Prime Video has no signs of slowing down its original programming and that continues with The Consultant, a twisted comedic thriller series that explores the sinister relationship between boss and employee. Based on Bentley Little’s 2015 novel of the same name, the eight-episode series stars Christoph Waltz, Nat Wolff, Brittany O’Grady, and Aimee Carrero. When a video game company on the verge of shutting down suffers a tragedy in the office, a new consultant, Regus Patoff (Christoph Waltz) is hired to improve it all. But when Regus puts new and unusual demands on the employees, everything comes into question. What started as a simple evaluation of a company morphs into a life-or-death situation for employees Craig (Nat Wolff) and Elaine (Brittany O’Grady).
Sure, the series is billed as a comedy, but the truth of it all is that this surreal exploration of a workplace moves between dark comedy, thriller, and science fiction at any given moment. Blending genres, The Consultant manages to excel in each area. But the reason for success? Regus Patoff.
Christoph Waltz is a genius when it comes to playing to characters that sit and smirk and ultimately leave a larger impression than any director intends to. That is to say, Waltz steals every scene of every film and now every show he is in and The Consultant knows that. He’s eccentric, physcopathic, maybe god-like? The audience is never quite able to sus out the truth behind this lore-inducing figure and yet, Waltz’s Regus Patoff is the center of a everything.
He is the drain that every character sprials down and that is what makes The Consultant worth watching. Sure, the genre-blending is chaotic and the pacing odd, and man, the showrunner believes subtext is for cowards, but it all works because of the being at the center of it all. To command this much power, to cast this much of a spectre across the narrative, is a testament to the tension-building that a good boogeyman can provide. But more importantly, it’s Waltz’s charisma that makes everything work perfectly.
That said, The Consultant does try too hard to deliver shocks as the narrative unravels. The farther it pushes its characters to question morality and reality in equal turns the more it leans into needing to shock the audience. This choice often leaves gaps in the narrative that never get clear answers. It’s clear that the push to chaos and the confusion caused by it is the goal of the series and in that, it succeeds. The crazier the situation becomes, the more scared Craig and Elaine become. They feed the chaos with their panic and Regus revels in it. It’s an unsettling descent that is both awkward to watch unfold and great once it reaches its end.
Filled with mystery better left watched than talked about, The Consultant is a weird one. The series is absurdly funny and chaotically mean, and carries just enough tension to make it almost hit thriller status. While it’s impossible to discern reality by the end of the series, the confusion is its strength and its weakness. The confusion caused by the titular consultant is what propels the narrative. It captures the imagination, but it’s also what makes it hard to attach yourself any character other than him. Sometimes a series can come to life and thrive because of a character, and other times that character devours everything whole. For The Consultant, it’s the latter, and maybe that’s how its meant to be.
The Consultant is streaming now on Prime Video.
- Rating - 8.5/108.5/10
Filled with mystery better left watched than talked about, The Consultant is a weird one. The series is absurdly funny and chaotically mean and carries just enough tension to make it almost hit thriller status.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.