This article contains spoilers through all six episodes of Mosaic.
A promotional poster for Mosaic, the six-part HBO miniseries/interactive app created by Steven Soderbergh, depicts the face of its star, Sharon Stone, like a painting in chiaroscuro. Stone’s features are shaded in tones of green and red, half in light, half in dark. The tagline for the image: “Look again.”
The poster offers clues as to the intentions for Mosaic, whose final two episodes aired on Friday night. A longer version of the project, though, had been released late in 2017 as an app, designed for users to orient their own way through the narrative and experience it through the perspectives of different characters. This two-pronged approach seems to define Mosaic, which constantly plays with form and duality. At any given time, it’s both a dazzlingly experimental work and a totally conventional murder mystery. It’s frank and secretive, flooding viewers with information without giving them the tools to make sense of it. The story has multiple different paths to follow, but they all end up in the same place. Less a show than a television experience, it’s brilliant and exasperating.
Both the series and the app present themselves as puzzles to be solved, but following the tracks throughout the six distinct episodes is more challenging, since clues and allusions dropped in the first few installments only really make sense when you’ve seen all six. Mosaic begins in medias res, with the only information being that the scene is happening in Summit, Utah, “right now.” In a nondescript hallway, Joel (Garrett Hedlund) is being informed by Police Detective Nate Henry (Devin Ratray) that there’s a damning amount of evidence implicating him in a crime. Then the action rewinds to four years ago, as the children’s-book author Olivia Lake (Sharon Stone) has a fundraiser for her art foundation, Mosaic. She spots Joel, a graphic artist who’s bartending at the event, from across the room, and swiftly makes his acquaintance.