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CHANNEL ZERO: NO-END HOUSE and The Children of the Corn Maze

Season Two, Episode Four “The Exit”
Written by Nick Antosca & Katie Gruel
Directed by Steven Piet 

[All images courtesy Alan Fraser/Syfy]

Channel Zero: No-End House crosses the halfway point with Episode Four, “The Exit.” Our characters leave a place of relative safety on an uncertain journey. But it’s a journey not everyone will survive, facing dangers from without – and within.

Seth (Jeff Ward) and Margot (Amy Forsyth) enjoy their morning after, but agree to avoid the “post-coital high fives” for the time being. Lacey (Jess Salguerio) and Dylan (Sebastian Pigott) aren’t having such a blissful morning. Dylan again tries to jog his wife’s memory, asking if she remembers the eternity loop necklace he dangles in front of her. Lacey plays along, pretending she remembers in a bid to get the zip ties cut off her wrists. Dylan has been a remarkable genre savvy character so far, falls for the act and frees Lacey from the bindings.

Seth – now is not the time to convice Margot No-End House is fine.

Margot finds Jules (Aisha Dee) on the floor of the garage just as a scream brings everyone rushing to the kitchen. They witness Lacey flat on the floor, Dylan roughly restraining her hands behind her back with a bloody knife to their side and a gash on Dylan’s arm. She begs Dylan to let her go, for someone to help her.

The group makes their way down anonymous streets, following the direction Margot and Seth saw the NEH from the water tower. Something draws Margot’s attention. She stops, and joined by Jules, stares down a street. What caught her eye? It’s the cul-de-sac zoo cage. The family Seth fled from last week stares back silently.

After Margot and Jules walk on, two women simultaneously leave their houses on either side of the cage and walk towards the main road. Soon a crowd of silent neighbors follows the would-be escapees. Dylan explains “They’re part of the house. They know you’re leaving, and they don’t like it.” He advises them to remain calm. “You run … they run.

Two sullen boys run to a woman crying “Boys, breakfast!” They lay their hands on the woman’s head. Feeding time?

At the edge of the development, the crowd watches the real world people walk into a vast field. Not!Father (John Carroll Lynch) moves up from the back of the group. He enters the field.

Now in the field, Jules stops at the sound of tortured wheezing. She sees an emaciated man lying on the ground, as if he’s melting into the field; his skin’s peeling off his body, clothes torn and ragged. Exposition Specialist Dylan explains, “They can only feed on the person they’re made from.” This memory is starving; the end result when the host runs out of memories, “or dies.

Hmm…JT2 has very similar head injury to one he inflicted on JT Prime.

JT2 (Seamus Patterson) looks on in stunned horror. Maybe he wasn’t the better version of JT after all. In his eagerness to escape the world of No-End House, he killed his only food source. Now he starts to panic as he catches up to Seth. “Who are you?” JT2 projects onto Seth, accuses him of not being honest about whom he is. Seth insists he just a guy. JT2 promises – if Seth does anything to prevent their escape from the house, JT2 will “tell them you’re not who you say you are.

They keep walking, deep into a Dark Forest. Seth continues his sale job on Margot, insisting, “It’s actually kind of nice if you let your guard down.” Like the arena in The Hunger Games, day and night can change at any time. By the time the travelers leave the forest, its pitch dark.

Across a field of stubble a gaudy sign proclaims CORN MAZE. According to Jules, Margot’s father took her and Margot there every year. From the rustling stalks, voices cry out for loved ones (“Sweetheart?”). The maze is full of starving memories who followed their food supply. Lost and desperate, they’ll feed – or try to feed – on anyone’s memories.

Last Lament of a Pod Person, JT2 version.

Of course, JT2 wants charge ahead. Everyone else wants to wait until daylight, when they can see who’s after them. So begins the World’s Deadliest Campfire Scene. Despite his best efforts (mainly consisting of shouting “Hey, where are you going?”), Dylan can’t keep Seth, Margot or Jules to stick around. Maybe he should’ve tried s’mores.

Seth leads Margot to a single orchid growing in the field. He’s going to tell Margot his big secret, a  secret mirrored in the orchid. He urges her to carefully look at the flower, showing her the Orchid Mantis hiding on the petal.  “I’m not who you think I am. I live here.” He tries to convince Margot to stay because “It can be beautiful in this reality.” He babbles on and slowly Margot realizes he lured them to No-End House. As food? Companionship? Whatever his motives, Seth didn’t expect to like Margot so much and wants her to stay.

Meanwhile Jules has wandered towards the trees whispering her name. Dylan’s second lapse in judgment of the episode is a doozy; tying JT2 to Lacey so he can retrieve Jules. JT2 promptly fails to protect Lacy from the starving woman (Kristen Swatzky) who cried we saw crying out “Sweetheart” earlier. Sweetheart Woman gouges out Lacey’s eyes attempting to feed. This is bad news for JT2, since Dylan specifically warned him if anything happened to Lacey, he’d kill JT2.

