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

Amidst its many, many plot twists is one of the biggest surprises of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is that the film tackles COVID-19.

In the very first scene of the film, a delivery man brings a box to the home of politician Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn). Seeing that they are masked, Claire haphazardly covers her own mouth before bringing the box inside. A helpful title card informs us that the film is set in May 2020, a particularly stressful time during the global COVID pandemic.

At first glance, putting a fun crime thriller in the middle of a global health crisis seems like a strange decision. However, director Rian Johnson is using his characters’ reactions to the pandemic to flesh them out and provide social commentary on how the ultra-rich have weathered the pandemic. From face masks to ill-advised parties, here are all the options glass onion deals with COVID-19.


‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ spoiler-free review: Rian Johnson delivers a great crime thriller

Look out for the face masks everyone is wearing.

Benoit Blanc clutches his favorite mask.
Credit: John Wilson/Netflix

Costuming is an important way to learn more about a character, and glass onionThe pandemic setting of gives us another costume element to look out for: face masks.

The types of masks glass onion‘s characters wear – or if they wear any at all – are the perfect way to learn more about who they are. Benoit Blanc’s (Daniel Craig) stylish silk mask scores well on both fashion and function, underscoring his wise desire to follow COVID safety protocols. Contrast that with far-right wildcard streamer Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) and his girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline) going completely mask-free.

But the award for the wildest mask – if we can even call it that – goes to the glamorous and gonzo Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), who skips to Greece wearing a glitzy net mask that’s sure to protect anyone from the spread of one through the air transmitted virus. It looks fabulous but is utterly useless: proof that Birdie is more interested in her image than doing the bare minimum.

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

A man and woman on a motorcycle ride up a dock.  The man is holding a pistol.

Time for an island vacation.
Photo credit: Netflix

Remember when Kim Kardashian flaunted her birthday party on a private island in mid-COVID and immediately became a meme? That is essentially the plot of glass onion: Rich people partying on a private island in the midst of a global health crisis.

The host of the mystery party, Miles Bron (Edward Norton), even calls his guests his “closest inner circle” in their invitations, a phrase that can only be a direct allusion to it Kardashian’s infamous tweet.

The parallels are too fitting to be a coincidence, but more importantly, they contribute glass onion‘s comment on how some of the absurdly wealthy view the pandemic as an inconvenience rather than a serious health concern.

As characters like tech billionaire Miles and model Birdie lament that they can’t party and gather like they used to, hundreds of thousands of people are dying and the rest of the world is struggling to stay together. Nowhere is this clearer than with schoolteacher Helen (Janelle Monáe), who tells Benoit about the difficulties of teaching her young students in virtual classrooms.


How to watch Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

How does glass onionare the characters coping with pandemic isolation?

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

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

Before our group of would-be criminals travel to Greece for Miles’ crime party, we get a glimpse into their life at home and how they have been affected by COVID.

Claire runs a work-from-home style campaign that leads to Zoom interviews at her home office, where she cracks rehearsed jokes amidst the family chaos. Scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.) conducts virtual conference calls in a huge but completely empty office. And then there’s Birdie, who throws a lavish party full of people she claims are in her pod – including famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma!

At least she’s playing a press conference with Dr. Anthony Fauci in the background. That has to count for something, doesn’t it? Uh, probably not.

glass onion makes 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.
Photo credit: Netflix

When we first see Benoit Blanc glass onionhe doesn’t solve an incredible case, but lies in his bathtub and absolutely fails at the popular game of betrayal Between us. Starring alongside a star-studded crew of legends including Stephen Sondheim and Natasha Lyonne, none of whom can believe a world-class detective can be so bad in a game where you solve mysterious murder cases.

In a movie about over-wealthy people happily congregating on a private island, this reference to pandemic games is an incredibly relatable moment. I’ve certainly used games like Between us and Quiplash to connect with friends from far away. Brilliant detectives, they’re just like us!

Later in the film, we get another subtle hint at a hobby many took up in the early months of the COVID pandemic: baking. When Benoit’s partner Philip (Hugh Grant) opens the door to their apartment, he’s wearing an apron and covered in flour. Sure, Philip could have loved baking, but He may have picked up a sourdough habit while isolating with newbie gamer Benoit. Given the film’s intentional references to COVID, I’m tempted to choose the latter.


Coronavirus cooking is like a messed-up version of ‘Chopped’

The pandemic boosted Birdie Jay’s image.

Two women and a man are standing on a beach.

The best vacation sweatpants money can buy.
Credit: John Wilson/Netflix

When she’s not wearing net masks or throwing mega spreader parties, Birdie is a fashion entrepreneur. The former model launched her own line of jogging pants, which quickly gained popularity as droves of people started working from home. Business at the top, Birdies sweatpants at the bottom. Even Benoit admits he practically lives in his couple!

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

So did Miles have a COVID cure the whole time?

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

Only the worst.
Photo credit: Netflix

What health precautions do Miles’ guests need to take before arriving on his island? Do they need to quarantine and get tested? No! All they have to do is get their mouths filled with a mysterious liquid, courtesy of Ethan Hawke (one of glass onion‘s many cameos) telling them they all took care of COVID afterwards.

Now wait here a minute – is this spray some kind of magical cure for COVID?

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

knife out now streaming on Netflix.

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