At a road-side stand in rural Not Canada, a beekeeper/honey seller named McCabe (played by genre stalwart Art Hindle) decides to, instead of selling some honey to the beardy truck driver who stopped to hit on him, to dribble some honey over him and unleash killer bees on him. That night at his apiary, he straps an old man into the stocks and unleashes more killer bees on him, which magically transform him into the beardy guy who died earlier. So we’re starting right off with the explicit mechanics of the curse, the who, and the why (making men young for money). The next day Micki drives out to the country in search of a “transport hive” bought by one Duane Purdy, only to have his shot-gun wielding brother drive her off insisting that he’s dead. Jack is particularly anxious about this hive because the complete lack of records on it means he has no clue what it does.
Back in the big city, Norman Hendricks gets the double whammy of learning that his tumor is inoperable as well as a lay-off (with cancelled pension) from his asshole yuppie new boss, Marr. Jack and Ryan’s research seems to hit a dead end, though, when they learn that only Duane Purdy died from bee-stings, though there do seem to be an awful lot of accidental deaths in his town in the year since. Norman, meanwhile, is accosted by the beardy fellow, who introduces himself as his allegedly dead friend Ben Landis, before promising to introduce Norman to the man who can make him young again, too. Norman considers the deal, because that is apparently easier than telling his wife he got laid off and only has six months to live, even though the price is making the McCabe the beneficiary of his estate. And while he’s thinking, his boss is stung to death by bees, and Ben is told that he has to produce a body to take Norman’s place, with the end result being Norman being turned into Marr. The next day, Jack is interviewing our friendly local bee-keeper, when a rapidly aging Landis shows up demanding honey, and Jack catches on.
Based on ancient myths about honey making people young again, the gang keeps investigating. Norman/Marr however is finding it hard to adjust to his new life, and his efforts to comfort his semi-widow are only uncomfortable and awkward. Unsurprisingly, when Ryan and Micki break in to the apiary they narrowly escape being stung to death, with the only positive outcome being Jack getting the chance to investigate a few dead bees and learning that they are vampire bees that don’t die when they sting and make honey out of blood. Because “bees that kill to make people young” was too simple an explanation, apparently. Norman is trying to navigate around the fact that he’s left his wife with nothing when McCabe arrives and essentially blackmails him into not only killing someone so that he’ll have a body handy for his next client, but also to use Marr’s contacts and business associates to bring him wealthier customers, and later kidnaps Norman/Marr’s widow for some extra leverage. Meanwhile the gang goes to get the story out of Purdy’s brother, who clues them in that McCabe is Purdy and has been covering up the bee deaths. Events culminate with all the players at the apiary that night, when efforts to slow down McCabe by stealing his blood honey lead to the rescue of Norman’s wife and McCabe/Purdy getting doused in honey and being stung to death himself. And things are restored to normal, except for the vampire bees now roaming the countryside.
This is a fairly good episode, mostly for the direction and tone. The main cast isn’t given much to do, and the bulk of the story rests on the guest actors, who generally put in good performances that are suitably sympathetic or menacing, as required. There’s a strong rural gothic feeling to the whole thing, with the symmetry of the apiary set off nicely in shots by blue smoky lights illuminating them. The antique is one of the odder ones, and in the end you mostly have to take a “sure, why not” attitude to its method of operation since the mystical/historical connection is so tenuous, and the “getting stung helps you” not really following from the death-by-stinging methods.
A Very Robey 80s
We open on a not-so-idyllic flashback to two young Not-Canadian boys, Mikey and Deacon, playing baseball on opposing teams. Deacon is a much better player than Mikey, much to the annoyance of Mikey’s terrible father. But we then cut to a scene in the now of a biker being run down by a classic muscle car, all so that the driver can mop up some blood with a blank key. And we then cut again to a drag race, where Mikey is challenging one of many lieutenants in his bid to race against Deacon. Mikey wins, thanks to his use of the blank key, so we’re just jumping right into the who, how and why this week. The next day at the shop, Mikey’s father Dominic comes by looking for a gift for his son’s birthday, which the gang finds somewhat surprising until Dominic mentions how much time Mikey used to spend with Lewis. When nothing shows up in the manifest, they go to check out some drag races, where they learn nothing because this scene is only here to set up Mikey’s next victim, the guy who he beat in a race last night. Oh, and we get a touching scene between father and son where we learn that Dominic gave Mikey the blank key, not Lewis.
Mikey wins his next race, prompting accusations of cheating from Deacon’s next lieutenant, since he did it in a car that never won before, but the win impresses him enough to offer Mikey a place in his crew, which Mikey rejects because Deacon is only a stand-in for his dysfunctional relationship with his father. And at the shop, Jack finds a receipt from Lewis for a silver chain that was given to Mikey. Chatting with Dominic leads to no clues, so Ryan and Micki go to check out more drag races, and learn thant Mikey has been driving cars belonging to people who recently died in hit-and-run accidents to the suspicion of no one, apparently. Trailing Mikey, the pair just miss catching him kill another driver, but they do manage to accidentally run him off the road after he catches on that they’re following. But they do get to Mikey in time to see a gaping chest wound suck in the key and chain.
