How is ‘Glass Onion’ dealing with the covid-19 pandemic?

Amid its many, many twists and turns, one of the biggest surprises Ice Cream Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is that the film deals with COVID-19.

In the very first scene of the film, a delivery person takes a box to the house of politician Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn). Seeing that they are masked, Claire casually covers her own mouth before taking the box. A helpful title card informs us that the film is set in May 2020, a particularly stressful time during the worldwide covid pandemic.

At first, it seems like an odd choice to set a fun whodunnit in the middle of a global health crisis. However, director Rian Johnson uses his characters’ reactions to the pandemic as a way to flesh them out, as well as provide social commentary on how the ultra-rich have weathered the pandemic. From face masks to ghoulish parties, here are all the ways Glass onion treating covid-19.

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Pay attention to the face masks everyone wears.

A man in a pink shirt stands on a pier overlooking the sea.

Benoit Blanc holds his mask.
Credit: John Wilson/Netflix

Costume is an important way to learn more about a character, and Glass onions pandemic setting gives us another costume element to look out for: face masks.

The types of masks Glass onions characters wear – or if they even wear any in the first place – is the perfect way to learn more about who they are. Benoit Blanc’s (Daniel Craig) stylish silk mask delivers on both fashion and function, underscoring his smart desire to follow covid safety protocols. Contrast this with wild card right-streamer Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) and his girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), who eschew masks altogether.

But the prize for wildest mask—if we can even call it that—goes to the glamorous and gonzon Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), who swans into Greece wearing a bedazzled mesh mask that really doesn’t protect anyone from the spread of an airborne virus. It looks amazing but is completely useless: proof that Birdie is more interested in her image than she is in doing the bare minimum.

“I surprised my inner circle with a trip to a private island.”

A man and a woman on a motorcycle ride up a bridge.  The man is holding a gun.

Time for an island vacation.
Credit: Netflix

Remember when Kim Kardashian flaunted her private birthday celebration in the middle of COVID-19 and instantly became a meme? That’s essentially the plot Green onions: rich people partying on a private island in the middle of a global health crisis.

Murder Mystery Party host Miles Bron (Edward Norton) even calls his guests his “closest inner circle” in his invitations, wording that can only be a direct nod to Kardashian’s infamous tweet.

The parallels are too clear to be coincidental, but more importantly, they contribute Glass onions comment about how some of the absurdly wealthy see the pandemic as more of an inconvenience than a serious health problem.

While characters like tech billionaire Miles and fashion model Birdie lament that they can’t party and get together like they used to, hundreds of thousands of people die, and the rest of the world struggles to keep it together. Nowhere is this more evident than with teacher Helen (Janelle Monáe), who tells Benoit about the difficulties of educating her young students in virtual classrooms.

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How do Glass onionare the characters dealing with pandemic isolation?

Two women work on a puzzle in a lavishly decorated living room.

Time for some pandemic puzzlement.
Credit: John Wilson/Netflix

Before our group of would-be criminals head to Greece for Miles’ murder mystery party, we get an insight into their home lives and how they’ve been affected by covid.

Claire runs a campaign working from home, resulting in Zoom interviews in her home office where she rattles off clearly well-rehearsed jokes amid family chaos. Scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.) takes virtual conference calls in a huge yet completely empty office. And then there’s Birdie, who hosts a lavish party full of people she claims are in her pod – including famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma!

At least she plays a press conference with Dr. Anthony Fauci in the background. That must count for something, right? Er, probably not.

Glass onion making fun of pandemic hobbies.

A man in a suit walks through a gallery of glass sculptures on pedestals.

Wow, “Glass Onion” is just like “Among Us” in real life.
Credit: Netflix

When we first see Benoit Blanc enter Glass onionhe doesn’t solve some incredible case but rather lies in his bathtub and absolutely fails at the popular betrayal game Among us. He stars with a star-studded cast of legends, including Stephen Sondheim and Natasha Lyonne, none of whom would believe a world-class detective could be so bad at a murder-mystery game.

In a movie about uber-rich people happily congregating on a private island, this nod to pandemic gaming is an incredibly relatable moment. I used sure games like Among us and Quiplash to connect with friends from a distance. Genius detectives, they’re just like us!

Later in the film, we get another subtle shout-out to a hobby many took up during the first months of the covid pandemic: baking. When Benoit’s partner Philip (Hugh Grant) opens the door to their apartment, he is wearing an apron and covered in flour. Sure, Philip could have already loved baking, but maybe he got a sourdough habit while isolated with newbie gamer Benoit. Given the film’s deliberate references to COVID throughout, I’m tempted to choose the latter.

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The pandemic boosted Birdie Jay’s image.

Two women and a man stand on a beach.

The finest holiday clothes sweatpants money can buy.
Credit: John Wilson/Netflix

When she’s not wearing net masks or throwing mega-spread parties, Birdie is a fashion entrepreneur. The former model started her own line of sweatpants, and it quickly became popular as more and more people started working from home. Business on top, Birdie’s sweatpants on the bottom. Even Benoit admits that he practically lives in his pair!

Just don’t ask how they’re made – the human rights abuses are off the charts.

So did Miles have a cure for covid all along?

A man in a gray t-shirt in a glass dome.

Just the worst.
Credit: Netflix

What types of health precautions must Miles’ guests take before arriving on his island? Do they have to be quarantined and tested? No! They just have to get mysterious liquid sprayed in their mouths courtesy of Ethan Hawke (one of the Glass onions many cameos), telling them that after that they’re all taken care of, covid-wise.

Now wait just a minute here — is this spray some kind of magic cure for COVID?

And if so, why is Miles hoarding it? Miles says he wants to make the world a better place. That seems to be why he’s pushing for the release of Klear, his form of clean energy that also happens to be incredibly volatile. But in practice, Miles is a self-obsessed idiot, who just wants to “break the system” to be remembered forever. Still, one would think that would be achieved with a miracle cure for COVID. But obviously a murder mystery party takes precedence over all.

Knives Out now streaming on Netflix.

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