Last week’s episode of NOS4A2 concluded with Chris, Lou, and Vic all in the hospital and Wayne in Manx’s Wraith. If you thought that’s as bad as things could get, however, then think again.
In case you forgot, Hourglass Man, still has a job to do…
The episode opens with a doctor smoking a cigarette outside the hospital where Vic & Co. are recovering. That’s a bad enough sign on its own, but things get exponentially worse when the Hourglass Man approaches and asks for a moment of his time.
Upon becoming entranced, the man (Dr. Gregory) goes inside, fills a syringe with something undoubtedly awful, and heads towards Vic’s room. Thankfully, Maggie is there to object when he injects it into Vic’s blood blag.
After pulling the IV out of her friend’s arm and pushing the emergency button, Maggie rushes outside to track down Dr. Gregory just as he’s speed shuffling into the key-carded employee changing room. She breaks the glass and gets the door open, but not before he’s able to inject the rest of the syringe into his neck. When Maggie asks why he tried to kill Vic and then himself, the doctor is only able to utter “help me” before dying in front of her.
As you might imagine, Linda is royally pissed about the FBI’s inability to protect her daughter from what appeared to be a homicidal doctor.
*Side note: I normally save this stuff for the final section, but can we take a moment to appreciate Linda’s tirade. From asking if F.B.I. stood for “Failed Bad Incompetent” to the demand they do better because of her husband’s employment at the postal service and her church attendance, this might be the first time I’ve ever enjoyed (and rooted for) someone going full “Karen” on a civil servant.*
After verbally neutering the FBI Section Chief Daltry, Linda walks into Vic’s hospital room and gently admonishes her daughter for attempting to get out of bed with a ruptured spleen. Vic insists she has to leave because she’s the only one who can find Wayne. She then goes a step further, attempting to explain WHY she’s the only one who can find him due to her inscape ability.
Instantly realizing how crazy this would sound to almost anyone, Vic tries to explain that the Shorter Way is what helped her find Sharon Smith’s body as a teenager. Linda (understandably) believes her daughter’s words are the result of the severe concussion she recently suffered. When Vic continues to insist on leaving, however, she finally reaches her breaking point and busts out the Mom Voice. When that doesn’t work, she threatens to request another psyche evaluation, which is enough to make Vic lay back down.
Visitors, Welcome or Not
Wayne wakes up in the backseat of the Wraith, which is now driving through a snow covered landscape that is most definitely not in New England. After wishing the boy a good morning, Manx assures him that he doesn’t need to hide his phone, going so far as to encourage him to call his mother.
When she doesn’t pick up, Manx predictably uses that as a jumping off point to denigrate Vic. Just when it appears he’s made a dent in the boy’s psyche, however, Wayne is joined in the backseat of the Wraith by the burned apparition of his biological father, Craig.
*Side Note: In case you don’t remember, Craig died inside the Wraith after telling Vic to burn it despite him being locked inside.*
Craig assures his son that Vic hasn’t forgotten him and will come to his rescue. Manx is unable to see or hear his ghostly passenger, but can definitely tell something is up. His suspicions are raised even further when Wayne pushes back on Manx’s taunts about Vic with renewed hope/defiance.
Back in Massachusetts, a recovering Hutter receives an in-home visit from her supervisor, who says that Daltry wants to see her about what went down in the House of Sleep.
Maggie arrives home just as Hutter’s supervisor is leaving. As they talk through recent events, she realizes that someone with different abilities than Manx must be controlling the people who’ve been coming after Vic. Her suspicions are further confirmed when Hutter’s background search of Dr. Gregory reveals no previous criminal activity.
Despite Tabitha’s vehement protests, Maggie decides to use her tiles to find out who Manx is working with.
I’m guessing that Maggie used her tiles and Tabitha helped her with the ensuing seizure, because the next scene opens with her entering the hotel where the Hourglass Man is staying.
As she heads downstairs to the hotel bar, the lights flicker due to the power of two strong creatives being in the same area. Maggie see the Hourglass Man take notice of her and finds a seat near him. The well-dressed-yet-clearly-thirsty-dude walks over and offers to buy her a drink. He also makes it clear that he knows they’re both “exceptional” people. After a bit of playful stonewalling, Maggie allows him to buy her a drink.
After suffering through his lame attempts at spitting game (including a Cassablanca quote), she tells him about her ability while placing her tile bag on the table. The Hour Glass man’s interest is clearly piqued, but Maggie refuses to let him partake of her gifts without learning about his first.
Before relenting on that front, however, he shows a remarkable bit of perception, deducing that Maggie is in a relationship currently strained by her partner’s disapproval of using her gifts. In his opinion, being forced to suppress their abilities is equivalent to a cat being declawed.
