“Parnassus” (Episode 108)
July 21, 2019
Every week, you’ll notice that we title the NOS4A2 recap with an Episode number such as 10_. This signifies the episode number in Season 1. Well, we can congratulate NOS4A2 on being picked up for a Season 2! Officially announced at San Diego Comic Con on Saturday, see below for the official NOS4A2 twitter handle’s tweet:
“NOS4A2: Electric Boogaloo.” -Executive Producer @joe_hill
— NOS4A2 (@NOS4A2) July 21, 2019
Now, on to the business of tonight’s dark and terrifying episode of NOS4A2, “Parnassus” … BEWARE OF SPOILERS!
Here, Iowa. Tonight’s episode opens with Maggie frantically searching through Sheriff Joe’s trash for
her Scrabble Tiles pain pills that he may have tossed while detoxing her. No luck there, she settles down for a sobbing cry in bed and looking forlornly at a framed picture of Sheriff Joe.
Again, RIP Sheriff Joe – you were a good dude.
The next day, Maggie’s progression through grief and acceptance includes cleaning up Joe’s kitchen and folding his laundry. That night, she picks up her flip phone (so analog, I’m digging it) and dials Joe’s cell phone … straight to voicemail. She cycles through her cell for who to call next. She considers Brat but settles on Mom.
Can we stop a second and talk about how adorable Maggie’s Scrabble Tile background is for the names on her phone:
Fucking.Adorable. And so on brand.
Maggie’s mom is a bitch. When Maggie, clearly crying, says she wants to come home, Mom takes a long sigh. Her response to her daughter is that Maggie is always welcome to come home … as long as she follows the rules. We only get through weekly drug tests, no girls and church, before Maggie hangs up on that unsympathetic bullshit.
You don’t need your shitty mom, Maggie! Call the Brat!
As Maggie hobbles herself out of Sheriff’s Joe’s house, the lights flicker and Maggie knows she can’t ignore her gift anymore. She whips out her Scrabble Tiles and asks, “where’s Joe?” The Tiles have the predictable but not welcome answer:
Haverhill, Massachusetts. Vic wakes up in Craig’s bed with her eyes buzzing and flashes of Ghoul Daniel Moore. She grabs a joint and does a little wake and bake because, I mean, read that sentence again. Craig finds her and they have a faux serious conversation about how she’s changed. They admit they like each other and kiss.
No timing for kissing, kids. No Time!
The House of Sleep. Bing is pacing in his basement, alterantely looking at his typewriter and the yellow landline right up the stairs.
“Bing. Bing the ding-a-ling. Instead of a helper, Mr. Manx got a thing.”
Resolved, Bing tries banging out a clumsy typewritten apology to Charlie (he only gets so far as blaming Vic for making him doubt, before getting frustrated). His writer’s block is blessedly interrupted by an unwanted call from the cable company … which he promptly hangs up on.
See, Bing isn’t all bad.
We leave Bing as he’s going to his chest of horror, time for the gas mask!
Haverhill, Massachusetts. At Casa de McQueen, Vic comes outside with some empties that she hides in the trash (oh, that is NOT a good sign). As she goes to check the mail, we see Bing A Ling sitting in a car down the road a bit. Danger!
Vic gets a letter from RISD and while it’s thin envelope (NEVER a good sign in terms of college acceptance letters), Vic’s face is fairly neutral.
The Brewster House. Cut to Linda getting a call from Vic, while she’s the Brewster’s house.
“I got into RISD. The art school thing. They gave me a full scholarship.”
Linda falls to her knees but has no verbal reaction as Vic waits on the line for … something from her mother. Linda’s face can best be described as, “Fuck. Shit. What do I do now.” Willa walks in on Linda in this kneeling position and Vic hears her friend through the phone squealing with delight when Linda says that Vic got into RISD. Willa is insisting on a party to celebrate.
See, Linda. THAT is the kind of reaction you’re supposed to have. SMH at Linda.
