Archive for the “Friday the 13th” Category

Cold opens! We have cold opens now! In this one, a family of monster hunters, two brothers in the field, Dad and Sis in the tracking van, are closing in on a demon when it gets the jump on the younger of the brothers and impales him on a handy piece of farm equipment.

Over at the shop, while a handy readout in the corner counts down to midnight, Micki reassures Jack that the power surges are a result of the oncoming storm and nothing that requires a late-night electrician visit, though frankly his anxiety seems more motivated by the fact that, with Ryan deaged he’s now legally co-owner with Micki. There’s also a mysterious package from a museum containing an Enochian Dagger, used by demon worshipers, which wasn’t bought from Lewis Vendredei but donated in his name several months ago. We then cut back to our monster hunters, who flashback to some time in the past when they rescued Sis from…a demon worshiping cult. Sis and her tracking equipment have located a much more powerful source of negative energy than the demon, somewhere in the heart of the city, while Bro notes that everytime they get close to this monster, Sis somehow manages to lose track of it. But Dad decides to go to the city because the monster is probably headed there. Because sure. Also, there is technology to track evil and the heroes don’t use it?

At the shop, Micki and Jack are putting the dagger away, while Jack expositions the nature of demon worship and summoning to Micki, when Jack cuts his hand in the dark and both note that the blood drops on the floor drain away oddly. So naturally they call Johnny to come help. Not for his expertise, but because there’s probably going to be some heavy lifting involved. Our monster hunters meanwhile, have tracked the demon to an abandoned farm, in between flashbacks to that time they killed a bunch of people and the time Sis talked Dad into tracking down the demon. When Johnny gets to the shop, they pull up the slab on the floor of the Vault and find an entire demonic temple in the sub-basement, with tunnels leading into the sewer system. Jack finds the demonic contracts, and also realizes that Lewis Vendredei must have built the vault to contain demons that escaped, in case anyone has been mulling over that loose plot point for two seasons. Oh, and the demon kills Bro over at the farmhouse.

Micki notices, while trying to read the demonic contracts, that one appears to be dated with “today’s” date, which means, according to Jack, that tonight at midnight is when the contract is due, which means that both the demon and person it’s contracted with will be heading back to the temple tonight. Jack also figures out that the demon, Ahriman, has been tasked with killing the enemies of the cult that summoned him, and if he kills them all before the contract runs out, the cult members killed by the monster hunters will be resurrected. Just as the gang starts to realize that they need to set a trap for the demon and it’s summoner, Dad and Sis show up and immediately presume, with some nudging from Sis, that Jack, Micki and Johnny are the remaining demon cultists. Our heroes get locked into the temple, while the demon hunters go to prepare, and Johnny makes a plan to break back into the vault and use the items there to defend themselves and stop the demon, which Jack objects to because evil. While they break out anyway, and Dad wires up the shop with explosives, Sis goes upstairs, lets the demon in and reveals the mark which indicates that she’s the one who summoned it, surprising no one. Dad barely survives an encounter with the demon, and the gang subdue Sis and discover her mark, which, when everyone is locked into the vault, prompts Sis to finally confess her plan, which somehow is still not enough for Dad to get a clue. After a grenade mishap, Johnny struggles with the demon and Dad stabs Sis with the Enochian Dagger in the confusion, ending the contract and sending the demon back to hell via a convenient pit. And now the shop has a huge, demon-warded and sealed sub-basement for storing more antiques.

After the big, game-changing, extra-length opener to the season, I’m not sure if I like coming back to an episode that bucks the format a bit. The antique, the Enochian Dagger, is a bit of a cheat, since the real menace is the demon summoned at some unspecified point in the past, with the Dagger acting mostly as a deus ex machina for the resolution. It is nice when the show opens itself up to the suggestion of a supernatural reality outside the antiques, but we then spend a good chunk of the episode following the demon hunters around, and frankly they’re not interesting or well developed characters. The only notable thing about them is that Sis is a traitor, and that’s pretty baldy telegraphed right at the start. The main cast isn’t given much to do, either, but stand around the shop and read papers and exposition at each other.

