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NOS4A2 - The Lake House - Review

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This week, we were presented with another mostly expository episode. At this point, Charlie Manx is starting to come off more as a typical pedophile than an alluring vampire. This episode opened with Charlie showing Wayne around Christmasland after somehow gaining access to little Wayne's dreams. He makes serious promises about securing Wayne's happiness if he agrees to stay in Christmasland land for real. What he lacks in charm, he makes up for in materialistic bling, be it stacks of presents, fancy car, or the promise of an eternal amusement park lifestyle. Strangely, he doesn't show Wayne any testimonials from Millie or the vampire children to tempt him further and only gives him a lousy candy cane to bring back to him to the real world like it were a talisman.

But, this turns out to be a more tempting offer than we might realize considering the turmoil that Vic's behavior has caused Wayne. This is, of course, what Millie also really wants and is definitely not getting being in Christmasland. Apparently, the writers seem to be coming from the perspective that all children really want is normalcy (I tend to disagree with that one, but I digress). Too bad Wayne cannot talk with Millie before seriously considering Charlie's offer.

We next go to Vic leaving the safety of Maggie and Tabitha's to introduce Wayne to his grandfather, Chris, at his titular lake house. This is where they feel they have the best chance at hiding from Charlie. Wayne seems unappreciative and finds the house "creepy" and Chris definitely is what Vic doesn't want to be: a parent who tries and fails to live up to the lofty standards of modern parenting. I, for one, wish we all had the problem of staying in a large, isolated wooden cabin by a picturesque lake. Still, without all of the complaints that Lou has to lay out for the audience, it wouldn't make sense for Wayne to consider anything Charlie is offering at all, especially considering how really creepy he came off in the woods in the previous episode.

 One problem I am having is that Lou seems too passive to be aggressive towards Vic's neglectful behavior. I am guessing Lou would never leave her, perhaps because he understands what she's been through and maybe because he knows his is an unappealing geek at heart and realizes he won't find anyone more interesting than her if he tried (seriously, she can teleport riding a motorcycle). Beggars can't always be choosers. He knows Vic would fall apart and Wayne would really be in danger if he left. like Chris, Lou knows only a family's love is what will save these characters, not just ANFO and bomb-making activities. Vic tries to make up for it with some family lake play and claiming she will stop her drinking, but that might be too little, too late at this point.

 Of course, Vic has more found family she can reply on for help with Maggie and Tabitha (Ashley Romans). Both of them know her flaws and accept her anyway. Maggie knows first-hand that supernatural abilities only get you so far without real love. Yes, the left hand path is a lonely road, indeed. But, even they have their own problems with Maggie having the tiles tell her about "The House of Sleep" and having a Tabitha having some work problems with her position potentially in danger with her recent protocol-breaking behavior. She knows she needs a big catch to make herself look good to her sexist superiors and she thinks she has found that with apprehending Bing in his creepy house she tracks down after interviewing his former employer, which looks like a shrine to Charlie and Christmasland. Of course, someone of her demure stature cannot arrest the more physically-imposing Bing without a big fight, and that's exactly what Tabitha gets when Bing appears.

I wasn't completely convinced that she was able to take Bing down so easily with that candleholder, but at least the wounds she sustains seem somewhat realistic. As much as I enjoyed the creepiness of having Tabitha discover Bing's cringe-inducing shrine, there were some possibly unintentional things that stood out in this scene more. Weirdly enough, this scene somehow payed like a precursor (since it was written and shot before the COVID-19 pandemic) to our current preoccupations with police brutality and protecting our own breathing from Tabitha's use of anti-protocol blunt force and a face mask. Only Charlie's sudden emergence prevents her from going further than she ought to. In true unnecessary force-style, she shoots Charlie in the head and flees the scene leaving a crying Bing, somehow unaware that her bullets will not harm him. She probably needs to talk to Vic more and know to shoot the Wraith, not Charlie.

 Sadly, Lou realizes that the planted bomb he was given the detonator to won't protect them as much as they would like since Wayne confesses to giving Charlie their location in his dream before Charlie arrived to help Bing. We're starting to see what Lou may be forced to do with the detonator sooner rather than later. Sure, the scripts laid out the groundwork to make this potentially fatal mistake understandable, but I still don't completely but that all young Wayne is normalcy and stability to the point of putting his entire family at danger to get back at his mother. In this episode, it is not the family drama that sticks out, but the strong ensemble performances and stellar sound design. I am getting the feeling that picking up the pace and the stakes so the audience doesn't experience a mid-season lull was a good idea in this case. It's the external action we're into here, not the internal neurosis.

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