RECAP: CHANNEL ZERO Opens a Treasure Chest of Horrors

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CHANNEL ZERO -- Pictured: "Channel Zero" Logo -- (Photo by: Syfy)
Season One, Episode Three: “Want To See Something Cool?”
Written by Harley Peyton
Directed by Craig William Marshall

[Photos courtesy Alan Fraser/Syfy; Horace Horrible artwork courtesy Channel Zero Official Facebook page]

 

Channel Zero: Candle Cove’s first two episodes, “You Have to Go Inside” and “I’ll Hold Your Hand” were full of worldbuilding, character setup, and establishing the muddled history of the (hypothetical?) children’s television program Candle Cove and its effects on the residents of Iron Hill, Ohio in 1988. “Want To See Something Cool?” hits the ground running and by the end sets the story down a dark, bloody, and very Twin Peaks-ish path.

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A very simple series of events unfolds; Mike is held hostage, then rescued by his mother and Jessica. But within that story is a host of developments that make me both very eager to see what happens next – and very nervous. Takashi Shimizu’s 2004 J-Horror classic Marebito said it best  – “fear of the unknown compels me to open this door.”

As their father looks on, Marla Painter treats Eddie and Mike to birthday candle topped pancakes (I think that’s what it was) for their eleventh birthday.  Dad (whom we only see from the back) says “make each other wish.” Eddie says to Mike “We share. Whatever you have,  I have too.

Eddie Painter prepares to send Gene the Bully to Candle Cove.
Eddie Painter prepares to send Gene the Bully to Candle Cove.

Present Day – Marla furiously and fruitlessly tries to scrub away the knife marks on the kitchen table, gouged in as she freed her hands from Mike’s while he confessed to killing Eddie. Elsewhere in Iron Hill, children watch another episode of Candle Cove. Pirate Percy ignores Mr. Cloud’s warning not to open a treasure chest; “That box might be locked for a reason. Once you let bad things out, you can never put them back.” The reward for Percy’s curiosity? Jawbone pops up like a maniacal jack-in-the-box.

The episode now splits into two simultaneous storylines running on parallel tracks. In the first, Sheriff Gary goes rogue, taking Mike to an empty unfinished home in the pine barrens. He and Jessica hoped to buy and refurbish it, only to be outbid by an out of towner who later abandoned the property.  Jessica is the real estate agent selling the property. At the house Gary restrains Mike in a chair, then silently waits.

Two people join Mike and Gary – Deputy Tim Hazel (David Brown) and Daphne Bell (Gwendolyn Collins).  They were guests at Gary and Jessica’s dinner party in “Do You Remember Candle Cove?” and, as it turns out, had connections to two of the 1988 murder victims. Tim’s brother Gene, the bully who broke Eddie’s fingers, ended up with a broken neck and all his teeth missing. Daphne’s cousin Sadie Williams also died with Gene, Carl Cutter, Jacob Booth and Eddie.

Gary tells Mike “We’re not cops now … we want to know exactly what you did and why you did it.” The scene shifts to flashback as Mike relates “the truth.

Like many abusive bullies, Gene is undone by his greed.
Like many abusive bullies, Gene is undone by his greed.

In 1988, Eddie approaches Gene. “Want to see something cool?” Gene dismisses him. Eddie starts to walk away, telling Gene “it’s worth money.” as he goes. Greed lures Gene to the Crows’ Nest, the cliff side clearing where Mike found Gary’s daughter Katie.

In the present, Mike insists “I didn’t have a choice!” to Gary, Tim, and Chloe.

Young Eddie asks Gene if he watches Candle Cove. “Don’t lie. I know you do. You can’t lie to the Skin Taker.” Gene turns to leave but is stopped in his tracks. Eddie tells Mike Gene can’t help but laugh at the images Eddie’s putting in his head; Mike spits in the face of  their now-paralyzed tormentor.

Here boy!” Gene follows Eddie’s command, kneels, and licks Eddie’s hand (just like his vicious dog did earlier).  Gene silently pulls out several of his teeth after Eddie commands “Pay the toll.

Mike has stopped laughing as he witnesses Eddie prompts Gene – “Walk the plank.” The silent bully calmly walks to, and over, the edge of the Crow’s Nest.

The toll to enter Candle Cove? Just a few teeth.
The toll to enter Candle Cove? Just a few teeth.

Eddie killed him and I had to stop him … Eddie was vulnerable and wounded.” – perfect fodder for Candle Cove’s influence. We also see a later flashback of Eddie telling Mike that Carl Cutter “went to Candle Cove.” Daphne admits she still dreams of Jawbone; he had a different name in her dreams (the Skin Taker?)

(Flashes of Jawbone’s fuzzy oversized head superimposed on the screen and the distant figure wearing the Jawbone outfit near the Crow’s nest)

Tim decides the time for justice is now. Grabbing a sheet of plastic, Tim pulls out his service weapon, ignoring Gary’s shouts to stop. Chloe calls 911, the camera cuts to an exterior shot of the abandoned house and we hear a gunshot.

