Room 104 Pizza Boy Review

(Each week, we’ll kick off discussion about Room 104 by answering one simple question: what’s the strangest thing in Room 104?)

Last week, HBO introduced us to Room 104 with one especially creepy kid. (Or was it kids?) But in the second episode, there are no children to be found. Just a really horny couple and their pizza delivery man.

Naturally, there’s more to it than that. “Pizza Boy” follows the familiar beats of a cliched story only to completely turn it on its head in the final five minutes. There’s betrayals, lies, and a menacing James Van Der Beek dance. But first, we need to discuss the strangest thing in the motel room this week.

What’s the Strangest Thing in Room 104? The Pizza Boy

For the second week in a row, the episode title reveals the strangest thing in Room 104. But this was a close one. When the episode begins, it seems like Jen (Davie-Blue) is going to walk away with the title. As her husband Scott (James Van Der Beek) frantically searches for cash for the pizza, she stands stoically in the bathroom, bathed in red light and staring straight ahead. Jared (Clark Duke), the titular pizza boy, notices her and watches as she almost magically strips from a slip to just her thong, then back to a dress. Once Scott leaves in search of an ATM, she confronts Jared about watching her. It turns into a sexy discussion about pizza, that actually has nothing to do with pizza. Her husband, she insists, “hasn’t been hungry in a long time.”

But just as Jared is anxiously sitting down on the bed next to Jen (and now, the pizza), Scott returns with the money. Jen storms out of the room, complaining that he took forever, which leaves Scott and Jared alone. It’s now Scott’s turn to make his play for the strangest person in Room 104. Initially, he offers Jared a drink and counts out cash to finally pay him. But a text from Jen changes all that. He’s soon asking the pizza boy just what kind of tip he expected. “How many times did you fuck my wife?” Scott asks him point blank. The situation turns even more serious once Scott wraps Jared’s ankles and wrists with a phone cord. Cue the country music and Scott’s own version of the Mr. Blonde dance from Reservoir Dogs.

Thankfully, no one loses an ear, because Jen returns right that second. She and Scott get into an argument that quickly turns sexual, and the whole ruse is finally revealed. Jared is no pizza boy. He’s actually some sort of smut tycoon who stages elaborate scenes for his voyeur clients. A new “pizza boy,” he tells the couple, will be there any minute. Before he heads out, he leaves them a generous cash tip.

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A Comic Couple

Since “Scott” and “Jen” are actually actors, there’s a lot more comedy in this episode than the series premiere. The first seduction between Jared and Jen plays exactly like a ridiculous scene out of a porno. (And why wouldn’t it? He’s the pizza delivery guy.) There’s even soft sax music scoring the whole thing.

But James Van Der Beek has the most fun with his role. Something is a little off with Scott from the start – he’s way too theatrical in his frustration over the missing cash – but we don’t get a full performance out of him until he’s left alone with Jared. First he breaks out the absurd questions, asking Jared if he delivered the “meat lovers” to his wife. Then, he puts on a bowtie for his dance, which can best be described as a rodeo intimidation shuffle. By the time Jen returns, he’s gone full country. “I know about the sucking and the fucking, the whole shebang, Mama Jo!” he screams.

Scott is an inconsistent actor, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. When Jared transforms into a fast-talking businessman at the end, he tells him to work on his characterization. “I mean you started off as this somewhat cosmopolitan weirdo and then digressed into this… southern dad?” he says. “Make bold choices and stick with them.” Maybe Jared has a point, but for the rest of us, Scott’s cosmopolitan weirdo turned southern dad is wildly entertaining.

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What’s in the Bathroom?

We’re just two episodes into Room 104, but something is clearly up with the bathroom. In the series premiere, the bathroom is the domain of the evil Ralphie. In “Pizza Boy,” it’s where Jen kicks off her seduction in incredibly eerie fashion. Both episodes refuse to reveal what’s actually inside the space. Jen is filmed in tight shots so we never see more than a glimpse of the wall or ceiling, while Ralphie always appears outside the bathroom door.

The premiere implied there might be some kind of mystical element to the bathroom, since a sinister (and seemingly inhuman) being lived there. “Pizza Boy” doesn’t really further that theory, but it doesn’t necessarily negate it, either. There’s nothing supernatural happening in the bathroom this week, but it’s also covered in red light, which doesn’t often signal a safe space.

The bathroom isn’t the only thing that’s proving to be significant on Room 104. So far, the episode titles have been incredibly important. “Ralphie” tipped us off to the twin boys, one good and one bad. “Pizza Boy” also refers to a dual identity. Jared is seemingly the pizza boy, only that’s a false identity and a misdirect. The real “pizza boy” (who isn’t actually a pizza boy, either, but a voyeuristic client) doesn’t arrive until the last scene. Expect dual identities, as well as those episode titles, to remain key to the stories on Room 104. Just please don’t ask me what next week’s title, “The Knockadoo,” is supposed to mean.

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