Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities
1×07: “The Viewing”
Directed by Panos Cosmatos
Written by Cosmatos & Aaron Stewart-Ahn
* For a recap & review of 1×06, click here.
* For a recap & review of 1×08, click here.
It’s 1979. Lionel Lassiter (Peter Weller) has invited guests for “a viewing” at the Sandpiper House. It promises to be a life-changing experience. Four people are invited: Guy Landon (Steve Agee), Randall Roth (Eric Andre), Charlotte Xie (Charlyne Yi), and Targ Reinhard (Michael Therriault). None of them quite know what they’re in for, but a guy called Hector (Saad Siddiqui) is there to pick them up in a van and transport them further. There’s a “veil of secrecy” around Lassiter, so it’s no wonder things are a bit clandestine. The invited guests get to know each other a little on the way. Suddenly, Hector advises the guests to stay quiet and listen to an “audio program” the rest of the way. And after some time, the group arrive at the Sandpiper House, where Lassiter prepares for their visit by injecting strange drugs, courtesy of the mysterious Dr. Zahra (Sofia Boutella).
The guests are taken through Sandpiper House, a trippy half-mansion, half-nature retreat. They’re seated in a room according to their favourite drink. Quite convenient! There’s even some “super hard to find Tibetan menthol cigarettes” that Randall adores, despite trying to quit smoking; he doesn’t smoke any, though. Lots of small talk between the guests as they wait for Lassiter. Eventually, Lassiter turns up with 50-year-old whiskey that survived World War II and a big earthquake before it came to him. They’re all poured a bit of the fancy whiskey and they drink. After that, Lassiter explains he’s going to offer a once in a lifetime experience. He goes around the room complimenting his guests and their respective work. He sees all four of the guests as the top talents in their fields.
Randall isn’t ready to receive the compliments from Lassiter, doubting his next record will be a hit. He gives in and has a cigarette, too. He also finally takes a drink like the others. So Lassiter plays a bit of applause through the stereo, which seems to give Dr. Zahra a kick. He talks about how he had music designed for his house, and plans to get Randall to design the music for his next one. Lassiter claims he collects “beyond the known” when the architecture of the house is brought up. That’s when Landon asks how Lassiter made such a fortune. The old man says he made money in uranium years ago. Then they all pass around a joint together; maybe it’s weed, or maybe it’s not.
Lassiter asks Randall what it would take to make music for him. “What is it you really want?” he asks. Randall says there’s an “endless abyss” inside everybody and nothing works to shrink it. He wants his to stop “eating everything up.” The conversation changes again, as Randall asks about a gold AK-47 on the wall and Lassiter says it’s about taking away the gun’s power. Lassiter also talks about Dr. Zahra, saying she’s far more interesting than him. She once worked for Gaddafi. She says Gaddafi would sometimes cry for no reason “like a lost child” and other times he’d burst into violence. Lassiter feels indebted to Dr. Zahra.
But what’s really going on here?
Well, it’s time for more drugs right now: cocaine and “fairy dust.”
Randall’s not so sure about snorting a line, but after more talk from Lassiter he rails one for the team. Charlotte is reluctant, too, though she doesn’t take much convincing before joining everybody else. Now, they’re all good and stoned, especially Lassiter, whose nose is a vacuum. Lassiter wants to show everybody a special item he acquired at great expense. He’s ready to unveil it for everybody.
The guests follow Lassiter deeper into Sandpiper House, through corridors to a room where the item is housed. Lassiter shows everybody a rough, spherical object. Targ says it’s “an ancient power totem.” The item has a vaguely meteorite-like look. Lassiter says the object couldn’t be x-rayed. But he has no idea what it is, and they couldn’t carbon date the object, either. Randall can’t NOT smoke and he blows a bit of weed into it; the rock thing seems to suck it in. The thing starts glowing, so Lassiter puts his hands on it. And something else is happening. The rock emits an awful, loud noise that pierces through everybody. It cracks apart, revealing a horned beast within it. Everyone is near hypnotised.
Meanwhile, Hector’s listening to Steely Dan.
The guests, Lassiter, and Dr. Zahra can feel the horned entity probing at their minds. Landon’s head explodes, sending Randall and Charlotte screaming in fear. Lassiter and the doctor are mesmerised by the entity. Zahra goes to the horned beast and caresses it gently. But then she starts to melt onto the floor. Hector grabs his gold AK while Randall and Charlotte flee, though not before Randall rubs a bunch of cocaine and fairy dust all over his gums. At the same time, Lassiter’s frozen in place, watching the horned beast turn into a liquid and seep out of the rock towards him, and soon he finds himself covered in the liquid. Lassiter and the entity become one horrifying being, and Hector fires on it with his AK, blasting holes into the demonic thing. That doesn’t entirely work, though. Hector gets lit up with electricity and blown apart.
Charlotte and Randall make it to a vehicle and speed out of there. The demonic Lassiter thing heads out into the world, walking into the forest, then it finds a drainage pipe and heads inside. The drainage pipe takes the demonic entity into the heart of the city, where it’s no longer contained in a rich man’s collection but at large, able to wreak all kinds of havoc.