By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – January 31, 2020)
EPISODE 5: TEAR-DRINKER
“Tell him to stop.”
This brings me right back to Eddie Murphy’s classic Delirious special, talking of Poltergeist and the “get out” reaction from his family.
“Too bad we can’t stay.”
Pretty much. When Jeannie Anderson has that moment in her home in the dead of night with our hooded death monger, that would have been all she wrote for me. In fact, while the entirety of the episode wasn’t frightening, there’s one thing that will remain from this installment, and that’s the possibility for tricks and mean pranks from family members and friends if they can startle you awake and get you to walk down your hallway at 1 AM. Hoodies cost like ten bucks at Target… okay maybe it’s now more like 25, but still…it’s worth it.
Think of walking into your infant child’s bedroom and your husband or wife is hanging out in a green hoodie with his back to you, leaning over the crib. You’re telling me that would have no effect on you? Also, in general I’d refrain from walking hallways with glass beverage containers in your hands, because you might end up stepping barefoot over the remnants of them after a really bad creature lures you in and then makes you sit down, before threatening you and leaving you in a trancelike state.
Jack has become the guy who knows how dangerous he is to others, and in the case of Tamika, a woman he cares for, he’s aware of their relationship and wants to try and keep her out of it. “T, you need to back off. For your own sake, I’m begging you.” He’s losing his mind, losing his sanity one rejected lamp at a time. He doesn’t want to displease the entity in control of him, mainly because of how he might be punished. There isn’t any kind of adoration here. That makes it different than a lot of possession angles, in that here it’s much more of “The Sunken Place” than it is someone brainwashed into doing bad things.
And that makes it so much darker. Imagine doing the things “it” desires and being cognizant of them, even after the fact. But, two faces in two places, so are we looking at copies being made in the world’s nastiest 3D printer, inhabited by El Cuco, and then used to commit all these acts? There is still a little bit of story to be laid out for us to understand. While it was a little irritating to see Ralph so far behind us mentally, it’s because we spent so much time walking in Holly’s shoes, and those two haven’t had their meeting yet. In fact, when they do, we’re going to start as Holly and gradually Richard Price is going to turn us into Ralph. We’re going to learn the entirety of her theory and her research, and though we’ve seen it play out, we haven’t heard it fully explained. It will be, presumably next week.
Let’s also though consider Jack’s request to get back into the case and prove what an “asset” he can be to Ralph. This stinks of “it” trying to get inside, manipulate things, and potentially even finally get to his goal, which may well be duplicating Ralph Anderson, who threatens to finally get over his sadness and guilt, at least if the final sequence with his son telling him, “You need to let me go,” is a sign of recovery. Jack is being tortured in every imaginable way. He may end up trying to off himself in similar fashion to the gentleman we met at the start (and then again at the end) of the episode.
I have to stop thinking that I’ve seen this show before, because as we watched Andy operate with Holly, I couldn’t have been the only one waiting for him to be another piece of the villainy. He wasn’t. It seems like he’s just a former detective that likes Holly, wants to help, and doesn’t have any motives other than maybe dating her. That’s a good thing. I hoped he wouldn’t turn out to be a phony, and while he still could, if he did at this stage, it would be one of those TV moments that immediately ruins a series. It would be a character acting one way to fool US when no one else on the show is in the room. When he goes through the research from the trashed note in the hotel room, that’s an indicator he’s on her side, and by proxy, on our side.
Unfortunately, him looking into things also tells us he might not last much longer, meaning as a breathing human being. Somebody has to die, and he’s built up some equity with us, so it could easily be him. That also would be a shot across the bow at Holly Gibney, which then could affect Ralph’s investigation, which he insists on continuing after blowing off his wife’s account of coming face to drooping, disfigured face with malevolence in the couple’s home. That was annoying, even more so when she drew virtually the same figure the boy did, which should have hit Ralph harder than just, “hmmm, there’s a coincidence.”
The idea that our baddie hangs out next to graveyards in ghost towns and dilapidated structures straight out of a Fallout or Bioshock video game universe makes total sense, and the fact we see similar settings both in Ohio at Heath’s grave and in New York at the Williams sisters final resting place, then finally the barn in eyeshot of the Terry Maitland gravesite in Georgia is well-executed. That should be enough for Ralph to come around to Holly’s beliefs, but when she talks about El Cuco and all the things she’s heard and found on her own, it’s going to be tough. How do we know? Because we know how we would react if that case were laid at our feet or on our desks.
For the second week in a row, The Outsider presented an opening scene that returns much later in the hour after we see what preceded it, in this instance our victim was the bedmaker at Heath Hofstadter’s house and found a way to commit suicide. The familiar marks on the back of his neck give away his own untenable position, one that he was desperate enough to escape…he took his own life. Or, rather, he found a way for someone(s) else to do it for him. “He’ f—-d him over good.” Then he told Holly “he” had done the same to him, not just Heath, and then he never said another word.
This episode gave us some new information and tied the puzzle pieces a little closer together, but it also had the unmistakable feel of a stage setting episode. When I saw “Tear-Drinker,” I prepared for the worst, but generally, it was merely the bartender’s descriptor, a good one at that, but it wasn’t quite as horrifying as expected.
Not yet anyway.
Next week, that’s the one where it’s all going to change, because we’re going to see Ralph and Holly have this conversation, that is unless it gets derailed by “Jack” or some other individual. Recall Holly no longer has her car, as it was towed when the check engine light popped on while she was in traffic on the highway. That’s either unlucky or it’s far worse. With this show, your guess is as good as mine.
As good as Ben Mendelsohn is in everything, this no exception, without a doubt, Cynthia Erivo is what makes this show go. Her character is why it works, it’s why it’s unique, and Holly is the character that’s SMARTER than the audience, which is such a refreshing change from the norm. We often learn as she learns, but occasionally we learn FROM her, and that’s tremendous.
I am fascinated to see how this story ends. I’m by no means lost, even though some things are intentionally foggy to keep us guessing, but there are a NUMBER of ways it could conclude, depending on the tone it wishes to set before it exits. Also, no way have we seen the most suspenseful or frightening moment. It’s coming though, and I can virtually guarantee you that in the penultimate episode, something jaw dropping will happen. Ratings and viewership numbers are now approaching Watchmen‘s apex, so it has gained an audience and word of mouth has been positive.
That’s for good reason, and it’s easy to recommend to anyone that can handle that kind of content, because you only have to sell them on a season. This isn’t going to be something you have to follow for half a decade. This is one and done, at least that’s the expectation and the feeling. It’s a story with an ending, but…so was Big Little Lies. The numbers are now solid enough that should another season be possible to do, it might be green lighted. My prediction is this will be it, but just as with Watchmen, it’s going to be a one-season triumph.
Now, theories. I want your theories @JMartZone. No spoilers if you’ve read the book, but those that are watching along, what do you think’s coming next?