I spent the majority of the last week being a grumpy old man. You might say that I have been pretty disappointed in this first season of AMC’s NOS4A2. So disappointed, in fact, that I have been teetering on the precipice of madness each time I have to watch a new episode. That’s not the way I am, though. I hate being negative and feeling down all the time. So, as we watch the sixth episode, let’s try to look at the brighter side of life. Let’s dig through the mire and come up with a few things that worked for us this week.
First of all, this week’s episode was a slight breeze on an otherwise sweltering day. We got to experience, for the first time, the powers that another “Strong Creative” can conjure. Sure, we’ve seen a Wraith drive slowly and an Iowan reach into a Scrabble bag, but we have yet to see someone at Vic’s level flex their muscles.
We are re-introduced to Jolene, the former acquaintance of Manx who currently resides in the looney bin. Vic has been committed because of her outlandish stories about child abducting vampires and lands of always Christmas. Unlike the last time we saw her, Jolene is much more vibrant and alive. Once she stops taking her medication, she is able to talk to Vic and share her powers with her.
You see, Jolene has a bit of a bridge, herself. They are called the Dark Tunnels, and she is able to reach them by going fast. Very fast. She takes Vic down into these tunnels where she is able to walk and be happy again. This sounds cool enough, but what’s even cooler is that Jolene can use astral projection in these tunnels, sending her and Vic to Manx’s garage where the former cripple wreaks havoc on the Wraith. This temporarily cripples Manx, showing Vic what she must do to finally kill the evil riding shotgun.
Of course, while it was cool to see Jolene go all The Regulators on the Wraith, it does make you wonder why she hasn’t done this before. Or, if she knew that Manx’s health and life are directly connected to the wellbeing of the car, then why hasn’t she led a guerilla campaign to wreck that thing years ago. She mentioned that she’s been watching him for 50 years, so you expect me to believe that during that time, you’ve never tried to blow that thing up? At the very least, don’t stop this current attack to laugh with Vic on the floor of the tunnel. Destroy that vehicle and kill Manx. Come on, girl.
Frustrating lack of brutality on Jolene’s part aside, the fact that she has multiple facets to her powers leads me to believe that Vic might be able to evolve hers, as well. Right now, the Shorter Way allows her to find lost things, but what if it could do more than that. Jolene could walk in her tunnels. She could bring physical objects with her, as evidenced by the many IV towers and missing child posters. What if Vic could enter her bridge, and not only break the laws of space, but also time? What if the story written in these pages isn’t dry, after all?
While this week’s episode of NOS4A2 was still terribly boring (to be honest, I even forgot that I had watched it earlier in the week, making me watch and write an entire article about next week’s episode before catching my mistake), it at least expanded the mythology and fantasy of the world it takes place in. In the previous weeks, the show tried so hard to be too many things. This week, it doubled down on the fantasy elements of the show and allowed us to actually think about the show for once. We had to sit and think about the ramifications of these creative’s powers and how they can fit into a world that looks a lot like our own.
It’s been hard for me to articulate why I don’t care for the show, but I think we might have just stumbled upon it. NOS4A2, in its first five weeks, has been mindless television. The best series make you think about what you just watched after you turn off the lights. Shows like Game of Thrones, Lost, and The Terror had gigantic message boards and theory threads focusing on the worlds they inhabited. NOS4A2 doesn’t have those, because there was nothing deeper to be had. It was vapid storytelling, requiring a minimal amount of brain power to process. Now, with the addition of Jolene’s story, I have felt a small ember of interest flicker in my chest. What, exactly, are these Innscapes, and why do they exist in our world? If Charlie’s health is tied to the Wraith, why does he randomly get old? Does he draw power from the car, and children? If Maggie’s tiles will answer her questions, why hasn’t she just asked where Christmasland is? Why was it so hard for Vic to come up with a viable story about how she stumbled upon that body? How is Bing still allowed to be in a school? Wait, none of this makes any sense. Maybe asking more questions is a bad idea.
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!