Freeform’s Dead of Summer
Season 1, Episode 7: “Townie”
Directed by Mairzee Almas
* For a review of the previous episode, “The Dharma Bums” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Devil Inside” – click here
In 1982, a pair of little dudes ride bikes and then head to their principals house to “redecorate his car” a.k.a smash the shit out of it. One is more reluctant while little Garrett is the more angry of the two. Then Jack Sykes (Dan Payne) shows up with his partner. He takes his son for dinner, to try and explain to his young boy he needs to calm down. He’s trying too hard to buck back against his dad’s rules, his profession. “You‘re fourteen now, it‘s time to decide what kind of man you want to be,” Jack tells his boy.
In ’89, grownup Garrett (Alberto Frezza) is laying out what he knows so far about the creepy cabin up near Camp Stillwater for Sheriff Boyd Heelan (Charles Mesure). He talks about the ritual the Satanist cult members are trying to finish. Next up is “sacrificing an innocent” – or, murder like Garrett makes painfully clear. But does Heelan know more than he lets on? I believe so.
And remember that little kid with Garrett? That’s one of the Satanists, Damon (Andrew J. West). Whoa.
Boyd and Garrett have a plan. They bring it to Deb Carpenter (Elizabeth Mitchell), although she’s not at all pleased with having all the campers, the counsellors in harm’s way. Sykes wants to use Amy Hughes (Elizabeth Lail) as bait, seeing as how she’s the cult’s main target, so it seems. Well, at least Heelan doesn’t seem too greasy. Yet.
Everybody’s in either way after Amy says she’s willing to do what is necessary. Drew (Zelda Williams), Alex (Ronen Rubinstein), Joel (Eli Goree), Blair (Mark Indelicato), they’re all prepared to help however they can.
At the same time, Damon and his cult are getting ready, too. They have a sacrifice: a nice tongue. A bit of blood never goes astray in serious Satanic worship.
Before anything else, we skip back to ’82 after young Garrett is forced to go to camp. He meets a younger Jessie (Paulina Singer). They begin a bond that will last a long, long time, as he takes part in a team with her for tug-of-war. Mostly he proves how volatile of a temper he has after somebody makes a nasty joke about his mother. We also get the first utterance of their little nicknames – Braces and Townie, though they’re said in anger.
So now in ’89, Sykes and Heelan initiate their plan. Amy sets up for camp games pretending to be unsuspecting, as Heelan hovers waiting in the trees. Then he sees one of the eerie wicker masks drawing him away.
When Garrett goes to check on Amy and talk with the Sheriff, he finds neither of them nearby. Only their radios are found. Further out, Amy wanders as if in a trance until meeting Damon and his cult members, blowing a bloody horn to call her. Now that’s some creepy madness.
’82 again. Garrett’s dad shows up, but not for him. Someone is having visions of a cave, needs to be checked into a psychiatric wing. Hmm. Is that Michael (Lovell Adams-Gray), Joel’s older brother?
Quickly, we’re back to ’89. Garrett frantically looks for Amy, calling back to Deb who further asks everybody to come back in. Blair and Drew are on lookout, not wanting to go back, and he ends up twisting an ankle. Uh oh, that definitely means mayhem coming up; when a character in a horror trips and falls, hurting themselves, you just know there’s a death or a near miss soon. And we get an answer on Michael – when Joel, Jessie, and Alex bring Garrett a picture the young boy Anton (who sees Holyoke) drew earlier: the same cave Joel’s older brother once drew. Daaaamn. That was the summer that really messed up Michael’s head. All these elements add up to make Garrett incredibly suspicious of what’s about to come next.
At the Satanist ritual, Amy hangs by her torso from a rope, as Damon tells her the “teacher” will arrive shortly. They’re all geared up to finish, to summon up the demon for which they hope to dearly. “We‘re just gonna need some of your blood,” says Damon.
Amongst everything evil going down, Drew and Blair get a little closer, talking about their respective experiences. I love this little plot between them because they were semi-romantic, and yet they still are, despite any biological gender Drew might inhabit. I’d love to see them come together further because regardless of any orientation, there’s an obvious connection happening.
Another brief flash back to ’82 makes me wonder exactly what Boyd Heelan is holding onto. I can’t tell if he’s complicit in anything, or if he’s a decent local cop who’s unaware of the depth of all the events surrounding Camp Stillwater.
In the cave with the Satanists, Amy is graced with the presence of their teacher finally come to claim his prize.
Drew: “Far as ways to go, death by Satanists is pretty punk rock.”
During ’82, Garrett is drawn into a trap while playing Capture the Flag. Instead of them getting the upper hand Garrett distracts them long enough for Jessie to sneak the blue flag away and back to win the game. “You did it, Braces – you won,” Garrett cheers her on.
This time, in ’89, Garrett has a team behind him again. Except he’s by himself when he comes upon the cave. Within it he finds the horrifying ritual underway, a now conscious Amy screaming for help. Damon and Garrett, those old buddies, they’re confronting one another for the first time in so long. Damon tries to sell his one time friend a good load of bullshit about being “powerless” and so on. He’s deluded by the cult.
Then one of the craziest things yet occurs – the cult members all slit their own throats, mixing their blood with that of Amy’s. Speaking of her, she slips from the rope and falls into the pools of blood and water below, disappearing in its depths. Garrett dives down to save her. Until something deep down comes up to grab her; a scaly, creepy hand. It lets go after Jessie turns up in the cave to pull the rope for Garrett. Yay Team Stillwater! Poor Amy, though. She’s left scarred emotionally and physically. Safe for the time being.
As is the Sheriff – could he be the teacher? I’m really beginning to wonder.
Back at camp, other things are happening. We FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY get a kiss between Drew and Blair. Yes! Lots of good things. Plus, Jessie, Garrett, Alex, Joel, each of them are on the same page together. They all know about Holyoke, the cult, the eeriness of the cave. Yet Garrett is now convinced it’s all just people, no demons or ghosts or anything. Joel especially, he believes otherwise. Also, Garrett’s lying to them and himself about seeing anything unexplained (that fucking hand!).
Ah, the slip up. Boyd mentions Damon taking his own life. He didn’t know that officially. He’s revealed himself as the teacher. Luckily, the younger of the officers is able to draw his gun. Then he discovers what he told Boyd, back in ’82, is why his father was killed; he got too close to Michael’s visions. Boyd claims none of the dead bodies lately were his doing. So, we can be sure Holyoke is about, doing. If you didn’t already know. Heelan wants Garrett to join the cult. When he underestimates Sykes, he takes a few shots to the chest.
In the distance, a wicker-masked cultist lurks, watching. But who’s left? Deb? Who could it be?
Excited for “The Devil Inside” because I feel the show gains steam as the episode wear on. Loving some of what’s happening, digging most. Stay with me, fellow fans.