Revisiting Kingdom Hospital – episode 2

Matt discovers that things get even weirder in Kingdom Hospital's second episode...

To recap, the first episode in this Stephen King-penned series told the story of a hospital built on the site of an old mill fire in which several children died. The main characters were introduced, and there was plenty of time to get a feel for them. As it was the pilot episode, it was very long and in places a little dull. Luckily, episode two picks things up at a much quicker pace.

The man who knocked down Peter Rickman in episode one falls from the roof of his house and is taken to Kingdom Hospital, in the same room as his victim. In the same dream world that Rickman experienced, the man has nightmarish visions of his crimes, and the same boy with fanged teeth, this time dressed as an ice cream man. There is some repeated jargon about “The Emperor of Ice Cream” (which King first mentioned in his book Salem’s Lot, although I’m still not sure who or what this is referring to). The ant eater finally appears and sabotages the man’s drip and other assorted ephemera, resulting in his death.

An ambulance driver is standing at a vending machine when, out of nowhere, a decidedly creepy old man who looks like a doctor appears and asks “Where have they put the children?” The driver directs the man to the 7th floor – the paediatric ward. Given that the old man appears seconds after we’ve just seen the corridor is stark empty, I’m betting he’s a ghost of some sort.

In a lighter moment, we get a glimpse of the relationship between young Dr. Elmer (Jamie Harrold) and Dr. Lona (Sherry Miller) as he surprises her to a candle-lit dinner in the hospital’s basement.

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Sally Druse meanwhile is busy gathering together a circle of elderly patients with the intention of contacting the spirit world. She is later interrupted and discharged from the hospital by Dr. Stegman for being a hypochondriac. In the elevator, Dr. Hook and Druse hear the sound of a little girl crying. Hook climbs onto the top of the elevator and finds a child’s doll, then looks up and sees the ghost girl, Mary, bringing episode two to a close. Overall, this is a much tighter episode. Things are kept sinister by constant references to ghosts and dark presences, and this time the comedy notes are well executed. A particular favourite scene takes place between Stegman and Dr. Jesse James (Ed Begley Jr). Stegman stresses to James just how many times Sally Druse has been admitted to the hospital, intending for him to realise she’s a hypochondriac and just out for attention, with Dr. James replying “It’s terrible to be so ill.”

So far, so good.