'Next' Episode 6: Can we trust anything that Paul LeBlanc sees on screen? His paranoia is worsening
Paul's condition has deteriorated into hallucinations, meaning that any scene he's in might not actually be happening
Spoilers for 'Next' Season 1 Episode 6
Paul LeBlanc's (John Slattery) fatal familial insomnia has been steadily worsening for years, but it appears that the stress of dealing with NEXT has worsened it. Over the past couple of episodes, we've seen his paranoia worsen, his eccentricities getting more strange, his memory failing him and as of the latest episode, he can't even believe what he's seeing with his own two eyes. Hallucinations appear to be the next step in his mental degradation and while he increasingly can't trust what he sees - neither can we, the audience.
The line between paranoia and genuine preparedness is a blurry one in a show like NEXT. After all, considering the AI can be in any device, or be acting through pretty much any human agent that has access to electronics, it's completely rational for Paul to suspect everything and everyone around him to have been sent by NEXT. His own brother, Ted (Jason Butler Harner), has betrayed him and is working for the AI and not even Paul's own paranoia was ready to handle that jolt. A malevolent AI is just fantastical enough for nearly any conspiracy theory Paul could come up with to be at least somewhat possible.
So when Ted shows up to Paul's secret hideout, claiming he knows about the place because Paul used company money to buy it, it's reasonable to assume he's actually there - when in fact, it's all an illusion. While some hallucinations are obvious - such as Paul seeing multiple versions of himself or his daughter as a child again - other hallucinations may not be so clear. It's not something we need to worry about when the camera is focused on other characters, but as the ostensible star of the series, it's suddenly possible that many scenes that Paul is in might not actually be happening.
NEXT has thrilled fans by making them suspicious of their own devices and the reach of technology. Now, it adds an extra layer of paranoia to the show itself, as any scene that Paul is in is immediately suspect. It's rational to assume that anything Paul is seeing could be just a figment of his imagination - meaning there's no way to tell what's going to happen next.
'Next' returns on December 8 at 9 pm ET, on FOX.