The following contains spoilers for NOS4A2 season 2.
The first season of NOS4A2 ended with ambiguity. Charlie Manx is left injured and brain-dead, permanently trapped in the hospital. Vic McQueen discovers that she’s pregnant, putting a damper on her attempts to escape Haverhill and her old life. Bing Partridge is on the run from the cops, Manx’s partner in crime now left without a boss and with the authorities nipping at his heels. If the show stopped there, there’d be hanging threads, but there was confidence enough that evil was stopped, until it’s shown that a well-meaning mechanic bought the burnt hulk of the Wraith and has started to lovingly restore Charlie Manx’s murder-mobile. With a little help from Bing, Manx’s Wraith is back in action and Manx himself is able to staple himself together and get back to his evil ways.
NOS4A2 season 2 doesn’t end on such an ambiguous note. Charlie Manx’s Inscape is shattered beyond repair. The children of Christmasland have been rounded up by the authorities and either returned to family members or put into the foster care system. The Wraith is a mangled-up cube. Charlie Manx is a bloated corpse fished out of a river and cremated. Bing Partridge is in prison. Wayne is back in the custody of his loving parents.
And yet, not all is right with the world.
From the midway point of the season two finale episode, “Bats,” NOS4A2 showrunner Jami O’Brien and the show’s creative team are hard at work preparing for the show’s third season, and possibly beyond. The universe of NOS4A2 is broader and deep; there are whole worlds out there just waiting to be explored. There also remain hanging plot threads from season two just itching to be grasped and pulled.
Maggie’s Magical Mystery Tour
The final moments of the finale see Maggie heading back to the hotel where she bested the Hourglass Man, and rather than hang out at the bar or go up to the suite, she hops into the elevator and descends into the basement thanks to a tip from her tiles. She’s seen Vic’s Bridge and Charlie’s Christmasland, and now she’s looking to explore the rest of the world of thought.
Said executive producer and showrunner Jami O’Brien, “The novel hints at a much broader world than Vic and Charlie. Joe Hill makes a point of saying in the novel that there are many Strong Creatives and many Inscapes. Some of those folks and places are positive like Vic and Maggie and some are not, like Charlie and the Hourglass Man. I think it would be really exciting to meet more Strong Creatives. We see Maggie going down that elevator; I’m curious to know where she winds up. And I personally would love to see her taking on larger adventures in the world of thought. She, as a character, is excited to do that.”
What little that has been revealed of the greater world of thought hasn’t always been positive. Christmasland was, essentially, Santa’s nightmare. The Night Road and Parnassus weren’t exactly a drive through the countryside to Grandmother’s house, and Abe and Snake weren’t exactly friendly faces. Charlie says that to even make it to Parnassus reveals a darker side to a Strong Creative, and exploring that darker side could make for some interesting, harrowing journeys for Maggie and Vic.
Bruce Wayne McQueen’s Return to Reality
“Bats” shows just how difficult of a time Bruce Wayne McQueen is having returning to a normal life. No more sugar for dinner, no more sleigh coaster, no more freedom from the aggravation of every-day life. He was only in Christmasland for a few days or weeks at most. If Wayne is having a hard time, the dozens of other children saved from Christmasland must also be struggling, particularly those kids left with only foster care as their option. Tabitha mentions that difficulty in passing in conversation with Maggie, bringing up how some of the kids are untrustworthy, and Wayne himself is good evidence of that based on his erratic behavior.
That difficulty adjusting isn’t going to go away in the break between seasons, says O’Brien, and the draw of Christmasland isn’t just a passing phase for Bats.
“Wayne’s longing for Christmasland comes from having been there and having seen the wonders and horrors of it. I think like Vic, Wayne has been affected by his encounter with Charlie Manx and with Christmasland. It is a more difficult to shake that off than one would like.”
Wayne wants nothing more than to be back in Christmasland. He might not say it out loud, but it’s reflected in his behaviors (like hiding food and not eating) and in his artwork, where Wayne draws a loving picture of himself and a very specific playmate back at a rebuilt, refurbished Christmasland. There’s only one person out in the world that understands what Wayne feels and what Wayne is missing, and she’s the third hanging thread aching to be weaved into NOS4A2 season 3.
Teenager Tartar a la Millie Manx
Millie Manx, as played by Mattea Conforti, has become one of the show’s most visually distinctive characters. The little girl dresses like a tin soldier, leading the other children through merry games of Scissors for the Drifter while waving around a razor-sharp cutlass. She is Charlie Manx’s first and only daughter – the child who put the seed of Christmasland into her father’s mind over years of bedtime stories and wild flights of fancy in lieu of actual parenting. She is also the razor-teethed monster who stalks the woods of Colorado, savagely attacking teenagers seeking cheap thrills near the ruins of the Manx manse.
There’s more to come from Millie in the third season, should the show get one.
“Millie Manx is still out there and there’s a relationship hinted at between her and Wayne. So that’s something that I think is interesting and I would love to explore further as well.” O’Brien says, “Mattea Conforti is just so great. I love her and I love the character of Millie Manx. I think the only thing that’s scarier than 140 year old vampire, is a tween girl who’s on the loose. I’m excited by Millie.”
Millie is trapped in a world she does not understand and is cold, lonely, and hungry. When she was the only child in Christmasland, Charlie Manx promised to bring her friends, and he did so. The last of Millie’s new friends, Wayne, is the first friend she has on the other side of Christmasland’s gates. Just how far will Wayne go to get back to Christmasland? How far will Millie go to escape the hell of the modern world? Just what sorts of hijinks will the two of them get up to together when they inevitably meet again?
That all depends on just how strong her grudge is against Vic McQueen, and how badly Wayne wants to get back to Christmasland.
The source material behind NOS4A2 is deep enough and rich enough to support a world of more than just Charlie Manx, even if Manx’s influence will continue to be felt. Manx might have been cremated, and the Wraith crushed into a cube, but there’s no true way to stop a horror movie villain, particularly one as powerful and evil as Manx. Maggie and Vic have adventures on the table before them, provided they can finally put the past behind them. Millie Manx might not let that be easy.