TV Recap: NOS4A2 (Episode 2) – You’ve Been Chosen …

NOS4A2
“The Graveyard of What Might Be” (Episode 102)
June 9, 2019

Last week on NOS4A2, we met Victoria “Vic”McQueen, a talented young woman from a troubled family. Adding to her troublesome parents and outsider school status, Vic learns she has a special power, she’s able to find lost things via a bridge that appears to her in her time of need.  On the other side of the coin, we also met Charlie Manx, an immortal, vampire type man, who kidnaps children and somehow saps their life force to keep himself preternaturally young. You can can catch up on all of the action from the Pilot episode of NOS4A2 with our deep dive recap and review here.

All caught up? Great, now on to Episode 2 of NOS4A2, “The Graveyard of What Might Be” … BEWARE OF SPOILERS!!!

Ashleigh Cummings as Vic McQueen, JJ Smith as Maggie Leigh – Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/AMC

“Christmasland is looking for particular people who LOVE children & aren’t afraid of ADVENTURE
– Job Advertisement for Christmasland

When last we left Bing Partridge, he was being enthralled by this want ad for a magical place called, Christmasland. Bing thinks he has what it takes to thrive there and he types a letter to the Owner of Christmasland listing all of his qualities (including access to dangerous chemicals and lots of experience working with children).

“There is NOTHING I’m not ready to do to earn a place among your Christmasland staff. Season’s Greetings, Bing Partridge.”

Olafur Darri Olafsson as Bing Partridge – Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/AMC

As Bing finishes his missive, he hears a noise upstairs and he goes to investigate. Much to his surprise, he finds his father slow dancing with the lifeless body of his mother. When Scary Dad Partridge spots Bing, he chases him (Scary Dad Partridge is also wearing the same kind of gas mask we saw Vic have a flash of last week). Bing runs back downstairs and finds Ghoul Daniel Moore waiting for him. Ghoul Danny has an invitation to Christmasland but teases it, telling Bing that only those that truly deserve it, can go to Christmasland.

Asher Miles Fallica as Daniel Moore – Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/AMC

As Ghoul Danny begins to literally twist Bing’s arm, he wakes in a cold fright in his chair … was it all a dream nightmare?  We hear sleigh bells ring and outside in the night sky, the (Scary Looking) Man in the Moon Winks at Bing.

What.The.Fuck?!?

Opening Credits.

Gah, with the creepy, dark version of “Carol of the Bells” playing, these credits are skin scrawl inducing.

Haverhill, Massachusetts. We come back to Vic spying her dad dancing with Tiffany. She bangs on Tiff’s door and when Chris opens up, Vic is all, “the fuck Dad?” Chris denies abandoning Vic, just that he needed to get away from her mother and apologizes for screwing up.  Vic, grabbing her eye cause, you know, it hurts when she uses her power, pushes past her shitty dad and heads back to her mom’s place.

At Linda’s, Vic finds her mom smoking and sitting quietly. She tells Linda that the other woman in question is Tiffany Jones. Linda moans that she can’t keep up with a younger woman who is also a bartender. Vic heads to bed as Linda calls after her, asking how she found out. Vic … does not answer.

Virginia Kull as Linda McQueen – Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/AMC

SoChemPharm. We cut to Bing at work (at his chemical plant job, not school job). After his supervisor tells Bing to paint over some dick imagery spray painted on the loading dock, Bing’s radio cuts in and out with Christmas music-tinged static. He thinks this is weird until he spies Charlie Manx and the Wraith outside the loading dock door. By the time Bing makes it outside, Charlie is gone but Bing knows enough to know that this mystery man is connected to his Christmasland dreams.

Olafur Darri Olafsson as Bing Partridge – Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/AMC

Haverhill, Massachusetts. Vic and her boy toy, Craig (Dalton Harrod), have ridden out to the Shorter Way Bridge. Or, at least where the Shorter Way Bridge should be.  Craig is worried that Vic might be losing her mind and his feeling is reinforced when she starts asking questions about a stuffed animal he owned in the third grade, which she lost. He identifies it as a rabbit named, “Leonard.” She straps on her helmet and Craig is all, “uh, where ya going?”

