Channel Zero: The Dream Door
Episode Six, “Two of Us”
Written by Nick Antosca & Isabella Gutierrez
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 “Two of Us“, the sixth and final episode of Channel Zero Season Four. 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
* “Two of Us” begins with Tall Boy (Stephen R. Hart) dragging Tom Hodgson (Brandon Scott) through an unfinished house in Estates before dumping Tom in front of Ian (Steven Robertston). Channel Zero does love its unfinished homes set in desolate housing developments. Jules (Amy Forsyth) leads her Not!Father (John Carrol Lynch) to an unfinished garage “tiger trap” in No End House, Mike Painter (Paul Schneider) survives a lynch mob tribunal in an isolated, never-finished home in Candle Cove, and of course the finished (albeit unworldly) Peach mansion plays a central role in Butcher’s Block.
*Ian’s mood is both boastful and peevish. Turns out Bill Hope (Greg Henry) left everything to Jillian. The house they’re in, and the entire Willow Courts housing development, belong to her (Bad Thing). But, as Ian explains in between gulping down fast food and protein shakes, he loves Jillian in a “pure, uncomplicated way” while Tom is merely the “safe choice” (Good Thing).
*Ian’s continuing use of his abilities is also causing him to suffer some kind of internal injury or spasms affecting his stomach area.
*If the spelling on the closed captioning is correct, the Stuckey Burgers that Ian loves to chow down may be from the fictional equivalent of the Stuckey’s chain of freeway rest stop restaurants. The real Stuckey’s never succeed at the fast food business. According to Frank Stuckey, ″Food especially, I think, was the downfall. Our snackbars really never had a good fast-food menu like Hardee’s, Waffle House or McDonald’s.″
*The fictional, 30% protein “Muscle Syrup” would be in about in the middle range of power protein drinks.
*Jillian (Maria Sten) follows Ian’s bloody directions to the ghost neighborhood. Waiting for her is a bored, newly hired security guard (Robert Borges), and Ian’s enforcer squad of Crayon Kids. Generic crayons of course, not the copyrighted and tradmark protected Crayola Crayons.
*The Crayon Kids slash the tires on Jillian’s SUV to prevent her escape. But New Security Guard Man is (from the sound of it) stabbed to death and/or ripped to pieces by the colorful gang.
*Robert Borges also appeared in two episodes of No End House as “Hiding Man”, and in Butcher’s Block as “Cop” in the “Alice in Slaughterland” episode.
*Jillian slowly realizes that the injured Tom she finds hiding in another unfinished house is a simulacrum of her husband, created by Ian. One clue? He appears to have the same injury/cramp/spasms Ian displayed earlier.
*Not!Tom also bleeds white goop like the biomechanical androids from the Alien scifi franchise after Jillian stabs him with an improvised cross and Tom stomps his double’s head in.
*Tom proves he’s the real version of himself to Jillian by using a rusty metal object to draw red blood from his palm. After everything else that’s gone on, contracting tetanus doesn’t seem to be too high on Tom’s worry list.
*Ian is ok with using a double of Tom to kiss his own half-sister, but balks at creating a doppelganger in front of Tom because “that’d just be weird.”
*Tom may be the non-incestuous “safe” choice, but he’s also the smart choice. He understands Jillian’s fear of what she can do, but also accepts that everyone has a dark side. In Jillian’s case, “sometimes, it just gets out, runs around, kills people, but I can accept that …Pretzel Jack is part of you, but I brought him out”.
*Like the “something blue” worn by a bride, Jillian’s doors were that color as “a gift” from Ian.
*The husk of herself Jillian spies in this episode reminds me of the Hollow Girl in No End House. Her portrayer, Robyn Delaney, also appears in this series as Red Murder Crayon.
*Speaking of our favorite murder-y clown contortionist, Jillian recreates Pretzel Jack. After making peace with Tom, Pretzel Jack (Troy James) takes on Tall Boy and ends up sliced in half.
*Jillian conveniently pushes Tom out of Tall Boy’s path. Tall Boy the ironically kills Ian by pinning him to a wall with what looks like a power hedge trimmer.
*Ian may be gone, but in the final scene we learn the Hodgson family now has its very own version of Jack-Jack from The Incredibles. Given the warm, comforting tone of this final moment, I picture a future much like the last scene in I Married a Witch (1842, Dir. by Rene Clair). Like that movie’s housekeeper complaing about the daughter flying her broom inside, I can see Tom or Jillian gently reminding their child to not keep creating doors all over the house
*”Animal Farm” by The Kinks plays over the closing credits. From the 1968 album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, “Animal Farm” harkens back to an idea of “Deep England” and a rural, pastoral way of life long gone.
This world is big and wild and half insane
Take me where real animals are playing
Just a dirty old shack
Where the hound dogs bark
That we called our home
I want to be back there
Girl, It’s a hard, hard world, if it gets you down
Dreams often fade and die in a bad, bad world
I’ll take you where real animals are playing
And people are real people not just playing
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.
Sadly, on January 16th, 2019 showrunner Nick Antosca broke the news (via Instagram) that SYFY had cancelled Channel Zero after four seasons.
Maybe I delayed writing this final deep dive to avoid saying a final goodbye to a show I’ve come to find endlessly fascinating. Farewell, Channel Zero, I’m sad to see you go.