DISCLAIMER: The following is rife with spoilers galore for NOS4A2 episode “The Dark Tunnels.” You’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Welcome back, horror fanatics! NOS4A2 continued chugging along the course to Christmasland in this week’s installment. We focused heavily on Jolene, the Strong Creative committed to a mental hospital courtesy of Charlie Manx. We were finally privy to her story and how Manx condemned her to a life of immobility. Thankfully, Vic was able to set the elderly woman free prior to the latter’s passing. Vic also gleaned some crucial information from Jolene on how to rid the world of Manx for good. However, with Maggie washing her hands clean of the whole mess, can Vic defeat the enemy solo? Here’s hoping she knows how to kill a magical car. They teach that course in high school nowadays, right?
Alright, ready to delve into “The Dark Tunnels?” Let’s get to it.
We open with a flashback – Massachusetts in 1954. A young woman (Morgan Lindholm) in roller skates is working her shift at the local diner. Her name is Jolene and, if you’ll recall, she’s the woman whose life was utterly destroyed by Charlie Manx. Speak of the devil…
Next, Manx (Zachary Quinto) rolls up in his 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith with perfectly coiffed hair and the moxie of a 1950s bad boy. He proposes to Jolene, procuring a diamond ring for the occasion. However, Jolene declines his proposal. She knows something fishy is afoot regarding Manx and Christmasland. Manx cites that he wants her to be the mother of his “children,” just as he gave the same proposition to Vic over 50 years later. Naturally, Jolene is reticent, especially since she believes Manx is holding those poor kids against their collective will. She storms out of the Wraith, leaving a rejected Manx in her wake.
Later, we see Jolene skating out of the diner after closing. Suddenly, Manx rolls up in his Wraith, prepared to run her over. That’s not a healthy way of dealing with rejection, you know. Jolene skates as if her life depends on it, which it certainly does. However, before Manx can cause any bodily harm, Jolene disappears, courtesy of her handy dandy inscape. Strong Creative for the win!
Now, fast forward to the present. Vic (Ashleigh Cummings) is sitting in a hospital room while nurses administer a physical exam. She answers their questions, providing evasive responses. Vic claims that her eye isn’t causing her pain, which the nurses find unbelievable. Next, she visits the hospital therapist and artfully evades his questions. Anything to prove that she doesn’t belong there. The therapist questions whether someone i.e. her father had her committed against her will.
Then, after her session, we see Vic is rooming with the elderly Jolene (Judith Roberts). Jolene is immediately drawn to the young Creative, and Vic tries to elicit answers from the former. However, Jolene doesn’t seem keen on talking, save muttering the name “Charlie Manx.” I wouldn’t want to talk about Manx either. We see Vic attend another therapy session, and her therapist continues to dig beneath Vic’s hardened surface. He strikes a nerve in Vic when he learns of the abusive union between her parents. Cummings really shines in these one-on-one scenes.
Next, after the aforementioned therapy session, Vic receives a visit from her mother Linda (Virginia Kull). Linda drops off her daughter’s possessions. Vic inquires as to her father’s whereabouts, but Linda claims Chris dropped off the grid. Perhaps he’s holed up in a shabby bar somewhere. Regardless, Vic asserts that once she’s released she won’t be moving back in with her mom.
Later, Vic aids Jolene in escaping. The two surreptitiously discard their medications and make a break for the exit. Jolene is perched in a wheelchair and urges Vic to wheel it as fast as possible. Suddenly, the pair disappear. They wind up in a dark tunnel in an undisclosed location. Jolene rises from the wheelchair and moves with perfect ease. She even strings sentences together as if she hadn’t been silent for most of her life. Jolene informs Vic that this is her inscape – the roller skates or really anything with wheels. She utilizes the dark tunnels to travel to different places.
Then, Jolene leads Vic to a small room with missing posters of children plastered over its walls. Some posters are faded with the passage of time, while others appear to be new. Jolene reveals that she spent a lot of time trying to defeat Manx, but she never made it to Christmasland. She mentions that one other Creative save Manx has seen Christmasland, and now I desperately need to know who that is. Jolene urges Vic to accept that Haley is really gone. But, that doesn’t mean she should give up the fight against Manx.
Next, Jolene reveals her “magical trick” to Vic. They’re standing before an opening in the tunnel, but the outside world isn’t visible. The entryway appears to be coated with snow. We see Jolene and Vic’s eyes turn pale white as they collapse on the ground.
Now, we see the duo arrive at a desolate farmstead. Manx is asleep in his Wraith as its parked inside a barn. Vic watches as Jolene essentially haunts Manx – playing tricks on him while remaining invisible to the immortal man. However, he calls out to Jolene, recognizing her “smell.” Suddenly, we hear Jolene meddle with the engine of the Wraith, and Manx stumbles outside the barn in agony. He morphs from a young man to a shriveled, feeble old man, hunched over and barely mobile. Vic watches in awe, imperceptible to Manx’s eyes.
Later, the pair returns from their sojourn. Vic feels more alive than ever, and Jolene reveals that it’s a perk from utilizing her Strong Creative abilities. However, Jolene appears to be on death’s door. She leaves Vic with a crucial tidbit – when going after Manx, go for the Wraith. If she destroys the Wraith, she’ll destroy Manx. It’s his life support – his inscape. Now, if Vic doesn’t rise to the occasion and eradicate Manx, the latter will continue to kidnap innocent children. Then, Jolene falls lifeless to the ground.
Next, Vic wheels the lifeless Jolene back to their room. She pulls the alarm and turns on the elderly woman’s radio. We see Vic attend another therapy session. She decides to tell the therapist what he wants to hear – that her story of Charlie Manx was fabricated, a figment of her imagination as a means of escaping her current living situation. She vows to return to school and focus on her post-high school education. No more lying. No more living in a perpetual state of fantasy. The therapist decides to sign her release on one condition: Vic must move away from her destructive parents. Vic agrees to this condition.
Then, Vic pays a visit to Maggie (Jahkara Smith), who is also being released after her surgery. Maggie urges Vic to walk away from her hunt for Manx, to live a normal life. She also regrets ever having set foot in Haverhill. Vic coerces Maggie to consult her tiles, but Maggie finds them revolting. Her tiles almost killed her. Maggie hops away on crutches, leaving Vic behind. Sisters gotta band together, Mags!
Later, we see Maggie leaving the Peter Pan bus station to board a bus bound for Here, Iowa. She discards her purple velvet bag containing those accursed tiles. Time to leave that medium life in the dust. Meanwhile, Vic arrives home with her mother. She procures her newly prescribed medication from her bag. It appears she may take them…that is, until she dumps the entire bottle of pills down the garbage disposal. She’s not ready to give up the fight yet.
Now, this was a slower episode. Some may refer to it as a “filler” episode. However, delving into Jolene’s story was intriguing as well as beneficial for the arc as a whole. Vic learned how to kill Manx, so now we know her objective. Kill the car, kill the man. Should be easy, right? Side note: Quinto possesses a knack for impeccable physicality as a performer. His transitioning from young Manx to elderly Manx was superb. Of course, the makeup team should also receive credit for making Quinto look believably old.
Do you think Christmasland will be the final showdown? How will Vic go about destroying the Wraith? Will she find a way to bring Maggie back into the fold? Join me next week as I continue to recap NOS4A2, here on Geek Girl Authority.
NOS4A2 airs Sundays at 10pm on your AMC affiliate.
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