Linda manages a weak, “that ‘s really something Vicky, congratulations.” Vic hangs up on the phone and allows herself to take a breath and smile.
That night, the Ladies McQueen head to the Brewster’s house for the aforementioned party, Linda complaining the entire time. Linda, suck less. Please.
At the Brewster’s house, Vic joins Willa and her friends in a Cheers, asking for her drink to be made a little stronger. I really don’t like we’re we’re going with this drinking thing. She mouths for Craig to join them but he smiles and begs off. But, not in a weird way. Later that night, Vic finds her mother doing the dishes and tells Linda that she’s off the clock. Stop being a fucking weirdo and come back to the party.
As you can imagine, Linda is all bent out of shape about what her daughter going to college may mean for their relationship and she reminds Vic that no matter, she is still the mother. And they are most decidedly not like the Brewsters or their rich friends.
“College or not, this is not us. I just don’t want you finding out the hard way.”
Linda leaves her daughter in the kitchen; Vic takes a long pull on her spiked drink., I feel ya, Vic.
Meanwhile, over at Casa de McQueen, gas masked Bing is stomping through the house, gingerbread gas in hand. As he heads upstairs to the bedrooms, Bing (unnecessarily) punches a framed picture of Vic and her parents, the spiderweb crack spreading over Vic’s face. Telling.
Back at the Brewsters, Linda’s night gets infinitely better (sarcasm) when Chris shows up. He congratulates his daughter and turns down the free booze. Linda’s eyes rolls so far into the back of her head, she can see behind herself. Vic’s eyes light up when he tells them that he quit after Bike Week, Vic hit home with some real truth while they were together. Linda is less sold on his sobriety.
“I give it a week.”
Linda walks away and Vic goes after. Chris tries to tell his daughter to let it be but she can’t let her mom suck so bad. Instead, Vic runs into Craig and he tries to explain that Linda is just sad faced about Vic leaving. And by Linda, he means himself. As Vic helps herself to Craig’s alcoholic beverage (slow down gurl!), she tells him that art school isn’t forever and she’ll only be 2 hours away as is. “Not the same,” Craig replies. And they kiss.
And then they also almost knock over a porcelain vagina that the Brewsters proudly display in their house. Art, y’all!
Outside, Chris bums a cigarette off of Linda as they watch their daughter through the window, canoodling with Craig. Linda is worried that Providence is too different from who they are and Vic may be roofied or worse. Chris is all, “maybe that’s not a bad thing.” Linda isn’t ready to listen to this yet.
Back at Casa de McQueen, Bing is rifling through Vic’s closet. He finds a box with a mostly empty vodka bottle, a pill and a package of condoms. The disgust on his face is laughable given his hobbies but there you are. A door slams and Bing is all., “ruh roh!”
Linda has come home from the party. She heads right to the kitchen to light a cigarette when she hears a screen door slam. She thinks Vic has come home and heads upstairs as we see Bing sneak outside the McQueen side door. Linda heads into Vic’s room and while she doesn’t find Vic, she does find the treasure box that Bing left open on her bed. Linda is NOT amused.
Here, Iowa. Trixies Bar. Maggie is tossing back some hard liquor in an almost empty bar when she notices a cute girl down the way popping some pills. Maggie sidles over and the flirtation begins. Maggie’s brand of flirting involves reading tattoos and giving their value in Scrabble. Whatever works for you, sister. Talk leads to pills and the stranger says she has what Maggie needs depending on what she’ll get in return. We don’t hear what Maggie offers via whisper but it must be good because the stranger hands over a pill. Cheers!
Haverhill, Massachusetts. At Casa de McQueen, drunk Vic stumbles home and upstairs, finds Linda waiting in her room, her body language presenting her best “holier than thou” pose. They quickly discuss how Linda searched Vic’s room and Linda’s response that it was open on the bed and move on to the fact that Linda has seized all of Vic’s art supplies and her laptop. She tells her daughter that Vic has to earn her items back because she will not allow her daughter to become a junkie “like Craig.” Linda rolls out the parent hits like, “my house, my rules” and “this is for your own good.”
