Monday, November 7, 2016

"Candle Cove" Episode 4: Okay, Everything's Gone All the Way to Pirate Hell

One thing I've learned from having friends who are parents is there are some things you don't show them. And the main thing of those is Children In Peril. It gets a little easier for them to watch when they have teenagers or grown kids, but -- perfectly understandably -- parents of young children will react to these scenes by finding their kid and hugging them tearfully, much as I react to videos of abused and abandoned puppies being rescued by sobbing over whatever pet I have to hand.

(That's not sarcasm, by the way -- if I get that weepy over inspirational pet vids, I can't imagine how bad it is for actual human lives.)

That said, Candle Cove puts parents -- both parent viewers and the parents of the show -- in an odd situation. What if children, in addition to being in peril, are also the source of the peril? Where does your heart go when sibling turns on sibling? Do you weep for the child influenced into harming their friend as much as you weep for the harmed friend?

It's become very clear that Channel Zero's version of the 'Candle Cove' creepypasta is more than just a weirdness that adults remember as a passing nightmare. It's a plague, a bug, that gets into children's brains and infects them. It makes them do horrible things. It doesn't necessarily leave them with a memory of those horrible things... and sometimes, when it does, certain children are okay with that.

We're watching many stories unfold in many different time periods. The story of Mike Painter and his twin brother Eddie -- infected beyond help and seemingly not desirous of any -- as children. The story of Mike and the not-so-gone Eddie as adults, as Eddie assumes 'a strange vessel' (the title of the episode). The story of Mrs. Booth and her children: her son in the 80s, her students now, and the strange Tooth Child she's been seen feeding outdoors.

We know now that 'Candle Cove' the show, whoever is behind it, is exactly as tied up in all the evil as we believed, if not more so. But now we have two very heavy questions weighing on us:

1. Who is 'Patient Zero' in the spread of the Candle Cove madness: Eddie, Mrs. Booth, or someone else?

2. Why?

Eddie is jealous and vengeful, as we see when we look back at Mike's childhood girlfriend. Mike's actions, previously ghastly, become more and more sadly understandable the more we see. We're also slowly starting to see a connection between Eddie and Mrs. Booth. But the final questions remain a strange, dark jumble... a strange, dark jumble they now have two episodes to untangle.

Whatever the being behind Candle Cove is, it knows what it's doing. In an eerie scene where one major character is cornered and attacked by weapon-wielding children in Candle Cove masks and draws a gun, one of the children says flatly: 'You won't shoot us. We're kids.' Not can't. Won't. Whatever is pulling the strings knows that children are the perfect instrument for a variety of reasons that span beyond how impressionable they are and how much they love to play pretend.

Though the most heartbreaking part of this episode was likely Marla, the mother of the ill-fated Painter boys, being confronted with the reality that Eddie might just be among them. No matter how hard she tries, she's getting drawn into the Candle Cove madness. And it may just affect her actions with regards to her remaining son before all this is over.

The downfall of Iron Hill will be sentimentality, or lack thereof. If they get too sentimental over the children of the town, they will lose themselves; if they wipe the sentimentality away, they will lose their children. It's an interesting, sad conundrum, and one I look forward to the solution of.

On a final note for this episode -- we're finally seeing the uncanny nature of the show-within-a-show starting to skyrocket. I'm wondering if we'll see the infamous 'screaming episode' in the finale. And I also can't help but note that the visuals are, more than ever, based extremely strongly on the fan-made videos and still frames seen around the Internet. Especially Jawbone/the Skin-Taker.

I'm excited. And more than a little terrified.

Channel Zero airs Tuesday nights at 9 PM on SyFy.