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On last week’s episode of NOS4A2, Vic McQueen tried to face down a resurrected Charlie Manx alone and failed.
This week, Vic finally accepts some badly needed support from the the people who love her. Meanwhile, Manx makes another play at kidnapping Wayne.
The episode opens with Wayne asleep at Maggie and Tabitha Hutter’s home. He’s awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of children singing “Silent Night”. After groggily pulling himself out of bed, he heads downstairs to one of the house’s front windows. He pulls the curtain back to reveal a group of vampire children singing on the snow covered grounds of Christmasland.
That would have been more than enough to send me hurtling back upstairs with inhuman speed, but 8 year-old Wayne remains enthralled by the sight as one of the children walks forward and asks him to come outside and play.
Meanwhile, Vic awakens from the downstairs couch and sees her son looking out the window at an ordinary Massachusetts night while humming “Silent Night”. When she tries to talk to him, however, he shuffles over to the front door and opens it.
Vic assumes he’s sleepwalking and attempts to wake him, but to no avail. Unbeknownst to her, Wayne is having another vision, this time of Charlie Manx standing in front of Christmasland. After telling the boy how much fun he’d have there, Manx extends an invitation contingent on him doing “one small favor.”
Thankfully, Vic is able to wake Wayne up before Manx can reveal what it is.
As she leads her son back up to bed, he takes out the candy cane Manx gave him and looks back toward the front window. Once again he sees the snow and bright lights of Christmasland. This time, though, he’s fully awake…an image of Manx’s face in the moon is smiling back at him.
In a Haze
The next morning, Vic and Lou wake Wayne up and ask their son about his sleep walking, but he’s only interested in when they’ll be going back to Colorado. His mood darkens when he learns that instead of going home, they’ll be headed out to Grandpa Chris’ lake house to hide from Manx.
Lou then provides his son with a brand new (and unfried) phone. This raises his spirits a little, but its clear that recents events are taking a toll on the poor kid’s psyche.
Back downstairs, Maggie informs Tabitha that she’ll be accompanying the two assigned FBI agents to Chris McQueen’s lake house. Tabitha isn’t happy about this for a number of legitimate reasons, but Maggie insists, explaining that while the agents won’t be able to predict when/if the Wraith comes for them, her tiles can.
Hard Road Ahead
Despite his self-imposed exile, Chris is more than happy to welcome the large convoy to his lake house, especially the grandson he’s never gotten to meet before. As everyone begins settling in, Wayne takes Manx’s candy cane out of his pocket and notices a bat-themed Christmas ornament hanging from a nearby tree.
That afternoon, Vic and her father discuss defensive options for the cabin. Chris begins to suspect that something much worse than Bing Partridge might be coming when she asks about setting explosives, but agrees to help in any way he can. He also assures her that Wayne will be safe while they stay in his home.
Vic heads back inside to talk with Lou, who announces that he wants to officially adopt Wayne. He also gently-yet-firmly explains that as much as their son needs protection, he also needs stability–something his mother has actively eroded since Manx returned. Lou also tells Vic that if she can’t get her head straight about everything, then he isn’t sure their relationship can continue.
Later that afternoon, Wayne, Lou, and Chris go fishing off the dock. Vic sees her family enjoying a normal activity for once and laments to Maggie that she might never be able to enjoy or provide that for the people she loves the most. Maggie confesses that she often felt the same way until falling in love with Tabitha. She also says that while it isn’t easy living in a world with inscapes/supernatural threats, finding someone you truly love makes it worth it.
That night, while Vic and her father make the bombs, Chris notices her daughter’s hands shaking as a result of not drinking. She asks when he finally stopped wanting to drink, which receives a tacit response that all but screams “I never did.”
Before their conversation can get even heavier, the pair hears a noise in the family room and goes to investigate. They find Lou with Wayne, who’s sleep walking again. This time, however, their boy is talking in his sleep about how “sometimes Mom doesn’t like us.”