A Very Robey 80s

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Our third and final season opens with a 30 second recap of the show premise, for the benefit of new viewers. We then cut to a provincial village in France, and either the production moved up to a more cinematic film stock or the makers of the home video version didn’t even attempt to clean up the master tapes. In any case, Jack arrives at midnight, and attempts to get a room at the local hotel, apparently having come to meet with a miraculous healing nun, Sister Adele. That usually means a cursed antique is nearby, and sure enough, at 3:33 AM, the clock tower starts ringing eerily distorted chimes, waking the entire town. In an abandoned building, a mysterious figure reads from a book of prophecy, and at the convent, an elderly nun convulses as she becomes possessed by an evil force. She tries to strangle Sister Adele with her rosary, before expiring when the priest, Father Decrux shows up to begin exorcising the room.

Back at the shop, Micki spends some time to exposition at Johnny about how Ryan is depressed because it’s the fourteenth anniversary of his brother’s death, so he’s hanging out at the cemetery. While he’s there, Ryan’s long-missing mother reappears, claiming that she’s been having visions of Ryan’s death. Back in France, Jack tries to see Sister Adele but is given the brush off by Decrux, so an old lady tells him that he must help Sister Adele by telling people of the attempt on her life, which was apparently the latest of several cases of possessed nuns going on murderous rampages, which only begs the question of why the other nuns have stuck around. Jack stakes out the convent and sees the Decrux sneak Sister Adele out and into another building in town. At 3:33 the mysterious figure begins reading again, this time setting “the beasts” on Sister Adele, which mostly consists of lots of barking dogs and one German Shepard actually attacking her. Jack saves the pair, and the dog appears to say “Nema” before dying.

This act gets Decrux to trust Jack, but it also marks the point where the people of the village have had enough, and start leaving town, to be replaced by TV Satanists (you can tell because they wear black and have weird haircuts). Jack tries to persuade Adele to let him help in the face of the most powerful supernatural manifestation he’s ever seen, but she insists that everything that is happening is according to the vision she was given ten years ago, when her healing powers manifested. Specifically, that the fallen angel Asteroth would attempt to corrupt the sacred shrine waters with the powers of the Book of Lucifer. Apparently, when the book’s six prophecies are fulfilled, Satan will walk the Earth, and two of the prophecies have already come true.

Over in Not Canada, Micki is packing, having been asked by Jack to bring over all the relevant research they have, which Ryan isn’t happy about, having just reconciled with his mother. At the airport, Ryan and his mother see a going away ceremony for a young girl in a wheelchair, Chris, who is headed to the village for healing. While boarding, Chris has a vision and tells Ryan not to get on the plane, but we’ve got an hour left on this extra-long episode, so…he boards anyway. And in the village, Asteroth starts the next prophecy, driving the psychiatric patients Adele had been treating into a frenzy, murdering nurses and orderlies. Jack, notices that the patients all seem to be calling out to a specific building. He breaks in to confront Asteroth and is given a vision of Satan’s plans for Earth, which are mostly stock footage of nuclear explosions and riots, before being tossed down the stairs.

Micki and Ryan arrive to find a comatose Jack in the hospital being watched over by Sister Adele, who explains the situation to them, while in town people seeking healing start to trickle in, along with more TV Satanists. Since everyone is caught up, Asteroth puts in a public appearance at the sacred spring, causing the waters to boil during a healing ceremony and pretty much just flat out yelling his plans at the assembled masses. Including that one of the people gathered there will become Satan’s disciple, and seeming to point at Ryan while doing so. (SPOILER: he was totally pointing at Ryan. Boy just can’t help but get possessed by Satanists, apparently.) Micki and Ryan chase after Asteroth, which doesn’t do much except give him a chance to capture Ryan and put a spell on him. And while John LeMay does some passable “I am possessed” acting, Asteroth breaks into a crypt to use as his next HQ.

