Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, which first aired on BBC America, recently arrived on #Netflix internationally — and I'm so glad it did. As a fan of Douglas Adams' books, it's always interesting to see how others adapt his strange, humorously nihilistic ideas. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency might not stick to the original plot — in fact, it's a total reinvention — but the show succeeds in conveying the ultimate point of Adams' work while mirroring key aspects from the books. Plus, it's a fun inversion of classic mystery/conspiracy genre norms, all packaged up in an exciting story. You should watch it, if you haven't already.
There were so many things I loved about #DirkGently, from the chaotic narrative to the bizarre use of household pets. But one character really stood out to me as something totally original and very much needed. That character is Amanda, sister to Elijah Wood's hapless Todd, and although she didn't play a huge role in the story her journey from housebound shutaway to punk maniac was probably the best representation of chronic illness I've ever seen.
Oh, and she's totally a psychic.
A Very Sick Punk
Pararibulitis might be fake, but its effects on Amanda's life are chillingly realistic. As someone who suffers from several chronic and invisible illnesses, I immediately recognized Amanda's struggle — she's hidden away from the world, terrified of venturing out in case of an attack, desperately lonely and clinging to the only (tragically vain) hope she has of a cure.
This is a story we very rarely see on TV. Sure, illnesses are represented, but not chronic ones — usually TV shows focus on treatments, on cancers, on diseases that have a clear path towards recovery or death. But Amanda's condition, like many real ones that people are afflicted with, is horribly, mind-numbingly dull. It just goes on. And on. And on. Eating away at her quietly until she's totally isolated, destroying her ability to hold down a job or a social life.
Simply put, Amanda's life sucks. But it doesn't stay that way. Thanks to her new friends the Rowdy 3, Amanda finds the confidence to journey all the way to the local supermarket. Just knowing they're there, in case anything happens, gives her the push she needs to get out. And when everything does go horribly wrong, Amanda doesn't just discover her own personal maniac medication, she discovers a side of herself she never knew existed.
Amanda's vision leads her back to Dirk and Todd and it's a good thing too, because she's the only one who remembers what Zachariah Webb/Patrick Spring's map looks like. Telling Dirk she just has a "hunch" about it, Amanda's role in solving the mystery may be small, but without her they never would have found the machine. Which makes sense, as she's almost definitely the same kind of not-psychic-but-holistic person as the Blackwing subjects.
Psychic "Hunches", Prophetic Visions
In Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, if anyone ever says they have a hunch about something, they're probably psychic. Both Dirk and Bart are driven by their "hunches" — the episode "Rogue Wall Enthusiasts" reveals that they are both agents-of-the-universe, by paralleling dialogue between Dirk and Todd, and Bart and Ken.
Interestingly, this is also the episode in which Amanda has her vision, which turns out to be very prophetic. In her vision, Amanda sees Bart (whom she's never met), a clock going backwards (time travel!), Spring's map, the bodyswappers, and Todd in a mask (foreshadowing his deception). The vision ends with Friedkin, blood covering his hands, claiming he was just doing his job — and if that's not a clue about how Season 1 ended, I don't know what is.
But the vision isn't the only proof we have that Amanda is psychic/holistic, and we probably should have seen this coming, thanks to the Rowdy 3. After they destroy Todd's flat and feed off Dirk's energy, Martin grabs a photo of Amanda and is later shown staring intently at it. The Rowdy 3 proceed to follow Amanda around, and later induct her into their little gang.
If you need more proof, it's worth noting that the Rowdy 3 only ever seem to feed off other subjects of Project Blackwing — after they break Todd and Dirk out of Spring's underground lab, the Rowdy 3 ignore the clearly stressed Todd to feed off Dirk's energy instead. It seems likely that the gang can sense others like them, in much the same way that Dirk and Bart could tell that they were both the same, but different.
So, Amanda is some kind of holistic... oracle? Her powers definitely seem tied to predicting the future through visions. The question remains: Is she a runaway from Blackwing, or someone who slipped through the CIA's net? The former seems most likely, as during Amanda's vision a symbol flashed up on the screen that is reminiscent of those from Blackwing.
Thanks to this graph of the Blackwing subjects (courtesy of mysticorset on Tumblr), it seems that the symbol is a flipped version of either Succubus or Vesta. Vesta would make sense — the Roman goddess of home and hearth suits Amanda — but Succubus would fit with Amanda's relationship with the Rowdy 3 a.k.a. Project Incubus. In any case, this is certain to form a large portion of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency Season 2, as we delve more into the terrifying world of Project Blackwing.
So far, Amanda's story has been one of the best parts of Dirk Gently. The fact that such an ill girl could overcome her condition, get out of the house and be a stone-cold badass — without a cure — is a source of inspiration to me and many other viewers who have chronic conditions. And if she ends being a holistic hero like Dirk, then that's just the kind of wish-fulfillment story for ill people that I've been waiting for. Roll on Season 2!
Tell us in the comments: Do you think Amanda is psychic?