[All images courtesy Allen Fraser/Syfy]
Season One, Episode Two: “I’ll Hold Your Hand”
Written by Don Mancini & Nick Antosca
Directed by Craig William Marshall
Channel Zero: Candle Cove‘s first episode, “You Have to Go Inside”, depicted “America’s Child Psychologist” Mike Painter’s (Paul Schneider) journey back to his childhood home of Iron Hill, Michigan. The first episode of Syfy’s Creepypasta-inspired series did a lot of heavy lifting – world building, introducing the characters, and inserting enough backstory so viewers can follow along, but not so much that we solve the mystery and (worse for a horror series) predict the scares. You can check out our recap here.
“I’ll Hold Your Hand” begins with a portly, bearded man walking through the “pine barrens” outside of Iron Hill. Something in the scrub catches his eye. On the ground, he finds desiccated body of a child missing all their teeth. He looks up to see three more bodies draped over the branches of a massive tree.
A Channel Six Breaking News report about the discovery dissolves into a static-filled episode of Candle Cove which Katie Yolen (Katia Raquel Leon) is watching. One-eyed, bushy-mustachioed Horace Horrible pleads with her. “Katie, look under your bed. We miss you. Come back and visit us in the cave.”
Katie’s brother Dane Yolen (Liam Marchant) screams for Mom and Dad. Gary and Jessica (Shaun Benson and Natalie Brown) race to his room. The camera closes in on a bloody hook as Jessica cries, “Katie, what did you do to him?”
Jessica calls Mike from the hospital. “If you have any connection to this at all, please come back.” Mike returns to his old home and promises Marla, “I’m going to try and stop it.”
The first step – talking to the silent, unresponsive Katie – is helped by Mike smuggling in her favorite plush bluebird into her hospital room. Mike’s “this isn’t your fault/we’re here to help you/what did you see when you watched Candle Cove and oh by the way did you make this creepy pirate ship drawing I took off the wall?” child-psychologist routine does prompt Katie to ask “How long is jail?” before telling Mike (who sees Eddie speaking, not Katie) about “the cave where we went” and the boy she saw there. “You have to go inside.” Mike will hear this again.
Gary cuts off the interview – no more solo talks with his daughter. Katie is left alone; a hospital monitor shows the Tooth Child (Cassandra Consiglio) entering the room and leaning over the child’s bed.
While Mike talks to Katie, Marla Painter (Fiona Shaw) treks over public access TV station Ch. 88 and (her loss) totally ignores the flyer advertising Iron Hill’s 3rd Annual Beef and Beer event on the door.
The station manager/sole employee (Bruce Novakowski) tries and fails to pass off his “fan vid” Candle Cove video as the real deal. It’s his favorite because “Laughingstock comes to Iron Hill” The actual show was un-recordable – “something in the signal.” Candle Cove never played on the same station twice – you had to find it; a pirate signal for a pirate show.
Mike goeshome, tapes the creepy drawing on the TV (of course!), and sneaks in a call to his daughter. Lily Painter (Abigail Pniowsky) rambles on about riding a horse named Gypsy and feeding it some apples. She stops talking, stares into a dark closet, then slowly tells her father, “You have to go inside.”
Marla keeps it quiet if she wonders why a Crayola drawing is stuck to her TV. She knows what it depicts. The old cement plant by the railroad (near – of course – the creepy pine barrens).
Mike makes one of his odd leaps of thought – he’s going there without telling the police (meaning Gary) because the person responsible for taking Katie may be there and maybe they also watched Candle Cove. Marla invites herself along. At least they’ll have time to talk.
During Mike and Marla’s walk to the factory, we get an interesting explanation for one of Candle Cove‘s visual tics – the juxtaposition of the past in the present, both seemingly existing in the same moment.
We see young Mike and Eddie walking the same route as we hear Mike saying, “I look around, I see him everywhere.” Marla remarks that leaving didn’t help Mike close the wound up. Mike heatedly retorts, “You sent me away! We could’ve helped each other.”
Mike enters the factory alone, his journey intercut with young Mike and Eddie doing the same, playing tic-tac-toe in the dusty interior.