Lou takes Wayne back to bed while Vic struggles to tamp down on her shattered heart.
The next day, Lou and Wayne enjoy a swim in the lake while Maggie becomes more and more worried that she hasn’t been able to get a hold of Tabitha. Meanwhile, Vic and Chris commiserate over the struggles of recovering from alcoholism. She also admits her fear that Lou is going to leave her soon…and that Wayne will want to go with him.
Chris reminds his daughter that Lou is here and potentially putting his life on the line for her and her son. He also echoes his ex-wife Linda’s advice from last episode, urging her not to make the same mistakes he did and be present for the people she loves. This inspires Vic to put aside the doubt and fear raging inside her and join Lou and Wayne in the lake. The three laugh and splash each other, enjoying their familial bond for the first time since Manx returned.
That night, Lou asks Vic if she thinks she still would have picked him if they’d met under normal circumstances. Vic replies that she honestly doesn’t know, but she’s glad she did and would do it again. Vic also assures him that she’s going to do everything she can to get her life in order so that they can build one together with Wayne.
Later, Vic, Lou, and Chris go outside to plant the explosives. Chris stays behind to finish the last one, allowing Vic and Lou to walk back to the house together. On the way there, Vic spots Wayne sleep walking out onto the dock.
As she frantically attempts to wake her son up, he visits with Manx in a dream outside the gates of Christmasland. The boy laments how hard it is to be with his family right now, especially with a mom he isn’t even sure wants to be part of his life. Manx assures Wayne that he would not only love Christmasland, but would feel loved, as well. He even offers to come pick him up–all he needs to do his tell him where he is. After a brief hesitation, Wayne reveals their location.
Back in the real world, Manx awakens and tells Bing to get the Wraith ready for a road trip. At the same time, Wayne (still asleep/in a trance) begins humming “Silent Night” again. Vic holds up her son’s hand and discovers he’s holding a candy cane that most definitely did not come from Postmates.
While Vic is putting Wayne back to bed, she asks him where he got the candy cane. When he finally admits where it came from, she sternly reminds her son about how dangerous Manx is and to never go near him. Wayne responds by pointing out that Vic constantly lies, abandons him, and makes Lou sad. He gives the knife one final twist by wishing he could have a regular mom instead of her.
To her credit, Vic acknowledges her shortcomings as a mother and promises that she’s working to be better. This at least earns an “I love you” from Wayne, but it’s clear that what her son said hurt even more than what she’d been feeling before.
House of Sleep
Tabitha Hutter shares her plan to catch Bing with her FBI supervisor. Despite her concerns about Hutter’s closeness to the case, she agrees to let her take point on the operation.
Her first step involves connecting Bing’s aliases to places with a supply of sevoflurane, aka “gingerbread smoke.” This leads her to a dentist’s office where Bing worked as a janitor until disappearing a week ago. They aren’t able to provide a home address (just a PO box), but some of the techs heard that “Ethan” lived in an abandoned church nearby.
They also discover that Bing had recently cleaned out the office’s entire supply sevoflurane.
Hutter stakes out the church, where she eventually sees Bing preparing for the Wraith’s trip to the lake house. After calling it in and learning that back up will take twenty minutes to get there, she decides to go in herself.
After passing a Christmas-themed Manx shrine in the sanctuary (of course), Hutter heads down into the basement (OF AN ABANDONED CHURCH WHERE A SERIAL KILLER LIVES). Bing gets the drop on her, using his massive size and brute strength to overpower Hutter and nearly kill her. Thankfully, she’s able to recover and delivers an epic beatdown.
Just as she’s slapping the handcuffs on a barely conscious Bing, Charlie Manx appears.
He manages to break Hutter’s arm, but she refuses to let that (or what’s likely a very serious concussion) stop her. Before Manx can make good on his threats to kill her, she draws her firearm and shoots him in the head.
