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'The Mysterious Benedict Society,' Episodes 4 & 5 Recap

By James Field | TV | July 21, 2021 |

By James Field | TV | July 21, 2021 |


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You guys, I’m starting to think this Dr. Curtain is up to no good.

When we last left our intrepid heroes (which was 2 episodes ago because, well, life gets in the way), they’d been ordered by Mr. Benedict to cheat if necessary to keep Kate and Constance in the school’s good graces. This doesn’t sit well with any of the children but given the alternative of having the girls’ brains swept cleaner than an operating room floor, they reluctantly decide to go along with Benedict’s plan. After Reynie does his best to melt Curtain’s brain with one of those rambling expositional moments the parent of any small child will recognize while Sticky copies Curtain’s journal with the aid of a telescope. Then it’s off to class and their first attempt at cheating. It works about as well as one would expect; Constance refuses to go along with the plan and Sticky is immediately caught helping Kate, and sent to the Waiting Room. What does one do there?

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They wait.

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And wait.

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And wait, until their brains turn to mush and they’re willing to sell out their own vanished mothers to get out of the room. Curtain uses the same tricks as casinos and cops all over the world to disorient their subjects and make them feel untethered from time. It’s suggested Sticky’s eidetic memory helps him remain sane in the disorienting room, with its wobbly chair and asymmetrical decorations, and insane clock. Curtain knows Sticky used Morse code to cheat but appreciates that Sticky doesn’t snitch on his partner. In response to Sticky and Reynie’s high test scores they are chosen as the newest Messengers, faster than any other student.

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Kate and Constance aren’t sitting idle all this time. Constance, consistently proving her MVP status, decides to actually try in class and quickly moves back up into the green. She also cracks Curtain’s diary code, once she has the privacy to closely examine it without Reynie’s breathing as a distraction. It is a rotational Caesar cipher, and once decoded the page proves to be an enemies list that includes Mr. Benedict and the other adults in his cadre as well as Mr.Bloom, the brain-swept groundsman who used to be a school inspector. Kate, meanwhile, should be on the next barge off the island with her mind swept cleaner than an Amish man’s search history. But when Martina Crowe discovers Kate whips ass at tetherball, apparently a very popular and serious sport in this society, she uses her school bully status for good and keeps Kate around. This allows Kate and Constance, working together, to gain access to the tunnels discovered by Mr. Benedict during his long-distance surveillance. Once in there, Constance hears Sticky Washington, new Messenger, whispering nonsense in her head. Somehow she can pick up the subliminal messages whispered by the Messengers into the Whisperer, a giant tube that belongs in a Dr. Seuss illustration. A tube they must destroy by tomorrow night if they can, because Curtain’s moved up the timetable.

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While the children get stuff done, the adults sit and talk. Or walk and talk. Or eat and talk. Basically, they talk. Rhonda and Number Two butt heads over Rhonda’s midnight graffiti missions, which Number Two considers a security risk. We get a short glimpse of No. Two’s past as a pro billiards player. Meanwhile Mr. Benedict and Milligan trek across the island, a journey on which Milligan realizes he truly does belong outdoors, and perhaps it’s how he spent most of his life before his mind was erased. Mr. Benedict glimpses his brother entering the secret tunnels, and they discover massive hydroelectric turbines being installed under the bay, presumably to power the Whisperer. Ms. Perumal discovers the team, explains how in a monologue suitable for Bennifer Cankersore’s version of Sherlock Holmes, and shares dinner with Mr. Benedict. She convinces him they need to pull the kids, but the question remains: how to do so safely? Particularly with Sticky becoming a bit too comfortable in his new role. We end on Dr. Curtain plotting and demonstrating some truly terrible parenting skills.

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And now we’re all caught up! Tune in next week for a recap of this Friday’s episode, Reynie’s Palms Get Sweaty Around Kate.

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