Yet another horror home that never draws the curtains, ever.
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Recap: Home’s Where the Horror Is on CHANNEL ZERO


CHANNEL ZERO -- Pictured: "Channel Zero" Logo -- (Photo by: Syfy)
Season One, Episode Four: “A Strange Vessel”
Written by Erica Saleh and Nick Antosca
Directed by Craig William Marshall

[Photos courtesy Alan Fraser/Syfy; Pirate Percy mask artwork courtesy Channel Zero Official Facebook page]


1988 – In the Painter house, young Jessica and Mike pretend to work on school assignments before getting to what’s really on their minds – the disappearance of several classmates. “Do you think they’re dead?” Jessica asks Mike. He responds some macabre wisdom from his departed Dad. “If you die, and don’t get buried or cremated, then you can’t rest.” “Maybe they just ran away.” Jessica doesn’t sound like she believes her own words.

Mike caps off their study date by showing Jessica a handmade Percy Pirate doll, crafted by Candle Cove fanboy Eddie and hidden in the bottom panel of the upright piano.  The TV buzzes to life with an episode of Candle Cove. Jawbone, aboard the Laughingstock, asks Pirate Percy, “Do you sense it? Something is coming … a strange vessel is heading for the Cove.

Candle Cove Greeting Cards. When you care enough to send the very weird.
Candle Cove Greeting Cards. When you care enough to send the very weird.

Present – In the same living room, adult Mike insistently asks his daughter Lily  how she traveled over 400 miles to Iron Hill. Lily speaks, but her answers don’t connect with the current situation. “It’s different.” “What is?” Mike asks  “Home,” she replies.

Mike’s not satisfied with his daughter’s answers, but Marla says they should let her get some sleep.

Jessica maintains her vigil at the hospital for her children – recovering from stab wounds Dane  and daughter Katie, who’s yet to be charged for inflicting those wounds. The children’s art decorating the hospital corridors is all Candle Cove, all the time; pirates, talking ships, and skeletons with swords.  Jessica brings Dane to Katie’s room; brother and sister embrace. Jessica wonders when Dane lost a tooth. As Jessica and Dane leave, Katie smiles down at the object in her open palm – the tooth Dane passed to her during the hug.

Poor Jessica. She is not living the dream right now.
Poor Jessica. She is not living the dream right now.

Stop number two on Jessica’s Fun Time Tour of Iron Hill?  Visiting her husband Gary in jail! Still suspicious of Mike, Gary asks his wife to start carrying his gun. “If I’m wrong about Mike, then you don’t use it.” Poor Gary – as Mike previously noted, he’s making the right connections but coming to the wrong conclusions.

1988 – Mike and Jessica, alone again before a small campfire near one of the structural supports for the closed amusement park Skinner’s Drive-In. Eddie approaches. Without even a hello he barks at Mike “So she’s your girlfriend now?” Jessica retorts with a snappy “So what if I am!” and a quick peck of a kiss for Mike before flouncing off.

Spirited young Jessica transitions to the present day version walking up to the Painter home with some of Katie’s old clothes for Lily. The young girl is still distant and disconnected. The reason becomes clear when she tells Jessica that no, she doesn’t like dolls, “I like pirates.” What kind of pirates? Lily pulls the Pirate Percy doll from its hiding place in the piano.

Eddie Painter, waiting in the meadow, not intent on hurting anyone named Jessica ... yet.
Eddie Painter, waiting in the meadow, not intent on hurting anyone named Jessica … yet.

Mike, Jessica and Marla get more freaked out when “Lily” drops the pretense of who she is. “It’s hard to be in this body.” When Mike calls her Lily, she retorts that she’s not that person. How could Mike not know who he’s talking to? After all, “I would know YOU no matter what.” After a pause for the realization to sink in, Mike asks the child, “If you’re not Lily, where is she?” “She’s dreaming this.”

1988 – Eddie interrupts Mike’s flashlight reading, brandishing his Pirate Percy doll and demanding “Let’s go watch! Every time you send someone to Candle Cove, it gets stronger!” Mike is unimpressed. “You have to stop … it’s changing you.” Eddie senses Jessica behind Mike’s lack of enthusiasm. “Promise you’ll never love her more than you love me.” Mike is silent.

The next scene begins in darkness. A crude paper-mache Pirate Percy mask slowly emerges into a spotlight.  A young girls voice cries out “Ahoy mates!” She’s joined by a Jawbone and Horace Horrible. The costumed children  deliver variations of the Candle Cove dialogue we heard earlier, about a strange vessel headed for the Cove, adding “All hands on deck!”  There is no clue as to where – or when – this performance takes place.

Present day – Mike and “Lily” play cards in Mike’s old room. “Lily” looks beyond Mike. He also turns and we see a new puppet come to life. All muddy black, dark green and red, the menacing figure wears a battered pirate tri-corner hat atop a face whose only feature is a snout-like nose. Mike silently picks up his daughter and leaves the room.