As Micki researches the situation, possessed Ryan goes to the convent and kills Adele. Micki calls Johnny, busy reassuring Ryan’s mother that everything will be okay, to come over to France to help, just before the police break in to her hotel room to interrogate her. While that happens, Asteroth announces that the next phase of his plan is to have Ryan, somehow, arrange for Satan to possess Chris. Johnny arrives during Adele’s midnight funeral and gets Micki out of police custody by pointing out that they haven’t actually arrested her, and the two go to find Ryan, refusing to believe he’s responsible for the murder. And then, right under the nose of the police, Ryan kidnaps Chris from the funeral procession.

Jack wakes up while this is going on, having had visions of what Asteroth is up with Ryan and Chris, and break out of the hospital. He meets up with Micki and Johnny and the three of them piece together what Asteroth is planning. Asteroth, meanwhile, is not having an easy go of it, with Chris rejecting Satan even after he heals her legs and lets her walk again. On top of which, just as he goes to sacrifice Chris anyway, Ryan suddenly remembers his little brother, overcomes the possession, and takes the stab meant for Chris, just as the rest of the gang arrives. Only, instead of dying, Ryan is deaged fifteen years, turning into a preteen boy, because apparently the prophecy was about him after all. And then the Virgin Mary manifests as a huge flaming sphere above the village and destroys Asteroth and the Book of Lucifer. Chris has them take Ryan to the sacred waters and prays for the Virgin Mary’s intercession in chasing out the last of whatever Satanic power still controls Ryan, becoming the new holy child of the convent in the process. And Ryan’s memory has also regressed, which makes for some interesting explaining when they take him back to his mother in America.

So, my original memory of this episode was that the first half was used as a cliffhanger for season two, but I can’t find any evidence to back that up online. In any case, it’s being presented as the third season opener, as one extra-long episode here. It’s a bit of an odd episode, not surprisingly, since the point of it largely seems to be to get John LeMay written off the show. The story largely repeats a lot of the same beats from the previous installment, though, including Ryan’s possession and Satanic plots, so despite the French setting and extra length, the whole thing feels more than a little repetitive. Instead of an antique, we’ve got more hints of a larger supernatural world, and frustratingly not much is done with out after the initial infodump. That the threat is ultimately defeated not by the heroes but by a literal deus ex machine is fairly frustrating too. All told, it’s a pretty disappointing way to open the final season.

A Very Robey 80s

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We open up this time in the middle of a Satanic cult ritual, where a nifty little blood ritual causes a lump of clay to sculpt itself into a human figure, before cutting to the gang hanging out at a seance where a Wiccan priest is explaining about good magic and bad magic, with at least one good witch who looks a lot like that clay figurine. Micki and Jack are being given custody of a Warlock’s Ladder, which looks a lot like a beaded necklace a kid would make, which the Good Witches had been using, but are giving away because it was made by Lewis Vendredei. So this is probably the one and only time that going up to someone and saying “you have a cursed antique” is going to work for our heroes. The head of the Wiccans, Gareth, also tells Jack how Lewis’ coven has been trying to wipe out their group, so off-screen mage wars are another thing this show just assumes is happening. In any case, while Gareth hits on Micki by implying she has strong occult powers that were never hinted at before, the Evil Witches kidnap the man who was guarding the Ladder previously, and sacrifice him after he tells them that the gang has gotten it back.

At the shop, Ryan is hit on by the head of the Evil Witches, Lyssa, who gives him a story about Lewis killing her sister and how she’s tracking down and destroying Lewis’ artifacts, which Ryan knows can’t be destroyed but he falls for it anyway. Lyssa runs off and makes a voodoo doll of Ryan, to try and compel him to return the Ladder to her coven. This plan works, until Micki touches Ryan and the feedback from her own, previously undisclosed occult powers, injures Lyssa. Ryan rushes off after a phone call from Lyssa, even though Jack’s research indicates that the pendant she was wearing when she came into the shop is the mark of an Evil Witch, and that Lyssa herself was Lewis’ second-in-command, so good job going undercover, Lyssa. Oh, and the Evil Witches go to Gareth’s house, leave a dead body and burn some crosses, as well, so they’re really good at this low-profile, keep hidden thing. Oh, and the reason Lyssa just now turned up is because she was just released from a stint in prison for grave-robbing, so again, good at keeping what she’s up to secret.

