[Photos courtesy Alan Fraser/Syfy Jawbone artwork courtesy Channel Zero Facebook page]
Season One, Episode Five “Guest of Honor”
Written by Katie Gruel and Mallory Westfall
Directed by Craig William Marshall
“Guest of Honor” opens where “A Strange Vessel” ended.
A close-up shot of Jessica Yolen (Natalie Brown), face down in the kiddie pool rises and widens. We see the horrendous stab wounds covering her exposed back, then the police and crime scene technicians performing their jobs around Jessica’s lifeless corpse. Acting Sheriff Amy Welch (Luisa D’Oliveira) seems both stunned at the brutality of the crime and overwhelmed by the weirdness and violence that has overtaken Iron Hill.
The morning after Jessica’s murder, Marla (Fiona Shaw) makes breakfast for a very happy, bright-eyed Lily (Abigail Pniowsky). Mike (Paul Schneider) sits down and relates the first normal dream he’s had in months; the three of them all went to the beach. Their Normal Rockwell morning ends as Amy knocks on the door and Mike clutches at his jaw in pain.
Some of the (surprisingly large) Iron Hill deputies are a bit skeptical of Amy’s information dump “Kids aren’t capable of that!” From the back of the office, Mike counters, “Under the right circumstances, kids are capable of almost anything,” especially if under the influence of an authority figure like Mrs. Booth.
Mike is astounded that actual physical evidence of Candle Cove’s existence is in Mrs. Booth’s house. Somehow persuading Newbie Acting Sheriff to not only give him access to the house but spring the newly widowed Gary Yolen (Shaun Benson) out of jail as Mike’s escort.
A barely-holding-it-together Gary putters through the kitchen as Mike explores Mrs. Booth’s Basement of Horrors. His amazement at holding proof of Candle Cove in his hands fades as the memory of Jawbone’s face looms in his memory. The props don’t match what he saw on the television. “This isn’t it.”
Mike returns to the kitchen. The phone rings. Mrs. Booth (Marina Stephenson Kerr) is calling. “Mike … I have so much to tell you.”
1988 – After class, Jacob Booth (Connor Peterson) sits in his mother’s classroom while she grades assignments. Eddie (Luca Villacis) walks in, answering Mrs. Booth’s “Is there anything going on you’d like to tell me?” with a wooden “Nothing is wrong.” He turns to leave and hears Mrs. Booth fall to the floor. Jacob props up her head. Eddie stands over the woman, and says three words.
Mrs. Booth lies still.
Mrs. Booth sits up and looks at Eddie Painter with awe, Jacob has a tinge of fear in his eyes.
Present Day – Mike ditches Gary at Mrs. Booth’s house and heads to the abandoned Skinner’s drive-in. While Gary frantically calls Amy, his children are among the dozens in Iron Hill leaving their houses and, like the children of Hamelin, form a procession out of town while the Candle Cove theme plays from their televisions.
Turns out they share a destination with Mike. He arrives at Skinner’s and spies Mrs. Booth through a broken window of the long-closed diner. She vanishes as Deputy Adorkable (ok, his actual name is Simon – Deputy Simon Adorkable) pulls up. His first big mission – find Mike Painter – accomplished!
Mike and Simon (Bruce Novakowski) see several children walking past Skinner’s towards the abandoned theme park. Mike warns Simon not to approach them – it’s not safe. Simon’s not convinced, “But I know those kids!” Mike congratulates Simon on doing his job, then runs into the restaurant.
Inside, he hears the echo of his voice calling for Mrs. Booth on the phone she left behind, next to a trinket box of teeth. Mike looks through a grimy window; of course, Simon couldn’t NOT go after the children. Simon tells the kids they’re going home.
One child takes his hand. The rest press in on the deputy, plucking at his jacket, immobilizing him. Jawbone swiftly approaches from behind and slits Simon’s throat. Remind you of Dapne’s murder? That’s because Mrs. Booth has donned the Jawbone outfit. Mike races out to confront her. But as he approaches, Mike stumbles and falls to the ground.
