Arts & Entertainment, Film and TV

Look out for ‘The Mole’: Among Us, but in real life

Netflix’s newest reality show The Mole refreshingly reinvents the group-challenge show that The Amazing Race or Big Brother brought into the limelight. This series is a reboot of the 2001 show of the same name, which was cancelled after five seasons. Luckily for audiences, Netflix seized the opportunity to bring it back for another generation to enjoy. 

The Mole follows 12 contestants as they complete multiple challenges—challenges that include a prison break, a bank robbery, and a treasure hunt—across Australia, guided by their host, Alex Wagner. But there is a catch: One of the contestants, the eponymous mole, is actively working against the group to sabotage the missions. No one in the group can fully trust anyone else, and yet, the contestants have to work together to successfully complete the challenges and bring in money for a prize pot that only one of them will take home. This dynamic of needing each other without being able to trust each other only heightens the show’s tension and entertainment value. Each of the exciting challenges raises new suspicions about the identity of the mole, creating drama because certain players are purposely causing more chaos and confusion than others.

Winning challenges is important, but unmasking the mole is the true goal. In addition to the day’s challenges, each episode features an elimination round where one player is sent home. The process of elimination consists of a quiz that every player takes individually after a group dinner and a debrief of the most recent challenges. Wagner, the host, then releases the players to take the quiz and answer questions about who they think the mole is. But the quiz itself underwhelms viewers, especially since the show hides the majority of questions and the answers to specific questions are divulged off-camera. The person with the most wrong answers is eliminated, and naturally, the mole remains because they already know all of the answers. 

It’s the elimination factor that makes this show so unique and engaging. The elimination reveal creates an intense atmosphere because nobody knows who’s at risk until their name is called. Unlike vote-oriented competitions like Big Brother, winning is not dependent on player or audience votes, so there is not as much pressure to be likable or popular. In fact, some of the players quickly realize that impersonating the mole and purposefully sabotaging the challenges gives them an advantage. Players who use that strategy become suspicious to others, causing their opponents to answer incorrectly in the quizzes. This element distinguishes The Mole from other competition shows because there is no real disadvantage to messing up or costing the group money. When a mission goes wrong, neither the viewers nor the other players can tell for sure if the person responsible is the mole, is impersonating the mole, or is simply incompetent. As a result, certain contestants are eliminated just because the impersonators got to their heads. The players who are most successful in the quizzes spread their answers out to implicate a few people rather than targeting one person and risking getting it wrong.

In future seasons, it will be interesting to witness what strategies the mole uses to stay hidden and if the other contestants decide to purposely sabotage the missions. Additionally, the shroud of mystery around the quiz, the only elimination factor, could be cleared to prevent viewers from being kept in the dark. .  Each episode introduces new potential suspects until they are narrowed down to the final two: The real culprit, as well as the winner of the prize pot of over $100,000. Ultimately, The Mole provides a great challenge for its contestants and viewers alike in the search for the real saboteur.

The Mole is currently streaming on Netflix.

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