This Channel Zero review contains spoilers.
Channel Zero Season 2 Episode 4
(exclusive photo: No-End House Room 4)
“It’s an orchid mantis. It feeds on other insects. It just disguises itself as a flower so it can lure them in.”
“Wait, how’d you know that?”
At times when watching Channel Zero: No-End House, viewers might question whether the show is more twisted and disturbing than shocking and scary. But when the vacuous townspeople calmly but persistently pursue the group as they make their way towards the exit, many in the audience were likely itching for Margot and her friends to run, no matter what Dylan said. And with “The Exit,” the creepiness of uncertainty is what keeps our hearts in our throats and our spine tingling even as the young women supposedly return to the real world.
But have they? Dandelions and working vehicles aside, it seems strange for the exit at the end of the corn maze to consist of going through the five rooms of the house again. Each of the rooms shows further evolution, from the more lifelike busts in Room 1 to the more aggressive pasty-faced creature in Room 5, but Room 3 does have the chalkboards that desperately implore Margot with the words, “Don’t go.” Could it really be that easy to leave the No-End House?
Perhaps the final two episodes will be more about the fact that Margot’s resurrected father seems to have navigated his way back to the land of the living as well. One wonders what Mr. Sleator the Cannibal saw as he made his way through the five rooms or whether his presence is indicative of the escape not being complete. It’s difficult to reconcile his overwhelming hunger for more of Margot’s memories with his allowing them to run away in a moment of… what? Weakness? Strength? It depends on how “real” viewers think he is.
The same could be said for Seth. In a reveal we’ve been waiting for, his apparent connection to the house is both edifying and mysterious. If he has lived there long enough to recognize the orchid mantis, why has he not been cleared of memories himself? Who are the people he has caged in the cul-de-sac? Is he left alone because he embraces the cold beauty of the house, or is he a manifestation of the house itself? His affection for Margot seems genuine, but will his admiration be her downfall or her salvation — or perhaps his?
Channel Zero should be admired for taking the time to let these character moments happen, whether it be the awkward suggestion of a post-coital high five or a tender moment by a campfire that is otherwise far from cozy. On the opposite end of the spectrum are Dylan and Lacey; we’re never quite sure with whom our sympathy should lie. The idea that Dylan could have left the house in the past and then come back in with Margot and the others to rescue Lacey should give us hope that tonight’s escape is real, but how can we know? With only six episodes in a season, no moments are wasted, but oddly nothing seems rushed either.
For example, just as Mr. Sleator seems to be fighting his cannibalistic nature, the series takes time to show that J.D. genuinely wants to leave the house that allowed him to come into being. It’s uncertain whether the cannibals can survive the transition (although Mr. Sleator seems to have) or whether their dietary needs can be met outside of the house. These are the types of questions that sustain interest in a horror series that, while surprisingly light on scares, plays with the nagging fears of its own narrative.
One persistent fear is that Jules has gone down a path that neither her friends nor the audience truly understands. She continues to sneak off to her creepy orb of cannibal creation, presumably giving up much of her memory in the process, and it appears as though she was about to give up her memory of her friend Margot before being interrupted. Perhaps her emptied mind explains why her journey through the house with Margot only included Margot’s weaknesses and why she was able to go into Room 3 through the “one at a time” door. There are still plenty of questions about Jules.
That’s what Channel Zero: No-End House has done so magnificently this season. It has engaged the interest of its audience by answering mysteries such as Seth’s true nature while leaving plenty of room for speculation. The fear comes from the uncertainty of whether or not the hapless youth have truly escaped just as much as it does from the memory cannibals’ murderous tendencies. If “The Exit” has given us a false sense of security, the final two episodes are bound to show us new reasons to be afraid.