Channel Zero Debrief with Executive Producer Nick Antosca: Episode 2

In an exclusive weekly feature, Channel Zero creator Nick Antosca breaks down the latest episode and teases details of future episodes.

Audiences were creeped out by the first episode of Channel Zero and are now back for more in the latest episode, “I’ll Hold Your Hand,” written by Don Mancini and Nick Antosca and directed by Craig William Macneill. There are plenty of characters to mistrust as the series continues, and there are questions that only the writer and executive producer can answer. As each episode of Channel Zero airs, we’ll ask Antosca the burning questions posed by the current installment and get a glimpse into the process used to create  this wholly unique horror experience. Check back each week for further insights!


Den of Geek: Mike mentioned mothers who have trouble forming attachments to their children, seemingly implying something about Marla who sent him away, but the flashbacks show a caring mother after the broken finger incident. Yet Marla tells Francis she barely knew him. What gives?

Nick: Consciously or not, Mike is being slightly manipulative here. (Remember, he’s a psychologist.) He mentions mothers who don’t form bonds with their children that because he wants Marla to instinctively think, That’s not what kind of mother I am. And he asks her if she loves him because he wants her to say out loud that yes, she does. That will make it harder for her to recoil from him when he makes his confession a moment later.

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Even though he has bitterness about how she sent him away when she was young, Mike is betting that Marla does have enduring maternal love for him, and he’s using that a little bit. 

I love how Paul and Fiona played that scene, and I love how Craig and Noah shot it.

When Marla tells Mrs. Booth that she barely knows Mike, she means the adult Mike, now. He has never been back to Iron Hill since he was twelve years old, and although she has talked to him from time to time, they are basically estranged and she doesn’t feel like she knows the man who just showed up in the first episode very well.

And then there’s Frances, Jacob’s mother, collecting teeth for the tooth child! Are the adults as susceptible to the insanity as the kids were or is this a secondary effect of the trauma?

Some adults in the present day were children when Candle Cove first aired, and it planted a seed in their heads. They are still haunted by it to various degrees. Frances Booth is a little different, and unique. We’ll learn more about her soon. And of course there’s the question of who created Candle Cove.

Lily’s phone call was disturbing – she used the Candle Cove phrase, “You have to go inside.” Is Candle Cove a local phenomenon or does it exist outside of Iron Hill?

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Good question. Maybe it’s getting stronger. Or maybe because Mike is connected to it in some way, it can reach out to his daughter. Or maybe his daughter didn’t really say that to him at all, and Mike is fragmenting a little bit more every time we see him.  

The actress who plays Lily, Abby Pniowsky, is great. She’s in Arrival. She’s a local Winnipeg actress. You’ll see her more in the season.

On the surface of it, Mike is guilty of the same thing as Katie (i.e. using the hook on a sibling), but he covered it up. Why tell his mother now?

The pressure has been building up for years. Why hasn’t Mike come home for so long? Certainly one reason is that he didn’t want to be surrounded by the memories of his guilt. When they’re walking on the train tracks, he says, “I see him everywhere.” Earlier in the episode, he sees his brother (or himself?) in the hospital bed instead of Katie. He’s haunted by what he did.

And the proximity to it now, and seeing it happen again with Katie — the pressure is becoming unbearable.  Finding his brother’s body is the last straw. And then seeing and hearing his mother’s reaction — now that she finally has catharsis to grieve for her dead son, just hours after she told him she buried an empty casket but always wondered if Eddie might someday knock on the door — it’s like the stuff in his head is going to boil over if he doesn’t let it out. I think on some level he’s probably always wanted to tell her.

Can you tease a bit about where Gary is taking Mike?

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No! Well, I’ll just say that Gary’s motives are foreshadowed in his first conversation with Mike in the police station, in episode one.


Nick Antosca answered these burning questions from Winnipeg where Channel Zero is currently filming its second season. The series airs on Syfy each Tuesday at 9pm ET. Remember to return each week for more insights from the show’s creator.