Episode 7: “Scissors for the Drifter”
Directed by Jeremy Webb
Written by Jami O’Brien
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Dark Tunnels” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Parnassus” – click here
Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings) wakes in the middle of the night to the phone ringing. She goes to get it, finding her mother Linda (Virginia Kull) sitting in the living room, seemingly unaware it’s ringing. The daughter answers. Christmas songs pour through the receiver. Haley (Darby Camp) asks if Vic’s seen “Father Christmas” a.k. Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto), then another voice gets on the phone, demanding to know where their new dad has gone. The kids are looking forward to Vic being taken to Christmasland. They want to play “Scissors for the Drifter” with her.
Speaking of the old man, Charlie’s trying to fix his Wraith. This takes him out hobbling down the road on his cane. A man and his son stop to offer him a ride in their truck. Shit. A father-son duo went missing over three decades ago thanks to ole Father Christmas. They survive— at least, for the time being— getting him to a store where he buys engine coolant and makes use of the shopkeeper’s “telephone machine.”
Things for Vic aren’t great, as usual. She finds out Linda sold her dirt bike. She’s clearly angry at her mother, demanding to get it back. She storms out, calling Maggie Leigh (Jahkara Smith) to find out what the Scrabble tiles can tell her. Except her friend threw the tiles away. She tells Maggie about getting a call from Haley. “I need my knife,” Vic says. Our witchy Scrabble woman’s not willing to help anymore. She’s an orphan who’s always been able to protect herself, until now. It frightens her.
Vic remains stranded, incapable of reaching her inscape without a knife to do the job.
At school, Vic confronts Bing Partridge (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) with a picture of Ives, explaining things about his boss he doesn’t want to hear. She wants the big man to help find Charlie. Bing throws her against a locker, threatening with one of his nursery rhymes. Things are going to get a LOT worse before they get any better. When Bing goes to help his boss, he asks about Ives. Manx assures he’ll make it to Christmasland.
Vic and Drew (Rarmian Newton) are much closer. She doesn’t appreciate his judgements about her family. She clings to this idea her father’s an actual good person. Definitely presumptuous of Drew to say what he does. Is he wrong? Chris is NOT a good guy. He’s an alcoholic who’s let it ruin his life. He’s doing nothing to atone. Other than taking his daughter to a bike expo. When they’re at a bar having a bite to eat, she hears the ringing phone again. She answers and the kids tell her: “We are hungry.” They want Father Christmas back. The other child is Millie Manx (Mattea Conforti). Oh, god.
Back at the junkyard, the old woman sees her television flicker. Bing and Charlie have arrived with the Wraith she remembers all too well. The custodian asks for the part they need. The woman’s haunted. She rushes to call Sheriff Joe Bly (Chris McKinney). A strange twist of fate. Bly goes straight to Maggie. She’s not interested, too high on her pain medication.
“As long as you remain on my Nice List,
you have nothing to fear.”
At the bar, Vic confronts Chris about a lifetime of bullshit. She chugs a beer and the look on his face is a grim recognition. Chris talks to her like an asshole instead of a daughter. “It‘s not my job to be the adult,” she tells him. Dad does his sad sack act. He could just ADMIT to being a shit father and, y’know, start making up for it. He’d sooner waste away in a bar. This leaves Vic stranded, physically, emotionally, existentially. At least Craig (Dalton Harrod) is there for emotional support, not talking down to her about her family and not constantly trying to get into her pants, like a sensible dude.
Bing barely gets the Wraith ready before cops come down on the junkyard. The old woman watches as Manx gradually morphs from his Nosferatu state into a younger version of himself with the car started. She falls to the ground, having a stroke. Charlie wants to leave the “old bitch” to die, calling her an unfit mother, which is why he stole her boy away years ago. He and Bing get in the car when cops show up. They’re invisible inside, unnoticed by normal people.
Vic goes back to Craig’s place for the night. She finds an old picture of her she gave him in Grade 2 on his nightstand. He lights up a bowl of weed for her, hopefully to help her sleep. Elsewhere, in Iowa, Maggie’s staying with the sheriff. She notices the cop’s lights flashing outside in the night. There’s a candy cane on the windshield with a letter attached. An invite to Christmasland?
Up at the fabled place in the north, Manx and Bing arrive at the gates. The vampire can’t bring his employee inside yet. They haven’t saved the ten children required. For now, Bing’s only allowed to see the bright lights and the decorated gates. He has to stay there while Manx drives inside. Charlie’s got Sheriff Joe with him— the cop’s probably able to enter because he helped an orphan, right?
He’s not there to have fun, though. He’s there for a game of Scissors for the Drifter. That means all the vampire kids crowd around and stab him to death. Fun game!
Oh, my. Christmas in the middle of the year? NOS4A2 is a treat!
Another wonderful episode.
“Parnassus” is next time.