Vic CANNOT believe this is happening. When Linda says that Vic is acting like “a woman of the world” because a college gave her a “ticket to rapetown,” Drunk Vic begins to openly laugh at her mother. Linda is terribly all,” keep laughing” because clearly this box is proof that Vic isn’t ready to go to RISD. Whelp. She just crossed the line Vic drew in the sand. Vic’s laughter turns to the most rage we’ve ever seen from her.
“How the hell would you know?!? You’re an ignorant, small town loser. No wonder dad left you.”
And THAT earns Vic a bottle thrown by her head. Vic storms out and Linda weakly hollers after her daughter that if Vic leaves, she better not bother coming back.
Outside, Drunk Angry Vic runs into the woods and rages amongst the trees as her argument with Linda rattles through her brain. I thought the Shorter Way was going to appear for a second. But no, instead, Bing grabs her from behind and gases her into unconsciousness.
Parnassus. The Wraith rolls up to an old looking building with a bright purple neon sign that reads, “Parnassus.” Young Charlie Manx gets out of the car and heads inside. Inside, Parnassus is a mostly empty bar/social club. A man tries to get the jukebox to play his pick but Christmas music comes on instead. Charlie approaches the seating area, two drinks in hand, looking for someone. The few patrons in the place scatter before him. Apparently, Charlie Manx’s reputation proceeds him. Even Pennywise the Clown, who is sitting at the bar with his red balloon, runs as Charlie walks by. Charlie approaches the man at the jukebox and clears his throat.
“I should have known this Holly Jolly bullshit was you.”
Charlie hands over a drink to the fellow who remarks at everyone leaving. Charlie responds that he’ll never understand why this man chooses to hang with the “riff-raff”?
The man replies that he apologizes if his taste in friends don’t live up to the standards of a “bastard son of a boomtown prostitute.” The men Cheers at this and WOW, this guy isn’t frightened by Charlie one bit. It’s refreshing.
The men sit and the stranger asks if the free drink is due to the kids finally getting to Charlie? Never, responds the Father of Christmasland and he mentions how he’s got a “Boy Scout” asleep in the Wraith right now.
Oh, Bradley. I guess we know how that wound up last week.
So, why the free drink then, the man asks again? Charlie explains that Jolene July has passed and this stranger remarks that he always liked her. Her, and her nice ass.
“Like she was smuggling a pair of French hens in that carhop uniform.”
Charlie says he sensed her death and that she died after coming dangerously close to killing him. Also, Jolene had help. The stranger understands exactly what this means and says (doesn’t ask), “there’s a new girl.” Charlie elaborates for his, what, “friend”?
“This one’s special. I can feel it.”
The House of Sleep. Vic comes to in the basement of Bing’s house. She’s bound and gagged and sitting in his chair. He’s brought milk and cookies and motions for her to remain quiet. But, as soon as he removes the duct tape from Vic’s mouth, she screams.
“Only girls who are nice and sweet, get to have a tasty treat.”
I’m gonna be honest, Bing. That wasn’t your best slam poetry.
Vic tries tactic number 1, saying that people will knows she’s gone and call the police. People will look for her. Bing replies that he heard Linda’s departing yell and that he also knows that Vic’s dad left her so, she’s “all alone.”
Tactic 2. Vic appeals to their friendship. “Friends to the end,” Bing agrees. But, he adds that Vic wrecked that friendship. Never fear though, Bing, as he grabs his gas and puts on his mask, assures Vic that they can be friends again. All she has to do is be nice. Bing gases Vic again as she protests and as she loses consciousness, tries to get her to say his classic line, “I love you, Bing Partridge.” Vic can’t quite get the words out as the camera loses all focus.
Here, Iowa. Trixies Bar. The bar has filled up, the music is thumping, the strobe lights are spinning and Maggie and Krystal (Hadasa Isolino) are having a high as a kite, sexy dance session in the middle of the room. The night progresses as we watch it, montage style: Krystal feeds Maggie more pills, Maggie boosts Krystal’s entire pill bottle, the girls drink shots! Shots! Shots!, and then there is a super hot, hallway sex session.