Having gained back a bit of his mojo, he reveals his hourglass to Maggie, who is initially unimpressed. After a bit of prodding, he uses it to make the bartender give them a bottle of the hotel’s best bourbon free of charge. He also explains that the price of using his ability is severe memory loss (along with a nasty ear bleed).
When Maggie reveals the cost of her gift, the Hourglass Man reveals that he’s found a way to mitigate the price they both have to pay. It’s also something he’s willing to teach her…if she comes upstairs with him and uses her tiles to answer a question.
Back at the hospital, Linda walks in on Chris as he’s changing. After an awkward greeting, the divorced couple sits down to talk about their daughter. When Linda says she thinks Vic is having a mental breakdown, Chris admits that he thinks there might be some truth to what she says about her abilities (on account of him having seen a dead man steal his son in a magical car).
Linda believes her daughter is special, but not because of magical abilities. When she asks Chris how the same person who changed her diapers and raised her could miss something like that, he suggests it’s because she too busy patching up the damage he constantly caused. He then suggests they should at least listen to her plan for getting Wayne back.
Meanwhile, Vic is at Lou’s bedside when he awakens from having a stint put in his heart. After taking a moment to gather himself, his first question is about where Wayne is. Vic breaks the bad news, explaining that she needs to get the Triumph working again to find him. She also insists that he remain in bed and recover.
Lou refuses to hear it, though, declaring that they are in this together and that he’ll help her get the Triumph working again (which also leads to some genuinely adorable Star Wars banter).
Lessons and Letdowns
After getting settled in his hotel room, the Hourglass Man explains that there are two ways to mitigate the cost of using their gifts:
- Hurt yourself.
- Hurt someone else.
He then rolls up his sleeve and reveals a multitude of cigarettes burns he’s given himself over the years.
After agreeing to help Maggie through the process, he whispers his question in her ear. When she warns him that he might not like the answer, he assures her that he’s prepared for whatever fate has in store.
Maggie rolls up her sleeve and allows the Hourglass Man to burn her arm. She struggles not to scream while he instructs her to internalize and harness pain, instead. Upon reaching her breaking point, she asks if the Hourglass Man will achieve immortality and reaches into her bag.
Maggie pulls out a set of tiles and is shocked/elated to find herself completely seizure-free. As for the Hourglass Man, he’s none too pleased with the results of his lesson.
Enraged over his mortal trappings, he throws a tantrum and storms out of the room. Maggie uses the opportunity to get up and take the hourglass from his coat pocket. Just as she’s about to leave, however, he walks back in and asks where she’s going. Maggie plays it off like she was getting him another drink.
After apologizing for scaring her, he explains his theory that every life he takes by using his gift is banked into some sort of immortality nest egg. He then asks Maggie if she’s ever heard of a strong creative named Charlie Manx who did manage to find a way to live forever. He figures if that guy can do it, then he can, too.
Maggie deftly manages to avoid that topic. Unfortunately, this leads the Hourglass Man to his next theory: Maggie’s tiles were wrong.
When she refuses his request to check them again, he decides to make her do it instead. This leads him to reach for the hourglass inside his coat pocket. Upon discovering its absence, he rushes over and stops Maggie just as she’s making a break for the door.
The Hourglass Man slams her into a mirror and demands to know who she is. Maggie defiantly responds by informing him that Vic McQueen is still alive. She also calls him “nothing but a failed errand boy for Charlie Manx,” which significantly degrades his already sour mood even further.
He hurls Maggie across the room and promises she won’t leave his room alive. Maggie responds by picking up one of those IKEA-looking hotel lamps and whacking him across the face. The impact causes him to break various nearby objects (including a glass countertop) and drop his hourglass.
Maggie leaps onto the floor after it, but the Hourglass Man grabs and pulls her back before she can reach it. Just when it appears he has the upper hand, she snags a shard of broken glass and jabs it through his gut, neutralizing her attacker and fulfilling her tiles’ prophecy.
As the Hourglass Man begins to bleed out, Maggie crushes his hourglass under her boot before declaring “This is for Vic” and walking out of the room like a boss.
Rebuilding the Past
Back in Haverhill, Linda sits in Vic’s old room surrounded by her drawings. When Vic comes in to ask about working on the bike in the kitchen, Linda admits that she never truly understood her daughter, which in turns makes it feel as though she never needed her.
Vic responds by assuring her mother that she needed her then and needs her even more now.
Linda then asks Vic to explain how her gift works. When Vic admits she doesn’t fully understand it herself, Linda indicates her continued support by saying that Chris can work on the bike in her house.
Vic walks downstairs and sees her bike in pieces, which completely devastates her. Chris and Lou try to assure her they can fix it, but Vic worries that Wayne already will be changed like the other vampire children by then. Lou pushes back, insisting that their son is strong and will find a way to fight Manx’s influence.
