Mosquito Coast buzzes with lies, uncertainty and confrontations [Apple TV+ review]

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The Mosquito Coast review: Things get tense between Allie Fox (played by Justin Theroux, right) and Calaca (Paterson Joseph and Justin Theroux in “The Mosquito Coast,” now streaming on Apple TV+.
Things get tense between Allie Fox (played by Justin Theroux, right) and Calaca (Paterson Joseph).
Photo: Apple TV+

The Mosquito Coast, the Apple TV+ show about a family of environmentalist fugitives, soldiers on into the unknown this week. Less and less about father Allie Fox feels like a certainty. And his family continues to be put to the test while they search for freedom.

Some things are about to change permanently, though. And they’ll happen so fast you won’t have time to think about them until next week’s final episode of the season.

The Mosquito Coast review: ‘Calaca’

Everyone’s close but nobody’s in the same room at the start of this episode, titled “Calaca.” The FBI agents (played by James Le Gros and Kimberly Elise) assigned to catching the Foxes arrives in Mexico City to track them down on foot. Daughter Dina (Logan Polish) and son Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) are alone on the streets, wondering what their next move is.

Meanwhile, Allie (Justin Theroux) and Margot (Melissa George) have been kidnapped by Allie’s old contact, Calaca (Paterson Joseph), who neither trusts or really remembers Allie at all.

Somewhere else in Mexico City, the hitman tasked with killing the Foxes (Ian Hart) now must find out what happened to Allie and Margot if he has any hope of killing them.

There’s some meaty stuff happening off to the sides this week, too. It becomes clear that the FBI is lying to Dina about her and Charlie being foundlings. The two agents even argue about the validity of the approach. They’re both bad people, but Le Gros and Elise play their parts splendidly, digging into these two characters and their equally (if differently) jaundiced worldviews. It’s lots of fun watching them bounce off each other.

The Mosquito Coast review: FBI agents, played by James Le Gros and Kimberly Elise, mean trouble for the Foxes.
FBI agents, played by James Le Gros and Kimberly Elise, mean trouble for the Foxes.
Photo: Apple TV+

Foot and thigh, tongue and cheek

Conversely, Charlie and Dina do some introspective sibling bonding. Dina can’t quite bring herself to tell Charlie what she thinks she knows about their parentage. But they have a heart-to-heart anyway, talking about their childhoods and the way things could have been. All the while, they’re being watched by a network of kid informants working for the hitman, which gives their “hopes and dreams” talk an extra edge.

Similarly harsh is the test Allie and Margot are put to by Calaca. Allie’s network of old-school underground operatives ask him for information, and if he doesn’t give it up, Calaca says they’ll kill Margot. Allie passes, but it means Margot may never trust or look at him the same way again.

The fallout from that will have to wait, though, because all and sundry converge on the Fox’s hotel room at the same time.

You know I’m told they swallow you whole

Director Natalia Beristáin is in no-nonsense action mood this week, moving from tense conversations and sweaty confrontations with assured flow. This episode is all about the “lesser-of-two-evils” lies people tell each other to get a desired outcome when the alternative seems too unwieldy.

Beristáin handles the little things and the big things with equal aplomb, including a third-act action sequence. The Mosquito Coast’s quick-witted mechanics continue to impress. What’s most exciting right now is imagining how the show will continue the breakneck pace and sensitively handled interpersonal dynamics for another season.

Not that I doubt the team’s ability to keep it up, but you do suspect at some point something big must change for the Foxes. As it is, the show’s creative team managed six riveting episodes of television about a family’s travels across a few hundred miles of Mexico. That’s pretty impressive, no matter how you look at it.

The Mosquito Coast on Apple TV+

New episodes of The Mosquito Coast arrive on Apple TV+ on Fridays.

Rated: TV-MA

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.