Hey, everyone. RobBarracuda here, and it’s time to recap the season finale of Dream Corp, LLC, “The Leak”. Joey finds herself trapped in her own mind, and amidst the chaos found in the lab, the crew must find a way to break her out.
The episode opens with Patient 88 and Dr. Roberts performing calibration within the dream procedure room, using Joey’s mind to facilitate the process. Suddenly, they’re attacked by a mind worm, causing Joey to fall into the abyss of her mind and get trapped in her conscious. The procedure is then interrupted by a contaminating leak within the procedure room, forcing the doctor and 88 to exit the dream, leaving Joey trapped inside as she quickly chases after light that leads her through a never-ending series of hallways. As Roberts reveals, this is incredibly dangerous, for if she reaches the end of the path (which leads directly to the core of her subconscious), she could be trapped in a coma for who knows how long. He quickly dives back into her mind, finding himself exploring an industrialized arctic tundra. After stumbling upon a particular point, he begins to strike the ground beneath him with a pickaxe, quickly bringing him to the hellish fire-fueled landscape of the floor below.
He encounters a surprise will in this new location: a demonic entity who turns out to be Joey, exercising a newfound level of power that she embraces due to her subjugation as an intern of the facility for 9 years (also she now talks like Liam Neeson). Using her power within the dream world, she locks Dr. Roberts in a cage and summons two minions to help her take him out. Back in the procedure room, Randy requests that T.E.R.R.Y. plug himself into the dream world in order to help the doctor survive against Joey. The robot agrees, plugging into the system and helping Roberts escape from Joey’s clutches and the dream world. With Joey offline, the crew gets her into the lab to try and draw her back into consciousness. In the middle of all the panic, Patient 88 goes off to deal with someone at the front desk: a woman in the U.S. military looking to speak with Dr. Roberts, identifying herself as “Patient 13”. The episode ends right her, with 88 acknowledging her request and us remaining in the dark about Joey’s current state.
One of the common unifying trends across the majority of Adult Swim’s most well-remembered shows is for them to often be about more than just their weird one-note jokey premises. Usually 2 seasons in, such shows will peel back the layers to reveal deeper thematic and storytelling aspects that one would never have guessed from just reading the premise. Dream Corp LLC seems to have gone this route a lot quicker than I would have expected, with the season finale being an uncharacteristically serious episode (but still allowing room for a few jokes). The dream imagery and animation, which up to now has incorporated mostly surrealist and nonsensical imagery and references, gives way here to less whimsical and more menacing nightmare scenarios with demons, hellfire, and weird sexy lion women. The characters themselves, deviating from their usual absentmindedness, are constantly panicking and taking the entirety of this situation deadly serious, showing that underneath the bizarre quirky behavior, Dr. Roberts is a character who sincerely cares about the health and well-being of his patients and staff.
With all of that said, why a cliffhanger ending like this? Personally speaking, I have never been more stressed out watching a season finale before because of how critical the stakes are compared to where the episode ends. On top of not knowing Joey’s current state of consciousness, we also get a possibly big and revealing plot thread with the surprise appearance of the aforementioned Patient 13, a black woman garbed in black clothing. Knowing this show, season 2 would likely try to incorporate her as an omen of bad luck or something. Overall, this was a fantastic episode of the series and one of the strongest premiere season of any show in the entire Adult Swim line-up. I’m eagerly advocating for this show to get renewed for additional seasons.