SyFy’s Channel Zero
Season 1, Episode 4: “A Strange Vessel”
Directed by Craig William Macneill
Written by Erica Saleh
* For a review of the previous episode, “Want to See Something Cool?” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Guest of Honor” – click here
With Mike Painter’s (Paul Schneider) daughter Lily (Abigail Pniowsky) at his mother’s step in Iron Hill, will we discover more secrets behind his childhood? In 1988, Mike and Jessica talking about Eddie, the kids starting to go missing. Then Mike shows her a Pirate Percy doll his brother made recently. No sooner does Candle Cove come on, the skull-headed figure announcing: “Do you sense it? Something is coming. A strange vessel is headed for the cove!”
In the present day Mike tries to figure out how his daughter got all the way back to his hometown, at grandma Marla’s (Fiona Shaw). Lily’s spaced out, no answers for her father. But you know that deep down Mike understands this connects with Eddie, the other missing and dead children. And maybe Marla understands that, too.
Standing in the hallway of the hospital Jessica (Natalie Brown) can clearly see there are multiple children all witnessing strange things. Candle Cove characters appear all over the wall in kids’ drawings. At least Jessica’s kids are making up. Uh oh – she also notices her boy Dane is missing a tooth. That’s because Katie has it, and the grin across her face as she looks at it is disturbing.
While Mike tries to explain to his wife their daughter showed up in Iron Hill, Jessica goes to see her husband, Sheriff Gary (Shaun Benson), as he sits behind bars. I mean, he fucked up. He’s still convinced Mike is dangerous, advising his wife to go home and get his gun, to keep it close. Just in case. However, husband Gary isn’t aware that his wife’s reconnected online with Mike as of late, before his breakdown and his trip home.
Amy Welch (Luisa D’Oliveira) is busy running things at the station, between actual work and turning down a fellow officer’s sort of sweet advances. I hope to see more of her. It’ll be nice to have her take on a bigger role at work because of Gary’s situation.
Switch back to ’88. Jessica doesn’t particularly like Eddie much, preferring Mike’s company. Especially seeing as how Eddie went pretty weird after watching too much Candle Cove. In the present Jessica meets Lily, who’s still pretty spacey. When she asks the little girl what she likes, Lily replies: “I like pirates.” Oh, for fuck sakes! Then, in the wall of the living room, she pulls out the Pirate Percy doll. She also says she isn’t Lily. Her doctor dad tries to do his thing, analysing; is Lily channelling the spirit of her dead uncle Eddie? Speaking of, we go back to ’88 again when he tells Mike about how every time they send somebody off to Candle Cove, “it gets stronger” – the Tooth Child? Regardless, there was a division between the brothers, and clearly Eddie felt that slipping, worried his brother would love a girl more than him. Tragic, really, as well as part of growing up, figuring life out.
We get a strange reenactment in the shadows, what looks like kids wearing papier-mâché replicas of the Candle Cove characters. Then there’s an amazing matching shot of young Mike and Eddie playing cards, which then cuts to Mike playing cards with his daughter; more evidence of the fact she’s channelling uncle Ed. Also, a terrifying figure lurks in the shadows as father and daughter/brother play. What is it? A pirate?
Only problem with the whole channelling dead Eddie thing is that it really gets to Marla. She’s a good woman, whose family was just torn right open. Mike has been immersed in this weirdness his entire life, or most of it; she’s only been experiencing the truth behind everything recently. And she doesn’t know exactly how to handle all those emotions. Hopefully she’ll be able to keep it together. At the same time, Mike talks to his brother through Lily; about his murder. Basically Eddie’s soul needs to get put to rest. Until then Lily ain’t Lily.
Those creepy mask wearing kids are no doubt those crazies Mrs. Booth has been training. Deputy Welch winds up talking to the old teacher, worried about what she saw them doing recently by the roadside – stabbing the shit out of a mannequin. They speak a bit of ’88, Jacob… then we’re back to that time once more, as Eddie goes to see Jacob Booth. Oh, my. I can see it coming now. Candle Cove comes on. Mother hugs her son Jacob tight, kissing him with tears in her eyes. Is she doing what I think she’s doing?
Eddie once tricked Jessica and tried sending her to Candle Cove. So brother confronts brother. Eventually, Mike gets the upper hand by pulling back those injured fingers on Eddie’s hand and running off. Present day once more, there are other nasty children skulking about. Amy tries to track down those kids at the school only to stumble into a darkened room where computer screens with Candle Cove screensavers pop up. On she goes to the gym where the mask wearers shout “Protect the ship” before Amy interrupts. Jesus, these kids are creepy.
Mike and Jessica go the morgue where Eddie’s body lies shelved. They’re taking the next necessary step to try returning Lily to normal. They burn his remains out in the woods. Simultaneously, grandma can’t seem to keep her eyes off her granddaughter, the spirit of her dead son looking back. If all this works, that spirit will be gone soon enough. Good, and sad in a way for Marla.
In other parts of Iron Hill bad things are on their way. Deputy Welch is at home with her Chinese food, the friendly law enforcement suitor from earlier in bed next to her. Little does she know there are awful kids coming for her. In a last minute move she heads over to see Mrs. Booth. No answer. So Amy finds the spare key and lets herself in. Noises lead her down to the basement. There she finds unpleasant jars, a Candle Cove doll, a dead Daphne being feasted on by a cat. GET OUT, AMY!
It seems the masked kids didn’t go to see the deputy after all. Jessica discovers them in her home, wielding knives. They start stabbing her, so she pulls the gun. But who could kill a kid, right? This sends her outside, as the kids crowd her in the little pool and stab her repeatedly under the watchful eye of Mrs. Booth.
Later in the night Lily wakes. She’s herself again, finally. Although she doesn’t remember a single thing. It was all a “nightmare” her father says. But the nightmare’s just beginning.
What a savage episode. This one frayed my nerves, genuine fright a couple times. There’s just this true sense of dread and suspense. I never expected Jessica to come across those kids. That really threw me for a complete loop.
Next episode is titled “Guest of Honor” and I’m in awe trying to think of what they’ll do next on this series. Love this show. Give me another 5 seasons, right now. So many great, classic Creepypastas they could use.