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The Booth at the End Season Two Review

on Wed, 09/12/2012 - 00:00

The Booth at the End is an intriguing web series that raises philosophical question while leaving many of its answers shrouded in mystery. The series centers on an anonymous man who sits in a booth at a diner and is capable of granting wishes to anyone who seeks him out. There is a catch, of course—in order for the wish to be fulfilled, the person making the request must complete a task assigned from a leather-bound book that is designed to both test their morality as well as cause them to consider the consequences of their actions. The Booth at the End is thus an exploration of the lengths one will go to make their dreams come true, as well as a dissection on the inherent good and evil that exists at the core of each of us.

As for “The Man” himself (Xander Berkeley), he is an enigma. He comes across as detached from the proceedings, and merely makes notes in his book as he is given updates on the progress of his small flock of wishmakers. Still, he is not above showing disappointment when the more immoral tasks are accepted at hand, and relieved by those who don’t go through with them. Although season two follows the same format established during its inaugural season, it adds the twist of having “The Man” make his own wish. “I used to want to know their morality,” he explains in regards to the people who visit him. “Now I just want to understand what motivates them. I want to feel it.”

The person charged with assigning the task is Doris (Jenni Blong), a waitress at the original diner from season one with whom “The Man” appeared to have been smitten. Whether to escape his feelings for Doris or some other unmentioned reason, “The Man” relocated to a different diner during season two but Doris is able to track him down nonetheless. “I know who you are,” he tells her. “I didn’t see it before—I should have. Did you tell anyone about me? Do they know I’m here?” The answer to “who” Doris and “they” are remains as elusive as the identity of “The Man” himself on The Booth at the End. It is apparent, however, that she is there on her own accord and is as drawn to him just as much as he is to her.

Season two of The Booth at the End contains a new set of individuals seeking guidance from “The Man,” as well as one holdover—a teenage girl who died during her assigned task but was apparently resurrected after her father made his own deal at the end of season one. Just as in the inaugural effort, the majority of these separate storylines intersect at the end, bringing both hope and happiness as well as death and despair in the process. “You understand no matter what you choose to get, you will be breaking the world,” “The Man” says to one of the wishmakers. “That’s what we do—we take the world and we crack it.”

While season one spotlighted the lengths one is willing to go in order to have their wishes granted, season two focusses more on how the tasks inevitably change what the wishmakers thought was important. Henry (Danny Nucci), for instance, wants to rewrite his life by having been married for the past twenty years to someone else. “You don’t want to have a happy marriage, you want to have had a happy,” he is told by “The Man.” For Henry, that is the point—by having been “happily” married for twenty years without actually living that life means that he never has to regret saying or doing the wrong thing. A life-altering event while attempting to believe in God—his assigned task—later makes him renounce his wish instead. “I just want to live,” he tells “The Man” afterwards.

Maria (Romina Peniche), meanwhile, wants her drug-addicted sister to change her self-destructive ways in order to bring some happiness into her recently widowed mother’s life. Her task is to make five random people cry, but Maria is unable to accomplish the assignment. She is able, however, to make her wish reality nonetheless. “I told her a story,” she says in regards to her mother. “I told the story of how I went to the zoo to make a child cry but he kicked me in the shin. And how I went to pinch a baby to make it cry but he threw up on me. And how I went to break the heart of a man who loved me by saying I never wanted to see him again, and he dumped me before I got the chance. I told her a dozen tales and more and more about how I tried to save the world by making people cry, and I didn’t succeed. And my mother laughed and laughed. And she took my hand, and she was happy.”

Then there’s Melody (Jennifer Del Rosario), the dead girl brought back to life in between the first two seasons of The Booth at the End. For her to live again, someone else had to die, a fact that she cannot accept. Her request is thus to reverse the wish of her father and be dead again. Dillon (Noel Fisher), meanwhile, recently had his own brush with death when his military father died overseas. Dillon’s desire is to never die himself—or even age—and in essence be indestructible. According to “The Man,” Melody’s task is to “grow” something lasting while Dillon’s is to indelibly “mark” someone for life. Their paths cross during the assignments and the love that blossoms between them completes the tasks at hand, making one wish reality and the other abandoned in the aftermath.

“Watch what you wish for or you might just find it” is a popular catch-phrase that has been around for centuries. “The Man” likewise has his own proverbial warning regarding wishes. “There are things I don’t understand about this world, about people, about how things will turn out,” he explains. “But I do know this—there are consequences. When you start to change the world, you don’t know when the changes are going to stop.” The Booth at the End itself, however, suggests that one should watch what they wish for because they might find it in the most unexpected ways. While not everyone who visits “The Man” finds what they are looking for, those that do discover a better appreciation for their lives and a deeper understanding of themselves. For The Booth at the End, it’s not the wishes that matter or even the tasks, but the lessons learned in between that truly resonate.

Much like life itself.

Anthony Letizia (September 19, 2012)

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