State of the Union Episode 1 recap: Marathon

Chris O’Dowd as Tom, Rosamund Pike as Louise - State of the Union _ Season 1, Gallery - Photo Credit: Marc Hom/SundanceTV
Chris O’Dowd as Tom, Rosamund Pike as Louise - State of the Union _ Season 1, Gallery - Photo Credit: Marc Hom/SundanceTV /

State of the Union, SundanceTV’s unique new series, kicks off with Marathon, where a conversation about Tom and Louise’s issues becomes in itself their own metaphorical marathon.

State of the Union finds Tom (Chris O’Dowd) and Louse (Rosamund Pike) coming to the conversation with their own baggage, even if they are on the same page. The state of their own union comes with drinks and honesty, and it’s the start of something special.

Both argue in good faith, wanting to get to the bottom of the rift, even if the issues are wide-ranging. It’s largely an acting and writing show, built entirely on Nick Hornsby’s writing and Rosamund Pike and Chris O’Dowd in the leads.

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Both leads share a magnetic charm in their performances, making the arguments and disagreements, along with the jokey banter, so much fun to watch. The dialogue during the first episode is fascinating and all-encompassing. It’s the sort of back-and-forth which leaves you seeing so much of who these characters are by how they react during their arguing.

Tom’s left wanting reassurances that have more about ego and masculinity, while Louise wants to resolve the core issue, far deeper than infidelity. The semantics on display while dancing around the main topic could easily turn toward annoyance, but here it is so much enthusiasm in how the episode unfolds, watching these two great actors try and suss each other’s meaning out.

That this all takes place before counseling is also a fun reveal. There’s progress in this conversation, saying what needs to be said, but the fact that Tom is the instigator of going to counseling, but then runs when finally at the door, shows his character as someone worried how he’ll be received as more and more of information is given to us.

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The affair and his concerns of being treated as the root cause of the marriage instability, is a really interesting perspective, especially with how dismissive Louise is of that idea. She, in turn, becomes his cheerleader of sorts and makes her comment about wanting to save the marriage even more significant.

“Marathon” shows that despite their deep problems, there’s still something very much there. Another fun moment comes in watching the couple before their session leave, which I hope becomes a common thing, checking in with them while trying to fix their own, for comparison and more comedy.

State of the Union does well with its bite-sized portion, where the conversation flies by and starts off Tom and Louise’s own marathon. If the other episodes are this flighty and exciting, this show will be such a nice breath of fresh air.

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State of Union airs on SundanceTV nightly on weekdays over its 10 episodes starting Monday, May 6tat 10 p.m. ET.