Ryan is hiding out at his mechanic pal’s place, when a bunch of Evil Witches that were hiding in the trunk of a car get out and stab the mechanic to death, as part of a convoluted effort to convince Ryan he’s possessed. Micki and Gareth are preparing a ceremony to stop Lyssa when Jack finds out that Lewis sold her a sculpting tool, which she has been using to make her voodoo dolls, so that’s a loose end no one was worried about tied up. Lyssa has Ryan break into the Vault and still the Ladder, and she kills Gareth while Ryan watches, which still, somehow, doesn’t break the spell or make Ryan question her. Jack’s plan to fight Lyssa is to have Micki think good thoughts about Ryan and burn some candles, tapping into her never before mentioned occult powers, which works, since we have less than ten minutes left to this episode. Micki casts a counter-curse on Lyssa while Ryan grabs the Ladder, which…makes the Evil Witches die, essentially. And Micki burns out all her magical powers.

This is a mess. As season finale’s go, it’s not quite as bad as, say, doing a clip show, but it is a story that hinges on the revelation of the characters having skills they never had before, and which will never be mentioned again, and on the characters ignoring information they should know by heart by now to justify a villain’s plot. Neither the Good Witches or the Evil Witches are developed enough to make us really care about either side, and the main antique is so vaguely defined it’s really hard to get any sense of urgency in getting it back.

A Very Robey 80s

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This time out we flashback to 1979, and a robbery gone wrong. The gang gets away with seventeen million in marked bills, but leaves Dayton Railsback behind to take the rap for the entire operation. But don’t worry, the gang tells him, “there’s honor among thieves” and the money will still be there for him when he’s released in twenty years. Ten years on, Railsback is a jailhouse lawyer, still apparently convinced his ex-partners haven’t ripped him off, when another inmate trades him an old leather jacket in exchange for the paperwork to get him transferred to minimum security. And almost immediately after trying the jacket on, another inmate gets shanked, smearing blood on the jacket, which causes Railsback to become invisible. Taking advantage, Railsback sneaks out of prison and goes to the storage unit he was told the money was in, which just happens to be the same one Johnny’s father, Vince, is the night watchman at. This inevitably leads to Railsback killing Vince and framing Johnny for it.

Back at the shop, Micki, Ryan and Jack are at a loss trying to figure out how to prove Johnny’s innocence to a world that doesn’t believe in the occult, and Johnny is sent to the same prison as Railsback while he waits for his trial. Railsback is having his lawyer track down his accomplices, having learned that the three of them jointly own a safety deposit box, and Johnny has recognized the smell of Railsback’s cigars from the break-in, and just barely misses catching Railsback turning invisible after killing an inmate, breaking out, and killing one of his accomplices. While the prison goes into lockdown over all these killings, Ryan tells Micki that he planned on buying a kamikazee jacket from one of the prisoners, which turns people invisible because sure, why not. Railsback also finds Johnny searching his cell, so whatever cover Johnny might have had is completely blown, but he does get the names of Railsback’s accomplices to Micki and Ryan. They find the accomplice Railsback killed, and get shot at by Jane, another accomplice, who gets away. And that night, Railsback kills yet another inmate, and Johnny gets beaten by a guard for trying to stop him. And Railsback kills Jane before Micki and Ryan can get there, because they really aren’t terribly good at this.

Johnny’s cellmate, the stock “grizzled old prisoner to old for the outside world” character, finds out what Johnny is up to and realizes that Railsback must have discovered the disused old ventilation system to make his escapes. Which…isn’t remotely how we saw him escaping at the start of the episode, but sure, we’ll go with that, there’s only ten minutes left. Railsback is also pressuring his lawyer to give up the location of the last accomplice, and subtly hinting that he’s going to kill his lawyer too once this is all over. As Micki and Ryan track down the last accomplice by pressuring the lawyer, Johnny tries to steal the jacket, and gets himself stabbed by Railsback. Jack calls the warden to warn him about Railsback’s attempted escape as we discover that Johnny tricked Railsback in order to get him out of his cell before the guards came, but gets his cell mate killed in the process, so it sort of backfires. Johnny chases Railsback through the prison, guards chasing him, and eventually ends up setting Railsback on fire, which somehow manages to convince the authorities that Johnny is innocent. Despite just killing a guy.

