Why, Channel Zero? You were getting better and now you’re just crashing and burning.
I’ve made comments about some of the awkward and convoluted writing before, but episode five of Channel Zero really takes the cake. Jessica may be dead but Mike and Gary have no time to grieve as they head to Mrs. Booth’s house. The trip turns out to be less fruitful than they hoped as Mike realises that the puppets aren’t the same as the ones in Candle Cove. Just when he thinks they’ve reached another roadblock, Mike receives a phone call from Mrs. Booth. She has a few things to tell him, including the reason Eddie needs Mike’s body. Meanwhile, all the children in town come together, including Gary’s children, Dane and Katie.
It seems like the writers wrote Channel Zero as they went along and now they’re writing in circles. I’m glad they didn’t just go the route of, “It was all Mrs. Booth!” because that would have been too obvious, but the explanation they give just doesn’t add up. Eddie wasn’t the pawn we’ve been led to believe and he created Candle Cove? I can live with that since it’s not a bad twist, but where did his power come from? Saying, “Screw it, magic,” is lazy writing and a total cop-out, especially since Mike apparently has powers too. If Eddie’s came from anger, Mike’s should have bubbled up as well. Mike was obviously angry that his brother was getting picked on and especially angry that Eddie was going to murder Jessica (and more children) and yet he has no obvious powers?
Circling back to Mrs. Booth, I’m still scratching my head as to why she became Eddie’s disciple. I get that because she’s Christian, Eddie stopping her epilepsy (which makes me wonder if she was ever on any meds for it) caused her to believe he’s a miracle worker, but that explanation is just straight up offensive. She’s a Christian so that automatically makes her naive and stupid? Unable to realise that a child murdering other children just may be evil? They easily could have played this smart and have Eddie be more manipulative to her, maybe have him do some good for others.
Speaking of children, here’s the thing Channel Zero. I know sometimes as a viewer one has to maintain a suspension of disbelief, but that many kids go missing and the police station is only getting phone calls? There would be a state of emergency declared, no one would be allowed in or out of town, state troopers would come in, search parties would run round the clock and Mrs. Booth would end up on America’s most wanted.
The only thing Channel Zero got right in this episode is bringing the creepiness back. The whole conversation between Mrs. Booth, Marla, and Mike was superb and Mrs. Booth completely stole the show. Most of the “tense” moments in Channel Zero never really felt that way because it was always a hallucination or there was never a problem in the first place. With this scene however, I knew Mrs. Booth wouldn’t kill Mike and Marla—but her serious and delusional mannerisms were legitimately unnerving. Combine that with a slow zoom in and soft music and we’ve got ourselves some awesome tension.
Despite the fact this episode kept making me question everything, it also left me with heavier question: is it possible to control your fate? Mike has been nothing but a crutch and a security blanket his whole life. He spent his childhood helping Eddie and carrying the burden of murdering him. He’s spent his adult life helping other troubled children and now he’s cleaning up his brother’s mess while trying not to succumb to it. The scene of him on puppet strings is a bit on the nose but it’s the truth—Mike is a puppet, but can he cut the strings?