tek's rating: ½

Reverie, on NBC
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Mara Kint (Sarah Shahi) is a former hostage negotiator, who quit working with the police some time ago, after her brother-in-law, Ray, killed his wife Jamie and their daughter, Brynn, before turning the gun on himself. (He ended up in a coma.) Mara had been trying to negotiate this situation with Ray, but failed, so now she feels guilty. And instead of working with the cops, she is now a college professor. But her former boss, Charlie Ventana (Dennis Haysbert), who now works as head of security for a company called Onira-Tech, recruits her to come work for the company. Onira-Tech is run by Alexis Barrett, a genius who invented a program called Reverie, and Paul Hammond (Sendhil Ramamurthy, whom I know from Heroes), who is the chief oneirologist. Reverie... well, it's kind of like fully-immersive VR crossed with lucid dreaming, I guess. But it uses a bio-engineered thing that a person implants to interact with their brain and enter a dream world where they can have pretty much any kind of fantasy they want. In the original version of the program, only one person can enter each specific dream, but the Onira-Tech people have recently made a Reverie 2.0, which will allow a second person to enter the first person's dream. Anyway... some Reverie users have started going into comas, apparently because they've become addicted to their fantasies, and don't want to return to the real world. That's where Mara comes in. Her job is to enter each person's dream and use her negotiating skills to convince them to come out. But she also has to do some investigating in the real world to figure out what might have made them want to stay in the fantasy, and what might make them agree to give it up.

Meanwhile, it's hinted that Mara may have some kind of psychological problem. And we know she's had a drug problem ever since her sister and niece were killed, though she's giving that up, now. However, she starts having what appear to be hallucinations of her niece, Brynn. Paul tells her this is just a side effect of the new Reverie program (called "derealization"), but it should pass in time. Also, there's a woman named Monica Shaw, who works for the Department of Defense, which owns a percentage of Onira-Tech. Also, there's an A.I. at Onira-Tech named Dylan, who apparently has the memories of Alexis's brother, who died when they were kids. (So the A.I. has a child's voice and personality.) And eventually, we meet a man named Oliver Hill, the co-founder of the company, who used to date Alexis. However, he was forced out of the company after burning down Alexis's house, due to emotional problems that were exacerbated by the same problem with Reverie 2.0 that has caused Mara's derealizations. And those aren't going away, as Paul said they would.

Well, after the first few episodes, the show started introducing some different reasons for Mara to enter people's reveries, which made it a bit more interesting. For example, in one episode, Mara discovers that the DOD has secretly been using the program to torture and interrogate a suspected terrorist, who is actually an innocent Syrian refugee. Mara does what she can to free him from the reverie he's trapped in, and Monica pulls some strings to shut down the DOD's use of Reverie for torture. We also meet Mara's former fiance, a psychiatrist named Dr. Chris Condera (Sam Jaeger, whom I know from Parenthood). Mara had broken up with him after her sister and niece's murder, but she may restart a relationship with him, now that she's in a better emotional place. And in the season finale, various plot threads are tied up. Alexis visits her parents and finally deals with the guilt she feels over her part in her brother's death, which ultimately leads her to give her A.I. a new, adult voice. (It's unclear how much else will change about the artificial Dylan.) Mara enters Ray's mind via Reverie to get closure regarding what he did to his wife and daughter, and hopefully put a stop to her derealizations. And Oliver carries out his plot to destroy Onira-Tech, believing that the Reverie program is endangering the lives of everyone who uses it. (Whether his plot is successful, I don't want to reveal.)

Anyway, it's nice to have a lot of things tied up by the end of the season. But at the very end, a new mystery is introduced, the nature of which I won't spoil. I'll just say that I think it'll be a shame if the show doesn't get a second season. (I'll let you know when I find out whether it will or not.)

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