Thanks to a last-minute call to a new ally, things seem to be looking up for the Foxes in this week’s episode of The Mosquito Coast. Or have they left the frying pan and stepped into the fire?
Time will tell, but it seems likely that Allie Fox will find some way to slip out of the noose if that’s what waiting for him. Director Rupert Wyatt is back behind the camera for an exciting new episode of Apple TV+ drama.
The Mosquito Coast review: ‘Bus Stop’
Last week, snake-bit guide Chuy (played by Scotty Tovar) made an emergency phone call to some friends in high places. When the expensively dressed men in the SUVs showed up to rescue him, they took the Fox family with them. They end up at what is very obviously an expensive drug-money hacienda overseen by the seemingly benevolent Enrique (Bruno Bichir). He immediately sizes up the worth of the Foxes and gets busy.
He plies young Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) with the company of his gun- and taxidermy-loving son Hugo (Luis de La Rosa) to separate him from the family. Allie (Justin Theroux) catches on right away that they’re being given the runaround but it was too late to do anything the minute they accepted the ride out of the desert.
Allie’s wife, Margot (Melissa George), is by now so exhausted by all the betrayals and running that she can barely keep her wits about her. Dina (Logan Polish) didn’t need another reason to distrust and despise her father, but a new one’s always welcome to a teenage girl.
The further I go the less I know
Of course, Enrique isn’t the brains of the operation. No, that would be Enrique’s godmother, Aunt Lucretia (Ofelia Medina), and has she got an ax to grind. She’s not too pleased to see Chuy, who walked out on a blood oath he made to the old woman years ago. And she sees the Foxes as nothing more than collateral she must move around until she finds a place for them. She’s ruthless and mean, and she looks like the first hurdle the Foxes can’t hope to clear on brains and raw energy alone. At first.
During a dinner with the lady of the house, the first bit of Allie’s backstory is revealed. He used to work for the National Security Agency, and that very gradually led to the family’s downfall.
More of that story is forthcoming, I’m sure, but there’s hardly time to think about it right now. Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) is back in the director’s chair, and this episode absolutely flies by. There’s a beautiful sequence where Melissa George’s righteousness takes center stage that just sings.
Where will you run…. Where will you hide….
There’s a lot to love about this episode, titled “Bus Stop,” from the pacing to the music to the way Wyatt crams a movie’s worth of plotting into 50 minutes. He trusts us to see the signposts of the narrative at exactly the same minute his characters do.
But I think the best part comes in the episode’s final five minutes. After pulling off a daring rescue operation, Chuy has it out with Allie, and every single bad thing the guy has done over the last four episodes spills out of him like the guts of a speared animal. He almost cries. He pisses himself in fear. And everything Chuy says about him is 100% right.
And this is the guy we’re stuck with for the next several episodes.
It’s a ballsy move, but at the same time the show hasn’t exactly shied away from letting us know that Allie is a low-key psychopath. It’s a way of dealing with white privilege that too few bits of modern media get right.
I was pleasantly surprised that the show didn’t even wait five minutes before having a dialogue about the way the Foxes were responsible for Chuy’s misfortune and won’t even properly atone for it because they’ll be on to the next thing soon enough. It’s kind of an indictment of prestige television, though they don’t put too fine a point on that either way.
This is savvy, sleek, savage stuff.
The Mosquito Coast on Apple TV+
New episodes of The Mosquito Coast arrive on Apple TV+ every Friday.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the director of 25 feature films, and the author of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.