Desire and "The Booth at the End"

I had not heard of this new online series from Hulu, until I read Joseph Susanka’s piece — but what a fascinating premise!

The series’ premise is startlingly simple: the Man (Xander Berkeley) sits in a booth at Cadillac Jack’s Driver-In and waits. People—convinced that he can “get things” for those who want them badly enough—visit his booth, and he makes a bargain with each of them: if they complete the task he assigns, they will get what they so desperately desire.

But his bargains are harsh and unsettling: James, a successful businessman seeking to avert his son’s death from leukemia, is ordered to kill a young girl. Sister Carmel, a faithful nun for fifteen years who yearns to “hear God again,” is told that the only way to guarantee the return of her faith is to become pregnant. Mrs. Tyler, a feeble retiree struggling to cope with her husband’s Alzheimer’s, is tasked with detonating a bomb in a busy coffee shop, while Jenny, a pretty, shallow young woman, must rob a bank in order to achieve the physical beauty for which she longs.

How far will they go to get what they want?

It sounds sensational
— and sensationalistic — but Susanka notes that it’s really an invitation to ask ourselves a few things:

“Two wrongs don’t make a right’ is the sensible response to the choices confronting James, Mrs. Tyler, and their fellow sufferers, but the viewer is not let off the hook with that casual truism, because ultimately The Booth is a singe to the conscience: How often are we willing to compromise on smaller matters, setting aside what we know to be right and just for the sake of our own desires? Surely, we would not kill another to further our own ends, but how many of us are willing to ridicule and belittle others in the feverish building up of our own importance? Few of us stand ready to rob a bank for the sake of our own beauty, yet the number of those prepared to wage a costly and outlandish battle against the natural decline of their physical form is frighteningly large. Are those two groups really so far apart? How far will we go to get what we want?

Read Joseph’s whole column, and yeah, this definitely sounds like something worth exploring:

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About Elizabeth Scalia
  • ferdigrofe

    Is this not a variation on the Faust theme? Verweile doch, du bist so schoen. Oscar Wilde: The only thing worse than not getting what you want, is getting what you want. Oedipus Rex? A Mark Twain story about a man making, I believe, a pact with a devil and receiving money. A Twilight Zone about a fortune telling machine in a cafe that truly told the future.

    I live near the Canadian border and when I cross, I occasionally stop at the Duty Free and purchase a good cigar. I commented to a colored man who was with a tour bus as I was lighting my cigar. In appearance and color he reminded me of Lawrence Fishburne. But I commented waggishly, that if I truly knew I was truly going to die in six months, I would probably drink Bombay Dry Gin martinis to excess and smoke cigars incessantly instead of both very occasionally. He replied. “We know not the day nor the hour,” and further stated that “Perhaps it is best that we do not know the future.” I would have enjoyed further conversation with him.