Channel Zero: The Dream Door Episodes 4-6 recap: Free from harm

CHANNEL ZERO: THE DREAM DOOR (Photo by: SYFY, Acquired from SyfNBCUniversal Media Room)
CHANNEL ZERO: THE DREAM DOOR (Photo by: SYFY, Acquired from SyfNBCUniversal Media Room) /

In Channel Zero: The Dream Door Episode 4-6, Jill and Tom confronted their marital issues as the series reaffirmed its status as one of the best shows on TV.

While watching Channel Zero: The Dream Door, my mind took me on a number of tangents. It’s not that the series wasn’t engaging; on the contrary, its ambiguities and odd tonal shifts prompted a lot of contemplation. As the season reached its conclusion, it wondered if one of the reasons people like watching horror media is to be reassured.

Obviously, there are many movies and TV shows that are so terrifying and intense, watching them can be traumatizing. However, some of the best horror stories are about how people can go through events that are utterly devastating but are ultimately survivable.

Resiliency in the face of catastrophe has been a consistent theme of the last three seasons of Channel Zero, but I think it worked the best in Dream Door. This is largely due to Jill (Maria Sten) and Tom (Brandon Scott) being the program’s most fleshed out characters. Because they feel like real flawed, complex people, you can’t help but feel for them.

You not only want them to survive but find a way to stay together. That being defined by damage doesn’t mean being destroyed by it. And because of how Jill and Tom end up, the season has been the show’s terrifying and life-affirming.

Channel Zero, Channel Zero: The Dream Door
CHANNEL ZERO: THE DREAM DOOR (Photo by: SYFY, Acquired from SyfNBCUniversal Media Room) /

Maybe it’s my mind that deceives me

To recap the events of Channel Zero: The Dream Door Episodes 4-6:

After seeing Tom with Sarah (Diana Bentley), Jill unconsciously directed Pretzel Jack (Troy James) to attack her husband. While hiding, Sarah told Tom she had a paternity test and that he wasn’t the father of her child. With help from Ian, Jill destroyed Jack.

Afterward, Jill went with Ian (Steven Robertson) to his family’s vacation home to recover. Ian intercepted a call from Jill’s father Bill (Gregg Henry), who is also his father, and later used his monster Tall Boy (Stephan R. Hart) to kill him. Contacted by his father-in-law earlier, Tom saw Ian exit Bill’s motel room. The next morning, Tom kissed Jill.

Tom went into Ian’s home and discovered evidence that he been stalking Jill for quite some time. Jill found that Ian had created her dog from a stuffed animal she had as a child and asked to be taken home. When they got there, Tom confronted Ian and he confessed to being Jill’s half-brother.

He also revealed that he had Bill’s corpse in his garage. Ian was arrested after confessing to killing Bill, Jason and the couple that previously occupied his home. Subsequently, he used Tall Boy to kill the police and escape.

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Ian kidnapped Tom and left a message for Jill telling her to him in one of their father’s empty developments. Tom managed to escape from an exhausted Ian. Jill arrived at the development killed a duplicate of Tom made by Ian.

The killing proved to be oddly cathartic for Jill and Tom. Jill recreated Pretzel Jack and used him to subdue Tall Boy. Together, Tom and Jill stabbed Ian who later accidentally killed by Tall Boy. Sometime later, Tom and Jill had a baby who also had the ability to summon Dream Doors.

No one ever wanted me

In addition to featuring the series’ most fleshed out protagonists, Dream Door also featured Channel Zero’s most texted antagonist. While revealing his true nature, the show also provided a lot of context for Ian’s motivations.

As opposed to his sister, Ian’s powers weren’t a comfort for him as a child. If anything, they accelerated his collapse. It seems that his specialness inspired a mixture of profound narcissism and alienation in him. Predictably, Jill became the object of his obsession as she not only shared his abilities but in his mind was the recipient of the affection he withheld from him. But for all its complexity, Ian ended up being tragic but not sympathetic.

In many ways, Ian feels like an evolution of No-End House’s antagonist Seth (Jeff Wards). Both men used supernatural means to foster relationships with women because they understood their true natures made them irredeemable. That characterization was one of many elements of The Dream Door that reflected previous seasons of Channel Zero. The notion of a character returning to their hometown to resolve their supernatural and psychological problems was also explored in Candle Cove. And the theme of using of relying on or rejecting family when confronting the extraordinary was central to Butcher’s Block.

The Dream Door also felt like a culmination of the loose arc that ran through the first four seasons of Channel Zero. Candle Cove dealt with childhood trauma. No-End House focused on the painful transition between a person’s teen and early adult years. Butchers’ Block was centered on the rudderless and anxiety you experience in your 20s and The Dream Door took the responsibility of marriage and ultimately parenthood. Since Channel Zero has struggled with modest ratings during its run on Syfy, I’m hoping that this season’s subtle callbacks weren’t intended as a goodbye.

Channel Zero, Channel Zero: The Dream Door
CHANNEL ZERO: THE DREAM DOOR (Photo by: SYFY, Acquired from SyfNBCUniversal Media Room) /

The world is big and wild and half insane

As a whole, Channel Zero: The Dream Door was a phenomenal season of television. It once again proved to be the scariest show by featuring a potent blend of both visceral and existential terror. And like last season, it was not only one of the best horror shows going, but one of the best series overall.

Although the notion is kind of silly, Channel Zero is the kind of horror media that people who don’t like horror would enjoy. Instead of being a delivery system for cheap scares that don’t linger past the commercial break, it was a thoughtful meditation on the challenges and rewards of commitment and intimacy.

This season’s director E.L. Katz and cinematographer Isaac Bauman did a phenomenal job making a basic cable TV show look better than most movies that have come out this year. As well as being terrifying and hilarious, Dream Door had a remarkable sense of place and emotional heft. Composer Jeff Russo’s score was both the best soundtrack John Carpenter never made while also feeling thoroughly and uniquely Channel Zero. And creator Nick Antosca and his fellow writers Alex Pechman, Lenore Zion, Mallory Westfall, Justin Boyd, Isabella Gutierrez, Angel Varak-Iglar and Lisa Long crafted a beautiful, moving horror story that was also this year’s best romance.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door Episode 3 recap: Love Is Blindness. dark. Next

Lastly, Maria Sten and Brandon Scott were both fantastic. Their performances had so much nuance and depth of feeling, Jill and Tom felt like real people who were in a real relationship. And watching them love, doubt and hurt each other was a wonderful and painfully relatable experience. Because of Sten and Scott’s acting, you felt for the Hogdson’s, but you also felt through them. Also Steven Robertson, especially in the back half of the season, excelled at keeping the humanity of a monster front and center.

Let’s all do this again same time next year. Did you like this season of Channel Zero?

Channel Zero: The Dream Door aired on the Syfy at 11 pm nightly from Oct. 26-31 and can all be viewed here.