SyFy’s Channel Zero
Season 1, Episode 2: “I’ll Hold Your Hand”
Directed by Craig William Macneill
Written by Nick Antosca & Don Mancini
* For a review of the premiere, “You Have to Go Inside” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Want to See Something Cool?” – click here
Where is the search for his brother Eddie going to take Mike Painter (Paul Schneider)? Last episode, we discovered – through his mother Marla (Fiona Shaw) – that the TV show Candle Cove didn’t actually exist. It was a figment of the twin brothers’ imaginations. So where does it all go from here?
We see images of the discovery of bodies in Iron Hill. Bits of news coverage on the murders. Snippets of the eerie Candle Cove. Katie Yolen, daughter of Gary and Jessica (Shaun Benson & Natalie Brown), hears the show talking to her.
Then we cut to a terrifying scene at the Yolen residence, as screams in the night wake Gary and Jessica. Their boy Dane is screaming, on the floor a bloody hook. Katie stabbed him with it. And haven’t we seen such an image before? Oh yes. It all comes full circle: “This show, it can make people do things,” admits Jessica to Mike over the phone, begging him to come back and help. Things are getting murky.
Now Mike has more belief on his side, including his mother. Too many coincidences. With Katie seeing the show, is it real? Doesn’t matter. Because the mind of children is making it real, and that’s the only thing that does matter. The Yolens are left reeling, naturally. Sheriff Gary’s not exactly thrilled about Mike coming to talk with Katie. I can see why he’d be sceptical. Yet Jessica knows Mike, and knew Eddie, more than anybody else. She knows there’s a soft, human side to him, as well as the fact creepy evidence is starting to mount in Mike’s favour.
So he gets back into the mix of things in Iron Hill, despite any objections or weird looks from those who know him. It’s like everywhere he turns, no matter if it’s a kid’s drawing in a hospital, there is something from the past staring out at him. At the same time, his mother Marla is trying to track down information on Candle Cove, which proves pretty much impossible. A weird guy at the public access station has tapes of some episodes. He is absolutely fucking terrifying to me, good god. And he doesn’t actually have any of the show – he made a bit of “fan fic.” Although he did see the real show as a child, and strangely lingers on its memory all these years later. But the real television series was unrecordable, off a pirate signal.
In the hospital Mike finally gets talking to Katie. He shows her the drawing he found from the wall outside. It has a pirate ship in it, and a train track leading into a dark cave. “What happened when you saw Candle Cove?” he asks Katie. A trippy moment ensues, as Mike sees himself talking to his lost brother Eddie. Katie talks about the cave. To anyone else, it sounds loony. To Mike, it’s awfully real. When Gary hauls Mike out to talk Katie’s visited by a strange-looking creature – the Tooth-Child from up in the hills.
Speaking of teeth, Amy Welch (Luisa D’Oliveira) goes to see Beth Fry (Rachelle Casseus). She’s had a break-in at the house. A keepsake box, that has her boy Alex’s baby teeth in there. God damn! You know what’s going on there. Oooh, love the creepy creeps.
Also, Mike has a life back in his new home. He’s got a wife, a daughter. He checks in with them while on the morbid adventure home. While talking to his daughter Lily (Abigail Pniowsky), she pauses strangely, peering into the darkness, telling him: “You have to go inside.” Spooky, and definitely spooks poor Mike. A little later his mother sees the picture Katie drew and tells him that the tracks, the cave, is a real place.
Marla and Mike head out together. “I look around and I see him everywhere,” Mike says about Eddie, as we literally see the young twin run on ahead in a memory. This prompts a nasty little bit of family history to regurgitate between mother and son. Tough lot of history, really. Particularly considering Marla’s had no closure on the loss of her son. When they get up to an industrial area, Mike heads inside, seeing a vision of Eddie. Or is it someone real? Chasing the figure onward Mike heads through familiar territory, where he and Eddie would play around as boys. He sees a boy off in the distance, in the dark, through a concrete opening. He follows until the light all but disappears completely. Further in he discovers lit candles and what looks like the mummified corpse of a child.
The police are called in, and what’s the consensus? All of a sudden Dr. Painter comes home, things start turning up, kids stab each other, and Candle Cove suddenly reappears on everybody’s minds. And who is the child? Is it Eddie? So many anxieties resurfacing.
We flash back to Eddie being questioned about his busted hand, from last episode. Marla tells the boys to “watch out for each other.” She tries to instil a sense of toughness in them because of how cruel the world is, and this is ultimately what eats her up inside in the present day. The fact she couldn’t protect them from everything. Amazing acting from Fiona Shaw, a fantastic actress, giving it her all in the role’s brutish grief. And Mike, he flashes back, too. To holding a hook, exactly like Katie.
Then we see Mike in flash backs, dragging something into a grave he’s dug out. He cries. From out of a dream Mike is ripped, and the horrific monocled character from Candle Cove is sitting life-sized next to his bed: “All your secrets will be safe in Candle Cove,” he speaks from the shadows.
Could Mike have murdered Eddie under the spell of that mysterious show?
Awhile after, Mike tells his mother that he indeed killed Eddie. Buried him a grave out in the forest. He believes someone took the body away since nothing’s been found. His mother cuts him with a knife when he tries to tell her “more” about the story. But what more is there? Holy shit.
Mike goes out into the woods. He remembers the good times, before all the bad. He can’t forget the bad ones though, no matter how hard he tries. And he can’t fight the dreams, the nightmares. Sheriff Gary ends up tracking Mike down to answer a few questions about his confession to mom. Yeah, knew that would happen eventually.
In all of this, I can’t help wondering: does Mike remember what happened, for real? Could his memory of supposedly killing his brother be false? We’ll have to wait on that one. For the present moment he’s a suspect. A viable one, too.
But Gary has other plans than going to the police station. He and Mike are going for a drive. Where?
We also see more of Mrs. Booth, Mike’s old teacher, mother to Jacob who turned up dead in the murders during ’88. She’s the one stealing teeth from Beth Fry. She’s summoning the Tooth-Child out with them. What a wild image! The monster eats the teeth right from her palm, like an animal. So stunning and creepy. Love that more than I can say.
What a nice follow-up to the first episode. Very pleased with the series so far. Can’t wait to see “Want to See Something Cool?” next, and remember that’s a quote from the public access dude. I hope we see more of his weirdness because he looked positively obsessed. Just like I am already with Channel Zero.