“Honestly? I have no frickin’ idea.”

Vic tells him not to move but, when the Bridge materializes out of thin air and Vic disappears inside, he can’t help himself. Craig goes to chase her but the Shorter Way has its own ideas. We hear a crash as the screen cuts to black.

Commercials.

We come back and Craig is laid out on the ground, his dirt bike wheel spinning listllessly. Vic is back and wakes up her buddy. He asks what the hell just happened and explains that he saw the Bridge but that it wouldn’t let him cross. Vic takes this news in stride and adds it to her knowledge database (seems like she’s the only one that can cross). Craig asks where it took her and she recalls the lost watch, the lost father and now, the landfill, to retrieve a lost stuffed rabbit … which Vic presents to Craig. While Vic is pretty pleased with herself (her angry red eye notwithstanding), Craig is totally freaked out and begs her to not use the Shorter Way anymore.

“One day you’re finding stuffed rabbits and then the next day, your dog is dead.”

Vic replies that she doesn’t have a dog so it’s all good. I think you’re missing Craig’s point, Vic, but I digress. Craig tells her that she’ll be the one dead instead. He’s pretty terrified. More so when he wipes blood from her eye. Well, that kills the mood for Vic and the kids leave.

Commercials.

Here, Iowa. Maggie is at the police station waiting to do some more Wraith talk with Sheriff Bly. He really, really doesn’t want to have this conversation. She explains that there aren’t a ton of Wraiths in existence and those that are owned, aren’t often driven. The parts are hard to find so, she figures a Wraith in active use must have broken down at some point …

“Find the parts. Find the Wraith, and Danny.”

JJ Smith as Maggie Leigh, Chris McKinnley as Sheriff Bly – Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/AMC

Sheriff Bly is tries to convince Maggie that Danny is as likely dead as not but she’s not hearing it. She tells him about a junkyard in Nebraska with spare Wraith parts. “Please,” she implores him. We all know Bly is going to agree.

SoChemPharm. As Bing is busy removing the previously mentioned dick imagery from the loading dock, Charlie Manx roles back up. He must have been waiting for Bing to be outside and alone. I wonder if he drew the big dock and balls? That’s a funny mental image.

Olafur Darri Olafsson as Bing Partridge – Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/AMC

“Charles T. Manx, at your service. CEO of Christmasland Enterprises, Director of Christmasland Entertainment, President of Fun.”

Charlie introduces himself, thusly and advises Bing that this will be the most important conversation of Bing’s life. Bing thinks he’s being offered a job but Charlie assures him that he’s just “interviewing” Bing “for a future.”  Charlie explains that he’s looking for a new Head of Security for Christmasland, to protect the children of the world. When Bing agrees that the children need to be protected, the Wraith door pops open … apparently that was the correct answer.

Driving, Charlie asks Bing about the type of gases to which he has access? Bing names off a couple of obvious ones but then hits the jackpot by mentioned sevoflurane, a ginger-bread scented gas used by dentists. Charlie’s eyes twinkle at the possibility of this gas which can make people suggestive to ideas or, in larger doses, knock your ass out.

Bing confides in Charlie that he’s been dreaming about Christmasland and worries he won’t be able to get in. Charlie assures him that only the most special people get to go and Bing asks, “am I special?”  Charlie replies that he’s trying to figure out that exact question. Then asks if the man in the moon winked at Bing during his dreams.  Bing is excited to know that this was a good sign and he might in fact belong in Christmasland. Bing, who has been drinking a soda pop Charlie gave him, becomes very tired all of a sudden. Charlie encourages him to sleep. And Bing passes right out, dropping the bottle.

“The road to Christmasland is paved in dreams.”

Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/AMC

Haverhill, Massachusetts. Vic is cleaning houses with Linda and brings up her dad.  Linda considers that perhaps they are better off without him but then shits all over Vic and her dreams, reinforcing the idea that Vic will be work partners with her mom.  Mrs. Brewster makes things awkward by popping in at this exact moment to mention that Vic is applying to RISD (the Rhode Island School of Design).  Linda is not pleased by this news and Vic knows she’s in for a talking to.

