Roomcap: ‘Drywall Guys’ finds fear in being too nice

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Best line: “As Greg listened to Randy prattle on senselessly, he knew that he couldn’t do it anymore. Not one more night.” — Narrator

Episode MVP: Greg (Sam Richardson)

Ready for a bedtime story? 

As the familiar title sequence of “Room 104” simmers off the screen, “Drywall Guys” opens on blackness and the surprise of the voice of the narrator (Fred Melamed) setting the scene as if the audience is tucked into bed, eyes fluttering to sleep. In a silky deep voice, the narrator tells of two men, Greg (Sam Richardson) and Randy (Steve Little), who are sharing the room for a drywall job. Over the innocuous twinkle of fairytale music bouncing in the background, the narrator establishes the problem of this episode: Randy is a sleepwalker.

Through a careful mix of narration and conversational dialogue between Greg and Randy, the dynamic between the two is made clear; Randy is weird and desperate for friendship, and Greg feels bad for him. This sets the conflict for the rest of the episode as one in which Greg is trying his very hardest to “be kinder than necessary” to Randy but is at the end of his rope.

The tone from the beginning of this episode is glazed with humorous intonations and soft breaks where a laugh track could easily go. With comedic heavy hitters like Richardson, Melamed and Little at the helm of this story, the light and amusing air of “Drywall Guys” is no surprise. And building suspense that is underlined with laughter and not horrified gasps is a welcome break from the despair of the past two episodes.

During another night of sleepwalking for Randy, the narrator announces the rules of sleepwalking: You should never wake a sleepwalker up, and you should know that they are a different person when they are asleep. Naturally, as Greg tries to coax Randy awake by tapping him with a tape measure, both these rules come back to bite Greg in the form of a quick punch to the face.

The next morning, Randy is aggressively apologizing for hitting his “best friend” in the face. Greg, exhausted, tells him to stop apologizing, that it is okay. But Melamed’s languid drawl announces something different — this is the last night Greg can take being Randy’s roommate.

Greg tells Randy that when he was a kid, his dad tucked him in like a Tootsie Roll and that they should try that for Randy. But when Randy wakes up the next morning, he is beat to shreds and covered in bruises; it seems he got out of the Tootsie Roll. They search the room for answers and as they are doing so, they find a black bag. Greg opens it and immediately throws up. Randy looks inside and pulls out a severed foot.

“We have to deal with this! The foot is here now!” Randy says as Greg packs up to leave Room 104. Randy says he thought Greg was his best friend and finally Greg explodes on him, with Richardson’s hilarious mannerisms and vocalities stirring to the top beautifully. And though he is desperate to leave, Greg ultimately stays to try and help Randy with the foot.

As they are scouring the news for anything that will help them, Randy asks Greg if he is a nice person. This is where the narrator pipes up, announcing “Greg wanted to be a nice boy to Randy, but what he really wanted to do was beat the ever-loving shit out of him. To beat the incompetence, ignorance and idiocy out of his body.”

With that, Greg walks over to the bag with the foot, picks up a knife and carves a square out of the drywall. Together, he and Randy put the foot inside the hole in the wall and begin to patch it up with plaster, painting it over in the gray-blue of Room 104’s walls. As they both look at the patched-over wall, Randy tells Greg that he will follow him forever, that he will be on call as his best friend. Greg stares at the wall, unfazed, as Randy holds onto him and cries.

As the episode settles to a close, Randy, tucked in tightly and painted in red and blue lighting, sleeps soundly in the warm glow of his new friendship. On the other bed, Greg lays wide awake contemplating whether or not he really is a nice boy. As the camera pans down over his face, the narrator leaves viewers with the haunting conclusion that, “Maybe there was such a thing as being too nice.”

Maisy Menzies covers television. Contact her at [email protected].