Channel Zero: The Dream Door
Episode Three “Love Hurts
Written by Leonore Zion & Lisa Long
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 “Love Hurts“, the third 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
*As he relentlessly made his way through Vanessa Moss’ (Barbara Crampton) home, Pretzel Jack became a smiling, white-goo dripping CZ version of the implacable, deadly, and silent murderer Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th fame.
*Turns out “floating meditation” is quite the hot trend in some circles.
*Det. McPhillips (Grey Bryk) describes Pretzel Jack as a “Dr. Seuss character gone wrong.”
*Pretzel Jack’s hibernation in, and eventual emergence from, a suburban crawlspace reminded me of Not!Dad (John Carroll Lynch) lurching through a quiet suburban neighborhood in Channel Zero’s second season, No End House.
*The crawlspace has a special place in horror fiction and movies, including –
-The related-only-by-title 1986 movie starring Klaus Kinski and directed by David Schmoeller. The filming of this version was apparently so traumatic it inspired a documentary about the experience called Please Kill Mr. Kinski.
*Jillian mentions “thinking about all the bad things that could happen” (emphasis mine). Wonder if the late Dr. Carnacki (Steven Weber) had a chance to address Jillian’s generalized anxiety, expressed as worrying about future events.
*Jillian and Tom will sure need that trauma therapist Dr. Carnacki recommended after witnessing his (off camera to us) murder at the hands of Pretzel Jack.
*The mummified husk of Pretzel Jack (did Jillian take it from her old childhood home) resembles both a South American mummy and the false mother created from Margot Sleator’s memories in No-End House.
*It’s true that Carnacki and Tom are not listening to Jillian – and she isn’t listening to them. I heard their reactions as a mix of “mansplaining” and expressing reactions to Jillian’s story that attempt to rationalize the impossible; seeing Pretzel Jack as a symbol (Carnacki) or a real human being wearing a disguise (Tom).
*This events in Dr. Carnacki’s office reminded me of Nola Carveth in David Cronenberg’s 1979 movie The Brood. Like Nola, Jillian creates a physical expression of her emotions that acts both as her protector and avenger. What would’ve happened if Jillian had gone to Dr. Hal Raglan’s Somafree Institute of Psychoplasmatics for therapy?
*Spoiler Alert – Dr. Carnacki’s description of a lover’s vulnerability in a relationship (metaphorically asking their partner if they’ll “cut me open and spill my guts”) turns out to be all to real for several characters.
*Ian presents himself as a wise Obi-Wan type to Jillian and Tom. In relating a very PG-rated version of his story and how it relates to Jillian, Ian may be more like Luke Skywalker’s mentor than they realize.
*Technically the psychic pair in John Farris’ 1976 novel (and 1978 movie) The Fury aren’t related, but their powers, and the people who hope to use those powers for their own ends, reminded me a lot of Jillian and Ian this episode.
*Ian describes their power as both a Bat-Signal and a kind of tumor.
*Since there isn’t a National Science Museum (that I could find at any rate), maybe Ian is misremembering the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C..
*The Pretzel Jack in Jillian’s childhood flipbooks is a creepypasta version of Bing-Bong from Inside Out. Ian’s description of the very thorough process required to permanently destroying their creations (“fully smash the head, cut his head off, use a meat grinder, incinerate him …”) makes Pretzel Jack into (as mentioned earlier) an indestructible boogeyman out of horror franchises like Halloween or Friday the 13th.
*Lykoi cats are real, and in their own way, really adorable.
*Jillian’s dad Bill (Gregg Henry) makes his audio-only debut via that old time classic “I can’t tell you some very important information over the phone” cliche.
*Credit to Father Son Holy Gore for catching the name of the end credits music. “Love Song” by The Damned.
Next episode, Channel Zero brings a “Bizarre Love Triangle” to life as only it can!
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.