Mike sees a long dark emptiness, like the cave entrance Katie watched during Candle Cove and the closet Lily gazed into while talking to her father. He sees Eddie standing at its entrance and follows him into the dark.
The glow of candles cuts into the absolute darkness, encircling a small withered body. Eddie’s corpse wears the same red sweater we saw the last episode, the corkscrew/hook sticking out of his chest.
Night falls. Police swam the factory. But home provides no rest for Marla or her son. She collapses next to a closet, remembering finding Mike and Eddie in there reading after the encounter with the bully (whose name turns out to be James). Mike lies in bed and hears her weep. We see a flash of young Mike holding the hook found in Eddie’s body.
Mrs. Booth (Marina Stephenson Kerr), the English teacher Mike met at the diner in Episode One, visits Marla. Her son Jacob was one of the 1988 murder victims. “You still have a son and he needs you.” Like the weeping, Mike hears this. The Candle Cove theme music starts.
Then a series of flashes –
Young Mike watching static TV/digging/Walking with Eddie.
Fleeting shots of blurry, barely recognizable images – Candle Cove characters? Clowns? A man wearing a sack on his head?
“Come inside, Mike,” Horace Horrible sits by Mike’s bed. “All your secrets will be safe in Candle Cove,” he promises.
We learn those secrets after Mike joins Marla at the table. Mike notes that it’s strange the search parties in 1988 found nothing in the woods.
“Do you love me?”
“Of course I do; you’re my son.”
Mike takes both his mother’s hands in his own.
“I killed him.”
(In the clearing where Mike found Katie his younger self stab Eddie with a wooden handled screw)
“I buried him in the woods.”
(Young Mike sees Jawbone in the distance while Eddie lies bleeding)
Marla is in shock. “Stop. Just get out.” Mike wants to tell her more. Marla takes a (conveniently situated) carving knife from the table and slashes his hand to get away from him.
“I’ll Hold Your Hand” ends with a series of fragmentary scenes –
In extreme close-up, an unseen hand dropped some teeth into a very full jar.
Jessica reads a selection from a Harry Potter novel – the same one – to both her children still in the hospital.
Mike walks through the barrens before the woods, sun on his face. Eddie runs before him wearing a blue sweater. Mike smiles. Eddie appears in the distance wearing the red sweater. Mike wakes to rapping on the door. Gary would like to talk to Mike at the station “about some things your mother told me.”
In the car, Mike dreams he is watching Candle Cove; Eddie sits down beside him. “He (Eddie) wanted to be Mayor. We could take turns and nobody would know.” Mike asks Gary where they’re going and a superimposed cave entrance looms.
We walk through the woods with the camera’s point of view and hear someone making the “tsk, tsk, tsk” noise used to coax a pet out from their hiding place. Mrs. Booth waits in a clearing in the woods, something held in her cupped hands. The tooth child comes into the circle of trees, then eats up the teeth.
Just like Lily Painter fed apples to her horse Gypsy.
*A belated shout-out to the Channel Zero crew bringing the characters of Candle Cove to life -puppeteer Rob Mills, artist Olivier de Sagazan, Karen Valleau, Fred Stinson, Garth Merkely and Tristan Carlucci.
*Episode One mentioned a series of break-ins in Iron Hill where nothing was stolen. “I’ll Hold Your Hand” features another break-in – the only item taken is a keepsake box filled with junk jewelry … and a child’s baby teeth.
*The cryptic, distant nature of Mke and Marla’s relationship became easier to relate to now that we’ve seen (via flashback), interactions between Marla and her sons before Eddie’s death – and now know that Mike killed Eddie. Perhaps Marla suspected Mike on a subconscious level?
*The bond between young Mike and Eddie – especially the imaginary kingdom they created and ruled over – is very reminiscent of the relationship of identical twins Miles and Holland Perry in Thomas Tryon’s 1971 classic (seriously – if you haven’t read it yet, do so asap!) psychological horror novel The Other.
*Katie’s bluebird plush toy that gets her talking to Mike is loaded with symbolism.
Channel Zero airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on Syfy.