Hulu’s Into the Dark
Season 1, Episode 9: “They Come Knocking”
Directed by Adam Mason
Written by Shane Van Dyke & Carey Van Dyke
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “All That We Destroy” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Culture Shock” – click here
A family’s falling apart in the aftermath of a mother’s cancer diagnosis and her eventual death. Two daughters deal with the loss of their mother while their father attempts to hold it all together. We get a bit of text mentioning the Black Eyed Children. A nice creepy setup, even if the landscape and the weather are beautiful.
Soundtrack note: “Absolute Zero” by Godzillionaire plays here
About a year later, Nathan Singer (Clayne Crawford) takes his daughters Maggie (Lia McHugh), the youngest, and Clair (Josephine Langford), the oldest, on a road trip. They stop for gas and a bite. The little girl tells her dad she doesn’t want him to die, like their mother, Val (Robyn Lively). He tries to assure her, like all parents do, he’s “not going anywhere.” Dad and his youngest girl like to have fun, whereas Clair’s a bummer— can’t be too hard on her, seeing a creepy kid hanging around the lot, noticing the plethora of Missing Person posters. It’s also Father’s Day, so Nathan’s just glad to be with his girls.
They arrive to a picturesque spot in the desert. 7 years before, when Nathan met Val, they came to the same place they’re stopped now. Nathan asked Val to marry him. They plan to “lay her to rest” now. We also see Clair had a fight with her mother some time before her death. They exchanged harsh words. The daughter’s got unresolved guilt.
At night, the family sits by the fire playing games. The littlest of dad’s girls wants to have a smell of beer, and she’s revolted by it. She and her big sister argue over “bedtime” but it’s, for the most part, good-natured ribbing, seeing as how Maggie joked earlier about Clair’s period. After the younger one goes to bed, the older of the two is alone by the fire with dad. He tries his best to keep connected with her. He reminisces about his wife’s lipstick with Clair. They both can’t get rid of the images of Val’s final days. Nathan had to put his wife out of her misery. “You‘re not God,” Clair yelled at him.
And now, those memories are too much for them to bear. The teen storms off on her dad. She can’t understand why her father would, effectively, kill her mother. She doesn’t understand he was trying to take away her perpetual pain. Father Gore is of the personal belief— having lost a close, dear grandmother to cancer— euthanasia is the most compassionate, loving thing a person can do if there’s no hope left.
Clair wakes to a knock on the trailer door. She hears whispers She goes to open the door and Nathan stops her, asking why she’s up. She sees someone with black eyes peering in through the ventilation in the roof. The knocking starts again, only it’s more like someone’s just beating on the side of the trailer. Nathan warns they’ve got a gun.
“Please let us in,” is the reply. Children’s voices whisper. One of them giggles. Nathan says he can’t let them inside. They threaten they’ll make the family come out. A child sings the “Three Blind Mice” nursery rhyme while they disappear.
“We want to show you something”
The two daughters fight. Dad goes out to check and see if the kids are gone, not seeing anybody near the trailer. When Nathan’s girls go back to sleep he remembers a dinner with the family, drinking the same red wine he’s taken with them on their trip. This memory’s from the night when everything changed in their lives, and they were about to gradually face the prospect of life without Val.
Clair has a vision of her dead mother. It’s actually dad waking her up. He takes her out to see the engine in their vehicle’s been damaged, leaving Nathan no other choice but to walk back out to the highway to get reception. Clair’s not thrilled about staying behind. It’d be bad enough anyway. Shittier with those kids lurking out there.
In that notebook, Clair’s actually writing a letter to her mother. Maggie wants to know the truth about why their dad isn’t there. She doesn’t buy he’s gone for a normal hike. They try to get Nathan on the walkie with no answer. Clair leaves Maggie alone for a few minutes and can’t find her anywhere after. Uh oh.
Nathan discovers a while he’s hiking. The place looks deserted. There’s a bunch of bottled water lined up on the gravel. Weird. Nathan goes inside the trailer, calling out to see if anybody’s home. Not a soul.
Apart from the rotting corpse swarming with flies in the back room.
Clair finds her way out to a junkyard. There’s a bunch of shoes lined up heading inside. Not unlike the line of water bottles back at the trailer Nathan found. She sees doll parts everywhere, hanging doll heads, trash barrels full of doll limbs. At the trailer, Nathan finds a children’s drawings with a bunch of creepy hooded figures in them. At the junkyard, Clair hears “Hush, Little Baby” being sung. She walks into a sea can, getting locked in the dark where she sees her dead mother in the shadows.
“Come to mommy”
Nathan winds up at the junkyard, getting Clair out of the sea can. They scramble looking for Maggie, finding her back at the trailer. They’re all back together, though everybody’s more than shaken up. Dad tells his teenage daughter about the guy he found. He believes the kids “made him do it.” They’re going to wait until the morning then get the hell out of there. This means they can’t lay mom to rest yet.
A fire’s starting outside. Nathan goes to put it out. He turns back to the trailer and a little black-eyed kid is standing there, asking to play. It rushes towards Nathan, swiping and growling. He smacks it with his shovel. He feels bad while it whines on the ground. When he tries to offer it comfort, he sees it’s neither hurt, nor alone. He makes it to his truck, hiding from them.
He hears his wife calling. Val appears in white to her husband and her youngest girl. Nathan knows it’s only a vision. Maggie has trouble telling reality from fiction. She wants to let her mother inside. Clair hears her sister but can’t reach her through the locked door before the Black-Eyed Children kill Maggie brutally.
Only there’s actually no corpse, no blood. It was only a nightmarish vision.
So, where have the Black-Eyed Children taken Maggie?
Nathan and Clair head to the junkyard— she brings along the bottle of red wine, sure that Val’s trying to communicate. They hear Maggie laughing. They’re led towards another sea can. Dad goes in alone, disappearing. Children emerge, coming for Clair.
In the sea can, Nathan comes face to face with Val. She insists Maggie’s “safe.” She believes he’s attempting to leave her behind, throwing away her memory in the desert— yet Nathan remembers Val telling him to let her go when she was sick, knowing he’s being tricked. At the same time, their oldest daughter’s cornered by the kids. Nathan runs to Clair, taking the bottle of wine.
He pours it out: inside are Val’s ashes.
She’s released onto the wind, free. The Black-Eyed Children dissolve once Nathan figuratively, and literally, lets go of the grief. He and Clair find Maggie, scared, devastated by one last sight of her mother. But now, this family can move on.
“Next time we go on a trip,
can we just stay in a hotel?”
What a creepy episode. Also extremely touching and beautiful. Despite Clayne Crawford being a bit of a dickhole in real life it seems, he does great work here as the father, as do Josephine Langford and Lia McHugh.
Father Gore puts this up there with the better entries from Into the Dark.
“Culture Shock” is next month.