When HBO released the trailer for the six-part docuseries, premiering Sunday from director Cullen Hoback, there were concerns that it might glamorize QAnon. "After watching the six-part series, this fear seems overblown," says Stephen Robinson. "Q: Into The Storm doesn’t overly sympathize with Q supporters nor does it simply sneer at the gullible. It’s a delicate balance that Hoback successfully maintains throughout the documentary. There’s never a single moment when viewers might consider this motley crew of conspiracy theorists 'cool.' This isn’t Goodfellas. QAnoners consistently come across as pathetic, lost individuals so desperate for meaning in their lives they obsessively follow a random trail of stale breadcrumbs. They want to believe they’re part of something greater than themselves and that they possess an insight the majority of the world lacks. They’ve cast themselves as the heroes from The Matrix, who’ve been 'red pilled' and freed from a false reality. But QAnon is more a scam than a cult, and Hoback seeks to demystify the movement."
To reduce Hoback's documentary to simply a whodunit investigation of QAnon would be to ignore the dizzying number of things Into the Storm is attempting: "Yes, it's a basic primer on the unsupportable nuttiness that helped power Donald Trump, launched thousands of amateur sleuthing YouTube channels, spawned the ugliest insurrection in recent American history and left countless families estranged," says Daniel Fienberg. "At the same time, it's a complicated, globe-trotting thriller about the increasing hostility among three very odd men; an origin story for fledgling political voices like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert; and occasionally even a thoughtful treatise on absolute free speech and its discontents. It's a piece of absurdist prankster journalism and a detour into speculative reality so silly it's almost like '50s sci-fi. Does it all work? Heck no. (director Cullen) Hoback's biggest misses are often when he tries to be the most ambitious. But there's so much going on that it's easy to admire the director-cinematographer-star's audacity, and to accept that a cleaner version of this story wouldn't have been as apt, or as interesting."
What Q: Into the Storm is trying to say is perpetually unclear: "Perhaps predictably, given the tendency of conspiracy thinking to reproduce itself, Hoback seems to have lost a sense of proportion and of relative interest in his time in the rabbit hole. The overlong series he now releases nods at the cost the reproducibility of falsehoods online will force us all to bear. But it is most successful in its early going at thoughtlessly disseminating the Q message, and by its end has become a muddle with genuine bits of intriguing reporting studded amid so much dross. A lot of what Into the Storm does poorly raises certain existential questions about how, and perhaps whether, to cover misinformation campaigns."