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nine perfect strangers


‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ episode 5 review: ‘Sweet Surrender’

Some steps forward, some steps back.

The story so far: After a shocking revelation at Tranquillum House, it is also revealed that Masha’s (Nicole Kidman) life is being threatened. The guests know nothing about this, however. After some discussion, they all agree to stay at Tranquillum. The group participates in an exercise that is supposed to get rid of rage, while Masha and her staff are beginning to have problems with each other.

A little over halfway through the season and Nine Perfect Strangers has shifted gears. While Masha’s motives are still unclear, the guests at Tranquillum House have accepted she is drugging them. (This is surprisingly quick, with just some occasional quips from some of the guests.) “Sweet Surrender” explores this new aspect of the show and it does manage to be an improvement from the previous episode.

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Most shows and movies that deal with drug use tend to have wacky camera tricks and psychedelics. Nine Perfect Strangers is much more creative in the shots it employs. The look is more subtle which leads to greater immersion for the audience. As the drugs begin to kick in, those watching are taken on a trip with those at the resort. Much like those at spa, viewers are slowly being brought into the new world.

This does not prevent some of the randomness that has plagued earlier parts from rearing its head. Nine Perfect Strangers continues to play with the dissension between Masha and her staff. It comes off as pointless and seems destined to not mean anything in the grand scheme of the story. In these moments, it seems like the show should have been less episodes which would have allowed for more focus.

The fifth episode also points out the show’s biggest issue. It does not seem to know what it wants to be. The characters alternate between being important to the plot and just players in the mystery concerning Masha. The threats to Masha’s life only seem to matter in the moment, before they become little more than a talking point for the rest of the episode. Is Nine Perfect Strangers a character study or a mystery? Even the showrunners do not seem to be sure.

Nine Perfect Strangers is on Hulu with each new episode released Wednesday.

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