This somewhat feels like a late season, “running out of money” type of story. The invisible man effects are on the cheap side, there’s a lot of the same sets being reused with slightly different dressing to obscure the fact that the prison consists of essentially one room, and the antique is another one of the “just go with it” types we see from time to time. It’s not a bad episode, and Steve Monarque does a good job with being asked to carry the bulk of it, but in the end it’s pretty forgettable.

A Very Robey 80s

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In a hospital in Not Canada, aging, barely competent Dr. Lamar nearly kills a patient during surgery, possibly because he is too busy making cracks about Dr. White Cloud’s Native American ancestry, with the following altercation leading to Dr. White Cloud losing his hospital privileges because apparently you can have single-payer or medical ethics but not both. White Cloud visits his grand-father Spotted Owl, a traditional healer, and we find there’s tension in the family because White Cloud went to medical school instead of becoming a very Hollywood Central Casting Medicine Man. His cousin, possibly, Sasheena, has become the apprentice, and takes White Cloud to a, well, Native American burial site, where he finds a rattle while she performs a ceremony. When he picks it up, he receives a vision of an earlier shaman using the rattle to heal someone after killing another person, so hey, standard tit-for-tat cursed object. Back at the hospital, White Cloud finds one of Lamar’s cronies fiddling with the patient that nearly died, so he shakes the rattle at him which…flies into the air and emits a bright light, causing the other doctor to bleed to death. Then, White Cloud is able to heal the patient.

At the shop, Micki is off to the hospital to see her friend Blair, who has just been diagnosed with a very rare form of lung cancer. Dr. Lamar, who has brushed off the death of his underling, orders one of White Cloud’s patients to be drugged up, rather than attempt surgery on her condition, so White Cloud comes back that night and kills Lamar’s nurse-crony and heals his patient, with Blair witnessing the healing and getting ideas about her own terminal condition. Blair tells Micki about the healing rattle, and sure enough, in the Manifest Jack finds a listing for a traditional shaman’s rattle that Lewis sold to Spotted Owl four years ago. Spotted Owl, meanwhile, refuses to help Jack recover the rattle because he’s not going to just hand over a sacred artifact he spent years trying to recover to a white guy. Which, okay, he’s got a point. White Cloud, meanwhile, has run out of Lamar’s cronies to kill and has moved onto the man’s patients, so apparently he’s not supposed to be the sympathetic villain of circumstance the first half of the episode suggested he might be. Especially once Ryan finds out that he is making a deal with a wealthy man dying of cancer to save him in exchange for funding for his own clinic.

Spotted Owl has finally had enough visions of the rattle being used, and agrees to give it to Jack after he takes it from White Cloud. Despite blasting it with some Force Lightning, the rattle kills Spotted Owl, and now White Cloud is starting to feel bad about using an evil cursed antique. Though not so much that he doesn’t use it to heal the rich man or blame Lamar for the death. Blair goes to White Cloud for healing, which gives him the excuse he needs to kidnap Lamar, and Sasheena enlists Jack and the gang to help her “awaken the spirits of the ancestors” to defeat the rattle. When the ghosts do appear, they disintegrate White Cloud, saving the horrible racist in the process and condemning the innocent girl to a lingering death.

You can really see what they were trying with this episode. It’s a standard curse, but an effort was made to make the villain sympathetic, and show him mostly using the rattle for the right reasons. That all falls apart along the way, but it’s a valiant effort. It’s also a fairly cringe-inducing portrayal of Native American religious practice, where it’s fairly clear that no one gave much thought to issues of cultural accuracy. Which is a little surprising, since the show did relatively well when it covered voodoo. Some attempts at sensitivity are on display, especially with the ultimate fate of the rattle being that it is left with the tribe, and maybe I’m wrong, and maybe the costumes and chants are accurate, but on screen they don’t read that way.

A Very Robey 80s

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