Whatever, it’s super hot. Don’t blame me.
Maggie excuses herself to the bathroom and drinks some water from the faucet. Gross. She looks up and sees someone in the mirror she either doesn’t like or recognize. She tries pulling her over cardigan tight around her but Maggie is having major regret face right now. She looks like she wants to either cry or vomit. Or both.
The House of Sleep. Vic comes to, again, still in Bing’s basement. Her mouth is duct taped again but at least she’s alive and clothed. For the first time, she notices her feed are also duct taped together. Vic’s eyes go wide with fear as Bing return to the basement.
“Do you know why tonight’s the best night? Cause you’re my second chance.”
Bing explains that Vic got Bing on to Mr. Manx’s “naughty” list and now, once Bing gets rid of Vic, he’ll be on Charlie’s “nice” list forever. When Bing removes the duct tape, Vic’s first question is why Bing thinkds that Mr. Manx wants to get rid of her?!? Vic drives home some new fear in Bing when she mentions that Charlie Manx said she’d be “welcomed in Christmasland.”
“Liar. Pants on fire.”
Vic is all, “nah man, he told me at the bus station. Me and Manx are coolio.” (this is a paraphrase but the message is accurate). Vic drives it home with the whole, “you don’t have to take my word for it but, if I’m right …” Bing fills in the blanks. Bing, full panic now, asks what Vic thinks will happen and she says that it sounds like Bing will be on the naughty list forever. Vic proposes, quite magnanimously I should add, that if Bing just lets Vic go, she won’t say a word and easy peasy, no problems! Bing slaps the mouth duct tape back on and skedaddles out of the basement.
Remember last week at Bike Week, when Craig gave Vic that commemorative pin? And she put it on her boot? Well, alone in the basement, Vic works that charm free and squirms her way to the floor to grab it with her bound hands. She begins working on freeing her hands as we head to break.
We come back, still in Bing’s basement. Vic is still trying to free her hands when Bing returns.
“I can’t let you go, Vic. You’ll tell Mr. Manx what I did and I won’t be able to get into Christmasland.”
Bing takes off the duct tape and Vic asks him why he wants to go to Christmasland anyway, “sounds boring.” Bing explains that his best feelings have come during Christmas, like when his dad gave him this (frightening) gas mask that he now picks up. Vic tries to empathize mentioning her best family times at Lake Winnipesaukee.
I’m not even sure if Bing hears her. He’s wrapped up in his own head right now, reliving his memories of his mom telling him how much she loved him from that fateful Christmas morning. Vic works on her hand restraints but replies that her best feeling was getting into art school. This catches Bing’s attention and he turns around. “You got in,” he asks? Bing congratulates Vic and tells her that he’s happy she has that feeling.
“My best feeling came when I killed my parents. I put a nail in both their heads. Pop. Pop.”
It’s not a competition, Bing. Yeesh!
Vic’s face is of pure twisted terror and she listens to Bing relive killing his parents and his father’s cruel comments. She’s still working those restraints but drops the pin on the cushion.
As Vic’s fingers look for the dropped pin, she keeps Bing’s brain occupied, trying to pit him against Charlie Manx. She suggests that Charlie put Bing up to killing Sharon the way Bing killed his parents. Bing turns towards his friend and says that, nopers, he did Sharon all of his own volition. He approaches Vic and talks about his time with Sharon. Sharon had smooth skin like his mom but smelled differently, like “coconuts and menthol cigarettes.”
“But she tasted just as sweet.”
Bing drops to his knees in front of Vic and takes a deep sniff of her. He tells Vic that she smells like “grass after the rain” and guesses she tastes just as sweet, too. He puts his head on her chest as Vic chokes back tears and tries to stay focused. She frees her hands with a rip and slices Bing’s face with the pin. She kicks him in the balls with her double bound legs and Bing topples over. As he moans on the ground, Vic saws her legs free. She bounds towards the basement stairs as Bing, on his hands and knees, grabs her leg. Grabbing the gas can from the table, Vic turns and whacks Bing full in the face, sending him sprawling again to the floor. Using her shirt for a makeshift gas mask, Vic turns on the gingerbread gas and doses Bing until he’s basically passed out.
