Review: 'Q: Into the Storm' gets lost in details, misses big picture

HBO documentary focuses on QAnon but fails to ask (or answer) the most important questions surrounding the conspiracy

Tom Long
Special to The Detroit News

QAnon is a conspiracy theory that has big establishment types from Hillary Clinton to Tom Hanks running pedophile rings and drinking the blood of babies. The one man who can destroy this coven of baby blood drinkers is Donald J. Trump.

So, yeah, that’s nuts.

Jim Watkins and Ron Watkins in "Q: Into the Storm."

But what’s really nuts is that hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of Americans believe in the bonkers internet messages of Q, whoever/whatever that is. This is ripe material for investigation.

Why are so many Americans open to believing such obvious silliness? What effect do such conspiracy theories have on the social fabric, on families and friendships? Has the speed and viciousness of the internet destroyed the very idea of factual information and what can be done about it?

None of these questions and many others are given much time in the six-part HBO documentary series “Q: Into the Storm.” Instead writer-producer Cullen Hoback travels the world trying to figure who Q is. And pretty quickly he elicits the reaction: Who cares?

Hoback focuses on three, er, eccentric people. Fred Brennan is the wheelchair-using inventor of 8chan, the internet space where Q first posted his mysterious messages. Fred worked for Jim Watkins, an oddball American schemer living in the Philippines, and with Jim’s son, Ron, better known as Codemonkey. Any one of them might be Q. Or it could be Steve Bannon. Or it could be General Flynn. Or it could be you.

Hoback briefly establishes what Q is and offers some history of internet conspiracies — Anonymous to Gamergate to Pizzagate then Q. But what he spends way too much time studying is the bickering disintegration of the relationship between Brennan and the Watkins. Again, who cares?

All of this culminates in the attack on the Capitol, and then Hoback reveals who he thinks Q is, which leads to… nothing. The real question is what have we become when so many embrace such paranoid delusions?  

Tom Long is a longtime contributor to The Detroit News. 

'Q: Into the Storm'

GRADE: C-

9 p.m. Sunday

HBOMAX