother. She would finally understand what Alma does that is so much more important than being a mother. And yet, Alma goes missing after she conducts an experiment. People can seek answers as to what she was trying to accomplish. But those may always be elusive. No one is entitled to clarity on what motivates another human being. Another's actions can have massive ripple effects throughout the world though. Loretta witnesses her mother conduct this experiment. Her world is completely unraveled as a result of that. It seems like she is walking through a dream where the laws of physics no longer apply. The premiere opens with Russ Willard talking directly to the audience about his mission as the founder of the Loop. He details that it is a place that funds research into the greatest mysteries of the world. That is a lofty goal. And yet, the premiere presents this story through the eyes of a child who simply wants to rely on her family for comfort and support. Alma is more focused on her work. Loretta frames her worth through that as well. Her success is determined based on how proud she can make her mother by doing well in school. She has questions and acknowledges the strange peculiarities of the world around her. But it's also commonplace that there are giant robots that lurk around the woods. There is nothing inherently sinister about that. They just represent a connection to something more going on. Something that could project a sense of grandiosity to it. At the moment though, Loretta only has empathy. She personifies the robot to ensure that Cole doesn't harm it. She relies on this quick forming friendship. He helps present a genuine investigation into what happened to Alma. Answers elude him as well. Loretta is the one who walks away from all of us understanding that she has been sent to the future somehow and is interacting with her older self and the family she has created. It brings the past back in order for the older Loretta to confront the actions she has made that led to this moment. She is a trusted employee at the Loop but she is distant from her family. Cole doesn't even know if she likes being a mother. Young Loretta had the same fears about Alma. However, the two Loretta's comfort each other in the end too. The older version has the wisdom to acknowledge what a profound impact this has on her life. She has the maturity to understand that she has repeated the patterns and mistakes of the past. She has to work harder to be a more present parent. Her children need that even though her work is miraculous. It allows this connection to be formed between two versions of the same women. Moreover, it allows the younger Loretta to cope with this immense tragedy. It offers a way to inform how this moment shapes her entire life to come but it doesn't have to be the defining moment of sadness and grief. It is difficult but it is capable of being overcome. Adult Loretta points to the life she has built. She may still be in Mercer, Ohio. However, her life is fulfilling in a way she is proud of. And now, she has the reassurance that the wonders she has long explored truly did happen to her. That is comforting even though she may never be able to offer others exactly what they need. She tries her best. She gives her younger self the direction to get back home to begin creating this life. It's fundamentally a story about the sacrifices given for oneself and others. Technology and mysteries help inform that premise. However, they just allow the human stories to take center stage to inform just how traumatic it is for this young girl to lose her mother while also shining a light on how communication and empathy are key in ensuring children are heard and loved no matter what. It's breathtaking and absolutely beautiful to watch.