At the hospital, the doctor tells the three random strangers not related to the patient because apparently medical privacy laws are different in Not Canada that Mikey lost too much blood for them to remove the chain and key wrapped around his heart, so they’re just going to leave that in there and hope for the best. Meanwhile, Mikey wakes up to discover that he can psychically control his car, so he checks himself out of the hospital, dresses like Goth Dracula, and goes to challenge Deacon. Micki, for her trouble, almost gets killed by Not Christine, which is what finally clues Dominic in to the fact that his kid is maybe up to something shady. After a heartfelt conversation in which even Mikey admits that Deacon is just a stand-in for his father, everyone converges on the race-track for the big Mikey/Deacon race. Which ends when Dominic drives his truck into Mikey’s car, killing them both, to the tune of a rockabilly song the identity of which frustrates all my music-identifying apps.
This is another one of those episodes where most of the main cast gets sidelined in favor of the villain of the week. Which is fine when they’re someone with a little depth, but Mikey is basically an angry brat hitting out at the world instead of the person he’s actually got a problem with, so he’s not only fairly unsympathetic but he’s pretty one-note as well. The nature of the curse is fairly dull as well, since this is one of those hand-crafted by Lewis ones where he’s deliberately a specific person for reasons unknown. But this is also the first hint we get that the nature of the curses are somewhat situational and the mechanisms by which they work can change, as we go from “kill to win races” to “control car to kill.”
A Very Robey 80s
At a quarter to one in the morning, as some made-for-tv punk street kids break into vending machines, a dapper gentlemen checks his pocket watch before killing a street busker while being tailed by the least inconspicuous woman in the world. He then heads back to a subway station and watches as, at the stroke of one, everyone else in the world freezes in black and white. So, three minutes in and we know that the item this week is a watch that stops time for you when you kill people. The next day, Micki and Ryan are frustrated in their ability to retrieve the Chalice of Sackmar when their car breaks down, forcing them to undergo the humiliation of Canadian public transport. And in another part of the city, we find out the inconspicuous lady is Reatha, the trophy wife of the dapper gentleman, who is not at all happy to learn that she’s been curious about his father’s pocket watch. And the more he pushes the “daddy/girl” dynamic in their relationship, the more obvious it is that she’s only doing this for the money and presents. So we pretty much know where this is heading, especially when the very next scene is her sexing it up with her boyfriend, Eric (as played by character actor David Proval, Previously), and plotting how to kill the old man and steal his magic pocket watch before Eric’s prosecution for real-estate fraud proceeds.
That night Micki and Ryan, having finished their expanded universe adventure, see the street kids, as led by Johnny-O and Skye (Ingrid Veninger, who we last saw with a cursed compact) goofing around on the subway tracks, which leads to Ryan almost being killed by the train. And leads to Skye witnessing Reatha killing her husband and taking the watch. While Skye and Johnny-O discuss what to do about the murder and the possibility that the killer saw Skye, Jack and Micki put two-and-two together on the recent reports of murders at 1 AM by the subway station and nearby burglaries and that the most recent victim is the son of a man who bought a pocket watch from Lewis. And so that night, Micki and Ryan track down the street kids, which inevitably leads to Ryan spotting Rheatha with the watch and getting knocked out and left on the train tracks during the frozen time period, gaining consciousness just in time to avoid being hit by a subway train for the second time in two days. Reatha, meanwhile, kills the last witness to Eric’s fraud, then goes after the street kids, who get away and decide to seek help from the antique dealers. As one does when a psychotic killer with a magic watch is after you.
At the shop, Jack has tracked the history of the watch back to the original owner, the dapper man’s father, who was fired from his job at the subway station for showing up drunk. And so now the watch he pawned to Lewis has the power to freeze time for one hour only if you are in that particular subway station after killing someone. Which makes it possibly the most specific cursed antique yet and further proof that Lewis was just fucking with people. After explaining this to the kids, a plan is hatched to get the watch back by using Skye as bait, which works a little too well as Micki is too distracted by Reatha’s latest victim being discovered to stop Skye being grabbed. Luckily, Skye is clever enough to grab the watch and jump onto a departing train just before time. Everybody chases everybody with the end result that Eric and Rheatha end up in the station at one sans watch, causing them to be frozen in time while everyone else moves on normally. So a happy ending, and yet another completely unexplained public display of the existence of magic for the police to hush up.
