The Afterparty S2E3: Travis

Are you ready, because it’s about to get all Paul Walter Hauser up in this joint. As Aniq put it, Travis has been acting “…weird all weekend.” At the end of the last episode it was revealed that he said “you’re going to die tonight” to Edgar, just before the tech wizard groom did indeed die. It doesn’t help that when Danner & Aniq seek Travis out to interview him, they find him messing with Edgar’s corpse. If Zoë hadn’t been working with him, he would have looked even worse.

Travis obviously fashions himself after detectives out of Humphrey Bogart movies based on Dashiell Hammett novels. And, of course, our Reddit supersleuth’s office is in his mom’s basement… or, well, what looks like more of a spare room. In his mind, he views himself a suave, if a bit uncouth, Sam Spade. However, even his side of the story betrays the level of discomfort people feel in his presence. Most of his conversations end with the other person making barely veiled excuses to get away from him.

One could chalk these responses up to Travis rationalizing his lot in life as the hatred coming from his personally perceived status as the smartest guy in any room. But Hauser is brilliant as he hints at the self-awareness behind his anachronistic veneer. At his worst fits of whimsy, he’s as ridiculous as any conspiracy theorist in darkened corners of the internet. He makes clearly ludicrous leaps of logic to reach his conclusions. However, there are plenty of points where the sweet sadness peeks through. Even as he covers up his blustery nonsense speak with more blustery nonsense speak.

At one point, Travis is wooed by Hannah in the role of wronged damsel (adoptive). Given Hannah’s own oddball nature, her love for stories of the past, and her connection to Edgar, her seduction may not be entirely in his head. Also, Grace saw something in Travis, and never underestimate the raw, animal appeal of Paul Walter Hauser. In any case, there are overt ulterior motives as she openly claims to also want to halt the nuptuals (gad, his excessive verbiage is oozing into this review). What those motives are is unclear.

Meanwhile, in the modern timeline (well, the next day anyway), Zoë is revelling in her found clue, even if everyone but her knows it’s not a cufflink, but a typewriter key. Grace clues (heh heh) her in and remembering Hannah’s love of old Remingtons, embark to her cottage for some antics. Hannah finds them and as they are escaping through her colorful garden, they remember that her botany hobby extends to the psychotropic and even poisonous. After reading up, it turns out the centerpiece plants neatly fit the hallucinogenic symptoms Edgar was displaying

By the end of the episode, as Travis drops the corny pun-happy private eye artifice, it becomes clear that while he’s a dork, there’s a real caring person within. While he’s no Sam Spade, he’s not a bad guy (well, unless he turns out to be the killer). Even he doesn’t really believe his crazy concocted connections and ridiculous “secret clues.” He knows he’s ridiculous, but he truly does care about Grace. As much as he wants to pretend he’s the center of a grand mystery as the cool detective, he also seems to genuinely desire to protect the woman he once loved and probably still does.

His breakdown even softens Aniq which in turn leads to Travis’ most honest assessment of the night. “I am a loser, but I know stuff… he was not a good guy… I couldn’t let him trick Grace.” Romantic souls Aniq and Danner, of course, exchange a sympathetic look. Or are they (and me) suckers as Travis’ eyes shift as he registers their approval and subtly, but undeniably, puffs himself up a bit. It may be nothing, but it doesn’t matter for now as Zoë and Grace break in with a new clue that points to a new suspect: Hannah. And it’s time for her “mind movie,” whose genre is unclear, but promises to be absolutely batshit. It looks kinda… Wes Anderson-y?

Stray Clues:

  • “Find the other cufflink, find the killer” Am I the only one thinking of Heroes when she does this?
  • “Ah, you’re one of those conspiracy guys” “Truth guys!”
  • “You see, there’s a thing called the blockchain.” “Uh uh, stop, no!” Danner, you speak for us all.
  • Hannah’s “adoptive” is the most seductive in Travis’ version of the story. I’m not sure what that means, but it happened.
  • So far, the sisters’ cooing for Funcle Ulysses has been almost exactly the same in every episode. I’m curious to see if it changes when we get to Feng’s version of the story as he clearly has some resentment towards his far more dashing brother.
  • “Trojan horses have people inside. What does this horse have inside it? More horse! More horse? More horse? M…orse code!” Travis’ intellect is truly dizzying. As Aniq puts it: “I don’t know if all this is wrong, but the ‘Morse, more horse’ makes me think that it is.”
  • Aniq’s sarcastic interjections to Travis’ linguistically slapdash delusions is one of the best parts of this episode. It makes the moment when he he visibly starts to empathize with Travis all the more stark.
  • And so we move on to our fourth episode of “Who Poisoned Mr. Minnows” this one focusing on sister suspect (adoptive).