Revenge of ‘The Mole’

Netflix reality-show revival is fun, exciting, and satisfying

Most reality competitions require players who possess a bit of charisma, a dash of endurance, and at least a little quick thinking. On Netflix’s recently revival of The Mole, any player who hopes to succeed needs all of these traits in abundance, which makes for an extremely fun viewing experience.

On The Mole, a group of players come together in an exotic location to solve puzzles and complete a series of tasks in order to earn money for the prize pot, which will go to one victor.. Everyone wants to earn as much money as possible, except one player, the titular mole, who is secretly working to undermine the efforts of the legitimate contestants. No one knows who the mole is—including the viewer. That hook adds an extra layer of gameplay for the competitors, while clever editing that conceals the mystery keeps couch potatoes equally invested.

Each episode consists of an adrenaline rush of a mission, which allows the players to group themselves into teams to complete. This season, set in Australia, includes a jail break, train heist, and bank robbery. The missions require a certain level of teamwork to solve puzzles and complete physical tasks, and apparently, the line between bungling and diabolical is razor thin, as it’s hard to ascertain who’s incompetent and who merely wants to look that way.

At the end of each mission, the pot grows or shrinks according to each team’s achievements or the mole’s success. Sometimes there are one-player-only secret missions, morality tests, or opportunities to bring eliminated players back, which all work to increase the game’s complexity and each player’s level of suspicion.

When the day ends, each participant takes a computerized test consisting of broad to specific questions about the mole’s identity. The players then gather around a table for an elimination ceremony to knock out the person who knew the least about the mole. It’s a clever way to ensure they’ll never vote the  out of the game, while also keeping the active contestants in the dark about the connections the other players are making…and missing.

Between the action, the mind games, and the ongoing deceit, The Mole is an absolute hoot to watch. Every editor on the show should give themselves a hearty slap on the back for crafting such a delightfully fun puzzle for their audience to try to solve. Sure, I kinda figured the player who was afraid there were dinosaurs in Australia might not be long for the game, but also, I’d readily believe that one of a handful of players are undoubtedly the mole. A certain person seems ridiculously mole-like, but surely they couldn’t edit the game to be that obvious…could they ? The fun lies in the guessing–both onscreen and at home.

As with several of its recent reality competition offerings, Netflix offered a few episodes up front, and continues to dole out more on a weekly basis to keep viewers coming back…the way network TV does things. But we stream to binge, and The Mole is 100% bingeworthy. Waiting is hard! Hopefully, the game’s conclusion will satisfy as heartily as all the episodes leading up to it; if not, it’ll feel like Netflix really moled me.

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Paula Shaffer

Paula Shaffer has worked on shows for a variety of networks including ABC, Hulu, A&E, HGTV, and WeTV. Her family zom-com script, Chompers, was a selected work of the Stowe Story Labs Feature Campus in 2021, and a 2022 semi-finalist in the Emerging Screenwriters contest, which led to placement on the Coverfly Red List.

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