The most important part of any TV show is good writing. NOS4A2’s first season wasn’t the best written show of the year but it was solid enough to make for an entertaining and dramatic watch. By comparison, this second season lacks any of the same traits that made that one such a good watch. Vic McQueen is a shadow of the person she once was. By comparison, Manx is now forever young which loses that same sense of urgency he once had.
This is arguably the worst episode of both seasons. The plot belies any dramatic tension and instead injects an unbelievable amount of literal plot armour into the narrative. Not only that, the entire story is told in such a way to try and be clever but winds up falling flat on its face.
Episode 5 of NOS4A2 Season 2 sees a race against time handed a heavy dose of contrivance by skipping between Vic and Bruce’s perspective. This unnecessary scene-hopping sees repeated instances occurring from both viewpoints.
We begin with Vic charging up to meet Wayne up at Lake House. Unfortunately Manx has their number as he plays the long game. At the same time, a shadowy figure – possibly a new creative – uses an hourglass to control two police officers who drive up to the Lake House and shoot Chris.
Although they stop the threat, they have bigger problems to deal with when Bing arrives and gasses the house. Snatching up Wayne by the arm, he brings him to Charlie Manx waiting by the Wraith. Thankfully Vic shows up and with the detonator in hand, screaming at Manx to let her son go. Instead, he runs her over.
As Manx stands over Vic, he repeatedly slams a hammer into her back until it cracks. There’s a sickening sound and an accompanying visual to show metal being broken in half.
As Wayne’s voice echoes in her mind, he tell her to use her (plot) armour, allowing her to withstand the blows and run away. Unfortunately Lou is captured by Manx and after repeatedly slamming his head into the car door, promises to take him to Christmasland. Vic hides under the dock and watches helplessly as Lou falls to the ground in a heap.
Manx uses this as leverage to challenge Vic, telling her Lou will be feasted on by the children in Christmasland. Thankfully, an injured Chris arrives and shoots Bing down by the docks and gives Vic a window of opportunity to go after Manx. Despite catching up to the Wraith, she’s hit by a car and falls to a heap on the ground. When she awakens, she finds herself in hospital with both Lou and Chris there too receiving medical attention, which is where the episode ends.
The Review Write-Up
The big talking point in this episode comes from the incredible amount of plot armour Vic McQueen has. While I understand the main character can’t die, Vic survives being hit by a car and numerous hammer blows to the spine. Even worse, she just gets up and runs away like it’s nothing. I know this sounds nit-picky as most heroes do have this to some extent but it’s usually well hidden. NOS4A2 instead embraces this idea and completely runs with it.
That’s before even mentioning the editing here which loses any dramatic tension by repeating the same segments again and again from different perspectives. It doesn’t work in the context of an episode like this and feels like a cheap gimmick. Hopefully NOS4A2 can end things on a high but based on this showing, it needs to do something drastic to turn the tide.