The Lost Symbol Episode 3 Review: Murmuration

More code-breaking ensues as Langdon and Katherine take another step towards figuring out the Mason’s puzzle.

The TV adaptation of The Lost Symbol has done a commendable job of displaying competency in a few key areas and it’s great to see that Episode 3 continues that trend. That, unfortunately, also means the show continues with the same problems and unfavorable tendencies displayed in the first two episodes. Robert Langdon and Katherine Solomon take a few strides towards uncovering the mysterious power locked by the Masons as Mallakh closes in on them, inflicting damage to some close folks. Banter between the characters and some code-breaking puzzles hold the story together.

Ashley Zuckerman is a mostly likeable Robert Langdon and he inches a step closer to becoming a worthy successor to Tom Hanks. Painting a good picture of Langdon in his heydays, Zuckerman delivers a subdued portrayal of a man so caught up and obsessed in cracking puzzles and uncovering codes that he has to be jolted out of his trance by Katherine Solomon when a smoke grenade is hurled towards them. His Langdon comes across as someone who’s able to hold his composure and maintain a controlled demeanor even in the toughest of situations, never mind he’s rattled from the inside and is going through a wide range of emotions. No unnecessary histronics, but neither is Zuckerman cold enough to be slammed as a stoic.

Murmuration gives us the first true sense of how Langdon and Katherine can work together as a team. The duo were an odd couple in the books thanks to their somewhat opposing ideologies and areas of interest – Langdon’s interest and history and symbology doesn’t quite mesh well with Katherine’s expertise in science. Writer David Goodman pens together a nicely concocted sequence that sees Langdon using Katherine’s expensive lab equipment, a neurological headset that tunes out surrounding noise allowing Langdon to focus on the puzzle at hand. Langdon has trouble decrypting the Hebrew inscription they uncovered from the previous episode and Katherine believes that he still holds the answers within his mind; they’re simply buried deep within. Again, it’s not Sherlock level deduction and it’s all showed by employing straightforward editing choices but you appreciate the coherentness of the deduction and are on for the ride, even for those who may not follow through the methods completely.

The Lost Symbol Episode 3 - Beau Knapp as Mal'akh

The deduction uncovers a name, Ezra Dove, whose grave Langdon and Katherine must visit to recover the Capstone that is the key to freeing Peter Solomon. Before that of course, they need to be able to dodge the CIA and escape Nunez’s house. Nunez gets a few moments to attempt some humor including one where he pretends to hug Katherine’s assistant who retrieves her lab equipment and also while distracting the CIA offer as the duo escape and head to the church to uncover Dove’s grave. While Rick Gonzalez handles his scenes competently, any attempts at humor mostly fall flat.

The sad bit about some of the other subplots is that they do a fairly competent job at advancing the narrative, and yet, appear drab, dull and uninteresting. Both Sato’s and Blake’s interrogation of Bellamy to understand the secrets that the Masons were hiding is a case in point. Punchier writing could have perhaps made the sequences more gripping. Mallakh’s attempts to fish information about Katherine out of her research assistant still fare better in holding your attention and also result in a chilling ending that concludes the episode with a top-down shot that feels incorrectly oriented. On purpose, perhaps.

The sequences involving Eddie Izzard’s Peter Solomon and his son Zachary are probably the most disorienting of the bunch in terms of what they attempt to convey. Peter is still trapped in his dreams that were revealed last episode as concerted efforts at keeping his mind occupied as he peacefully rests in a water tank hooked to a hallucination inducing machine. We at least learn that Zachary got off for a rash driving incident by secretly becoming the CIA’s informer. Zachary’s story is something the series is following in small bits and it should be interesting for non-readers to learn how it intersects with the show’s other pivotal storylines.

Langdon’s and Katherine’s uncovering of the final film that contains a visual proof of the noetic abilities unlocked by a Mason are deftly handled, as they should be. It’s an important moment and one that sets the stakes for what everyone is chasing. It also acquaints non-book readers with the power of noetic science to shape and control matter in different form and it’s potential for use and misuse. There were multiple points in the episode that I initially felt, may have been better suited to end the hour on. But in retrospect, it was a wise decision to conclude on this significant reveal of the nature of the true power that the Masons managed to unlock, then keep hidden for decades and centuries.

Despite its fallacies and its inability to make the source material any more interesting, I still continue to appreciate the direction taken by the series in treating the show with reverence. Sure, The Lost Symbol isn’t regarded as one of Brown’s best works but every effort is being put to create a work born out of sincerity. Episodes flow along smoothly, remain competently shot and edited, with actors doing their level best to bring the characters to life. Yes, it gets drab and feels like it’s dragging along at times but I’ll still take that over a haphazardly edited and rushed movie adaptation like Inferno.

Some personal committments have kept me busy for a while but I’m getting back to this series after a brief hiatus and hope to finish it off in the coming days.

The Lost Symbol Episode 3 Rating: 7.0 out of 10