Lunchtime for the McQueen Ladies. Vic brings up RISD since her mom, passive agressively, hasn’t mentioned it yet. “What even is that,” Linda asks? Geez Linda. I am not an artist of any kind and don’t live in New England and even I knew what RISD was. Yeesh!  Linda is bent out of shape about hearing of this college talk from Angela Brewster instead of Vic herself. And then shits over the idea of going to college. Cause, that’s who Linda is. She then proceeds to lament that she kept a roof over their heads while Chris did nothing but drink and play hero.  Vic is all, “Gah, I get it, you’re awesome.” Linda is insufferable.

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/AMC

Back at Casa de McQueen, Vic is busy in her room packing a bag. It’s a bag bigger than just for an overnight stay and she takes her sketch book too.  Vic is making a break for it. Downstairs, Linda sits in the living room, smoking and crying. When Vic comes downstairs, she tells her daughter that it’s unfair that Vic is leaving too as it was Chris that left them, not Linda. Vic defends her decision to go live with her dad saying that he’s a better person when Vic is around. Linda is barely holding it together and makes her daughter promise that she’ll come right back if there is “hard liquor” in Tiffany’s house. Linda carries around a lot of pain … most inflicted by Chris. Probably due to large quantities of hard liquor. Just when you can’t stand Linda, she makes you have all the feels. Sad face. Vic tells Linda she loves her and she’s gone.  We leave the scene on a close up of Linda’s tear-streaked face, shuttering for breath.

Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/AMC

Commercials.

Before heading to Tiffany’s, Vic makes a stop at Haley’s house — she always does either coming or going from the Shorter Way. She compliments Haley’s chalk skills and Vic assures that Haley being regular isn’t great. Vic gets distracted by a candy cane (just like the one Daniel Moore found on his stoop) in Haley’s hand as the dissonance associated with traveling on the Bridge rears up. Vic shuts her eyes tight and when she opens them, the candy cane has returned to being a piece of chalk.

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/AMC

Vic assures Haley that she’s alright and hands over a case of drawing pencils. Haley knows what’s up and susses out that Vic is leaving. Vic promises they’ll always be friends and takes off on the bike and pops over to Tiffany’s.

You know what happens when you don’t call your dad ahead of showing up at his girlfriend’s house? You find them out back, the girlfriend topless in a kiddie pool. Yikes. Not the welcome that Vic expected.

Vic turns to go and Chris chases down his daughter, asking what’s up. She mentions about life with Linda and Tiffany pops up to say (reluctantly) that they can make room for Vic to stay.  It’s all very awkward as Chris shows Vic a spare room currently used for Tiffany’s art projects.

“You don’t want me here.”

Vic states this, doesn’t ask it. Chris tries to play it cool, saying it might not be the best place for her … considering it’s the middle of the day and he’s totally drunk, he might be right.  Vic talks about how Linda doesn’t want her to go to college and then asks if Chris ever sees a way that he could move back home? He mentions how having Vic was the best thing they ever did but, as between Chris and Linda, too much has changed.

Gah, have I mentioned how awkward this whole scene is?!?

Chris promises to smooth it over with Tiffany and they both laugh at the absurdity of the three of them living together.

Nebraska. Sheriff Bly and Maggie are at the Wraith spare parts junkyard and the owner, an elderly lady, recounts clearly the man with the ’38 Wraith who needed spare parts after smashing up his car. Since it happened 32 years ago, Sheriff Bly is impressed with the clarity of her recollection. The lady says she remembers it so well because it was then that her son and grandson disappeared along with the car and the owner.

Oh, Charlie Manx, you scamp!

Old Lady describes the owner of the Wraith as a sickly man, about 80 years old. She mentions how her son became infatuated with the car, even though it did “spooky stuff.” Such as? Such as start by itself and occasionally pin her son up against the wall.

“That car had a mind of its own.”

She finishes her story and Sheriff Bly says that maybe her son and grandson left on their own, unrelated but elderly lady isn’t buying it.  Sheriff Bly is such a skeptic!

