Still reeling from the emotional fallout of her familial life, things finally break for Vic when her acceptance letter from RISD comes in, full scholarship and all. It should be an over-the-moon moment for Vic, but it becomes an anchor when Linda’s poisonous negativity seeps in on several occasions. Though some of Linda’s fears are understandable, she’s more afraid of being alone without Vic than she is happy for her daughter. Coupled with her father’s alcoholic tendencies—something he’s trying to combat this week—It’s a sad reminder of Vic’s toxic upbringing and the surprising gem she’s become despite the negativity.
Yet it’s that tumultuous home life that makes her vulnerable when Bing comes calling. Desperately trying to get on Manx’s good side so he can enter Christmasland, Bing thinks the best way to do that is to get rid of Vic. Never the brightest bulb, he doesn’t realize that maybe, just maybe, Charlie Manx doesn’t want Vic dead yet.
Though Bing has too often been nothing more than an ineffective cog in the series’ narrative, he shines in “Parnassus”. Though his size should make him an intimidating figure, Bing’s actions and the sickening plan he has for Vic that makes their scenes some of the most disturbing and uncomfortable in the series thus far. Bing’s duality—the bumbling fool versus the twisted predator hiding underneath—is what makes him fascinating. The unfortunate lack of consistency in his character has been a disappointment but, with two episodes left, there’s still a chance for Bing Partridge to realize his potential.
On the Charlie Manx from, his pit stop at the titular Parnassus is a new wrinkle in the series, introducing new lore this late in the game. No explanation is given as to the clientele or Manx’s need to converse with his old friend, Abe (Reg Rogers, Primal Fear, Hell on Wheels, TURN) about Vic. Had more detail been sprinkled in, this plot line would have vastly improved the episode as a whole. Instead, it comes across as an extended exposition on Manx’s desire to bring Vic into the fold the way he failed to do with Jolene. Save for Abe, everything about these scenes dragged, hamstringing an already tedious episode.
That’s not to say “Parnassus” was a complete dud. After telling her father off last week, Vic exorcises another demon when she confronts Linda, calling her mother “a coward”. The emotional baggage between mother and daughter is a highlight as Ashleigh Cummings and Virginia Kull are admirable in giving life to all the pain, fear, anger, and frustration that has built up over the years. Their emotional display barely outpaces Maggie’s descent back into the abyss of drugs, sex, and alcohol as she tries to cope with Sheriff Bly’s death.
After a tearful phone conversation where her mother has little emotional sympathy for her lost daughter, Maggie turns to the only thing she knows can deaden the pain. The mysterious return of her Scrabble bag only reinforces Maggie’s hopelessness; she can’t get away from her past and has no effective way of dealing with the pain of her life. She aims to end it all, but not before pointing Vic in the right direction regarding her bike. That final call allows Vic to track Maggie down, saving her from an overdose and also giving Vic back a much needed ally as she prepares to face Charlie Manx in next week’s two-part finale.
After last week, it looked as if NOS4A2’s bumpy road was on the verge of evening out. Unfortunately, “Parnassus” falls back into the same ditch as the majority of this season—great character moments hindered by uneven directing and a villain whose story is just not that interesting. Both Vic and Maggie shine as they fight through emotional turmoil but the narrative is plastered with too many holes that prevent “Parnassus” from reaching its potential.
Take Me Home, Country Road
- The idea behind the Parnassus rest stop/dive bar is fantastic: a place where the scum of the supernatural community congregate, a Villains Pub for you fans of the How It Should Have Ended YouTube channel. Instead, it becomes an unremarkable set piece whose only saving grace is the mysterious Abe. Reg Rogers’ performance is a reminder that sometimes an actor can breathe life into a droll script to a performance worthy exploring. But even he’s not enough to elevate what should have been a fascinating exploration into the story’s lore.
- Though Vic is the best part of this show, I’ve had zero interest in her back and forth between Craig and Drew. Not to beat the proverbial dead horse, but the poorly constructed ‘love triangle’ between the three is another example of the series not effectively creating tension in its narrative arcs. Though “Parnassus” does the best job thus far of highlighting Craig and Vic’s connection, it’s too little, too late, as the earlier foundations affect my personal buy-in to the relationship as a whole.
- Admittedly a minor gripe, Vic’s decision not to report Bing for kidnapping is ridiculous. She mentions her fear of being put back in the psych ward but there would have been so much evidence to corroborate her story, only Sheriff Lamb (for you Veronica Mars fans) would have been able to screw it up. It would have made more sense for her to forego this if she’d thought it would take her focus away from the true prize: Manx himself. For me, it’s just another bullet point on the messiness too often present in a series that had such good prospects.