Tony Gasballop, creator of Apple TV’s sadistic Servant, prepares a fresh, disturbing course of suspense and dark comedy in Amazon Prime’s new series, The Consultant. An ensemble cast anchored by Academy Award-winning Austrian-German actor Christoph Waltz combine to make this a “workplace comedy” unlike any other. Similar to Servant, whatever direction one imagines The Consultant will take them, prepare for the script to pivot wildly from their expectations. I was completely hooked on binge-watching after just the first five minutes, before the eerie, bug-riddled opening title sequence and music invades. The series presents a constant sense of unease, the paranoia tightening its grip through eight briskly-paced half-hour episodes.
At just thirteen years old, visionary Sang Soo (newcomer Brian Yoon) published his very first game. Now, Sang is the CEO and “creator in the sky” behind app-based gaming company CompWare. As The Consultant begins, self-proclaimed “creative liaison” Elaine (Brittany O’Grady, Black Christmas 2019, Sometimes I Think About Dying) is taking a group of schoolchildren on a thrilling tour through the facilities. She leaves them for a brief meeting with Sang—seconds later, a gunshot breaks out. Elaine and game designer Craig (Nat Wolff, Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars) enter Sang’s office to discover that one of the kids has shockingly slain Sang! Thus, in our cold open introduction alone, the head of CompWare has already been dispatched in an eye-opening manner. The rest of The Consultant is brimming with innumerable gasp-worthy moments like this one. If none are able to top this stellar opener, it certainly is not for lack of trying…
Enter: Regus Patoff (Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained), The Consultant himself. The mysterious man shows up at CompWare almost immediately after Sang’s untimely death. As the media spins stories about if “the devil made him do it” and wildly speculate on the senseless tragedy, Patoff swoops in to save the company off the back of a deal he claims was signed between himself and the late Sang. Patoff calmly strolls into the building, going straight into the crime scene, and makes himself comfortable at Sang’s desk. Blood-stained glass behind him, Patoff sits and demands that Elaine schedule a full staff meeting for the next morning. Major changes are afoot for CompWare, and not everyone is going to respect the new management…
Despite claiming to simply be a consultant on “all matters of business,” there is clearly something off about Patoff from the second he arrives. Craig can smell the strangeness from a mile away. Elaine, somewhat suspicious, nevertheless comes to Patoff’s every beck and call. Even Craig begins to be won over when he suggests an app idea that Patoff takes interest in. Sang rarely showed him the time of day, so Craig is anxious to impress the new man in charge. Less fond of Patoff’s methods are the remote workers—instantly let go if they cannot show up to work within the hour to fold into a normal work day—or the ones Patoff sniffs out and demeans. He claims to be here for the betterment of the company, to maximize the profits of CompWare, but might Patoff possess a more sinister agenda?
Knowing the creatives behind The Consultant, how can one possibly temper their excitement? As Craig and Elaine tirelessly work to uncover Patoff’s true agenda and the truth behind his contract with Sang while satisfying Patoff’s every whim, Craig’s fiancé Patti (Aimee Carrero) also becomes embroiled in the story. At a certain point, all are asked to face uncomfortable truths. Nightmarish imagery pairs well with questions of morality and social climbing—how far are they each willing to go in order to please Patoff, and become their truest selves? There are no easy answers here in the world of The Consultant.
While I am not entirely sure that The Consultant sticks the landing enough to match its lofty ambitions, this is still a slick, fantastically-realized show that utilizes Waltz (also an executive producer) to great effect. Patoff totally steals the show, dominating his manner over others. In the same breath, his moments of vulnerability and giggly schoolgirl personality tics help to flesh out the character into a fully-formed being. The other employees at CompWare never feel as captivating to watch as Patoff—that is perfectly okay, because it only serves to emphasize each and every one of his appearances. Be sure not to miss The Consultant, complete with an ending that leaves a veritable boatload of unanswered questions. Someone send Patoff to the season two writer’s room, as soon as possible!
Book your meeting with The Consultant when the series debuts exclusively to Prime Video on Friday, February 24th.