St. Nick Parkway. On a snowy road, Bing wakes up and thinks, given the copious amounts of snow falling, that they’re at Christmasland. Not yet, big guy. Charlie explains that Bing has to prove his worth by helping Charlie save 10 children.

“Save them from monsters.”

By “monsters,” Charlie means the bad parents. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if those kids could have Christmas every day instead of bad lives with yucky, mean parents. Bing questions that nobility of kidnapping kids from their parents and Charlie is all, psssh, “any child would give their teeth to live an eternity in Christmasland.” This … is actually very on the nose.

Dinner at Tiffany’s. Vic tells the adults that she has to get admitted to RISD before she can go there and Tiffany is all, when will that be, exactly? Next Fall, explains Vic, but their college conversation is interrupted by Linda rolling up on the house. She is all flabbergasted and disgusted at the scene. She tells Vic to get in the car. It devolves into Tiffany and Linda arguing about the merits and life fulfillment of tending bar versus cleaning houses (“at least I don’t wreck ’em.” Nice Burn, Linda!).

As the three adults squabble like children, Vic hops on her bike and skedaddles. As she’s replaying her parents fight, she enters the Shorter Way Bridge and we see “Here” written in green spray paint.

Commercials.

Here, Iowa. The Shorter Way spits Vic out into the middle of the road in nighttime, Here, Iowa. No worries though, Maggie is there to help Vic who is now sprawled in the road. She’s been waiting for the Brat to show up.

“I’m guessing the motorbike is your knife and that old bridge, over there, is your inscape.”

Say what now?!?

JJ Smith as Maggie Leigh, Ashleigh Cummings as Vic McQueen – Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/AMC

Maggie realizes that, given her age, Vic probably has no idea what she’s talking about. She summarizes that Vic isn’t going crazy but is rather, “a strong creative.”  The buzzing reminds Vic that she may need to find something and asks if Maggie has anything for her. You can say that, Maggie has been expecting Vic.

Inside the Library, Maggie explains that she lives in the Library in a special pity deal because she’s an orphan. Vic mentions that she thinks shes seen this place before (she has, in her flashes last week) and Maggie counters that her Scrabble tiles can tell her things if she’s willing to listen. But, no proper names (Scrabble rules!) but nicknames are cool.

“Hence the ‘Brat’ … I’m Maggie Lee, by the way.”

Ashleigh Cummings as Vic McQueen, JJ Smith as Maggie Leigh – Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/AMC

Vic introduces herself and says her dad calls her “The Brat.” Maggie tends to Vic’s wounds and gives her (and us) the lowdown on the basics of Vic’s powers.  The Bridge is an “inscape.”

“A world dreamed up in your imagination. Everybody has them but only strong creatives can pull theirs into the real world. With the help of a knife.”

My bike. Exactly, Maggie replies.

“It cuts the fabric between the real world and the world of thought and it allows you to access your bridge.”

Okie doke, cool cool cool. How about, why does my eyeball hurt so much when I cross the bridge?

“That is the c-c-cost of your gift. I didn’t use to stutter before my Bag found me.”

Ashleigh Cummings as Vic McQueen, JJ Smith as Maggie Leigh – Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/AMC

Why you? Why Me? Maggie explains that there are all sorts of talented people in the world in different disciplines; this is Vic’s talent, being a strong creative. Vic assumes they are both strong creatives and Maggie explains that she is more of a” medium,” a guide or interpreter or sorts. A gift, but different.

Vic handles this all really well, mainly because it’s the first thing that has kind of made her new powers make sense. She asks about the thing she’s supposed to find and Maggie consults her Scrabble tiles. When she plunges her hand unnaturally deep into the Bag, the lights flicker and Vic is super weirded out by how strange it looks.  The Tiles spell, “The Wraith.”

Vic is all, “?!?” and Maggie explains its short hand for a serial child abductor.  Another strong creative. Who took a kid that Maggie knows. Vic is all, “nope. Nope Nope Nope.” Maggie isn’t ready to let it go though and tries telling Vic about 8-year old Daniel Moore as Vic tries to flea the Library.