While Gary, Tim, and Chloe conduct Victim Impact Statement Time  with Mike,  Marla ropes in young Deputy Welch and Jessica to help Turns out Gary took Mike into custody, but NOT to the Sheriff’s Station.

Marla notices that Jessica's tabletop is knife-gouge free!
Marla notices that Jessica’s tabletop is knife-gouge free!

During their search, Jessica confesses to Marla that she had been communicating daily with Mike via email and text. Gary doesn’t know (she thinks) but Jessica deleted all the messages anyway.  Ruminating on the state of her marriage leads to the house Gary wanted so much and the discovery that the keys to that house are missing.

A frantic woman stops Deputy Welch during her street search for Gary and Mike; she claims a group of children is murdering someone on a trail. Deputy Welch finds the children stabbing a medical torso. They whisper to each other, then flee.

Marla and Jessica arrive at the pine barrens home just before Deputy Welch (following up on Daphne’s 911 call). Gary’s attempt to stop Tim from shooting saved Mike from a fatal injury.

While in the hospital with a shoulder wound, Mike dreams he is sleeping at the edge of the forest. We see The Tooth Child approach Mike’s car, open the door, then take Mike’s hand into its mouth.

Waking up to Deputy Welch ready to arrest him for murdering Eddie, Mike now claims Eddie “killed those kids,” then disappeared. Marla insists Gary misunderstood what she told him about Mike. She might not believe Mike or Marla’s new version of events. But after witnessing the children on the trail, Deputy Welch seems to think Mike may be right about Candle Cove influencing kids today just as it affected children in 1988.

Jessica visits Mike; they silently hold hands. Mike gets up and insists on going home.

Both Deputy Tim and Daphne fled the house after Mike was shot. That night Tim wanders the forest, now transformed into the Glastonbury Grove/Owl Cave section of Twin Peaks. The sounds of snapping twigs and children’s laughter surround him.

Horace Horrible tells terrible bedtime stories.
If Horace Horrible asks you this question, the answer is no.

Daphne heads to Mrs. Booth’s house (right by the forest!) to confess.  Mrs. Booth asks if Mike is ok. Daphne thinks so. Mrs. Booth goes to get some hot cocoa. Daphne sees several cups on the tray – “all that for us?” Mrs. Booth says she’ll get Daphne something stronger. She turns back to Daphne, then grabs her hair, pulls her head back and slits her throat, telling the dying woman “You shouldn’t f**k with Mike Painter.

After cleaning up the mess in the dining room in record time, Mrs. Booth takes the cocoa to the den and asks the children who were stabbing the medical dummy, “where did you leave the body?” Whose body, you ask?  Trigger happy Deputy Tim! At least he gets a secret forest burial courtesy of Mrs. Booth.

Back at the Painter house, Marla wakes from a nightmare of The Tooth Child eating Mike’s hand (just as he dreamed earlier). Mike comforts his mother before hearing a child crying outside.

Silent and sleepy, Lily Painter stands 421 miles from her home in Westchester, NY.

The Tooth Child observes Mike and Lily from an upstairs window.

Episode Notes
* “Want To See Something Cool?” is written by Channel Zero: Candle Cove Co-Executive Producer Harley Peyton. Fans of Twin Peaks recognize that name from the legendary (and returning to TV in 2017) ABC series Twin Peaks. It may be too easy to read a Twin Peaks influence into part of this episode, but here are a couple bits that stuck out to me.

*A flashback scene to Mrs. Booth and her son Jacob preparing a meal felt very Peaks-ish in its’  mix of the mundane and surreal. Jacob helps his mother prepare fried baloney (“in Italy, they call it mortadella.“)  As they say grace, Mrs. Booth suffers a seizure, then  collapses onto the floor. Young Jacob knows the protocol, though – prop up Mom’s head with a pillow and start praying!

*The forest where Deputy Tim meets his end has been seen before at night. But with the lighting of the trees and the sound of wind stirring through the night, this could’ve been filmed in Glastonbury Grove outside Twin Peaks.

*Was Deputy Tim planning to wrap Mike’s body in plastic (like the late Laura Palmer) after shooting him?

 

*The abandoned house reminded me of  Leo Johnson’s unfinished home, right down to the exposed wall frames and plastic sheeting flapping in the wind.

Non-Twin Peaks Note – Gary says two lines during Mike’s interrogation that may be worth some attention.

“You killed your brother Eddie.”
“You killed your brother, Mike.”

I had to watch the closed captioning to catch the comma in the second sentence. Like the scene with their unseen father that begins the episode, these two lines re-enforce the possible blurring of the separation of the identities of  Mike and Eddie.

 

Channel Zero airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on Syfy.

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