‘Tales From The Loop’ S01 E05: A Father Losing Control And Losing Sight

by Olly MacNamee

After a rather disappointing fourth episode, the fifth in this series not only puts us back on track, but brings more of that retro-tech that Simon Stålenhag’s paintings the series is based on to the fore. It’s also an instalment that returns us to another family we’ve met before; Danny’s family, who are still coping with his comatose state after the mind-swapping of episode 2.
It’s Danny’s current predicament that has, understandably so, put huge strains on his mum and dad, played respectively by Lauren Weedman and Dan Bakkedahl. The title of this one – ‘Control’ – like other titles in this debut series has more than one connotation too, as we find out over a tense hour as we watch both parents trying to come to terms with their grief.

The father, Ed, is a typical blue collar kind of guy making ends meet and trying to do the best by his family, but with one young daughter – the hearing impaired Beth (Alessandra de Sa Pereira) – still up and running, Ed’s parental protective instincts kick into overdrive, after act he thinks is a botched break-in, and he buys a rusty old ‘scrapper’ robot to protect his family with. Interestingly, he gets the idea after his work colleague mentions two break-ins he’s aware of. The first being of intersest to the eagle-eyed as it’s a call back to episode 3, ‘Stasis’, in which May find her mother in bed with this guy while she’s stopped time.
With the stresses of having a son in a coma, and having to borrow money from his boss, Ed slowly looses control, ironically enough, while thinking he is in control by buying a huge remote-controlled mecha used from crushing trash. Little does he know that the would-be intruder is his estranged son, living happily in Jakob’s body.

Bakkedahl plays this seething father brilliantly – a far cry from his more softer, cuddlier role in Life in Pieces – and his paunchy build and receding hair really captures the man’s true powerlessness. Weedman, equally, plays the loving mother who’s not going to take too much more, with silent strength. She is not a woman to be pushed about, but both do struggle. Although, unlike other episodes, this does have a happy ending, of a sort.
Once again the cinematography captures Stålenhag’s art by making liberal use of long shots that beautifully capture the rural beauty of the countryside to better contrast with these clanky automated tools. Rusty robots in the rust belt of America.
This family are the ‘have-nots’ of this little town in rural Ohio, and their son’s predicament is but one of many you feel they’ve had to overcome. No wonder, you may find yourself thinking, Danny too his dance when he did.
Tales from the Loop is available to stream through Amazon Prime, and you can catch up with all our reviews here too.

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