“The girl who finds lost things can find lost children. Don’t you see, you’ve been chosen.”

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/AMC

Vic turns to Maggie and tells her that she doesn’t want to be chosen, her tiles are wrong about Vic. With that, Vic is gone.

Commercials.

Haverhill, Massachusetts.  Vic comes abck across the Shorter Way and oddly enough, Haley is there. She’s all Big Eyes in Wonder but Vic is freaked out. She makes Haley swear to never tell anyone about the Bridge or try to go near it. Haley is super freaked at Vic’s behavior but agrees. She’s out this late in the woods because fucking Mittens is lost again.  That damn cat is always lost. Vic gives Haley a ride home.

The Graveyard of What Might Be.  Charlie and Bing get out of the car and enter a cemetery.  Bing freaks out because there are dead-looking children stuck in transparent ice, just below the surface. Charlie is less concerned.

“Not dead. Not yet. Maybe not for many years.”

Charlie explains that this Graveyard of What Might Be are children that, if Charlie does nothing, will have their childhood stolen by bad parents. Through neglect or emotional harm or physical and/or sexual abuse, Charlie says all of these children are in jeopardy.

While Charlie explains why he needs to save the children, we cut between him and Bing in the graveyard and Vic, back at Tiffany’s House (she’s icing her eye and unpacking her bag). Bing is frantically wiping snow from the children and on his knees looking at their gravestones.

“You could line all these parents up and put a bullet in their brains for all I care … or a nail. I wish I could have saved you back then, Bing.”

Hmmm, we’re going to need more backstory on Bing, I guess, huh?

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/AMC

Anyway, seeing this is all Bing needed to be convinced of Charlie’s mission and he is all in. Whatever it takes! Good, says Charlie. Time for some hot cocoa before moving on to their plans in Haverhill.

“Tell me, Bing Partridge, what do you know about the Shorter Way?”

We close on Vic, laying back in her bed, her one eye covered with ice, listening to Tiffany moaning loudly as Chris fucks her brains out. Delightful.

And Scene.

Thoughts.

A lot of TV shows experience a slump in Episode 2; this usualy results from so much time and effort being put into the Pilot that the first regular season episode feels like a bit of a let down. There is no such drop in NOS4A2. If anything, this episode, “The Graveyard of What Might Be” is better than Episode 1 – it goes a long way to explain the essential lore we are going to need to understand this world and its mechanics.  Not only Maggie’s brief but useful tutorial with Vic but also, Charlie’s Mission Statement as relayed in the Graveyard. This is the clearest expression, yet, of his stated reasons for doing what he does. Of course, it side steps the added benefit of keeping him immortal, but it’s an important look behind the curtain of his psyche.

If anything, I explain this as the second part of the Pilot, the show is best understood after watching last week AND this week. Now, viewers have the info needed to move forward.

Before we end the night, I want to talk about Linda McQueen.  She is an insufferable character to Vic and you can see why Vic needed to leave her house. Her relentless dashing of Vic’s hopes and dreams go too far. There is a line where parents owe it to their children to encourage them to think about their future in a realistic way BUT you have to temper that realism with allowing for hopes and dreams because, its through chasing hopes and dreams that we become the best version of ourselves. Linda enthusiastically prevents Vic from having these hopes and dreams.

But, just when you cannot stand her, Virginia Kull turns in a performance like the several quiet scenes tonight at the house. The smoking and crying in the living room was so downplayed yet remarkably powerful. Kull, in those moments, reminds us that Linda McQueen is a victim of abuse and fears for her daughter’s safety and well-being, as much as she is concerned about keeping Vic close to her. She FEARS Chris and what he is capable of because she has lived it at his hands. And, she fears that it’s only a matter of time before Chris turns on Vic the same way that he turns on her.

It’s a really strong acting performance of a complicated character and i give Kull the MVP for tonight; she made me feel ALL the feels.

Join me next week as we roll along for Episode 3 and learn a bit more about Bing and his psychotic deal.

***

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