Editor’s Note: This is a recap, which means it’s full of spoilers! Don’t read if you haven’t watched this episode of Channel Zero: Candle Cove!
The first episode of Syfy‘s new anthology horror series Channel Zero: Candle Cove started creepy and stayed that way, but this week’s episode, “I’ll Hold Your Hand,” took a much different approach—one that led to a far less frightening installment, but that should pay bigger dividends down the line.
The constant unsettling tone of the premiere was absent for most of this episode, with the over-sized pirate puppet and the Tooth Child coming across as weird far more than they felt scary (though those long shots of Mike walking in the abandoned cement factory felt very ominous). However, it didn’t seem like a letdown by episode’s end so much as a conscious and deliberate decision to make us care about the people involved. Because although the episode felt slow moving for the first half, it was clear by the time Marla was sitting on the floor, sobbing after they found Eddie’s (strangely preserved) body, that this was an hour designed to make sure we care about the real consequences of these horrible events, no matter how surreal they may be.
Seeing the Yolan family deal with Katie trying to disembowel her brother and Marla having to face the reality of not only Eddie’s death, but also the revelation that Mike was the one who killed him, added a human touch to the proceedings that wasn’t there last week. Fiona Shaw, who many of you will always think of as Aunt Petunia from Harry Potter, was especially empathetic and powerful throughout. We only know this world as a bizarre horror mystery worth trying to untangle, but for her it’s been almost 30 years of pain and loss. When you have a Tooth Child walking around it can be tough to get invested on an emotional level, but she, and the episode, managed to make us feel real pathos.
That should make the rest of the short season (only four episodes left!) a little more meaningful, since we’ll be invested in the people involved in the mystery as much as we are in the mystery itself. And it wasn’t like the strange on goings were ignored. The Tooth Child, who ended the episode by being fed by Marla’s friend—meaning he/she/it is very real—also managed to show up in Katie’s hospital room. And the TV station manager, who not only had seen Candle Cove years ago but made some cat-filled fan-fic for it, was the creepiest part of the episode.
Then of course there was Paul Schneider’s Mike Painter, who confirmed something the show hinted at in the premiere: namely, that he killed his brother and buried him in the woods. For someone who seemed like a victim before, now it’s unclear if Mike himself was the evil twin, and not Eddie. That makes things much scarier, since we might be following the villain and not the hero.
This wasn’t an episode that was really scary, just bizarre, but it did advance the overall mystery that really drives the entire show and makes it interesting (the dialogue was also vastly improved, with only the whole “your teeth is part of your skeleton” line evoking an eye roll), as well as adding a whole new dynamic to Mike’s true motives for returning. But where it sacrificed scaring us, it made it so we care about the people these things are happening to.
Everyone on the show has secrets, Marla is hiding something, Gary is currently driving Mike somewhere besides the police station, and Mike knows much more about what happened in 1988 than he is letting on. Going forward it will be better if we care about more than just the answers to those secrets, it will be better if we care about the people holding them.
What did you think of this week’s episode? You have to go in…..to the comments section below to tell us what you think.