Dylan races back to Lacey’s body, weeping – then sees that JT2’s arm is a mass of oozing green pus, a gaping open sore. “Show your arm.” JT2 won’t. Dylan promptly stabs him in the stomach. JT2 crumples to the ground. He’s also bleeding from his head like the original JT. Seth promptly rats him out before JT2 can spill the beans on him. “He’s not real. He killed your friend.” Dylan methodically douses JT2 with lighter fluid, then sets him ablaze. Margot, Jules, and Dylan enter the maze, leaving Seth behind.

Too bad they can’t just tap their heels together a la The Wizard of Oz.

The Corn Maze seethes with whispers and hungry memories. Dylan stabs away at the zombie memories. Jules is drawn to her hungry ghost – the orb. Margot races to her friend, only to see herself rising from a puddle of goo. She wrenches Jules away from the orb and her doppelganger sinks below the goo.

Separated from Dylan, Margot and Jules are confronted by Not!Father. He admits he’s only a “reflection” of himself that lived on in Margot. He begs her for a bit of food, just a small memory to tide him over after she leaves. The echo of who he was seems to override the hunger; he urges them to run. They flee as he weeps.

Finally the trio makes it to the house. Dylan wants to stay behind and “burn it all down.” Hand in hand, Jules and Margot enter NEH. Not!Father lurches towards the house. Dylan confronts him, only to get his neck snapped. Not!Father walks  to the house as Dylan asphyxiates on the ground.

The House brings out the Death Mask of Dad for Room Four.

Room One

Margot heads straight for the side door. Jules stops before two pedestals in the center of the room. On each pedestal is Margot and Jules’ heads are broken open, charcoal death masks rising from them. Margot grabs Jules and they leave, but the eyes of Margot’s dark ghost follow them.

Room Two

The Asylum room is empty. The girls struggle to open the next room door before they’re plunged into darkness. The lights return – along with a seething mass of brackish goo, which seems to follow them. Jules is trapped on the other side of the room from the door, and has to leap in between the masses of liquid to Margot by the door.

Room Three

Jules and Margot ignore the “One At A Time” sign above the revolving door, and enter Room Three together. The classroom corridor stretches before them, with a teacher speaking Russian over an echoing PA system. Every blackboard in the classrooms on either side is filled from end to end with DON’TGODONT’GODONT’GO.

The laughing man (Robert Borges) from Margot’s Room Three is back. He wears a Mrs. Bates Psycho wig and dress and frantically filling each blackboard with DON’TGODON’TGODON’TGO. Laughing Man drags Margot into a classroom, ripping a long hank of Margot’s hair when Jules tears her free. The man continues to laugh as he sniffs the hair rapturously.

Room Four

The attic is bare save for a single pediment. An animatronic death mask of Margot’s father, complete with swelling lips and eyelids. The sound of a person chocking, struggling to breathe plays on a nightmarish loop as her father’s features swell in allergic reaction. Now Jules has to free an enraptured Margot towards Room Five.

Before they enter the penultimate room, Jules, now aware and alert, takes her friends’ hand. “We’ve got this … ready to go home?” Margot chuckles, “You have no idea.

Room Five

We’re back in Margot’s living room with the Clay Faced Man. Clay Face gently strokes the water filled bathtub in the center of the room. With Clay Face and the bathtub, Margot and Jules’ Room Fives have merged. As Margot and Jules edge along the walls towards the door, he struggles to his feet and spreads his arms out for a hug.

Margot and Jules face both their terrors in Room Five.

Room Six?

The two flee out the door into the backyard of NEH. Jules asks “Are we home?” Margot sees a dandelion and smiles. “I think so.

 Two dudes knock on the front door. One complains that they came all the way from Forest Hill for this & the door’s locked! “Maybe it’s full … as in its finished eating,” answers Margot. Their car starts. Jules smiles as they drive away.

In the silent unstoppable tradition of Jason Voorhees, Not! Father lurches out of the house and heads for home.

Notes from Nowheretown

  • The Orchid Mantis – real insect AND great metaphor for Seth’s character. Although I see him as more of a Renfield-esque servant/flunky. Seth is a just a delivery boy, getting takeout meals for No-End House.

*The moving eyes portrait trope, a staple of Halloween supply stores everywhere, gets a shout out in this episode. Best horror element of the episode! Although the deadly Corn Maze is a close second.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LW7zWck0VAQ[/embedyt]

*Dandelions may get a bum rap from fans of orderly lawns, but would you actually see in the real world, a single dandelion growing in soil? From a plant that disperses seeds far and wide? I call shenanigans on Margot and Jules being back to “reality.”

*Besides, Margot also broke the Persephone/Pan’s LabyrinthDon’t Eat Anything in the Underworld” Rule, as well as “Don’t Hook Up With the Bad Boy With a Secret In An Alternate Reality.”

*The Pod People of No-End House combine features of the psychic vampires of fiction (i.e. Lifeforce), and the energy vampires of everyday life.

*The cul-de-sac caged family called Seth by name previously. Are they creations of his memory? Does he keep them caged to prevent them feeding on his memories? They don’t look starved.

*Last week featured two deaths by neck stabbing, while “The Reflection” featured two asphyxiations, by broken neck and allergic reaction.

 Channel Zero: No-End House airs Wednesday 8/9c on Syfy.


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