Tales from the Loop

A small town in the Midwest is home to an underground factory, called The Loop, whose function is unclear.  The factory is the town’s major employer, and there is no suggestion that the work the factory is doing is ever malevolent, just strange.  So most people just ignore the odd bits of discarded machinery littered around the town’s outskirts.

The series is classified as “science fiction,” and many of the episodes are indeed based on common science fiction themes:  time travel, parallel universes, humanlike androids.  But there is no “man vs. technology” subtext to any of these stories, and they offer neither a wholly optimistic nor wholly dystopian view of the future. Instead, each episode is a little meditation on how a particular bit of technology might actually affect how you lived your life.   If you could switch bodies with another person, what if one of you didn’t want to switch back?  If you could stop time, what would you do, once you stopped having sex all the time?  If you could meet your alter ego in another universe, what would you say?  It’s a very old, almost 19th C definition of science fiction, where the important thing is not the technology itself, but how people react to it.

And there are no easy resolutions here.  Some decisions can be undone, but others have permanent consequences.  Nothing is ever back the same as it was.

Each episode tells an independent story of a different character, although the stories are interlocked – minor characters in one episode may feature prominently in another.   The episodes are told sequentially, and there is an ending of sorts.  But many questions remain unanswered.

This series reminded me of The Leftovers, which ran a few years ago on HBO.  Although several possibilities were presented, we never learned definitively why 2% of the world’s population suddenly disappeared – that series, like this one, was content to “let the mystery be.”

The Loop episodes vary in quality, and some of the early ones are very slow.  If you binge watch them over a short period of time, you will gradually be drawn into the fictional world and the episodes become more rewarding (especially the last one).

On Amazon Prime

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