All things considered, this is one of the more middling episodes. The gimmick is clever, despite the horribly punny name (and yes, Jack does barely try to justify it in episode), but continuity wise the extremely specific nature of the curse makes it appear that Lewis was crafting these things to order, when what always been shown before is that, when he has a specific user in mind, he crafts the curse to take advantage of their weaknesses. But that’s the only major problem, and otherwise it’s just a routine “curse of the week” story with no particular highs or lows.
A Very Robey 80s
We’ll be back next week. In the meantime, here’s Robey with a gun.
It’s date night in Not Canada, and all the cool kids are going to see Edgar Van Horne, who I will refer to as Billy Drago because that’s who’s playing him and we all care about that more, the hot new ventriloquist who is selling out huge clubs with his dated, corny, ventriloquism act starring the patented insulting dummy Oscar. Also in the audience are Billy’s put-upon fiancee Gabrielle, a friend of Micki’s, and failed former ventriloquist Travis. After a particularly cringe-inducing rap bit, the act gets a bit derailed by a Kaufman-esque rant from Oscar about how it’s time to “pay the piper.” After the show, Billy, at the urging of Oscar, kills the club bouncer, with Oscar, off-screen, making cryptic comments about staying on top.
The next day at the shop, while Jack is off in Florida hunting down cursed Nazi artifacts, Micki gets the wedding invitation from Gabrielle and decides to go see her friend’s soon-to-be-husband’s act, which makes Micki a very good friend because she just volunteered to go see a ventriloquist. The show becomes very pointedly uncomfortable when Billy and Oscar get into a disagreement in front of the audience over Oscar’s abusive treatment of Gabrielle. Backstage, Billy tries to blow off Travis when he attempts to audition for the show, but Oscar insists on seeing his act. When Gabrielle brings Micki backstage, we find out that it’s because Oscar is looking to replace Billy after the marriage. Which leads everyone to conclude that Billy is just an asshole trying to get out of the marriage. Except, as we learn when Billy talks to his agent, he’s actually planning to retire, now that he’s at the height of his career thanks to Oscar, and focus on his marriage. In fact, he’s so serious about it, he even goes to couples counseling, with, uh, Oscar. And while this is going on, Micki and Ryan start investigating when they find out about the dead bouncer.
At Billy’s bachelor party, which Ryan is for some reason invited to, Billy and Oscar get into a fight, during which Oscar bites Billy, as the guests look on awkwardly. And then Oscar calls Travis to make sure he’ll be coming to the wedding. In the morning, Ryan tells Micki that he thinks Oscar is a cursed antique, despite no dummy being listed in the manifest, and then goes off on a tangent about the occult beliefs of the Nazis, because apparently the various hints the writers have dropped before now that Nazi Occultism in involved in this episode were too subtle. During the ceremony itself, Oscar makes a scene, prompting Billy to strangle him, which leads to Billy being dragged from the church and hit by a car. In the confusion, Travis slips in and whisks Oscar away. And then talks his way into taking over Billy’s gig at the club. Or, rather, Oscar does. And afterwards, when Travis gets into a fight with a drunk in the alley behind the club, Oscar hands him a knife nad makes him kill in exchange for celebrity.
Ryan goes to Billy, currently in restraints and raving, to try and find out what exactly Oscar is, but gets nowhere, and so tells Billy’s agent that Travis has no right to use Oscar in his act and needs to return him before Gabrielle takes legal action. When the agent goes backstage after the show, he somehow completely fails to notice that Oscar is now a little person in a tuxedo and not a dummy, until he gets stabbed to death. The news that someone is trying to separate them prompts Oscar to propose that Travis kills Gabrielle. Ryan, meanwhile, heads to Travis’s apartment to see what’s taking so long and finds the agent’s gruesomely mutilated corpse (even by this show’s standards), so he calls…Micki, who tells him that Jack finally called and revealed that the Nazi memorabilia collector he’s dealing with sold an object to Billy Drago…a silk boutonniere owned by Hitler.
Which means that Hitler is now a ventriloquist’s dummy.
This show, man.
Anyway, Travis tries to kill Gabrielle, but gets killed by Oscar when he fails. Ryan and Micki show up before Oscar can kill Gabrielle, leading to Ryan wrestling with the dummy and saving the day by pulling off the boutonniere. Which then goes into the vault.
This is a very strange episode, all told. We’ve seen a lot more riffing on horror tropes this season so far, and “evil ventriloquist dummy” is definitely one of those themes that supernatural shows seem to feel obligated to do. The swerve that it’s actually an accessory, and not the dummy, that’s the actual evil object is a nice swerve, though the whole “it’s actually Hitler” thing is still very strange, and maybe borderline offensive. Billy Drago is certainly at his Billy Drago-est in this role, chewing scenery left and right, and whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing probably depends entirely on how you feel about Billy Drago.
A Very Robey 80s