“I don’t want to be chosen.”
As Vic struggles to balance her crumbling home life with the emergence of her new abilities, Maggie pushes the search for the Wraith in her hometown as Charlie Manx finds himself a new lackey and sets his sights squarely on the one person who can foil his plans; Vic McQueen and her ability to access “the shorter way”.
One of the things often affecting the quality of a series pilot is its ability to disseminate enough information to draw viewers’ interest but not overload an audience with too much of it. Last week’s NOS4A2, while decidedly flawed, offered a welcome balance, forcing viewers to ask questions, some of which are answered in this week’s “The Graveyard of What Might Be”. The primary example of this is the appearance of Vic’s powers. While the reasoning behind their sudden appearance remains a mystery, thanks to a bit of traveling, Vic gains a bit more background of what she is and the powers she taps into. But before she gets there, Vic has to deal with the circumstances of the McQueen family falling apart.
At the end of “The Shorter Way”, Vic tracked down her father, Chris. Their confrontation is less emotional explosion, more disappointed fatigue with Vic deciding against the often used screaming and shouting and going with a more heartfelt weary acceptance. Maybe more of a surprise than this is Vic’s decision to move in with Chris and his new girl, Tiffany. This does not go over that well with Tiffany, who’s overt displeasure of Vic moving in with her and Chris is minor compared with the ensuing drama created when Vic’s mother decides it’s time for her daughter to return home. This powder keg of emotion is the impetus needed to drive Vic away and through the Bridge (her ‘Inscape’) where she finds herself on the empty streets of Here, Iowa with Maggie waiting there for her.
Maggie’s explains not only her powers (she’s a medium) to Vic, but Vic’s own burgeoning abilities. Calling the confused teen from Haverhill a “Strong Creative”, she implores Vic to help her find Daniel Moore. Though Vic initially handles the info dump with surprising calm, it eventually becomes a bit overwhelming for her and she leaves, her rejection of Maggie’s assertion that Vic was chosen is a classic denial of the reluctant hero. But if Vic is truly the hero, she will only be able to run from her calling for so long before finally accepting the mantle. Maggie’s gifts are special but are much more limited than Vic’s and hers is not that of the hero of the story; she is Vic’s oracle of sorts, showing our protagonist the way but no more, as the choice of action ultimately lies with the mentally overwhelmed Vic.
While Vic struggles with her family and newfound abilities, Charlie Manx picks up a potential steward in Bing Partridge. Though there is something stiff about Zachary Quinto’s performance, he also exudes an underlying menace which hints at this almost mechanical choice of Manx is intentional. But it’s more than that; when Manx shows Bing the “graveyard of what might be”, he frames himself as the savior of these soon-to-be lost and broken children. Manx sees himself as the hero, someone (or –thing) who removes children from their homes of abuse. The question though becomes, despite his “benevolence”, what does it say that while he’s removing these children from the company of monsters only to transform them into the very thing he’s saving them from?
Take Me Home, Country Road
- “Graveyard” continues the wonderful work “The Shorter Way” started in shaping Vic McQueen as the reluctant hero. Not only is she (along with us) learning about the grander world out there, but the parallel between her own less-than-perfect life and that of those Manx purports to save aren’t that dissimilar. If he’d come to Haverhill a few years prior, would Manx have “rescued” Vic from her volatile home life?
- Despite his convictions of saving these children, Manx is the archetypal predator, seeking out the weak and vulnerable. The fact that they’re children may not be enough; could it be there is a necessity to have these kids mentally and emotionally scarred as well, making them susceptible to his designs? His singling out of Bing is another example of this: the janitor is not all there and there are hints at something dark occurring during Bing’s childhood to stunt his mental abilities. As was the case with the previously employed Ives, Bing’s mental capacity lines perfectly with Manx’s plan.
- Vic’s friendship with young Haley Smith (Darby Camp, Big Little Lies) seems almost destined to play a key role as the series continues. Though we really don’t see much of Haley’s home life, she feels like someone who is on the outskirts of what many would see as “normal” socialization. In this, Haley’s much like Vic herself, not fitting in with her peers. Whether or not something more sinister is occurring to Haley is up in the air but Haley’s loner-type situation coupled with her relationship to Vic seems to make her the perfect target for Manx to use as a pawn to get Vic—the one potential threat to Christmasland—off the board.