We see them outside, again playing an endless game of cards as Mike and Eddie used to. Mike asks, “Can I talk to Lily?“She’s sleeping.” Mike addresses Eddie. “Why did you come back?” Eddie says he remembers what Mike did to him, but it’s OK –  “you had to.” Eddie offers Mike a proposal. “I’m trapped. If you help me, I can be free and Lily can come back.” “Lily” then whispers in Mike’s ear what he must do.

Mike is not thrilled at Eddie's gift of a one-way trip to Candle Cove for Jessica.
Mike is not thrilled at Eddie’s gift of a one-way trip to Candle Cove for Jessica.

Acting Sheriff Welch (Luisa D’Oliveira) moves through empty school hallways. She’s there to interview the children she saw stabbing a medical dummy – oddly enough , they’re all in Mrs. Booth’s class!  Her classroom is empty, but Mrs. Booth does answer Welch’s question about Eddie Painter; he was a special boy, and very kind to her “simple” son Jacob (Connor Peterson).

Welch sees one of the children in the hallway and follows him to a dimly lit auditorium. He is onstage, reciting even bloodier Candle Cove dialogue with the mysterious masked figures we saw earlier. “Are you ready for battle? We fight, hook and dagger and slash and stab to the very last man! Danger arrives! Protect the ship!” The Acting Sheriff isn’t buying the “we’re just rehearsing” bit, and tells the kids, “Rehearsal’s over. Go home now.”

1988 – Mike walks his bike up to Skinner’s and almost misses the girl he came there to meet. Jessica wonders why Mike’s there since he called and changed their meeting spot to the Crow’s Nest.

Eddie waits at the Nest with his trusty hook. He’s none too pleased seeing Mike instead of Jessica. “You were going to hurt her!” Eddie protests that’s not it al all; he was only going to take her to Candle Cove. Mike protests, “You’re killing them!” “We are,” counters Eddie, “we have to look out for each other.” The brothers fight. Mike re-breaks Eddie’s fingers and storms away. Eddie swallows the pain and grimly follows his twin.

Pirate Percy Cosplay is all the rage in Iron Hill this year.
Pirate Percy Cosplay is all the rage in Iron Hill this year.

“A Strange Vessel” concludes in present day Iron Hill.

Acting Sheriff Welch gets fast food take out for dinner. The Candle Cove cosplayers appear to follow her truck.

Mike and Jessica follow the instructions given by Eddie/Lily. Using her husband’s keys, the two take Eddie’s body from the morgue to the Crow’s Nest. There Mike sets it alight.  They return to the Painter house. Jessica wonders what things might’ve been like for them if things had been different. Both consider the possibilities, then the moment passes.

Due to a (not totally unexpected) visit from a fellow deputy (who looks to be all of twelve but who I hereby dub Deputy Adorkable), Welch’s dinner stays in the bag.  Welch is bothered by the answers (or lack of them) from Mrs. Booth that afternoon.  So nothing else to do but search Mrs. Booth’s home while she’s not at home!

While the ground floor of Chez Booth appears normal, Welch finds all kinds of crazy in the spooky basement.

Some highlights:

  • Mason jars filled with teeth?  Check!
  • Insanely detailed Candle Cove marionettes of Jawbone, Pirate Percy, and Horace Horrible? Present and accounted for!
  • Daphne’s body, throat slit straight across with a very hungry cat by her side?  Ewwww – that too!
The home invasion of Candle Cove Cosplayers goes from annoying to creepy right NOW.
The home invasion  goes from annoying to creepy    right      NOW.

What don’t we see? The Candle Cove Junior Theater Players. Where could they have gone? To Jessica’s house!

As she turns on the lights, the masked figures step out from the shadows of her home. At first, she is puzzled, and a bit annoyed. One child in a Pirate Percy mask hardly seems threatening, even with a knife in her hand. Soon Percy is joined by Horace Horrible, Jawbone, and an unmasked Alex. They set upon her.

Jessica pulls out Gary’s gun but doesn’t fire. The crew of the Laughingstock chases Jessica into her yard. We hear her stumble and fall into a small wading pool, then hear her gurgle for air.  We hear the knives wielded by Mrs. Booth’s students as they stab Jessica.

From the house, Mrs. Booth gazes with approval at her students’ work.

Iron Hill burglars put more effort into their Breaking & Entering.
Iron Hill burglars put more effort into their Breaking & Entering.

Episode Notes

~ Who (or What) is the demented snout-nosed Candle Cove character “Lily” sees in Mike’s room?

~ Turns out I was oh-so-wrong about the Candle Cove murder weapon. No mere corkscrew but a good old-fashioned Hay Hook – the new hipster accessory!

~ Marla starts to half believe Eddie is in Katie. While Mike and Jessica are off burning Eddie’s body, Marla reads Treasure Island to “her” – it was Eddie’s favorite bedtime reading.

~ In the hospital, Katie Yolen is reading a picture called Cowardly Moon. I couldn’t find any record of a real-world book with that title. Hmm.

~ Why did Acting Sheriff Welch make sure to loudly announce that she smelled marijuana before entering Mrs. Booth’s house? It’s very interesting.


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



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