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Dead of Summer - Barney Rubble Eyes - Review: This World Bears No Gifts

It looks like the show is going to spend, at least, the first few episodes giving us backstory on the camp counselors. This week it’s Alex and he’s not a simple guy. Just when I thought he’s really a good guy underneath he did something bad.

Alex is actually a Russian immigrant named Alexi Fayvinov. As his family prepares to leave Russia, his parents tell him to say goodbye to his grandfather because he physically can’t handle the traveling. The last words his grandfather says to him are “This world bears no gifts. You want something, you TAKE it. Never forget that.”

His grandfather’s words seem to come back to him as he watches his father quietly deal with discrimination. Alexi takes this to heart and decides to change his name to Alex Powell. The one thing I missed in this flashback sequence was how his parents felt about this move. Did Alex hide his Americanization from his parents, or was there conflict surrounding it? Alex’s description of his father as a good man who wasn’t very strong just made me those moments more.

As a teen Alex returns to Delasotta’s Dry Cleaners (his father’s former employer.) We learn the secret of Alex’s wardrobe. When he discovers that Mr. Delasotta is having an affair with another employee, Nadia (who seems to be being coerced into it), he turns on the security system and records the encounter. He uses the tape to blackmail Delasotta into letting him acquire clothes whenever he wants. The fact that Alex ensures Nadia keeps her job, made me think the guy might not be all bad. Unfortunately, my positive impressions don’t last long.

In the present day, the campers finally arrive. One in particular sticks out, Anton Melnekov, a shy Russian immigrant who is bullied for being Russian. This kid is another reason I began to wonder if Alex is a good guy at heart. Alex looks out for the kid. He makes sure that Anton doesn’t wander off and eventually suggests that he make his life easier by getting rid of his accent and changing his name.

But, Alex spends the rest of the episode proving that he is definitely a bad guy. When he parrots the commie bashing he grew up listening to (and I’m guessing joined so he could fit in) to Amy, she lets him know she’s got no use for such behavior. His way of recovering from this misstep is to pay off one of the kids in his cabin to make him look good. Amy falls for it. Later, after Anton wanders off again (and appears to have been kidnapped), Alex and Blotter’s jobs are in jeopardy. In an effort to ensure that Blotter is the one fired Alex slips his “friend” a little liquid LSD. No coming back from that one, IMHO, Alext is a bad guy.

Blotter’s bad trip gets mixed up with the supernatural mystery at the camp. He actually finds the Tall Man’s body. Sadly, it doesn’t keep him from getting fired. As he leaves (really, the kid has to walk back to town?), his final shot is to make sure everyone knows that Alex drugged him. I’m pretty sure this is the end of Alex’s chances with Amy.

Anton is more than just a shy kid who keeps wandering off. He’s psychic. The Tall Man is trying to get Anton to find his body. When asking Anton to find his body doesn’t work, he visits the poor kid in his dreams. The kid finds himself in a burning bed with the words “Find Me” burned into his arm. Then the kid ends up in a trance drawing a clue to the location of the Tall Man’s body and repeating “Find it.” over and over. Anton tells Alex that he has to find the Tall Man, or someone will die. That night Anton skips out to search for the Tall Man. Alex finds the kid sitting over the spot where The Tall Man is buried.

But it’s Blotter, in the middle of an acid trip, who digs The Tall Man up. Blotter gets Deb and convinces her to return to the site with him. Of course, by this time the body is gone. Our last glimpse of the body is when the town bad boy/drug dealer, David, and his buddies congratulate themselves for finding The Tall Man’s bones. As David says, “It has begun.”

And I feel like it finally has. This episode felt a lot more focused than the pilot was for me, and I was really happy for that to be the case. One of the most fun things for me is the fact that the supernatural story isn’t a Scooby Doo type set up (i.e. the supernatural stuff is really supernatural stuff and not a bunch of scams cooked up by the villain). Also, I love Tony Todd. I will check out anything he’s in. It was such a pleasant surprise to see him in the pilot.

I’m still enjoying the relationships (even the juicy petty ones) between the counselors. I think the only relationship that’s not working for me at this point is between Deb and Joel. Though, at this point, I’m thinking he’s going to be how we find out the truth about Deb. But honestly, Joel, avoid the urge to snoop. Very few people have survived being nosy in Horror movies. LOL.

The only moment that made me groan was Blotter's melting face FX. That was laughable. I'm guessing they don't have a stellar budget but I'm sure they could find someone more skilled and imaginative with the software.

I’m enjoying the show. What about you guys? What did you think about this installment? Which characters are you most interested in finding out more about? Which characters do you most want to give a Gibbs smack? (That last question is from a friend who edits my reviews for me. But I’d love to hear your answer.)

About the Author - Prpleight
Prpleight is a screenwriter and senior software engineer with solid geek cred. When not writing code, screenplays, or watching TV (sometimes she does all three at the same time), she uses her broadsword Bessie to battle evil. She's been a frequent contributor to the SpoilerTV discussion boards for several years now.
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