This Channel Zero review contains spoilers.
Channel Zero Season 2 Episode 2
(exclusive photo: No-End House Room 2)
“It’s okay if you’re scared right now — I am.”
“Yeah, I’m not really scared for me.”
After the initial episode of Channel Zero, which provided the jumping off point from Brian Russell’s original creepypasta, No-End House enters the slow burn phase, in which the nature of the characters’ new existence reveals itself. While “Nice Neighborhood” wasn’t particularly scary, the laying of the groundwork for how the house will carry out its psychological dismantling of Margot, Jules, and J.D. was expertly executed, and the gruesome ending more than made up for the low heart rate maintained throughout the majority of the episode.
Notice there was no mention of Seth there in describing the different manifestations of what we can go ahead and call Room 6? Interestingly, the group’s new addition is now the only one not to share what the No-End House has done to him. He should be admired for waiting for the girls, unlike J.D., but only his mysterious encounter with the scantily clad woman in the window and the caged people in the cul-de-sac give us any kind of insight into his personality and how the house might exploit it. So — not much.
Some might even be suspicious of Seth and worry about him setting up shop with Jules in a presumably unoccupied home for sale. But nothing specifically causes our mistrust of Seth’s motives other than the lack of a peek behind the curtain of his psyche that other characters, however unwillingly, give us. Even the fact that the No-End House is there when J.D. leaves Seth but gone when Jules appears has us looking sidelong at Seth, perhaps unfairly.
Then again, Jules is keeping some details of her life secret for now as well, enticingly so. Her pot-smoking mom and sister seem okay for the most part, but why the tears before visiting Margot for the first time? Is she feeling the guilt of having left her friend behind when she went to college? Although she may have neglected her Margot in her time of need, how could she expected to put her life on hold? She didn’t entirely deserve Margot telling her to “run away; you’re really fucking good at it.”
Channel Zero interview on the September 2017 Sci Fi Fidelity podcast (at 49:40):
But of course, the house is dividing and conquering its visitors. Jules is the only one to verbalize the idea that they might still be inside the house, entering Room 6, so she at least has her head in the right place. Except, of course, that we have no idea what the giant, spherical, egg-like object is that Jules saw both in Room 5 and in the house she and Seth have squatted in. With the silhouette of the creature inside the sphere, we might just be getting the first taste of what lies beneath Jules’ tenuous grasp on reality.
That’s not to say that J.D. doesn’t understand what’s going on to a certain degree. He accepts with relative calm seeing a “better version of himself” living in his parents house with a beautiful but voiceless woman. Perhaps that’s why Room 1 didn’t crack open the plaster cast of his head and why he saw himself under the Room 2 man’s mask when he got deeper in. In J.D.’s superficial mind, it’s all about himself and perhaps possessing a woman like an object. The new-and-improved J.D. might not really be a better person, but one might not entirely mourn the loss of the original given what we’re shown.
Plus how wonderfully brutal the liquor bottle beating was! The only other shocking moment before the ending was when the bearded stranger (billed as Dylan) shoots the girl we met at the beginning of the Channel Zero season 2 premiere in the head. He has the familiar scarred words, “This isn’t real,” carved into his arm like she did and apparently has re-entered the No-End House to find and rescue the real version of the woman, who is revealed to be his wife, Lacey. Whether or not this version of her, who does not know him, is the correct one remains to be seen.
But the heart of the story lies with Margot, who can be said to have acquiesced to the No-End House’s charms in having her father back. Given the added detail of his death as a suicide certainly makes his reappearance more chilling and her guilt even more layered than it already was, but the key detail arrives when Mr. Sleator seemingly pulls a memory of his wife out of Margot’s head and eats the body that manifests itself in the basement like a blood-born Terminator. Um, wow!
Is the No-End House feeding, like Mr. Sleator’s bestial form, on the memories and nightmares of those who enter it? Are the young people targets because of how fragile they are as burgeoning adults with still-fresh childhood scars? If so, what’s the deal with the bearded man, and will his mission provide hope or despair for the new inhabitants? The fact that these questions arise show that Channel Zero: No End House has piqued its audience’s interest despite the lack of heart-pounding fear. Perhaps the true terror is yet to come, in which case viewers should grab some pistachio ice cream and settle in for the ride.