Vic grabs her jacket and peaces out of the basement in a hurry.
Parnassus. Charlie is talking to Abe (Reg Rogers) about Vic McQueen and how she uses the Shorter Way Bridge. Abe mentions that he saw it open on the map, not too far from his neck of the woods. Charlie mentions that Vic is strong and Abe goes into a diatribe about how women mark the worst parts of his life and Charlie doesn’t disagree. He mentions being based from his “whore mother” to his “nag wife” but Abe isn’t buying Charlie’s story. He accuses Manx of not being able to staying away from women. Charlie responds that his children need a mother. And, as to Vic specifically, Charlie admits that she’s “stoked a fire I’ve long struggled to keep dormant.” Which perfectly proves Abe’s statement about the trouble women represent.
“I don’t care how strong she is, you need to kill her.”
Abe says this is how Charlie spoke about Jolene and see how that ended up. His point is that no “piece of ass” is worth risking Charlie’s inscape for but Charlie disagrees.
“Vic McQueen is worth the risk.”
And, if she’s not persuaded by the glory of Christmasland, then she’ll be dinner for his kids. Charlie Manx, always with the Plans A, B and God knows what as C …
Here, Iowa. It’s the next morning and Maggie is literally waking up amongst the trash. Well, maybe she’s not gone to bed yet as she has a tumbler of liquor and Krystal’s pills clenched in her hand. She grabs her Scrabble Tiles and asks them about the location of Vic’s bike.
That’s cryptic as fuck, Scrabble Tiles! Maggie agrees and shakes some more pills into her mouth.
Haverhill, Massachusetts.Vic is at Craig’s house and, by the way he’s grabbing a bat, has just finished telling him about being abducted by Bing. A strung out Maggie calls Vic and tells her the Scrabble Tiles found her and told her that Vic’s bike was with Vic. Vic is all, “?!?” and Maggie is all, the Tiles may be cryptic but they never lie.
Vic, picking up on the slurred voice on Maggie’s end of the phone, asks if everything is alright and Maggie is as cryptic as her tiles. She tells Vic to keep hunting Charlie Manx and then, as her voice becomes even more slurred and incoherent, tells Vic goodbye. She disconnects and Vic tries to call back only to get voicemail. Craig comes back in and Vic tells him that he needs to take her home, ASAP.
Casa de McQueen. Vic busts in her house and demands Linda tell her where the bike is. Linda wants to talk about Vic and her life but Vic really just wants to know about the goddamn bike. Linda says she’s stupid but she at least she common sense. No No NO, Vic counters, she doesn’t have common sense; what she has is a fear of being alone.
“You’re not stupid, ma. You’re a coward.”
But, she says this kind of lovingly? Like it’s meant as a wake-up call? Linda begins to blubber about not knowing what she’ll do when Vic leaves. Vic really is over this whole conversation and wants to know about the bike.
Knowing she’s not getting any answers from crying Linda, Vic goes on the hunt and locates the bike, hidden amongst boxes in the garage. You know she’s close because the lights begin to flicker like a game of “Hot and Cold.”
Cut to Vic, tearing along on her bike and headed to the Shorter Way. She’s thinking of her last conversation with Maggie and, when she clears the last turn, the Bridge is there. Inside, the neon green writing says, “Miss Trixies.”
Here, Iowa. Vic emerges at Trixies and quickly finds Maggie lying on a dirty mattress between two garbage cans. Maggie is very unresponsive, even as Vic smacks her to try and wake her up. Once she finds the empty pill bottle, Vic stuffs her fingers down Maggie’s throat and eventually gets her to regain consciousness and vomit up the last dose of pills. Vic hugs her friend close as Maggie realizes that this means Vic found her bike.
