Main cast: Terrence Howard (George), Anna Paquin Anna (Sarah), Rachelle Lefevre (Katie), Lara Pulver (Paula), Guy Burnet (Colin), Jacob Vargas (Mario), and Sam Witwer (Chris)
Director: Jeffrey Reiner
Real Life is “based” on Philip K Dick’s Exhibit Piece – the “based” is within inverted commas because they changed everything but the basic premise when it comes to this particular episode. The premise is living the life of somebody else from another time.
We have two different people whose stories are told to the viewer. In the future, Sarah is a policewoman who suffers from severe survivor’s guilt. Her wife recommends taking a break into a virtual fantasy world where everything will be peachy. Then we have George, a man in the present day who is bent on avenging his wife, who died at the hands of the killer Colin. Eventually, folks watching this episode will realize that these two stories are linked. One of them is likely to be playing out the other character in a virtual fantasy world. So, who’s the real deal? Sarah, or George?
Actually, the answer doesn’t matter, because viewers are not expected to think. This is the fatal flaw of this show: it spells out everything with unnecessary clarity to the viewer, right down to an awkwardly delivered monologue in the final scene that serves to clear up any lingering doubt or uncertainty in the viewer’s mind. The original story uses ambiguity to tantalize the reader with all kinds of questions. Here, it’s just about a bag of angst in a melodramatic hot air balloon.
The acting is solid, which isn’t surprising considering the capable cast assembled here, but this episode feels like rather watered down compared to its source material. I suppose this does lend credence to the supposition that the bulk of the author’s works should best be left alone.