Tales From the Loop (Amazon Prime)
Season One, Episode Eight – “Home”
Written by Nathaniel Halperin
Directed by Jodie Foster
Tales From the Loop has always been a complicated series to parse and break down. It’s an anthology show but also a collection of interconnected short stories with ongoing plot elements. It’s a science fiction series that uses its fantastic ingredients to highlight deeply human stories. The tone incredibly sedate and contemplative despite presenting large scale cosmic ideas. I don’t imagine Tales From the Loop will find a broad audience as it’s such a specific thing, and not every episode hits on all cylinders leading to an uneven experience. I still argue these eight episodes are worth a watch because if nothing else, they are some of the most visually gorgeous television.
This episode focuses on Cole, who is going through changes in all areas of his life. He’s entered middle school, and Jakob is living in his own place, working at The Loop. Cole seeks out his older brother, and Jakob finally confesses about the events from “Parallels.” He’s really Danny, and Jakob’s soul has ended up inside the bipedal robot glimpsed by Cole in previous entries. Cole finds the real Jakob and promises him that he’ll get their mother, Loretta, to help fix this problem, and they head out through the woods to find her in the city where she’s working for the day. But things don’t go the way the young boy plans, and he ends up mirroring his own mother’s experience as a child.
“Home” is an achingly poignant episode that truly shows Tales From the Loop is not going to be a continuing series. We get a finale that, while not wrapping every plot point up neatly, brings a resonate emotional closure to the world. Loretta and her family get closure; for some, it’s optimistic and for others tragic. But there are no loose ends with that particular collection of characters. Even Grandpa Russ and his experiments with artificial intelligence are addressed and leave us with even more questions after a beautiful scene between Cole and his teacher.
In looking at online reactions to the overall series, I continue to see the more “geek oriented” corners of the internet lamenting at plots unresolved and a hunger for more details. Tales From the Loop never presents itself as a fantastic mystery like Lost or a hard science fiction series. From episode one, the tone was clearly established and continued throughout. I found the conclusion of Home extremely emotionally satisfying. I don’t need to know what happened to Gaddis, the old security guard because I can infer he is living out a life in the parallel universe. I don’t need to know what happened to May, she’s growing more distant from her mother and reeling from her last relationship. Ambiguity and making inferences are an underrated part of experiencing media these days.
Tales From the Loop is a show that demands your patience, and if you aren’t willing to offer that up, it’s okay. Not all media is for all audiences. Shane Carruth makes a significant appearance in “Homes,” and I think that signals to savvy viewers who know his work as a director what Tales From the Loop is. You don’t binge-watch the series; you savor each episode and meditate on it. What you get out of one story might not be the same as someone else. That’s mostly how life is, we all go through the same primary path, but the beauty and tragedy we experience is going to vary wildly. Tales From the Loop, despite its 1980s, aesthetics is not a mimic of Stranger Things or Dark, and that is a good thing. It exists as its own unique creature.