The two share a teary chuckle at this absurd statement, given the situation, but their laughter falls away. Vic, overcome with all of the fucking feelings, stares off as she clutches Maggie to her chest.
Thoughts. Tonight’s episode of NOS4A2 was largely setting up the pieces for the final two hours of the Season (not series, thank you very much TV Renewal Gods!) but was very important in and of itself.
First, the McQueen Family Dynamic. After Vic’s full ride acceptance into RISD, Linda hits the final gear of losing her shit. Seeing her daughter at the Brewster’s party, matched with Chris making his statement of sobriety, Linda is past her breaking point. Finding the nearly empty alcohol bottle and pills in Vic’s room is just the accelerant – she was always going to light a match and burn down her relationship with Vic. Vic, seeing her mother more clearly than ever (even as she does seem to be sliding into a bit of unquenchable drinking problem), lays Linda out in their final scene tonight. She tells her mother that she’s a coward, plain and simple and with that, Vic releases all of her pent up aggression and resentment towards Linda that we’ve watched her stuff down deep all season long. Linda’s inability to be happy for Vic even after getting into college on a full scholarship is Vic’s own breaking point with her mother. There will be no more covering or excuses for Linda … learning that Linda lied about getting ride of the bike was just another example of how Vic was done with her mom.
Moving on to Maggie, and, at the end of the episode, the importance of the relationship of Vic and Maggie, was a major theme tonight. Maggie reels from Sheriff Joe’s disappearance and then confirmed death (confirmed via Scrabble Tile) in the only way Maggie knows how … self-harm. Maggie Leigh has one mission for most of this episode, kill herself via overdose. Like many suicidal people, she tries reaching out, first to her mother. But, as we get the impression has happened many times before, Mama Leigh rejects her daughter for who she is. The last scenes tonight is Maggie’s final attempt to save her own life even as she speeds towards the off ramp of living. Her call to Vic, to let her know what the Tiles said about the bike and to say goodbye, was really Maggie’s way of saying, “help me” without being able to say, help me.
And make no mistake, Vic gets on her bike and goes to Maggie first and foremost, not only because she understood that, for whatever reason, Maggie was saying goodbye in a final sense but also, because Vic understands she NEEDS Maggie. Not only to finish off Charlie Manx but on a personal, emotional level, Vic realizes she needs Maggie in her life, needs her guidance and friendship. When Bing has her held hostage and tells her that he knows she’s “all alone,” this hits home with Vic because it’s true. Craig has puppy dog love for her and neither parent has proven reliable. Maggie, though, has no reason to be in Vic’s life other than as a stable, reliable source of love and friendship.
So, when she regains her bike, Vic does not ride off to find Haley. No, she understands her priorities and looks for her lost friend, Maggie Leigh. Vic is the girl who can find lost things and lost children. She’s also the girl that can find lost friends. And Maggie, following Joe’s death (and after being almost killed by the Wraith), is VERY lost.
Charlie Manx surprised us all tonight by demonstrating he has a friend in this world. Or, if not friend, at least close acquaintance. In their few scenes together, Abe demonstrated that he knows all about Charlie, the good and the mostly bad and has known him and his life details for a long time (Abe talks about Jolene in a very personal, familiar way). Who the fuck is Abe?!? Is he also a vampire-like creature? He knew about the Inscapes and had even noticed the Shorter Way pop up on his own map.
We need to know a LOT more about this Parnassus bar, in general, and Abe and its other regular customers, in particular. The Pennywise Clown was no mere Easter Egg, as Derry, Maine (the setting for IT, from which Pennywise hails) is on the Inscapes Map we saw earlier this season. Is Parnassus a place where Strong Creatives come to gather and mingle and exchange war stories?!?
I need to know!!
Thanks for reading and Live Tweeting with me. Join me next week for Episode 9 of NOS4A2, “Sleigh House.” NOS4A2 airs on Sunday nights at 10pm (ET/PT) on AMC.
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