This week’s episode of Apple TV+ thriller The Mosquito Coast finds every member of the Fox family on some sort of clandestine outing. On the run in South America after blowing up a lab and stealing security software, they’re all looking for a way out of their little corner of paradise.
Allie and Charlie scope out a new place to flee after they betray their hosts. Margot makes a shocking discovery in Richard’s cabinet. And Dina enjoys a day in the life of an ordinary girl.
Mosquito Coast recap: ‘Dead Totems’
Season 2, episode 8: In the episode, entitled “Dead Totems,” Margot (played by Melissa George) gets disgraced National Security Agency agent Raban (Matt McCoy) on the phone she bartered her ring for, but he’s not telling her what she wants to hear. It’s going to take quite a lot to get full immunity for her and her children Dina (Logan Polish) and Charlie (Gabriel Bateman). And someone much higher up than Raban is going to have to approve it.
She tries to tell hubby Allie (Justin Theroux) her progress, but he’s late for work. When she asks why he’s still needed there after having set up his skeleton key software Sandpiper, he confesses that it wasn’t designed to do what Bautista (Daniel Raymont) wants it to do. Bautista wants it to outmaneuver local police. Allie’s old software can’t actually do that, though. No algorithm can make that work. So in effect, Allie is stalling for time while he figures out a way to get something good on Bautista that will allow the Foxes to flee to a safer haven.
Margot tries to entice Richard (Ariyon Bakare) so she can take part in his terrorist action — and catch him in the act, then sell him out. He puts the kibosh on that, however, explaining that he doesn’t want her involved, because it’s the kind of crime you can’t just come back from. It’s something worse than the bombing.
Margot needs to revise her strategy. She sneaks into Richard’s cabin while he’s away. And, while taking pictures of various incriminating documents, she finds something quite curious indeed. A fake passport with her picture in it. She’s waiting with the door open when he returns.
Gold on the Mosquito Coast
Allie blows off work to explore the Mosquito Coast, the plot of land he found out about in Bautista’s old paperwork. Turns out it’s not uninhabited. A clandestine gold mining operation is on its shores — and it’s run by violent, machine-gun-and-machete-wielding overseers who don’t need much of an excuse to kill their workers. On his way back, he discovers that Charlie’s been following him and knows the area pretty well.
Dina also blows off her chores for the day, going with Adolfo (Alejandro Akara) into the nearest town and seeing the sights. She talks a lot about wanting a normal life, how she was denied a childhood and would give anything to trade places with the people here, who all seem happy. She’s having fun but also makes sure to ask whether the town has an airport.
Then, when it seems like maybe the two are going to go back to his place to see where the day takes them, Dina splits. She grabs his truck keys — actually they’re Ridley’s (Mike Ostroski) keys, the truck is his — and tries to flee. But she can’t drive stick well enough to outmaneuver Adolfo. She finally explains why she was making a break for it. And though he’s mad as hell that she almost cost him his job and maybe more, he agrees to help her.
When Richard realizes Margot has pictures of his life’s work, detonators for bombs yet to explode, and passports, she has him well and truly in a corner from which there is no escaping. He agrees to take her on as a full partner on the job he’s pulling for Isela (Natalia Cordova-Buckley). But the question is, how soon will it happen?
Meanwhile, Charlie finds the letter Dina left for him explaining that she’s escaping and not coming back.
Allie Fox, blowhard anti-capitalist extraordinaire
The best stuff in this episode are the glimpses into the old Allie, the man who made such an impression in the first season of The Mosquito Coast. When pushed into a corner or allowed a chance to pontificate, actor Justin Theroux does wonderful things with the character. When Allie yells at Dina about her life, or talks to Charlie about ruins in the jungle, he’s a blowhard anti-capitalist extraordinaire. It’s just a great performance.
Theroux himself lampooned this kind of person in the forgotten comedy Wanderlust 10 years ago, but his portrayal here remains sharp. I was expecting him to reach for some outdated reference, but the writers have done a good job keeping Allie plugged into the modern world he so hates, rather than letting him imagine it. It’s much more realistic that a guy like this would keep up with trends in technology and behavior so he can more accurately decry them to whoever will listen.
I also like Allie and Charlie talking through the on-the-fly morality of their mission down in the jungle. Allie hasn’t been much of a presence in Charlie’s life since they arrived, so I liked them finally having a heart-to-heart. It underpins the more plot-oriented stuff they get up to week after week on The Mosquito Coast to know they’re still human.
Watch The Mosquito Coast on Apple TV+
New episodes of the second season 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 author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.