Channel Zero season 2 finale recap: The memory remains


Photo credit: Allen Fraser/Channel Zero/Syfy. Acquired NBCU Media Village.

Channel Zero: No-End House came to an end with the finale that was terrifying in sprawling and, oddly enough, uplifting.

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This season of Channel Zero touched on a number of compelling themes, but now that it’s concluded, its meaning is clear. No-End House was about the importance of coming to terms trauma. Life often presents us with devastating losses and staggering adversity. But as painful as the process can be, we must confront the feelings those experiences provoke.

Otherwise, we can find ourselves trapped in prisons of our own making, isolated from our loved ones and unable to heal. “The Hollow Girl” conveyed that idea perfectly with where it left the show’s cast. Those who were able to accept their pain were able to move on. And those who were unable to come to terms with the past lost everything.

The finale opened on a jarring note; a title card reading “One year later.” Margot (Amy Forsyth) was living a seemingly idyllic existence inside the House. She was enjoying her new relationship with Seth while feeding Father (John Carrol Lynch) her inessential memories. Things weren’t all good though as Seth (Jeff Ward) revealed he was almost out of bad memories to sacrifice. Also, scenes of Seth and Margot’s new life were scored to Madeleine Peyroux’s cover of Elliot Smith’s “Between the Bars.” The excellent needle drop made it clear House was a prison, even if was a comfortable one.

“The more I understand it, the more admire it”

Out in the real world, it was shown that Jules (Aishe Dee) had spent the last year searching for the House and finally found a definitive sighting in Quebec. When she arrived at the House, she ran into Seth, who was still acting as its Judas goat. After failing to convince Jules to accept the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, Seth knocked her unconscious. He left her in the basement of one of the houses surrounding his memory wraith family. When she woke up, Jules was immediately devoured by the Orb. When Margot brought up the idea of stopping the House from luring in new people, Seth angrily shut her down.

In a show of incredible fortitude, Jules cut her way out of her psychological prison and made her way to Margot’s house. Seth tried to convince Father to eat Margot’s desire to destroy the House from within, but the creature refused. Jules found Margot but so much of her memory had been eaten, she was now frightened of the real world. To wake Margot up, Jules brought her to see Seth’s darkest secret; half a dozen other women that he had seduced and brought to the House to be devoured. After being harrowed out, he had put them up in cul-de-sac surrounding the cage containing his memory wraiths.

While I pegged Seth as being a terrible guy, the reveal just how monstrous he was legitimately shocking. Although he denied being a serial killer, that’s effectively what he was. He had stolen all of those women’s lives, seemingly without remorse. The idea that he had spent years on end hunting, trapping and abandoning all those women is legitimately sickening. Ultimately, Seth’s character was a brilliant if chilling lesson about the danger of “nice guys.”

“We all have to sacrifices to make sacrifices, now don’t we?”

Jules went to kill Father to help Margot break free of the House’s influence and he agreed to die. Seth copped to being a monster, but he argued that memory was a disease that the House simply cured. Deeply unimpressed, Margot freed Seth’s memory wraiths and they hungrily chased after him. With help from a knife wound from Jules and a chin lock from Father, the wraiths caught up with Seth and devoured all of his memories. Margot shared a tender goodbye with Father and then, with Jules’ help, fatally stabbed him. The pair then left the No-End House for good.

While Channel Zero’s performers have been fantastic all season, the cast really outdid themselves this episode. Amy Forsyth was great subtly conveying the corrosive effect living in the House for a year had on Margot. Without saying a whole lot, Aishe Dee really made it clear how much of a journey Jules went on this episode. Not only did she come to terms with all the guilt she had for abandoning Margot over the summer, she also found the courage to return to the House. With a lesser actress, that journey would’ve seemed rushed but Dee made it feel earned.

Jeff Ward did a lot of hard things really well. He was equally convincing when trying to gaslight Margot as he was trying to con Jules and finally, imploding from within. Ward portrayed did a brilliant job showing Seth’s disintegration without going over the top. Lastly, John Carrol Lynch was tremendous. Throughout the season, Lynch’s character walked a fine line between being warmly loving and coldly menacing. And the actor did a beautiful job resolving his character’s conflict of nature in a way that was quite poignant.

“Memory is a disease!”

All in all, “The Hollow Girl” was a perfect finale for Channel Zero: No-End House. It was one of those rare final episodes of a series that felt both highly unpredictable and totally fitting. I can’t imagine it would rank as one of the best episodes television produced this year.

Now I want to talk a bit about the season as a whole and the people that made it such a compelling. Composer Jeff Russo’s score was thoroughly chilling and made the entire almost unbearably tense at points. Steven Piet’s direction of all of No-End House’s six episodes was phenomenal. His use of impeccably composed long shots and rotating pans made the House World feel incredibly claustrophobic yet unsettlingly boundless. Some of the imagery in this episode – the pan around the cage, Father’s descent into the family pool – will probably stay with me forever. Without hyperbole, I genuinely believe that Piet has the potential to become the next John Carpenter.

Finally, Channel Zero’s writing staff did sublime work expanding Brian Russell’s short story into a season of television. Together, Katie Gruel, Lisa Long, Don Mancini, Harley Peyton, Erica Saleh, Angel Varak-Iglar, Mallory Westfall and creator Nick Antosca made one of the best TV shows of the year. It was scary, empathetic and consistently captivating. They told a mesmerizing horror story with rich, relatable characters and a plot that was remarkable well-paced. And they used the supernatural as a metaphor for real-life psychological issues in a way that never felt exploitative.

In every conceivable way, No-End House was better than Channel Zero’s exceptional first season Candle Cove. As such, I can’t wait to see Antosca and his collaborators do next.

Channel Zero will return in 2018 with Butcher’s Block.