Room 104‘s titular quarters may not be as horrifying as, say, The Shining‘s Overlook Hotel, but there’s still an unsettling air of trepidation and trauma to it. Though it may not be filled with spooky ghost twins and rivers of blood, it’s nonetheless a place we’d probably avoid when scouring for digs on Kayak.
Since we’re not the ones vacationing in that time-bending, surreal dreamscape, we’re glad to welcome the return of the Duplass Brothers’ series, which began its fourth and final season on HBO Friday. And its premiere is certainly a doozy. (Click here for our post mortem with co-creator/director/writer Mark Duplass.) Let’s recap:
We begin with a keg delivery, and shortly after, four friends arrive to the room, clueless as to what’s in store. “I found him,” Logan tells his pals. “Graham Husker.”
Husker (played by Duplass) has been missing for 24 years. As Logan explains, when U2 won a Grammy in the ’90s, Bono got on stage and basically Kanye’d himself, telling the world that Husker’s album The Murderer was actually the best of the year. The record was a five-song rock opera about a boy who loved and later killed his mother. When Husker couldn’t take the pressure of fame he disappeared. His car was found smashed on a bridge overlooking a river with a note: “I am not a musician.”
Logan tells his friends that Husker showed up to an open mic night using a different name, and the voice was unmistakable. Logan says the musician agreed to play a private show for him and four friends, but only if he got a keg of Keystone Light (mmm!). Before Logan can further explain, the door creaks open and a long-haired, sullen man with a guitar walks in.
Husker walks over to the keg and immediately starts pounding beer from the tap. He takes out his guitar and asks them to put their phones in his case. “No recording,” he says. Husker starts with a song called “Cradle Me,” which details an… odd relationship between a son and his ma. “Cradle me, it won’t be long before I get too big… cause if I get too big, it’ll break my heart,” he sings. Okaaay.
While Husker takes a bathroom break, Logan sneaks into the case and grabs his phone, so he can record the performance. As Husker performs “Hold Me Steady,” (with lyrics repeating “Oh, Mommy!” over and over, because that’s totally normal), Logan hits record. After the song ends, Husker asks Logan to hand over the phone, and he smashes it with an ice bucket before nuking it in the microwave. Then he asks to speak to Katherine, the only female, in private.
In the bathroom, Husker asks her if he can play one more song for her. It’ll make him feel better, he says. The lyrics are about murdering his mom and burying her in someone’s yard because she fell in love with a man. When the song ends, a relieved Husker admits: “I killed my mom. I really killed her.”
He exits the bathroom, gives Logan a hug, then proceeds to play a song he wrote but left off the album. “I chopped you up in pieces, chunk by chunk. Forty-seven mommies in my trunk,” he croons. The song details all the gory aftermath, including a maniacal laugh that occurred after the grisly event. Frankly, I’m not sure if we’re supposed to be laughing, or if this is a prologue of Duplass’ next Creep film. (Is he hiding a super freaky wolf mask in that guitar case, too?)
“It feels so real!” the guys tell him. “It is real,” he replies. “I’m not a musician, I’m a murderer, and I killed my mom… it feels good to finally say it.”
And that’s when keeping it real goes wrong. The friends try to leave, but things escalate when Husker casually touches one of the guys’ shoulders, and, in a panic, the group (sans Katherine) attacks Husker, kicks him to the ground and flees the scene. Katherine sticks around to console the bloodied guitarist. “I’m so sorry they did that to you,” she says. He starts to cry, whimpering, “I miss my mommy.” She then responds to him as if she’s his mom. She promises she’ll always be there with him. He has a straight up temper tantrum, while Katherine cuddles him.
“I’m sorry for what I did to you,” he tells the woman on the bed who is very much not his mother. Katherine tells him it’s OK, and as the episode ends, the two gently sing “Cradle Me” together.
What did you think of Room 104‘s bizarre premiere? Grade it below, then drop some Comments!