Episode 10: “Gunbarrel”
Directed by Stefan Schwartz
Written by Jami O’Brien
* For a recap & review of the penultimate episode, “Sleigh House” – click here
* Season 2 is confirmed!
Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings) is getting out of the window at the Sleigh House while the place burns. She’s watched Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto) make off in the Wraith with the vampire boy Bradley (Pierson Salvador) in the backseat and Craig (Dalton Harrod) in the trunk. Not only that, her knife— the bike— is gone, her inscape no longer accessible. Craig’s trying to work from inside the trunk, using a metal bar to puncture a hole in the gas tank. The vampire notices the fuel going down, along with the blood dripping from his nose.
Father Gore’s been curious about something the whole season: can Vic, as a particularly strong creative, will her inscape to open up without the use of an external knife, as in solely with her mind? (On the to-do list: read NOS4A2 right away!)
Right now, she sees the road leading to the sleigh house decorated with Christmas ornaments tied to the various boys and girls Manx has stolen. There’s a curious moon ornament. Vic wanders to the road where she stops someone on a motorcycle for a ride, explaining the wild situation in the woods. The guy gets her to Sam’s Gas, where Manx was recently. The shopkeeper calls for help right away.
Twist is, Sam’s Gas is all the way up in Colorado.
Maggie (Jahkara Smith) shows Dt. Hutter (Ashley Romans) her Scrabble bag magic, finally proving to the cop it’s real. She explains how it tears “the fabric between the real world and the world of thought.” Hard to deny once you’ve seen it with your own eyes. Maggie gets a call from Vic, hoping the Scrabble tiles can show her where the Wraith’s gone. They spell GUN BARREL. That’s actually the name of the town, Gunbarrel.
The Wraith pulls up outside Sam’s Gas. Vic makes sure everybody inside has a gun. She has the biker, Lou (Jonathan Langdon), hold one on the vampire. Manx, like always, acts coy. Meanwhile, Vic tries to get Craig out of the trunk. She sees the deteriorating vampire child in the backseat, dying for a meaty human to play with a bit. Craig breaks out into the Wraith, winding up in a fight with the kid.
Vic decides to pour gas over the Rolls-Royce.
She’s ready to light it up while the old vamp gets his claws on the pistol. She drops a lighter on the hood. The flames lick across it. Manx withers on the pavement, his skin burning down “a hundred years” until he’s a decrepit creature again. Vic tries to pull Craig out of the backseat, but that barrier between the front and back won’t let her. He tells her to save herself. She has to get out while the car burns. There’s too much gas everywhere, and it all explodes in a ball of fire.
Some time later, Vic comes to in the hospital. She’s there with Lou, who’s okay. He tells her Manx is cuffed to a bed. The Wraith’s been taken by the police, not entirely destroyed. This means Charlie isn’t totally dead, neither physically or figuratively. And poor Vic’s lost Craig, too. She does appear like a “superhero” to Lou, amazed at what he’s seen in the little time he’s known Ms. McQueen. She says goodbye to the biker. Dude’s got Season 2 written ALL OVER HIM. He offers his number, in case she’ll need a “sidekick.”
To boot, Vic discovers she’s pregnant— whoa.
Maggie gets a visit from Dt. Hutter. The cop wants help from the Scrabble bag to find Bing. She tells a story about how her mother claims she was saved as a child by Santería magic. Maggie says there’s “a cost” to using it. Hutter believes there’s likewise one for ignoring it. So, the witchy woman reaches into her bag, pulling out more tiles.
They spell HOUSE OF SLEEP TWO. Oh, fuck.
In the House of Sleep No. 2 we see Bing shaving his familiar beard, burning his old work uniform, and changing his appearance, at least a little. No telling where exactly he is at this other house. He’s got another car with a new Maine license plate— OF COURSE it’s Maine, we’re talking about Joe Hill, brood of Stephen King! And this simple scene is so sinister. The dastardly Mr. Partridge is out there. With all that gingerbread gas.
At the hospital, Vic requests to see Manx in the ICU Burn Unit. The vampire is barely more than a crispy, wrinkled shell. The young artist calls him “a sick dog,” declaring her intention to find Christmasland and burn it. She heads back home, where Linda (Virginia Kull) is getting ready for Craig’s funeral. Everyone at the reception afterwards tells stories about him, remembering all the hilarious times. Vic listens to them and smiles. Those are the only good parts about funerals.
Vic tells her father about being pregnant. Chris (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), for all his brutal faults, reacts incredibly well. This doesn’t help her. She’s terrified, mourning the loss of the guy who got her pregnant. She goes outside, sick to her stomach. She runs into Craig’s mom. The woman advises her: “Go be an artist.” The grieving mother’s aware of how badly Haverhill sucks.
Soundtrack note: “Broken Bones” by Chvrches plays here
Vic takes her dad’s bike and heads off from the funeral to the woods. She meets Maggie by the water. They both mourn for their friends lost at the hands of Manx, as well as the children the old vampire took to Christmasland. Maggie plans to work with Dt. Hutter to track Bing down. But Vic can’t stay in Haverhill anymore. She can’t stop thinking about Christmasland. Maggie got a “blank tile” when she asked her Scrabble bag about Manx’s inscape. Is it still out there? If Charlie’s mind isn’t entirely gone, it remains.
Six months later— in Colorado— Vic checks out the road to the Sleigh House with Lou. She hears the voices of the vampire children on the wind. She’s working at Lou’s garage and preparing to have her child in a few months.
Elsewhere, a little girl is at the dentist. She’s greeted by brand new Bing a.k.a Mr. Anderson. He works at a dentist’s office, where he continues to have access to anesthetic. And out there, the Wraith continues to live in disrepair. Will Bing try to have it restored for his old boss? He wants to get to Christmasland. He’d do anything to get there.
Well, it’s being restored anyway. It’s a classic! When a guy gets working on it, the spark in Manx’s eyes returns, just a little. He’s already calling out supposed bad mothers and he still needs a damn blood transfusion. Tough bastard.
Honestly, if there’s no Season 2, Father Gore’s starting a petition. Or a riot. We’ll see.
And in the meantime, he’s going to get reading the novel because he is an ASSHOLE for not having read it already. Seriously. What a story. This season was full of incredible writing, surprises, performances, visuals, and it’s not enough. There needs to be more.
Thank you to AMC, Joe Hill, Jami O’Brien, and all involved! A magical piece of work.
[[UPDATED: Season 2’s already been confirmed. There is good in the world.]]