Episode 4: “The House of Sleep”
Directed by John Shiban
Written by Megan Mostyn-Brown
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Gas Mask Man” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Wraith” – click here
1978. Christmas in Sugarcreek, Pennsylvania.
The Partridge family were around the tree. Little Big was opening his presents while his father John (Larry Mitchell) and his mother June (Miriam Silverman) stood by watching. The kid got a gas mask. His dad put “three yellow men in the dirt” while wearing it. Great wholesome holiday gift! Dad was full of toxic masculinity to hand down to his boy. The father-son duo played around a bit before John got rough, downright nasty. Mom was the only light in his life.
The older Bing got, the harder it got, as those manly lessons were never done being handed down. While he was up on a ladder putting Christmas lights on the house one year, his dad got on his case. So he used the nail gun to put a nail right in his father’s forehead. A shocking yet not altogether unexpected moment of violence.
Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings) talks to Haley’s father, Steve (Owen Burke). The cops think Sharon (Elizabeth Stanley) took off with their daughter. The young artist’s left wondering what’s happening. She’s called Maggie Leigh (Jahkara Smith), who rushes to her new friend. She’s heading off on her own to the bridge.
She pulls up to see HOUSE OF SLEEP spray painted on the wall. She rushes through to the other side, coming out into a clearing. She walks up to a house where Bing (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) lives. Vic leaves, though we soon see Bing’s keeping Sharon in his basement. He drugs her so she’ll repeat those words his mother spoke years before: “I love you more than anything, Bing Partridge.” Then she gets Christmas cookies as a treat.
Haley wakes in the Rolls-Royce with Manx. She tries grabbing at him, only for her hand to disappear— sort of how Maggie’s hand disappears into the Scrabble bag. Manx explains he’s only trying to take the girl away to a better place. They’re headed towards Christmasland on the St. Nick Parkway, Charlie’s personal inscape. He tells the girl about all the treats awaiting her. First, he wants info about the bridge.
Thought: Will Vic become withered like Manx if she continues using the bridge?
Haley pulls a loose tooth out. She’s already falling apart, getting weaker. Manx does cheap magic tricks to draw the little girl further into his grip. He asks more questions about the bridge while she spits more bloody teeth from her mouth. She only wants to go home, even if there’s powdered sugar falling out of the sky. Manx also tells the girl about his own childhood, “living in the back of a mortuary” with his bad mother. He’d be kicked outside while mom lived her life of pleasure indoors.
Finally, Haley breaks down and gives over Vic’s name.
Linda (Virginia Kull) worries for her daughter, whose red eye she thinks is from smoking weed. Mom talks to her daughter about the first time she got hit, blaming herself a little in the process. Vic’s sorry for pretending her dad was a good man. It was a necessity for her, growing up. Linda explains people “can be both” good and bad. You just can’t only focus on the good, no matter if it’s someone you like or love.
This prompts Vic to think of Bing again.
She goes over to his house under the pretence of bringing back a comic book. She pushes her way inside, nicely, and finds the place pretty nasty— hand lotion by the couch, all the Kleenex balled up, fetish magazines on the table. Vic tries to look around without being too suspicious. She suggests there’s a rumour about him, that he’s done “something bad.” He wants her to leave. But she asks for comic books she loaned him. When Bing goes looking for them it gives Vic time to snoop. She gets caught, and the big friendly janitor ain’t so friendly anymore. Perfect time for Manx to phone and have a chat with the young artist about the Shorter Way. He wants to meet.Vic uses the bridge to uncover Sharon’s corpse in a shallow grave, a nail driven into her forehead. Just like Bing’s original victims. And what about the revelation of what Bing did to his own mother? Holy fucking yikes. The guy who once seemed like a friendly giant, somebody who’d experienced an early life of horror, is now an outright monster.
Manx stops at a store to get a few things. While he’s inside, a woman sees Haley looking awful in the backseat. She tries to help the girl, only to get hauled inside and chomped on until she’s nothing but a bloody mess. Charlie’s pleased to see the horror.
In Haverhill, the cops swam where Sharon’s corpse was found. At his place, Bing sees the coverage. This is already how Ives got dispatched from Manx’s service, too. Might not sit well with the old vamp if his henchman winds up being suspected of murder.
At the gates of Christmasland, Manx arrives with Haley. The girl’s amazed. She goes on inside while ole Charlie heads back out on the road to do more dark work. Haley’s greeted by Danny with a box that contains a nice shiny pair of scissors to play “Scissors for the Drifter,” a dastardly game.
“Bing, you thing—
what have you done?”
What an episode! Each one’s better than the last, and that’s not an easy feat. Not sure how it is for those familiar with Joe Hill’s novel. Father Gore can’t wait to read it.
But, for now, the series is doing a bang up job for horrifying entertainment.
“The Wraith” is next.