The Night Road
Since returning, NOS4A2 has really failed to capitalise on the wonder and fantastical horror that made the first season so endearing. While the episodes this year so far have certainly set some good foundations for the show to grow into, it’s also lacked the same urgency and tight plotting that made the first so enjoyable. There are still some positives though – namely Zachary Quinto’s deliciously sadistic portrayal of Charlie Manx – but beyond that the season has struggled to hit its stride.
Episode 3 of NOS4A2 Season 2 begins in Christmasland with Millie unhappy with her Father’s absence and heading off alone to an ominous house sitting atop a hill. Heading inside with a sword in hand, the darkness paves way for a flash of white light (symbolic for something good within the bleakness of darkness perhaps?) which dissipates and shows a blood-covered woman standing behind her. Frightened, Millie bolts out the front door.
Vic Mcqueen travels through the Shorter Way to visit her Father. After what happened with the fire, she’s clearly shook up and he takes her inside where she apologises profusely for what’s happened. Collapsing from exhaustion, Vic sleeps through the night. It’s been quite the ordeal for her and after being out cold with a fever, when she wakes up it’s midday.
Finally catching a chance to talk to her Father, they discuss her staying with him but he refuses, telling her the house is dry and he won’t have alcohol inside. Trying hard to hide her disappointment, she instead turns to her Mother where she sits and openly admits the shame she feels in the wake of the fire.
Vic eventually does phone Lou but unfortunately only gets through to his voicemail. Bing arrives on the scene, acting as a distraction while Wayne is enticed over to Manx and the wraith courtesy of Christmas treats and music.
Lou realises what’s going on and immediately phones through to Vic. Unfortunately her loud music prevents her from hearing the phone but he does leave a cryptic message ready for her to hear. Lou outwits Bing and Wayne is equally as wise to Manx’s tricks, with them both reconvening in the woods and trying to keep a low profile.
After phoning the FBI, Vic and Lou finally talk and Vic decides to finish what’s been started with Manx once and for all. Blinded by rage, she heads on her bike and races off to try and find him.
Manx meanwhile discusses the current state of affairs with Abe before ringing Millie and finding out what she’s been up to. It’s a brief call but one that’s telling all the same given how she’s starting to adopt a bit of a rebellious streak now.
Outside the bar, Manx and Vic finally find themselves face to face on the Night Road. Vic immediately goes on the offensive, throwing a flaming gas canister at the wraith before heading back through The Shorter Way. This conflict is certainly going to be a lot harder and tougher than she perhaps thought it would be.
Back home, Vic receives advice from the most unlikely of places – her Mother. It’s a small moment but one that reinforces just how closely Vic and her Mother are starting to entwine down this dark road of parenting woes.
While Vic visits Maggie and reconvenes with Lou and Wayne, Millie approaches the house up on the hill again and sees the strange, ghostly figure whisper her name. Meanwhile, forces move to conspire against Vic as Abe phones his contact and he asks just who Vic McQueen is, which is where the episode ends.
Having not read the book I can’t comment on how close to the source material this falls but compared to the first season, NOS4A2 has really failed to settle into a consistent rhythm. Gone is that spunky, determined girl of old and instead we get this broken, angry and bitter version of Vic McQueen who’s blinded by rage. While this is understandable from a character perspective, her lack of empathy toward her son and the way she’s actively going after Manx in such a reckless manner is something that makes her difficult to warm to.
It’s not all bad though and Millie’s subplot this time around is certainly something that’s an interesting idea and blurs that line between friend and foe. For now though, NOS4A2 feels more like a shadow of Christmas past rather than an inviting, lavish Christmas dinner.