Oh come on.

I must be a glutton for punishment because... well, I keep on watching Channel Zero. Ah, the plight of keeping one's commitment to editing and reviewing.

Butcher's Block is all symbolic and nicely directed and all. But there's no... context for the symbology. Okay, Izzy pops through the wall of the house like it's giving birth to her and Edie is having a baby. So they're reflections of each other, and birth and death are symbolic and all that. Joseph plays chess with the Pestilent God, and then baptizes Alice in blood before pulling out her schizophrenia in the form of a millipede.

But what does it all mean? It's symbology without much in the way of substance. So it's very pretty to look at it, and the actors are giving it their all. Although one wonders if they don’t wonder what the heck they're going through, either.

Let's recap. The Wood sisters have settled in at the "summer house", Alice more so than Zoe. Zoe tries to get Alice to leave, but Alice would rather live there knowing someone is going to take care of her for once. They both hear weird noises and go off to investigate. Alice finds Izzy hiding in the walls, and the girl pops out of the wallpaper in the aforementioned birthing-like scene. But how did Izzy get into the walls in the first place?

Anyhoo, Alice tells Izzy that she'll have to hide out there a while longer and pushes her back into the wall. She then finds Joseph playing chess with the Pestilent God, because... well, who knows why. Alice rats out Izzy and the next thing you know, Edie is taking Izzy to the red door and goes through it with the Pestilent God.

Meanwhile, Zoe has found a red door but it repels her with visions of the Pestilent God. She tries to find the door to "downstairs" and runs into the Gardener. And hey, anything with Julian Richings is a relief. But the scene still doesn't make much sense. Zoe asks him how to get through the red door, finally phrasing it in the form of a riddle, and he answers "the child".

But now it's time out as we go to a chapel or baptismal or something. Joseph baptizes Alice's head in blood (why?), and then pulls the aforementioned millipede out. Eventually, Zoe goes successfully through the red door, although she didn't become a child or anything. She takes Izzy out, sends her to "downstairs", and goes back to try and get Alice. Alice would rather stay with the Peaches then face insanity again. So Zoe eats her sister's schizophrenia millipede and runs out. She goes down the stairs and through the park.

Alice has her first dinner with the Peaches, and chows down on some bloody meat. She also tells Joseph that Zoe took Izzy. Joseph and one of the creepy dwarf-children go to check it out and confirm that Izzy is gone. The Pestilent God yanks the child off into the darkness and chows down, and Joseph promises it that he'll find Izzy and bring her back.

Meanwhile, on the Louise/Luke side of things, not much happens. Well, things happen, but what bearing they have on anything isn't clear. The Chief missed Luke's artery last week, so Louise takes Luke back to her house and stitches up the wound. Meanwhile, Aldous has arrived with two of the children. The Chief takes them to the grave and they discover that Luke isn't there. Aldous and the children hunt Luke down and break into Louise's house. The Chief follows them there (presumably) and shoots them dead. Luke can't speak because of his throat wound, so he writes out that they have to cut off their heads to make sure that they stay dead.

Once the Chief and Louise saw off the heads, the Chief figures that they should leave. Luke wonders about the people in Butcher's Block that they're leaving for the Peaches, and the Chief basically tells him that they have to worry about the people they loved first and strangers second. His son is so impressed by this line of reasoning that he shoots his father dead.

So we have another week of wackiness. The basic premise is sound enough, as I laid out a few weeks ago. But that's what Channel Zero does. It takes a basic premise that sounds interesting, and tosses on imagery and symbolism and creepy directing until either you forget the premise, or it doesn't matter that much. The premise is just a hook to hang weird stuff on. I suppose that's what a lot of "arthouse horror" is.

In this case, we have a family of meat factory owners who turned cannibal and somehow got tied up with the Pestilent God. He gives them near-immortality and an extra-dimensional "summer house" to live in (whether the other magical powers they display are their own or further gifts, who knows?). In return they have to sacrifice a child to him occasionally. What the dwarf-children are, who knows? Maybe they're the babies that Edie has given birth to through the decades?

Next week is the season finale, or mid-season finale, or whatever the heck they call it when Syfy airs two six-episode stories a year. I'll call it now like I've called it the last two times: they won't explain half of what they've done. We won't find out what the Pestilent God is, or how the Peaches got all of their powers, or how Joseph can excise insanity. Because explaining things in a coherent manner isn't how series creator Nick Antosca rolls.

If nothing else, Channel Zero has confirmed for me that I don’t like arthouse horror. Or at least not this arthouse horror. I like horror that makes sense, dammit. I don’t require a lot of explanation, and I don't mind stuff being open-ended. But there's being open-ended, and there's just being nonsensical. And Channel Zero tends a lot more to the latter.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Comments (3)
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Mar 11, 2018
It doesn't bother me I need the weekly dose of weird and this season gross and weird. As I've said before 6 episodes is just enough anymore would cause me to walk away forever.
Mar 08, 2018
I think it's easier for me to read this "horror" recap then it would be to watch it. No way I'm gonna watch this stuff but thanks again for the recap. :)
Mar 08, 2018
Well, I may be able to put up actual text recaps in a while. More on the Farewell to Tvcom hread.
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