2×02: “Good Father”
Directed by John Shiban
Written by David Grimm
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, “Bad Mother,” click here.
* For a recap & review of 2×03, “The Night Road,” click here.
At Jefferson Memorial, a security guard named Hicks (played by comedian Jim Norton) talks with a nurse, flirting with her while she’s looking to get a few pics of Charlie Manx in the morgue downstairs. He snaps one when the lights go out, so he quickly gets out of there, unaware that the old demonic vampire’s gotten off the table and started walking around again. When Hicks does notice Charlie’s body has disappeared he goes back in to look around, he gets cracked in the back of the head then beaten to a pulp by the walking vamp corpse. Charlie goes about stitching the Y-incision in his torso back together.
We’re given a look at Charlie’s earlier years with his wife Cassie (Celeste Arias), who called him “my Nosferatu“— given the response from the butler Charters (Kevin Fennessy), we’re in the early 1920s, around the time of the film’s release. He perfectly puts a couple matchsticks in his mouth, pretending they’re fangs. He didn’t have much time for vampire stories, though. Not a fan of the “love bites” the creepy old man gives to women. He wasn’t yet a vampire at this point. He was a normal man with normal struggles for the time. Charlie and Cassie were trying to start a life with their newborn daughter Millie, though her bourgeois father didn’t respect him.
He hoped to start a fleet of chauffeured cars and needed startup cash from his father-in-law, Horace Haber (Victor Slezak). This wouldn’t prove easy since Haber was a crotchety old piece of shit who’s a hateful misogynist and all around prick, calling Charlie a cat with “no tail.” Horace explained the only money that’ll be handed over is a trust held for Millie until she’s eighteen years old. This backstory is interesting. All the same, a bit overkill on the vampire references when Horace outright calls Charlie one for trying to get money out of him. Problems with money just continued to plague the Manx family, as the years went by and the married couple fought over finances while attempting to raise a child. It was obvious that Millie and her father shared a closer bond than she did with her mother. And we know where that all leads. Long before they were demon-like vampires, they talked of Christmasland and constructed it in their shared imagination before bedtime.
Bing’s elated to get a call from Mr. Manx. He wants a child in the Wraith, delivered to him. That’s why the car hasn’t started yet. It’ll require some young blood to get the engine pumping. While Charlie’s waiting it looks like he’s going to use that security guard uniform to the fullest extent. He gets to Hicks’s car and drives out of there, running over another guard who sees him first. Elsewhere, Bing’s knocking on another door looking for a boy, Mike Demeter (John James Cronin)— a better vampire reference, to the Russian ship that took Count Dracula to London. An absent-minded girl answers the door and lets Bing inside. The big man goes downstairs to find little Mike in a cage, stuck in there by another boy, Eric (Brendan Meehan). He finds Eric and other boys watching porn. He gets Mike out of the cage, seeing the kid has GAY written across his forehead. He tells the boy it’s okay to cry about things. Bing is so disturbing because there’s sympathetic aspects to him, yet he’s a fucking horrific human being. He straight up asks Mike if he should kill Eric. The boy says no. He likes talking to Bing and wouldn’t want him to get arrested. So they’ll go for an adventure instead.
A woman sees bloody, newly resurrected Charlie dragged himself around, so like any normal person she calls 911. He’s doing his best to get to a phone. He picks it up and immediately gets connected to Christmasland, talking to his daughter. He tells Millie she needs to be “very brave,” he doesn’t know if he’ll make it back. He says Christmasland is an eternal place. However, Millie tells him things aren’t so great lately, and the place is falling apart. She urges him to return. That means dad’s gonna have to step things up. He gets himself a new disguise, murdering a custodian, right as cops show up looking for the bloody old man. Charlie’s able to regenerate to his youthful self in time to evade capture, and at the same time Bing’s able to get the Wraith started again. Still, the old vamp isn’t fully healed, but it’s enough to get him on the road. When he gets to the road leading to Christmasland he meets a boy called Bruce he’s seen “in a dream.” Probably doesn’t bode well for the kid. He takes off when he sees Charlie bleeding through his shirt. It’s not much longer before Bing finds his master, and once Charlie gets in the vampire is fully restored, along with a new child to bring back to Christmasland.
“I used to think I was so big ’cause I had too much sad in me”
A look at Charlie’s old life, when he brought home the Rolls Royce. He bought it for a decent price because someone died inside it. He paid $3,000 for it in spite of the family financial hardships. Did not go over with Cassie. She then discovered her husband pawned rings belonging to her mother to get “that monstrosity.” She told Charlie she was leaving and taking Millie with her, too. Charlie’s in the period right before the Great Depression, things were already rough. He was reaching far beyond his grasp, and putting his family in jeopardy to do it.
Does anybody have a bad feeling about where this backstory is headed?
Well, Charlie took Millie and Cassie for a drive. He was an awful misogynist, like his father-in-law. Probably worse. Also, Charlie and Millie seemed to have already been vampires? Am I missing something here? Or, were they turned into this vampiric form by giving into their Creative spirit in an evil way? Suddenly, Millie’s teeth bled, turning into fangs. She chomped on her mother. Charlie’s eyes filled with static, and they drove off into vampiric eternity as a father-daughter duo.
In the present, Charlie gets back to Christmasland. He’s brought young Mike to be a companion for Millie, along with a fresh corpse for the vampire kids. But Millie’s not satisfied, wanting to know if her father’s going to stay there with her.
Then there’s another child Bing and Charlie want to save: Bruce Wayne McQueen.
A strange episode. Great to see backstory on the Manx family, even if I’m personally not quite sure what the hell’s going on at some points. Adds more depth to the villain. But I’ll be interested to see how well Season 2 can deviate from Season 1. Right now it feels very similar for the most part. I do have faith in NOS4A2 to show us something fresh.