Meanwhile, Manx pulls over for a pit stop in one of his earthly hiding places. After he gets out to check and make sure the coast is clear, Wayne loses a tooth. The situation becomes even more dire when he allows a butterfly through the car window and viciously rips it apart.
Sadly, it looks like Vic might have been right.
Hutter meets with her supervisor, Daltry, who goes full law enforcement trope and tells her she’s gotten too close to the case before asking for her gun and badge.
Later that night, Maggie arrives home to find Hutter (understandably) distraught over her suspension. While explaining how she stopped the Hourglass Man and trying to comfort her, Hutter notices the burn on Maggie’s arm. She (even more understandably) isn’t cool with her girlfriend burning herself, but Maggie refuses to stop using her gift now that she can do it without having seizures.
That night, Manx awakens to find that Wayne’s diminishing humanity has helped heal the scars he still had from the lake house battle.
He wakes up the boy and suggests he use the bathroom before they embark on the final leg of their journey. As he gets out of the car to open Wayne’s door, however, Bing appears and gasses Manx into unconsciousness. He then disconnects part of the Wraith’s engine and drags Manx away, leaving Wayne by the himself.
Craig appears and tells the boy to call his mom. Since they are in the real world instead of an inscape road this time, the call goes through. After describing his surroundings to Vic, he also admits that something bad is happening to him the longer he stays inside the Wraith.
Vic promises her son that she’ll do whatever it takes to find him as the call unexpectedly drops off.
While not quite as brilliant as last week’s episode, ‘The Hourglass’ was still a great hour of television
From the opening scene with Dr. Gregory to Maggie’s encounter with the Hourglass Man, the entire hour was packed with an unnerving level of tension. Even some of the sweet moments–like Chris and Linda’s moment–were permeated by a sense of unease.
And then there were the two big surprises with Craig and Bing. In addition to being genuinely shocking moments, they were both earned and excellently set up.. Craig and Wayne’s interaction was also a great deal more impactful than I was expecting.
It should be a lot of fun seeing how these two appearances change things in the weeks ahead.
Unfortunately, the episode’s minor shortfalls all took place within its best plot line.
We can assume (I think) that Maggie used her tiles to find the hotel where the Hourglass was staying. If so, then the way the resulting seizure got hand waived off screen doesn’t sync up with the threat to her health that it’s been presented as since the start of the season.
When the actual fight between her and the Hourglass Man takes place, some of camera work and a slow motion effect takes the luster off an otherwise superb scene. In a series where every shot has looked so beautiful–and this episode being one of the best looking of them all–it felt for a few seconds like we took a detour into Walker:Texas Ranger territory.
Also, as much as we all loved watching Maggie take out the Hourglass Man, she did just totally kill a guy in a hotel room. There’s gotta be some legal repercussions for that, right?
Following the altercation, Maggie seemed far too calm for someone who (I’m assuming) hasn’t killed anyone before. I guess there’s a chance the Hourglass Man survived, but I doubt she’d assume that after leaving him bleeding out on the floor.
All that being said, Jahkara Smith and Paul Schneider are brilliant in their scenes together. Schneider never takes his character into the realm of campy evilness (which would have been easy) while Smith never lets Maggie’s flirting become ridiculously over-sexualized.
Instead, the two actors play off each other in an escalating game of wills and deception. Both want something from the other and attempt to extract it without revealing the entire truth of their motivations. At the same time, however, the characters also force each other to reckon with inner conflicts they’re completely unprepared to face.
In Maggie’s case, it was the unspoken schism between her and Tabitha that was brought to surface when she found a (really messed up) way to use her gifts without having seizures. As stoic as Ashley Romans has portrayed Hutter throughout the series, she totally sells the breaking of of character’s heart and spirit by the FBI and the woman she loves.
On a happier note, it was great seeing Vic and Lou have their moment of solidarity in the hospital. After all the strain and damage to their relationship recently, the love between them managed to provide some much needed hope an in otherwise hopeless situation.
Speaking of hopeless, that scene where Wayne lost a tooth and killed a butterfly hit me right in the gut. Part of me almost hoped the show would break its own rules and let the boy retain his humanity–and in a way, they did via Craig’s presence in the Wraith (which is totally fair). Unfortunately, even that doesn’t appear to be enough to stop Wayne from beginning to turn into one of Manx’s vampire children.
Let’s hope Vic & Co. can get the Triumph running before the poor kid’s neck veins start showing up.
Read our interview with ‘NOS4A2’ showrunner Jami O’Brien here.
Read our coverage of the SDCC 2020 ‘NOS4A2’ panel 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.