After last week’s dramatic episode, NOS4A2 returns for an equally intriguing follow-up. With the spotlight turning to Bing, Manx and Wayne this time, this thin ensemble make the most of their screen-time to deliver a decent slice of drama. With more of the past revealed and a final redemptive (yet equally dastardly) arc for Bing, NOS4A2 leaves the door wide open for the final act of this season.
Episode 7 of NOS4A2 Season 2 cuts back in time as we follow Bing moments after being shot up at the cabin. As he stumbles through the woods, he happens upon a statue of an angel. With his moral compass skewed, he tells the sculpture that he’s been nice and done right by the children. Only now that he’s alone, away from Manx’s slippery tendrils squeezing his mind, does Bing start to realize the truth. He raises his head to the heavens and asks for a sign to show him the way.
After an unfortunate incident involving a pigeon, Bing takes his frustration out on a grave-digger, choking him out and taking his keys. In doing so, he sees this as a twisted sign of his fortunes changing for the better. Bing drives to the junkyard and that’s where we see him gassing Manx.
Choking for air, Manx awakens to find himself tied up against a pole in a garage. Bing paces back and forth, deliberating over what to do next. Having disconnected the ignition coil, and with no way for the Wraith to run now, Bing exerts his authority and tells Manx not to lie anymore.
With the fate of Christmasland in jeopardy, Millie heads up to the forbidden house again and learns more about the lights flickering. These lights happen to symbolize the thinning veil between the real world and Christmasland. The reason Manx is so adamant she not go near this house is eventually made clear as the episode progresses. It turns out it holds all of his “darkest fears.”
Millie learns that the little girl hiding out inside is actually Millie herself. At least, a version of her before she was corrupted and distorted by Christmasland. The woman she’s been spending time with too is also another manifestation of her; what Millie will become as a woman.
With Millie unsure what to make of this, she’s urged to speak to Manx and ask to leave Christmasland. If her Father really loves her, he’ll oblige and let her go. If not, then she’ll need to find her own way.
Through fragments of the past and Manx finally being truthful, Bing learns that he’s not going to Christmasland; that’s reserved solely for children. As he towers over his former boss, he tells Manx they have a problem. He beats Manx down, punching him repeatedly as Bing bemoans his luck.
“I gave up everything,” He groans painfully as Manx tries to rationale with him. Manx spins his story into the children “needing” Christmasland though and goes on to tell him that it’s in his best interest to focus on the mission.
Manx is clever. He knows exactly how to get through to Bing and changes his tact slightly to call him special. As they sit together, Manx opens up and discusses his past, including his Mother whom he was ashamed of and eventually felt betrayed by. This betrayal led to her undoing as Manx killed her. He felt like a “child unsaved” and compares himself to Bing, going so far as to call him his partner.
At the same time, ghost Craig speaks to Wayne and encourages him to talk about his life. With the power of the Wraith draining him with every passing minute, this is the only way to keep Wayne on the straight and narrow. As he mentions his family and where they live, Craig feels relieved to learn Wayne’s teeth have stopped hurting.
Bing heads outside on the back of Manx’s words and checks on Wayne. He’s weakened, struggling to hold on, and this brings Bing back inside the garage with renewed vigor. Finally Manx reveals the truth and after gassing him, Bing bundles the man into the Wraith while Wayne watches on.
Bing tells Wayne to leave and encourages him to find the police. As one final, redemptive action, he tells Wayne to apologize to Vic from him. Turning away from the child, Bing drops a gas canister inside the Wraith and prepares to let the car be crushed. Bing sits in the front, taking off his gas mask and letting the toxic fill his lungs.
Only, Wayne suddenly shuts off the machine and frees Bing from the backseat. It seems as if Bing was a fraction too late as Wayne struggles to hold onto his humanity. With the desire too great, Wayne steps inside the Wraith as the door locks behind him. Ghost Craig sits with him and pleads with Wayne to hold onto Vic’s memory.
As the episode closes out, Manx stabs Bing and leaves him for dead. He tells the big man he’s not special and watches as he falls to a crumpled heap on the floor. “Do think of me at Christmas Time… won’t you?” He taunts, before walking back to the Wraith.
The Episode Review
With a slightly different angle this time around, NOS4A2 delivers an intriguing glimpse into Bing’s persona. With him finally alone and allowed time with his thoughts, he realizes how treacherous Manx actually is.
In that respective the whole episode plays out as one big mental sparring as Manx tries to probe and break Bing’s defences. It’s a fascinating idea played out really well while Wayne, by comparison, finds himself succumbing to that same darkness.
There’s a nice change of pace here with the focus on the antagonists rather than Vic and the gang. This feeds back into the creativity oozing through this series and while there are times it hasn’t worked that well, the past few weeks have certainly done well to mix things up. We’re finally starting to see some exciting action now and after a slow start, NOS4A2 is settling into a good groove ready for the third and final act to play out.