Episode 6: “The Dark Tunnels”
Directed by Tim Southam
Written by Thomas Brady
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Wraith” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Scissors for the Drifter” – click here
Saugus, Massachusetts, 1954.
The Rolls-Royce Wraith pulled up at a drive-in where girls served their customers on roller skates. Safe to say, one of these ladies was young Jolene July (Morgan Lindholm). She went to speak with Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto). He looked like a young Elvis Presley. He wanted to marry Jolene, so every day would “feel like Christmas morning” when they’re together. He even bought a ring. Yet Jolene turned him down, wary about the children he was supposedly saving, all his talk of Christmasland. She’d been following him, discovering he wasn’t where he said he’d be, which made her believe he was doing something shady.
Jolene was leaving work at the drive-in when Charlie chased her down in his Wraith. He looked away for a moment, his radio flickering. It was enough time for her to get away through the static, and for him to crash the car.
Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings) has been admitted into the psych ward. They give her various tests, asking her endless questions. They take a look at her bloodshot eye that doesn’t seem to get better. She sits with Dr. Nathaniel Janes (Bruce Altman). He asks her about Manx. Vic gives him the short answer, more worried about Maggie Leigh (Jahkara Smith) currently in surgery. When they’re done she goes back to the room she’s been assigned with Ms. Jolene July (Judith Roberts).
The radio static flickers. The old woman calls for the younger one to come to her bed, speaking Manx’s name. Vic learns what little she can from the otherwise silent lady. Could Jolene help her get to Christmasland somehow? Maybe. If the meds don’t dull her.
Vic talks to her psychiatrist about wanting to escape Haverhill and the various small town fates others have succumbed to, such as her own parents and many others. Father Gore knows the feeling, coming from a (relatively)small town in Newfoundland and Labrador. Vic’s also been poisoned by Haverhill, believing her mother semi deserved being hit. “We‘re not victims,” she insists. The questions Dr. Janes asks strike at uncomfortable places in her psyche. Linda (Virginia Kull) drops by later to see her daughter and drop off clothes, whereas Chris (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) is out at the bar.
Things are clearing up for Jolene. She’s talking more. And she wants her skates.
Vic helps her into a wheelchair— her “knife,” in this case, used to cut the stitches between places / spaces (a term we’ve heard a couple times from Hill’s novel). The young woman pushes her old friend faster, faster down the corridor, until they pick up enough speed, and suddenly, they take off into Jolene’s inscape.
It’s a fairly barren, desolate place after the old lady was stuck in hospital all those years. There’s a room filled with posters for missing children. Jolene tells Vic no other creative has seen Christmasland other than Manx.
Next, Jolene takes Vic by the hand. Their eyes become static. A whole tunnel of static opens up in front of them. Their bodies drop as they become ethereal presences floating into the static beyond. At the same time, elsewhere, Manx hears his radio flickering in the Rolls-Royce. He feels strange. He hears the old ’50s music we’ve heard on Jolene’s radio. He sees her reflection briefly in his rear view. But he turns and she’s gone. The car’s horn honks on its own, the lights flash. Manx can’t get out, his door’s locked. The engine starts to steam and rev. Manx begins to choke. He manages to open the door and get out of the garage. His body reverts from youth into a decrepit shell. He struggles to water down the engine, cooling it.
He’ll need fresh children.
“We’re all magicians with different tricks”
Jolene and Vic wake back at the inscape. At least Charlie will be slowed down, for now. Jolene says there’s only one way to defeat him: destroy the Wraith. She’s tired and wants to pass on “the fight” to another. She tells the young woman to play the game for doctors and get released. The old lady’s staying in her inscape forever.
An interesting parallel here. Jolene said she couldn’t see what Charlie was back then— blinded by love. Exactly how it is for Vic. She’s fighting to see the good in her father when he’s not a good man. Only makes her relationship to Linda more difficult, too. She has to break the cycle. Same as with Manx. First thing she does after bringing Jolene back, dead, is lie to Dr. Janes, so she might go on to fight the good fight.
Maggie’s body is bruised and half shattered. At least she’s alive. Vic tells her they’re going to kill Manx. Somehow, some way. The witchy Scrabble woman doesn’t think it’s possible, not after seeing the car come alive on its own. She’s scared, blaming herself for dragging Vic into this situation. Funny how the roles are reversed— Vic’s the one pushing to pursue Manx now, and Maggie doesn’t want any part of it, even throwing away her Scrabble bag before catching a bus out of town.
Our artist goes home sad. Rather than take her pills, she throws them down the drain.
Another great one. Things are really building. The story’s moving in interesting places. Above all else, Ashleigh Cummings is KILLING IT as Vic, and she’s truly making all the drama fierce. Love how more of the mythology and world-building is coming out, as well. So much to learn / love.
“Scissors for the Drifter” is next. Will we find out what the game’s all about? Hope so.