Flaws undermine a compelling lead and philosophical themes
By Jonathan Pabico, Contributor
The first episode of Tales from the Loop presents enjoyable everyday environments and a highly grounded lead. Although the premiere has potential, it is still disappointing due to its many faults. The plot follows Abby Ryder Fortson as Loretta, a lonely schoolgirl that discovers startling truths about herself after her mother disappears.
Fortson portrays Loretta with an innocence that supplies complicated layers to her role, even though she lacks strong screen time with the cast. She humanizes the episode’s lead by exploring how isolated she feels due to her distant family bond with her mother. Little dialogue from the script enables Fortson to be more believable. Her performance relays how kids see the world as they grow during their childhood.
Another takeaway from this episode is that it patiently unravels the plights of Fortson’s character. Wide takes of the story’s cold surroundings edited with more constrained shots of Loretta’s hometown further illustrate her struggles with being by herself. The soft melodies and solemn tones from the soundtrack layered with the timelessness conveyed by each camera shot instill how Loretta’s relationship with her mother is ironically bound by time. This creates commentary about how time shapes our identities and defines family ties.
What further benefits the storytelling is that visual effects are used sparingly in favour of practical effects and sets. Rather than overwhelming the narrative with CGI, this allows Loretta’s character development to be more easily accessible.
The peculiar sci-fi that gradually transgresses Loretta’s life balanced with her estrangement from her mother elevate the episode’s message about the costs of becoming disconnected from family. The premiere employs abundant shadows and subtle sound design to represent the emotional scope of this theme.
One shortcoming is that Loretta seems unfazed by the story’s sci–fi wonders and treats them as normal occurrences. The plot could have made Loretta’s strange experiences new to her to improve believability.
The story also falls short with an enormously problematic script. Nothing substantial happens for a while due to weak suspense produced by slow pacing. The sci–fi set pieces are underused and could have played a larger role in the narrative’s mystery. If that’s not enough, the episode could have reached the climax sooner—since that is really the only time when Loretta’s character arc becomes more interesting.
Tales from the Loop has a disjointed first entry with a lot of plot holes. The premiere takes its time developing themes and world-building to create a moving journey. However, the story contains many drawbacks, despite an impressive performance from Abby Ryder Fortson. What can’t be denied is how disarmingly original this show tries to be in proving how the ordinary has as much to offer as the extraordinary.