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NOS4A2 - Chris McQueen - Review

10 Aug 2020

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CAUTION: SPOILERS WILL BE REVEALED. PLEASE DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T VIEWED NOS4A2 2x08 Chris McQueen yet! This episode was a perfect example of why the second season of NOS4A2 is far superior to the first. It was clear from the start of the series that the character of Chris McQueen probably wasn't meant to last to the series finale. This was confirmed by the rather expansive opening scene of this episode that showed him as someone who lived in the shadow of a father he never really understood, as told by his own eulogy for his father in a church. This is not in the present day, of course. We see that he is with a much younger Vic and Linda is still his wife. He speaks about not wanting to become his father and, in the process, ended up making the same mistakes as his father, Larry, did. It is clear that he has passed many of those mistakes down to Vic, and that includes running from her when she needs him. It is also no surprise that these mistakes are then somewhat passed on to Wayne. This father/daughter relationship is what has driven the character dynamics of the NOS4A2 series more than anything. Though their paths have been anything but clear-cut, the lengths that Chris has been willing to go to in helping Vic defeat Charlie, as futile and ineffective as they ended up being, still showed he was willing to put in effort when he didn't have to. There were some seriously effective emotional moments you would not expect from a horror/action series such as this courtesy of screenwriter Megan Mostyn-Brown. This includes Vic's comment that she needs to forgive Chris so Wayne can forgive her and when Linda tells Vic that she is really concerned for her daughter the way that Vic is concerned for her son. These moments laid down the ground work so that the moment of Chris' death when Charlie runs over him while he trying to save Vic resonate more. Without them, the climatic scene would have failed emotionally since it seemed a little silly that the Triumph would pick that particular time to stall while Vic is getting ready to play chicken with the approaching Wraith. Was it manipulative? Sure. Was it convoluted? Absolutely! But, did it work? Ultimately, yes.  The McQueens have been positioned up to this point as a family who run away from their problems. Chris says that he watched Larry, run away, and he followed conveniently after giving his eulogy, and then again finally leaving the family when Vic is almost an adult. Both Chris and Vic eventually made up and got sober, but for different reasons. Vic didn't want to become her father and knew she needed to get her act together or lose Wayne to Charlie, which is almost completely happening in this episode. Saving Vic obviously is meant as plea for not only screwing up every moment of his daughter's younger life, but also being pretty bad with the timing of the explosions meant for the Wraith. Meanwhile, it was also sad to watch Millie begging Vic to help let her out of Christmasland so she could live a mortal existence. At first, I thought Millie was trying to trick Vic to come inside Christmasland so she could help Charlie defeat her. However, once Vic entered Christmasland and confronted Charlie in the Wraith that it became clear that she is actually sincere about not wanting her serve her father any longer, as if she had any choice in the first place. I am starting to assume that Charlie compelled him to assist her the way he has successfully compelled Wayne to leave his mortality behind and join him in Christmasland. I was pretty surprised when Wayne actually hung up his ornament and seemed pleased to do so. No hesitation, nothing. Like his grandfather and great-grandfather, young Wayne knows the seduction of running away from your problems all too well. He thinks he knows Vic, but it is clear he doesn't has much to learn once the trance will wear off and he realizes the mistake he made, putting Vic in such an awful position. Not even Charlie murdering his grandfather can break this spell before the season finale. And will Wayne's bite into Lou signal that there could be more unintended vampiric transformations in the near future? I guess we shall find out soon enough, but it is delicious to think about. It is clear that Charlie is a metaphor for the sins of the past that keep coming back to haunt you. He brings out evil in everyone he comes in contact with, including his own daughter. It was clear that Vic was going to have problems going forward in any path of life in spite of her own talents, but Charlie's presence gives her an excuse to not just blame it all on her father's actions. She may not be perfect, but at least she has an alibi, and the knowledge that Chris at least tried to protect her, even if he wasn't talented at that himself.  Oh, and I cannot sign off without at least mentioning the appearances of Bing, Maggie, and Tabitha in this episode. I actually thought that Charlie had killed Bing in the past episode and am glad that wasn't the case. Showing Bing's transition from gas-wielding killer to solemn victim of Charlie's manipulation has been surprisingly successful. I am sure he will be getting more emotional scenes for the finale. I liked seeing Tabitha getting her job back and confessing her love for Maggie yet again in the car. As usual, all of the performances in this episode deserved praise. The emotion being mined episode after episode feels earned and is a refreshing turn from the conventional horror series that only want to focus on make-up and visual EFX, not that there is any shortage of that here, of course. We can only hope that there won't be too many other "very special" character deaths coming our way for the final two episodes. I think all of the viewers of this show want to forget the heavy sins of the past motifs and just get down to brass tacks with the climatic action scenes in Christmasland. Chris' sacrifice shan't be in vain.