Back at the lake house, Maggie’s anxiety over not hearing from Tabitha reaches its breaking point. She asks her tiles if her girlfriend is okay. She manages to spell out “House of Sleep” with them before collapsing into a seizure (and totally freaking Lou out). After taking a few minutes to recover, she reveals that “House of Sleep” was what her and Tabitha called whatever place Bing was using to hide the last eight years.
*Side note: Before anyone asks why Vic and Maggie didn’t team up to do this before, remember that Vic’s first bike/knife was totaled and she only got a new one after (maybe) conjuring it in the first episode this season.*
Maggie and Vic decide to take the Shorter Way to Tabitha’s location, where they find her badly hurt, but alive. Unfortunately, Manx recovered (on account of being immortal), plucked the bullet out of his head, and escaped with Bing inside the Wraith before they or Tabitha’s back up could get there.
Meanwhile, Wayne wakes up and confesses to Lou that Manx knows how to find them thanks to their dream discussion in Christmasland.
After the breakneck pace of the first three episodes this season, “The Lake House” feels comparatively slow. There’s still plenty that happens, but nowhere near the narrative momentum we had before.
Even the episode’s most exciting portion (Tabitha Hutter’s face off with Bing/Manx) resulted in little more than all three characters getting their asses kicked and Bing/Manx escaping. It was cool to finally see Hutter get some more screen time, though. Ashley Romans does a fantastic job portraying a character who accepts the crazy supernatural stuff, but refuses to abandon forensic detective work and her instincts.
Also, even though they both survived it, it was great watching Bing receive his long overdue ass whooping and Charlie getting popped in the head.
I was a bit confused, however, about why the Wraith didn’t try to run Hutter over after it came to life. Don’t get me wrong–I’m glad it didn’t since she’s such a good character. Still, considering the way it took down Maggie in the bus station parking lot last season, you figure Manx would definitely send it after someone who just shot him in the head.
Perhaps Hutter did have a showdown/escape from the Wraith that we didn’t get to see (which would help explain how she knew they got away once Vic and Maggie showed up). If so, then we missed a really cool scene. Otherwise, it’s an odd narrative gap.
On a more broad note, the emotional beatdown Vic took this episode began to stray into some rough territory. Part of that is due to the fact that Ashleigh Cummings absolutely sells it every time her character’s heart takes another punch. If you thought she was at her breaking point last episode (like I did), then it’s hard to understand how she finds a way to keep pushing forward after this one.
Maybe that’s the point–to show how determined Vic is despite her flaws and immense trauma–but it definitely felt like a bit of overkill by the end.
All that being said, “The Lake House” was still an excellent episode. I loved seeing Vic realize similarities to the mistakes she’s making and the ones her father made, all while Chris (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) helps her try to avoid them. Also, Lou (Jonathan Langdon) once again manages to walk the line between being completely in love with Vic while setting firm boundaries for both his welfare and Wayne’s.
Speaking of Wayne (Jason David), its good to see him evolve from an adorable plot device into a kid with agency and believable angst. His confession to Lou at the end was a great example of the way kids can often vacillate between rebellion and a desire for love/protection–especially when they’ve been through hellish craziness he has.
Jahkara Smith is great as Maggie (as usual), but this was the first episode where her relationship with Hutter really clicked for me. They still have ridiculously opposite personality types, but the concern the pair had for each other (along with the chemistry they had in their brief screen time together) was incredibly powerful.
We don’t get much of Bing and Manx in this episode, but what we do see is great, especially Manx’s scenes with Wayne. The episode also closes with a fantastic set up for what promises to be an incredible showdown next week.
Read our interview with ‘NOS4A2’ showrunner Jami O’Brien here.
If one episode a week of ‘NOS4A2’ isn’t enough, then hop over to the NOS4A2 Fans Facebook group for in depth discussion among one of the best communities in the otherwise hellish landscape of social media fandom. Hopefully the show continues to be good so my reviews don’t make things awkward.
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