Lee Chang-dong’s latest film is an existential mystery. Be prepared!
Channel Zero: The Dream Door
Episode Two “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”
Written by Alexandra Peachman & Nick Antosca
Directed by E.L. Katz
[All images courtesy Syfy]
For an in-depth recap of this and every episode of Channel Zero, I highly recommend a visit to Father Son Holy Gore. Check out his other great recaps, movie reviews, and in-depth essays on horror.
Now let’s take a deep dive into the symbolism and references I noticed in “Ashes On My Pillow’, the first episode of Channel Zero’s fourth season. My episode recaps and observations for Seasons One and Two are at SciFi4Me.com, and my observations for Season Three can be found here at Fang and Saucer.
Dream Police Observations
*”Where Did You Sleep Last Night” (aka “In the Pines”) has its origins as a folk ballad. Recorded many times, notable versions include Bill Monroe 1941 and 1952 as “In the Pines”, by blues artist Leadbelly in various versions of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” from 1944 through 1948, and over the closing credits of an episode of Investigation Discovery’s A Crime To Remember.
*If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From A Marriage (1974) and Killer Klowns From Outer Space (Dir. Stephen Chiodo, 1987) had a baby, it would look a lot like Channel Zero: The Dream Door.
*Were Det. McPhillips (Grey Bryk) and Det. Fraser (Marina Stephenson Kerr) conducting an investigative interview with Jillian and Tom? Why the heck weren’t they interviewed separately?
*Ian (Steven Robertson), such a helpful font of esoteric knowledge! This episode we learn Pugs were the favored dog breed of Chinese royalty, and Ian recommends the use of lucid dreaming as a tool of self-discovery.
*We learn a bit more about Jillian’s father Bill Hope; the name of one of his bankrupt real estate deals (Willow Courts), and Jillian was eight when he abandoned his family.
*Tom begins – and ends – this episode in a tub. He also likes to give Gumby toys to (not so) random children in public parks. Since we saw him arguing with the child’s mother (Diana Bentley) last week, it’s probably not a random encounter.
*Dr. Carnacki (Steven Weber) recommends start on Xanax to make it through the day and Ambien to sleep at night. Besides being featured in criminal defenses, “People taking Ambien have sleep-walked, driven their cars, prepared and eaten food, made phone calls, and had sex while not fully awake without memory of these activities,” according to EverydayHealth.com.
*Unlike her husband or therapist, Ian really listens to Jillian, encouraging her to confide in him. It is not a coincidence that Ian is refilling a hummingbird feeder.
*But as TVTropes.com notes, Jillian is so happy to be listened to, she fails to listen to Ian. She “only refers to a “contortionist clown” before Ian says, “Pretzel Jack killed your friend.”
*2nd drink alert of the episode – Kambucha!
*Vanessa Moss (Barbara Crampton) takes advantage of Tom’s trust. Her technique is similar to Ian’s; present a sympathetic front, listening to Tom and offering her therapy pool for meditation, while surreptitiously spying on him for her own gratification.
*Pretzel Jack recreates a horror genre staple this episode – the Spider Walk.
*The 80’s power pop of “Catcher In The Rain” (1985) by Van Duren and Good Question plays over the closing credits.
Next episode, an oft-recorded pop song reminds us that “Love Hurts”. And on Channel Zero, boy does it ever!
Until next time, Dream a Little Dream of Stabby the Murder Clown …
The first three seasons of Channel Zero are currently on the Shudder streaming service. Channel Zero: The Dream Door is currently available on demand and will join them on Shudder in 2019.
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