“You know, nostalgia’s a funny thing—makes the past seem better, like something it never was.”
Just when it looked as if Vic was set to take advantage of a weakened Charlie Manx, fate trips her up big time and sets our series protagonist in her most vulnerable position yet.
After her temporary stay last week in the hospital psych ward, it seemed like Vic was finally ready to take the fight to Manx. Though she lost an ally in Maggie (who ditched her Scrabble bag and returned to Iowa), Jolene’s assault on Manx’s Wraith left it damaged and the monster himself severely weakened. That gave Vic the key to eliminating Manx: destroy the Wraith, destroy the monster. But a return home hit Vic with the biggest of gut punches: while cooped up in the hospital, Vic’s mother sold her bike. This news comes the morning after a monstrous Haley calling Vic, bragging about how much she loves it at Christmasland. Vic’s resolve to end Manx takes a serious hit at the news but not all is lost. After all, Jolene proved that a Strong Creative could find another Knife. With that in mind, Vic heads to her annual trip to Bike Week with her dad.
Surprisingly enough, it’s the time spent with her father, not the loss of her Knife that truly drives Vic toward the edge of despair. It begins when she and Drew argue about Chris McQueen’s presence in Vic’s life. Couple this with the frustration of not being able to find a bike that vibes as a Knife and Vic unleashes every bit of pent-up resentment she has towards her father. Whereas the loss of her Knife was a physical blow, this fracture between her and her father is what leaves Vic in her most vulnerable state yet.
All the while, Charlie uses Bing to effect repairs on the damaged Wraith while Maggie does her best to forget about Manx and his cursed vehicle. The pair become entwined when, after getting the Wraith fixed, Manx sets his sights on Sheriff Bly (Chris McKinney, Elementary, The Night Of), who takes Maggie in after she falls back into her former vice: drugs. Though she doesn’t see the abduction, she finds Manx’s calling card (a candy cane) and Bly’s business card attached to his police cruiser. Unfortunately for the good Sheriff, he’s taken to Christmasland where his fate is violently sealed.
Though far from perfect, “Scissors for the Drifter” is the most complete episode of NOS4A2 thus far. There is a real weight to Vic’s struggle as she finally gives her father an uncomfortable helping of the truth. But it’s more than just Ashleigh Cummins that makes “Scissors” work. Vic’s interactions between the rest of the cast—from Drew to Craig to her father—strengthen her character’s emotional arc. Zachary Quinto’s Manx, in his weakness, also shines a bit more clearly now. The revelation that his daughter resides in Christmasland is a nice touch but Quinto himself ditches a good portion of the stiff acting that’s held the character back thus far. He still lacks the gravitas to be a memorable villain but “Scissors” ushers him to the door of adequacy. Maggie’s struggle with her accident and the ensuing fall back into drugs is a very powerful plot point that is unfortunately rushed through. Then again, she’s not the main character and, the truth is, sometimes life doesn’t wait for our compelling arc to finish before kicking us in the teeth. Bly’s death will either prompt Maggie to fight the good fight or she’ll retreat back into the past which, for her, holds nothing good.
Take me home, Country Road
- Though “Scissors” pares away some of NOS4A2’s overly cheesy elements, Manx’s escape from the authorities is one of the worst examples of plot convenience on the show to date. After Mrs. Meyers (Brenda Wehle, Winter’s Tale, St. Vincent) calls the authorities from her Nebraska scrapyard, Bing still has enough time to install the water pump in the Wraith, and the blaring sirens give Manx the perfect early-warning that the cops are closing in. And poor Mrs. Meyers…so close to gaining closure after decades of being haunted by Manx’s destruction of her family.
- Despite the emotional lift provided by Craig and Drew, there’s still something about this triangle with Vic that seems incomplete. Vic sharing her Inscape with Craig so early on, despite the narrative not establishing any sort of rapport between the two felt cheap. At least her burgeoning relationship with Drew was a bit more believable, considering that initial attraction at the part and their subsequent bonding during their tour of RISD. While the love triangle subplot works in “Scissors”, the series been severely lacking over the entire season.