The Mosquito Coast hits a dead end this week, and the only one happy about it is Allie Fox. His wife Margot and daughter Dina get desperate looking for a way out of their situation, even as their hosts start to have major second thoughts about their new guests.
Charlie puts himself at risk, Dina goes on a fateful date, Margot throws a Hail Mary — and Allie’s one step ahead of everybody. As we’ve come to expect from Mosquito Coast, this is one tense hour of television.
Mosquito Coast recap: ‘A Rag, a Bone, a Hank of Hair’
Season 2, episode 4: In the episode, entitled “A Rag, a Bone, a Hank of Hair,” the Fox is sleeping uneasily. Allie (played by Justin Theroux) betrayed Margot (Melissa George) and their kids, and it sits heavily upon each of them. Margot literally tears out some of her hair in frustration.
Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) can’t sleep at all, so he goes for a walk and stumbles upon some heavily armed men who have caught a monkey in a trap of some kind. He decides to follow them, tracking them to a plane where they have a whole collection of caged animals ready to fly back for sale. He throws rocks at them, and they chase him into the jungle looking to kill him.
Meanwhile, Allie tries to explain to Margot his reasoning for sinking the family’s boat. Even if they’d made it out on the boat, they all would have wound up in either jail or the foster system.
“I just want to keep everyone safe,” he says.
“You want to make us a home whether we like it or not,” Margot says.
She’s so mad at Allie that she takes it out on Dina (Logan Polish), because whether she wants to admit to or not, Margot understands that he is right that there’s no easy answer to their predicament. Charlie will go to jail in Mexico if they get caught. So will Margot.
Another way out?
Dina won’t be placated, though. So Margot finally decides they’re going to try something radical. In order for it to work, Dina’s going to have to distract Adolfo (Alejandro Akara), who helps the boat captain, Ridley (Mike Ostroski), so she can get on his boat. They need to distract Allie, too. (Charlie takes care of that when he comes back and wants his dad to help him break the camera that alerts the poachers when their traps are filled.)
When Isela (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) confronts Allie about the boat, he says he and his family won’t be a problem going forward. She still needs to talk to Ridley, who was expecting to buy the boat from them, and explain what happened. Ridley explains that back in civilization, people have been asking about the Foxes — from the police to hitman William Lee (Ian Hart).
The Foxes are going to be trouble for the commune. Isela says she understands, but she doesn’t really. After all, Margot’s on Ridley’s boat right now calling an ex-federal agent (Matt McCoy), the guy who let Allie slip through his fingers back in the day. The trouble is, Allie alone wouldn’t be enough leverage to either save his career or grant her the immunity she wants so she could still visit her kids after they bring her in. She’s back to square one.
William Lee is also back at square one after fending off a double-cross by his employer last week. So he presents himself to another kingpin, Bautista (Daniel Raymont), so he can start picking up a paycheck again. It’s unclear what this means for the Foxes, but it can’t be good. You don’t keep Chekhov’s hitman around for nothing.
Anger, subterfuge and desperation
The little potboilers we get this season on The Mosquito Coast result from some pretty good work all around. I like the idea of Dina having to kind of seduce Adolfo (which she wanted to do anyway, or at bottom she was curious about it) so her mom can carry out her bit of subterfuge.
I also like that Charlie’s impulsiveness, the only way he’s found to deal with his trauma, keeps manifesting in very awkward ways. He has no plan to deal with the poachers, but he’s so charged up and angry and sad that he has to do something.
Melissa George gets a show-stopper in the form of her call to the fed who’s been looking for them all these years. McCoy makes for a good scene partner, too. They both must cycle from one complicated emotion to the next in a very short period of time.
Time to get emotional
She starts off furious to be talking to the guy who helped ruin her life, before trying to play at being stronger than she is to sell out Allie. But that crumbles when he denies her, and then finally she’s back to anger — at him, at her situation and herself. It’s powerful, tactilely painful work on her part. George looks like she wants to tear her skin off.
McCoy is fabulous, too. At first, he wants to play big man on campus and tell off this low-life terrorist. But when he realizes that she was trying to do the right thing, he loses the posture and seems genuinely sorry for her, even if he can’t quite make it sound as sincere as he means to be. They ruined each other’s lives. They’ll always have that in common — and it makes them both sick to think of it.
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.