CBS’s Tell Me a Story
Chapter 5: “Madness”
Directed by Solvan Naim
Written by Heather Zuhlke
* For a recap & review of Chapter 4, “Rage” – click here
* For a recap & review of Chapter 6, “Guilt” – click here
When Jordan (James Wolk) comes to on his couch at home, beaten and bruised, he continues to see Beth (Spencer Grammer). She’s there to tend to his wounds. Well, that’s how he sees it, anyway. She remains dead, gone, and murdered. His situation is the physical embodiment of living with trauma. Will it push him over the edge?
Elsewhere we see substitute teacher Nick (Billy Magnussen) is desperately trying to get in touch with Ethan (Rarmian Newton) after the young man’s threatened to reveal the sketchy situation with Kayla (Danielle Campbell). He’s not getting anywhere. Meanwhile, Kayla and grandma Colleen (Kim Cattrall) keep the recent fight with Ethan between them, not letting clueless dad Tim (Sam Jaeger) in on their secret(s). That is until the daughter reveals everything to relieve grandma of her guilt, pissing her father off.
Our Hansel and Gretel, Gabe (Davi Santos) and Hannah (Dania Ramirez) are having an awkward reunion with stepdad Richard (David Andrews) and their mom Madeline (Polly Draper) at the big house in the woods. Little brother’s hopeful their stepfather can help. Big sister is far more reluctant. There’s a troublesome past involving mother and daughter specifically. In spite of any awkwardness, Richard’s already setting his stepchildren up with a plane to get them to Puerto Rico, where he owns a house.
Jordan is going further off the deep end. He wants to buy a guy: “You can buy anything online.” His vision of his dead wife tries to convince him he doesn’t need one, and that he should turn off the constant news coverage of President Dementia, like she should’ve done while she was alive. She says he isn’t the “vigilante type,” urging him not do something he’ll eventually regret.
Eddie (Paul Wesley) tells his brother Mitch (Michael Raymond-James) that Jordan likely has the pig mask. Not good. Mitch doesn’t want Sam (Dorian Missick) to know— that would probably result in everyone dying. This means they’ve got to figure out how to take care of this loose end. They’ll have to be careful, seeing as how Jordan’s keeping an eye on them both. And who knows what the widower will do.
Bourgeois Ethan is busy stroking one out to virtual reality when he discovers Nick has broken into his house undetected. The substitute teacher gets his student in a chokehold, knocking the young man out. Big Bad Wolf v. Smaller Bad Wolf. Ethan comes to, duct taped to a chair, and Mr. Sullivan goes about making sure his life doesn’t go up in flames. The substitute gets his student’s laptop password – “FINGERMYHOLE” – to be certain photos of him and Kayla weren’t distributed to anybody else. Even after Nick is sure, he doesn’t want to let the “rich, white, fucked up poster child for everything that‘s wrong with America” go. But the kid manages to get out of the chair, resulting in a fight between them that ends with him getting stabbed in the gut over and over and over.
Who’s the Big Bad Wolf now? At the very same moment, Little Red Riding Hood is telling her grandma about the super sweet guy she’s met— y’know, the guy stabbing one of his students to death.
“Beats tea time with the witch”
Hannah and Gabe are trying to stay hidden while mom and her man have a fancy party with people who likely know nothing about the siblings. It’s only the brother intent on it. His sister wanders down for a beer, talking briefly to a couple of the guests. Hannah brings up the family’s dirty laundry and recounts her tragic military history in front of strangers as “the gracious Madeline” listens on painfully to all the things she never knew about her daughter.
At home, Tim tries to confront Kayla about their issues, bursting into her room when she runs away. He sees she’s painted her entire room with flowers all over the walls, reminding him of his wife. Kayla thinks her dad was cheating on her mom, which led to the final argument between husband and wife before she died. He insists it isn’t true, yet it looks incredibly likely.
Mitch saw Jordan outside his house, so he goes to Eddie that night, where they hear all sorts of sounds on the roof and nearby. Suddenly a bloody pig’s head is tossed through the window, scaring the brothers— in its mouth, a smartphone ringing. “Once upon a time, there were Three Little Pigs,” Jordan says eerily – “huffing and puffing” – playing his own Big Bad Wolf after Mitch answers the call. The grieving husband wants to know who killed his wife that day. He makes it clear he won’t stop until he gets the truth.
Kayla drops by unexpectedly to see Nick, right as he’s getting home from murdering and full of blood. He’s able to deflect long enough for a shower before they get into bed. He washes all that evidence off, fast as he can, and barely gets the mess off his body then he’s surprised by his student as she climbs in, too.
“The world we know is gone”
Lots of creepy stuff! One of the better episodes, if not the best. Things are getting wild.
Chapter 6 is next time.