He wakes (we think) next to Simon’s body. Mike rises and turns to see Jawbone, one gloved pressing Lily’s shoulder, the other wielding a hook Mike moves towards his child and puppeteer’s strings fly from his arms and legs, holding him in place. He wakes again, alone.
Since her house is now a crime scene, Mrs. Booth (and her gun) stop at Marla Painter’s kitchen. She politely doesn’t point the gun at Marla when telling her to call Mike, “and tell him to come along this time.”
After Mike seats himself at the kitchen table, Mrs. Booth serves her terrified hostages a heaping helping of Exposition Pie (along with actual pie).
“Once or twice in a lifetime, if you’re lucky, someone slices the world open, right down the middle … you see the true world.” Eddie’s miracle healing revealed to Mrs. Booth her purpose. “He showed me his power. Something majestic that flowered from indignity. I didn’t create Candle Cove, Eddie did. It rose out of him like blood from broken skin. He’s the light, the beacon. He’s coming back. You’re almost ready. You just have to let him in.” (Yeah, stop trying to pull out Eddie’s tooth, Mike!)
1988 – Eddie comes to the Booth home. Mrs. Booth asks, “Those things I saw, that place. I want to see it again.” Eddie replies “I’m not strong enough yet. I need you to do something for me. Give me something.” We see again the scene of Eddie visiting Jacob, now knowing this is not the visit of a friend but a mother sacrificing her child to Candle Cove.
Present day – Mike is horrified. His very presence in Iron Hill, burning Eddie’s body – everything he’s done has not helped end Candle Cove, but made Eddie stronger. Mike’s mental turmoil has been Eddie, breaking him down “to make you ready.” Mrs. Booth kindly advises Mike that “Your body is his body. He can live again. Very soon now.”
Since Mission: Deliver Backstory is done, Mrs. Booth quietly leaves. I’m surprised she doesn’t clean up the table and wash the dishes.
Although Erica Painter (Kristen Harris) arrived to pick up Lily soon after Amy visited the Painters, mother and child did not even make it out of town. Delayed by car trouble (aka swerving to avoid a gaggle of Stepford Children standing in the middle of the road), they’re staying overnight at a hotel.
Erica sleeps. Lily watches a nature documentary. A burst of static brings Candle Cove to the screen and the Tooth Child to their room. At first, Lily is terrified. But she peeks her head from the covers and soon smiles (back?) at the Tooth Child (Cassandra Consiglio), Jawbone looming from the TV behind them.
After Mrs. Booth leaves, Mike hallucinates swinging a hay hook down on his daughter while another creepy puppet looms in his room, then jolts back to the reality of another tooth bursting through his gums. This time Mike needs a pair of needle nosed pliers to Eddie’s special tooth pried out of his jaw.
As the tooth flies free, the old television in his bedroom snaps to life. A frightened Lily stands at the entrance to Bravery Cave. “Daddy?”
~ Mrs. Booth may not seem like the most reliable source for the true origins of Candle Cove. But via email, showrunner Nick Antosca confirmed, “she’s very reliable … She’s delusional in terms of the rightness of what she’s doing, but she’s not deluded about what Candle Cove is.”
~ Last week, I wondered just what the heck the snout-nosed creature seen in Mike’s old bedroom was; this week we saw a bizarre, white, stringy entity in the same place. Also via email, Antosca described these creations. “I think of them as the true faces of Jawbone, aka the Skintaker. The puppets are the “friendly” façade for something else, some more tactile and grotesque.”
~ In my recap for Episode One “You Have to Go Inside” I noted that the characters were so cryptic and distant, “at times it felt like I was observing their story through a pane of warped bubble-filled glass.” Five episodes in, we’ve come to know these characters. We see the Painters eating breakfast through a pane of clear glass.
~ During that breakfast, Mike remarks that in contrast to his pleasant dream the night before, for so long he felt “like he was having someone else’s dreams.” Maybe that was part of the “breaking down” process Mrs. Booth mentions later?
~ Of the guests at the dinner party hosted by the Yolens in Episode one, Daphne, Tim and Jessica are now dead. The only ones left who remembered Candle Cove? Mike and Gary.
Channel Zero: Candle Cove airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on Syfy.