Syfy’s Channel Zero
Season 4, Episode 3: “Love Hurts”
Directed by E.L. Katz
Written by Lisa Long & Lenore Zion
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Bizarre Love Triangle” – click here
This episode is titled after “Love Hurts” originally recorded by the Everly Brothers in 1960 and also made hugely famous by Nazareth later on in 1975.
Pretzel Jack is busy drowning Tom (Brandon Scott), who fights back as hard as possible. It’s a slippery, tense fight. Tom takes a knife in the chest, before Vanessa (Barbara Crampton) manages to get a shot off at the surreal killer. This doesn’t stop a twisty lad like Jack, whose body contorts like a spider to put him back on his feet again. Tom tries getting away in the car outside, proving he can’t drive stick whatsoever. He gets away, only to be nailed by a van in the road.
For now, Tom survives Pretzel Jack.
Jill (Maria Sten) receives a call about her husband. At the same time, she finds her front door open. It’s only Ian (Steven Robertson), bringing back the dog. She asks him to stay with her until she heads to the hospital. She’s confused and scared.
At the hospital, the married couple get a visit from the cops, who’ve got the security footage from Vanessa’s place. Turns out Vanessa’s “a doula,” which is DEFINITELY how Tom met her, because he and Sarah have a child together. The security footage presents worse troubles. Tom remembers the childhood drawings of Pretzel Jack, though he just assumes, somehow, a maniac saw those drawings. Plus, the cops are sowing seeds of distrust in an already ruinous marriage.
When Jill and Tom talk about Jack, she says: “He‘s me.” Carl Jung’s a lasting influence on The Dream Door, given his famous reply when asked about who his own tulpa was: “Only myself.” Jill talks about her imaginary friend, again, as a protector. She conjured him up through the negative energy in her life. After her father Bill (Gregg Henry) left is when Pretzel Jack literally walked into the real world through that blue door. Jack likes sleeping under beds, or patios— whatever’s available to him at the time!
Jill shows her husband the old corpse of Jack from years ago, like a burned mannequin. Of course Tom won’t believe his wife. This is when they have to lay their secrets on the table, including the adultery and the kid with Sarah. Because the hate coming from the secrets is fuelling Jill’s nightmarish imaginary friend.
Jill takes Tom with her to see her now former therapist Abel (Steven Weber). They try to start a process of healing in spite of all that’s happened. Neither of these men are taking this woman seriously, either. Like real life, when men don’t listen to women they put themselves, and the women, in danger. These guys are putting themselves in the way of a murderous entity. Soon, there are noises in the hallway. Jill believes Jack is coming, and her therapist’s having none of that. The imaginary friend is nowhere to be found, until the window opens and Pretzel Jack flops through into the office. Horrifying. Abel thinks he can reason with him, too. This gets him murdered. At least now Tom sees the truth. Ian’s able to get the married couple out of there before either of them are hurt.
We discover Ian is the same as Jill. He explains how people like them can open their “secret doors” to the world. Jack is like an “emotional defence system” that goes off when Jill’s in distress. It’s comfort as a child, but violent terror as an adult when life’s created serious anxieties. We further discover Ian can “feel” Jill, which is how he wound up living next to them.
What to do with Pretzel Jack? He’s a tumour inside. Jill can learn to live with him and control him. Or, she can go through the gruelling process of physically destroying every last part of him. In order to prove himself to the couple, Ian conjures up a dream door of his own in the wall. He opens it up and lets a Werewolf cat (a.k.a a Lykoi) out.
To lure Jack out and trap him, the group have to draw on his protector status. This mean Jill has to willing let herself be emotionally hurt. She and Tom confront their shattered relationship in all its rawness. Her husband spells out his infidelity and his fears about their marriage in no uncertain terms. At the same time, Pretzel Jack picks up his pace looking for Jill.
Just as Tom gives up he sees Jack appear at the top of the stairs in their basement. Strangely enough, Jill gets a call from her dad at that very moment. Jack comes to Jill in the room beyond the blue door, doing a few of his twisty moves to impress her. She’s almost happy in his presence. She lays her head against his chest in comfort.
Upstairs, Sarah’s there to talk with Tom. Perfect fucking time, right? Also the perfect fucking time for “Love Song” by the Damned to play the episode off.
This season has once more proved Channel Zero brings quality, unique horror to television. The Dream Door becomes weirder, wilder, and more fun with each chapter. “Bizarre Love Triangle” is next.