I spent the last few weeks feeling sorry for Bing Partridge. I logged onto the Twitter-dot-com and talked about how he is just another victim of Manx and his diabolical Wraith. I waxed poetically about how Bing just wanted to feel loved, accepted, taken care of, and how he was a beacon of sympathy in the series.
Boy… I sure was wrong about that.
When I posted my sympathetic views on Bing, I had several book readers hop into my mentions and hit me with some combination of “Yikes” or “Uh Oh”. I should have realized at that point that he was going to make a heel turn, but I thought that the worst-case scenario was his abduction of little Haley Smith and her mother in the previous episode. He did a bad thing, yes, but it was under the direction of Charlie Manx. He shouldn’t be blamed for being manipulated into committing this crime.
“I waxed poetically about how Bing just wanted to feel loved, accepted […] Boy… I sure was wrong about that”
As we saw in this week’s episode, “The House of Sleep”, Bing is a far worse dude than we could ever even imagine. We knew he was a creep, sure. We knew that he loved his nudie mags and kept a bottle of lotion at every end table in the house, but we could never have thought that he was as depraved as he actually is.
We see in a few flashbacks that Bing’s dad wasn’t a good man. He was mean, angry, and belittling to the robust young man. The only bright spot in Bing’s life is his mother. She shields him from his father’s worst impulses, giving Bing treats and playing with him to dissolve the tension in the home. In a second flashback, we see Bing’s father berate the boy for putting up the Christmas lights too slowly.
After the ladder he is standing on gets bumped by his father, Bing turns to the man, puts the nail gun up to his forehead, and pulls the trigger. His father falls down in the driveway, dead. His mother finds him crying in the garage and holds him close. In previous episodes, Manx made mention of “nails”, leading us to assume that it was Bing who was abused with a nail as a child. We can clearly see here that it is his form of punishment. So far, there’s not a ton of blame you can place on the boy. He’s still on the “nice” list in my book. His father pushed him, and he reacted. As the episode comes to a close, however, we get to see just how twisted Bing is.
Haley’s mother is tied up in Bing’s basement, which is the “House of Sleep” mentioned in the title. He gasses her and makes her repeat something his mother told him many years ago, that she “loved him more than anything in the world”. Pretty weird, I admit, but still not unredeemable. The last scenes of the episode show us why he made her say those things, as we are shown him forcing himself on his mother in the garage next to his father’s dead body. This is still a cable television show, but it’s highly suggested that Bing raped and killed his mother that day, and he drugged Sharon to replay his fantasy. Her body was found buried in a field by Vic, who used her Shorter Way to find the poor woman.
You may have realized that this is the first time I mentioned Vic in this recap. That isn’t a mistake on my part. While she is featured heavily throughout the episode, Vic’s arc is terribly boring. I understand that they are using these small moments each week to make her a fully-formed character, but how many times do I need to see her angrily throwing on her helmet and an overhead shot of her riding her motorcycle? How many times do we need to see her talk to a member of her family with a slow tear running down her cheek? I’m sorry, because I know she is a beloved character by book readers, but I could not care less about Vic McQueen.
“As the episode comes to a close […] we get to see just how twisted Bing is”
This week, NOS4A2 dove into the dark end of the pool, giving us a brutal tale about a disgusting serial rapist and killer in Bing. While I love the twisted direction it took, this show still hasn’t figured out what it is. In its first four hours, it has tried to blend family drama, witchcraft erotica, socio-economic injustice, fantastical Christmas whimsy, quantum physics-defying rips in the continuum, spooky vampires with, now, rape and incest. It’s hard for nonreaders like myself to grasp what the hell it’s trying to be.
Bing is a villain. I see that now, but instead of adding a layer of realism to the show, his crimes make the rest of the show seem silly and cartoonish in comparison. It was fun for a few weeks to get lost into the fantasy of a vampire driving around the country stealing children to turn into pointy-toothed monsters. It was interesting to think that there were way-stations across the world where magic was possible.
Bing’s crimes are real, though. History is littered with men who prey upon women in this fashion. There are basements dotting the United States where the screams of the innocent have been etched into the joists above. There are very real dungeons in America where these victim’s final, flailing, attempts at escape are scratched into the concrete walls. By pairing this very real, very scary, storyline with what we had been given before, NOS4A2 has made the rest of their show seem silly and inconsequential.
NOS4A2 airs every Sunday night on AMC. Keep your eyes on Nightmare on Film Street as we continue to recap each episode and give you the latest and greatest horror news available on the web. While you’re at it, join our Facebook group, Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street and let us know what you think!