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Image credit: Vivian Zink/NBC

'Blue is the Coldest Color' introduces the Dark Reverie

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Jun 20, 2018, 11:00 PM EDT

Please note that this is a recap and discussion rather than a review, so there are spoilers below for Episode 4 of Reverie, "Blue is the Coldest Color." If you haven’t seen it yet and are wondering what we thought of it, just know we liked it enough to want to talk about it each week.

In many ways, “Blue Is the Coldest Color” signaled a sea change for Reverie. Until now, the show centered around establishing the premise and the limits of what the VR tech can and can’t do. This week’s episode of the show changed the focus from internal to external. It introduced a new ongoing complication for the show and, potentially, a new villain for Mara and the rest of Onira-tech to face.

Let’s start with Oliver Hill, because he makes his entrance in a dramatic way at the beginning of the episode. “Blue Is the Coldest Color” picks up right where “No More Mr. Nice Guy” left off — Mara in her sister’s house, realizing that what she’s experiencing isn’t real. The next thing she knows, she’s in the middle of a road with a car barreling towards her. She’s saved by a man who calls himself Hill, and he tells her that he knows what Mara is experiencing.


Image credit: Vivian Zink/NBC

It turns out that the people at Onira-tech haven’t been fully up front with Mara. Hill’s story makes sense — to build a brain-computer interface, you need an expert on the brain, not just one in tech like Alexis. Hill was the person responsible for making that happen, a co-founder of Onira-tech, and spent more time in Reverie 2.0 than anyone. The problem is, according to Hill, that it made him unstable, and it’s going to do the same to Mara. He wants to stop wide-scale deployment of the technology.

It’s a lot to dump on Mara, and you can see it weighing on her as the episode progresses. Happily, though, this isn’t some deep dark broody secret that will carry us through an entire season of the show. Mara confronts Charlie and Alexis with the information, but their response isn’t exactly satisfactory. Mara knows that they’re lying.

In the end, it’s Paul who ends up allaying Mara’s fears. He shows her Oliver’s brain scans (versus Alexis’s, Mara’s, and Paul’s), making clear that he started from an unstable baseline. The effects of Reverie 2.0 only exacerbated what was already there. However, this explains why Paul has been keeping such a close eye on Mara’s brain scans.

Later, Alexis comes to Mara and tells her the full truth — she was in love with Oliver and didn’t see how unstable he was. It was only after he set fire to her house that he was fired from Onira-tech and a restraining order was procured. But it’s clear that he’s not done with the company; the last scenes show him trying to get his hands on a BCI so he can enter Reverie.

The other major storyline through the episode concerns Dark Reverie, which is a fascinating concept and one that has to be faced in any situation where you’re dealing with VR. When you’re dealing with a fake world, is it healthy to act out unhealthy impulses and desires in that safe space? It’s a question that’s clearly at the center of the show, and will be explored more fully as it progresses. Dark Reverie is basically a black market BCI that has the safeguards switched off. And one man is using it to try and plan the robbery of a pharmaceutical company.

sarah shahi reverie

Image credit: Vivian Zink/NBC

The VR storyline in this episode is really secondary to everything else that’s going on, but it turns out that Glenn wants to rob a pharmaceutical company to save the life of the child who lives next door to him. He suffers from serious OCD, so Mara realizes that Reverie can be a therapy for him — again, a good idea in theory as I mentioned in a previous recap, but I can’t help but wonder if they should have therapists involved in this sort of treatment. He ends up successfully robbing the place, after which he’s asked to return the treatment — but Onira-tech has arranged it such that Glenn’s neighbor will receive the medicine regardless.

What is Oliver’s endgame?

The introduction of Oliver is a really nice touch for Reverie. It brings us a villain that isn’t the people within the Reveries (as those are people Mara is trying to save), nor is it the government or higher ups at Onira-tech looking to control the technology. The presence of an outside villain allows all our main characters to group together against someone, rather than being divided from within. The question is what does Oliver want, and what does he plan to do with the brain-computer interface he is trying to procure?

What are the implications of Dark Reverie?

Judging from the heated discussion between Paul and Charlie, the views on Dark Reverie and the safeguards in place to prevent certain types of behavior within the VR world aren’t something that everyone within the company agrees on. It’s clear that we’ve just seen the beginnings of Dark Reverie. Is it the company’s responsibility to manage how people are using their tech, especially if the BCIs have been stolen? Clearly, Onira-tech’s response is yes.

Will Mara continue her derealization journey?

Now that we know what’s at the heart of derealization, will these experiences with Brynn continue for Mara? After all, in a previous episode there was concerning brain activity, and the people at Onira-tech wondered if Mara had an undiagnosed or uncommunicated psychological issue. The question here is are we finished with that plotline (as in, was it a tool to introduce Oliver), or will Mara continue to struggle?

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