“The Hikers” is the sixth installment in the fourth season of HBO’s Room 104. Created by Mark and Jay Duplass, Room 104’s episodes examine the harsh and sometimes strange realities of everyday life. Written and directed by Lauren Budd, “The Hikers” might be the simplest in its setup, and yet, might be the most intense episode this season.
Friendships are tricky business and difficult to negotiate as individuals transition through life. While some people naturally grow apart, some stay together and learn ugly truths about each other and themselves. Powerful performances by Shannon Purser and Kendra Carelli demonstrate the emotional toll a codependent relationship can have on a pair of friends when a hiking trip devolves into an epic argument.
What makes “The Hikers” so intense is it is completely relatable. Friendships are often explored in television and cinema and often times portrayed in a softer light. There are fights, and hiccups, but there will probably be an easy resolution as the friendship tends to not be the center of the story.
“The Hikers” asks the question, what if your friend does not respect you? Casey (Carelli) likes to be in control and believes she knows best. Megan (Purser) is a pretty happy go with the flow type of girl. A small injury quickly becomes an issue that exposes the delicate rift in their relationship and an epic argument ensues. Carelli and Purser both give emotional performances that are realistic and heartbreaking in their delivery as they reveal what they really think about each other.
Budd’s direction is particularly effective during the argument scene. As one friend exposes her hateful feelings, the camera zooms in close to allow the viewer to study the face. While the characters scream about beauty and what is considered ugly, these close up shots play out like a transformation scene giving a glimpse of the rage and fear in this scene.
Strong dialogue, directing, and acting make “The Hikers” one of the most remarkable episodes of the season. Its ability to speak to its audience adds intimacy and dimension to this installment of Room 104.