Syfy’s Channel Zero
Season 3, Episode 6: “Sacrifice Zone”
Directed by Arkasha Stevenson
Written by Nick Antosca, Angela LaManna, & Harley Peyton
* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 3 episode, “The Red Door” – click hereclick here
* Season 4: Hidden Door comes later this year, hopefully.
Down in one of those old Prohibition-era tunnels, little Izzy (Annelise Pollmann) is hiding away, as something or someone chases her down trying to get inside.
While back in that field, Alice (Olivia Lccardi) feels as if she’s regaining herself and her mind again. Joseph Peach (Rutger Hauer) is also telling her about a “higher power” who allows them to live on that plantation. They’ve got to give up an offering, for rent. They have to sacrifice Izzy, or else things will get ugly for them instead.
In the real world at Medallion Park, Zoe (Holland Roden) wanders the woods. She’s getting lost all over again in her illness, after swallowing that hideous insect that was pulled from the dark recesses of her sister’s brain. At the same time, the Peach family are coming downstairs to check things out for themselves.
Zoe’s journey is an interesting metaphor for battles with mental illness, in the sense that often people with mental illness, instead of being dehumanised by societal processes of so-called therapy, would rather deal with the illness than suffer through fake cures and false hope. Above all, the story of the Woods sisters is an allegory of facing our mental illness(es), and a warning not to escape into a dreamland.
“You were so scared of losing your mind and then you just gave it away.”
At her place Louise (Krisha Fairchild) is cleaning up with Luke (Brandon Scott) and trying to figure out what they can begin to do next. He’s dead set on taking a run at the Peachs, though she isn’t so sure. Before they can decide, a knock comes upstairs at the door: it’s Diane, the scissors lady, and she found Izzy. This is also when Zoe turns up.
When Alice goes looking for her sister, she gets a visit from the student loans collector. This ends in a cannibalistic attack on her part right outside Louise’s place. Not to mention a couple of those creepy like kids a-la Cronenberg’s The Brood are laying siege to the house. Luckily, there’s one of those Prohibition tunnels underneath the house.
The gang escape just in time, as Joseph and Smart Mouth (Linden Porco) turn up soon enough. Old Mr. Peach is horrified to see members of his family decapitated, murdered, and he also gets a glimpse of Ms. Lispector’s years of research about Butcher’s Block. And now, his grief is transforming him into his Butcher form. In the tunnels, Lousie faces the Butcher himself in the dark. She fires her gun, it just doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.
Note: The images of the Butcher in the dark – in specific, those glowing teeth – are reminiscent of David Lynch’s use of exaggerated mouths in both Inland Empire and also in a depiction of Sarah Palmer during Twin Peaks: The Return. Even some of the eerily atmospheric sound design in the background of some scenes in this season call to mind elements of the sound design in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me particularly concerning the existentially horrifying moments.
We get more of the backstory about the Pestilent God, to whom the Peachs pray and offer their sacrifices, in exchange for a plantation home where it’s “always summer” and where they have happiness, children (“little Peachs“), and plenty to eat. The Pestilent God is similar to a harvest deity, but one that is vindictive, and most of all it is hungry.
And so Izzy is brought to where the Peach family once had a chapel, where they’ll sacrifice the little girl to their god. Louise, Luke, and Zoe watch nearby as the ceremony begins. When the time is right, the gang snatch Izzy from the sacrificial altar while the Peach family and Alice are distracted.
Now, what will the Pestilent God do without his latest meal?
In the forest, Edie (Diana Bentley) undergoes violent birth, and Smart Mouth has his little skull caved in. Downstairs comes the Pestilent God. Joseph stands before him, and then the Peach family are rendered nothing but blood and chunks of meat.
Then Alice and Zoe’s mother appears at the foot of the steps. The woman reaches out to Alice; mother and daughter are reunited. Except in the face of her mom Alice sees the vast nothingness of the universe existing within the Pestilent God, the absurdity of her fate, and she’s left in a shell.
“Anything is better than going insane”
Skip ahead one year. Alice is committed to the same hospital as her mother. On the walls are the familiar swirling, starry landscapes of outer space. Back in Butcher’s Block, the Butcher’s murals are already being covered up with new graffiti. Zoe is waking up to face the day, and she’s taking her medication properly rather than turning away from the problem or running away. The Lispector home has become a happy one with Louise, Luke, Zoe, and Izzy sharing a dinner table.
However, the meaty servant creature still walks in the park now and then. Somewhere out there, the Pestilent God lurks, too. And he’s always, always hungry.
Loved this season. There are a lot of broader things happening here, outside the homage to other horror and the unique brand of horror Channel Zero presents. Someday soon I’ll go back and write a full-fledged article on Butcher’s Block fascinating and equally horrifying treatment of mental illness. This has been my personal favourite season, though with so much quality it’s hard to choose.
Supposedly the next season is an adaptation of the Hidden Door creepypasta. If so, look out! Can’t wait to get unsettled all over again. Hoping it’s sooner than later.