[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Something wicked this way comes Sunday night when NOS4A2 arrives on AMC in the lead-out spot from Fear the Walking Dead‘s fifth season premiere. Based on the 720-page novel of the same name by Joe Hill, the series is a multi-thread affair that follows a teen coming into new abilities, a young woman who’s already using hers, and a vampire running the roads of America in a vintage Rolls-Royce Wraith absconding with children under cover of darkness.
Australian Ashleigh Cummings headlines her first American series as Vic McQueen, an 18-year-old high school student itching to get out of her small Massachusetts town and pursue her art. She’s saddled with a pair of ne’er-do-well parents, Chris (Ebon Moss-Bachrach of Girls) and Linda (Virginia Kull of Sneaky Pete), who are firmly blue collar and greet her collegiate ambition with variable degrees of disdain and empty promises. Her escapes are her art and her motorbike. When the latter suddenly, literally, opens new roads, her world changes.
Newcomer Jahkara Smith, KILLING it in her first professional role, plays Maggie Leigh, a librarian in Here, Iowa, who also happens to be a medium. When one of her young students disappears, she turns to her gift for help, despite the pushback from the local authorities, which include father figure, Sheriff Bly (Elementary‘s Chris McKinney). Soon, she’s on her way to New England chasing her own leads.
Zachary Quinto is Charlie Manx, a Benjamin Button-style character who’s never called a vampire outright but his license plate (and the title of the series) are big clues. Manx pilots his big black Wraith across the country, collecting children on his way to a mythical “Christmas Land” amusement park under highly nefarious circumstances. Doing so seems to reverse his aging, but only for a short while.
Olafur Darri Olafsson (The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance) is Bing Partridge, the high school handyman who shares a love of comic books with Vic, and who’s dangerously pliable when an opportunity for personal advancement comes his way.
The series is executive produced by Jami O’Brien, who was a writer and producer on Hell on Wheels (which y’all may recall I was ALL IN on) during its entire run, and she did a stint of the same on the third season of Fear the Walking Dead. She wrote the pilot here, and I love that she carries a “Created by” credit on this. Kari Skogland, who helmed a handful of The Handmaid’s Tale and Condor episodes and the entire first season of the upcoming Falcon & Winter Soldier series, directs the first two episodes.
I’ve watched the first four, and they’re a kicky vibe that’s a cross-section of straight-up boogedy, bump-in-the-dark horror and black comedy when focused on Manx and indie film with a side of supernatural when focused on Vic and Maggie.
Vic is a solid tether for the audience as a young woman trying to find her own identity despite evolving, extraordinary circumstances. When we meet her, she’s flailing a bit, trying to figure out what a future might be for her, while still being bonded to her folks (definitely more her dad than her mom). That doesn’t mean she doesn’t still resent her circumstances or that they’ve not gone very far since their high school days and they’re OK with that. She doesn’t want to follow that path.
Vic’s further torn because her childhood BFF, Willa (Tell Me a Story‘s Paulina Singer) is home from prep school with rich kids in tow, while her other BFF, Craig (Second Act‘s Dalton Harrod) is spiraling on weed. Darby Camp (Big Little Lies) is her young neighbor, Haley, who she keeps her eye on.
When Vic’s bike takes her somewhere completely unexpected and it’s accompanied by pretty extreme physical ramifications, she has to decide whether it’s worth it. She doesn’t have to wait long to realize that there is no middle ground–she’s in or she’s not, and she has to live with whatever that brings. She begrudgingly finds a kindred soul in Maggie, who’s anxious to have Vic come onside.
Manx is a strangely folksy predator and Quinto plays him in and out of heavy prosthetics, adjusting his voice according to Manx’s age and audience. Manx is is in full sales mode as he spins yarns to assuage the anxiety of children. When he turns his attention to the adults, the underlying menace moves to the forefront, yet Manx rarely raises his voice–even when enacting violence. The first few episodes find him working very hard to woo, with a very specific mission, but we’re not privy yet to what exactly that is.
I really like what I’ve seen so far, and the violence, save one scene that specifically bothered me, is barely a blip for the fans who will keep the TV on after Fear the Walking Dead Sunday. Aside from Quinto, Kull, and Moss-Bacharach, the rest of this cast is new to me, but they’re all aces. I’ve not read the book, so I can’t speak to how accurately it’s been adapted, but author Hill is an executive producer of the series.
Standing on its own, it’s an intriguing, and dare I say, timely (even though it was initially in development with AMC almost four years ago) story of two young women taking on a very dark force. I love that there are so many women onscreen and behind the scenes on this. I look forward to seeing where the season goes from here.
NOS4A2 airs Sunday nights at 10 pm/9c on AMC. Here are a couple of sneak peeks for the first two episodes. You can watch the episodes after they air on AMC’s website, or binge the whole first season now if you register for AMC Premium.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Catching Up with Ted Lasso and Previewing Season 2
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] The not so dirty little secret about how I approach a new series is that I sometimes make a call based on the headspace I’m in at the time. It’s been a minute since I’ve picked up a show after the first season and then binge…
Interview: Henri Esteve on Grown-ish Season 3
An interview with Henri Esteve, who plays Javi on Freeform’s Grown-ish. He talks about his season three experience.
For All Mankind Season 2: Talking with Wrenn Schmidt, Krys Marshall, Jodi Balfour, and Sonya Walger [Exclusive]
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] One of the hooks of For All Mankind is that it’s very much a story about the women of NASA. In Season 2, we explore the journeys of the women in the program, either through their own service or through their family affiliations. Four of those…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season Finale [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the season finale episodes.] How’s everyone after that finale? I will freely admit I got a little misty in episode eight as John told Sara why he loved her, and later that he wanted her despite what he might forfeit, and then at the end when he…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness [Exclusive]
Hands down, one of the best surprises of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness is that the serial killer this season has been front and center alongside the cast as a fully-formed character. We’ve watched Libby Hatch devolve from a prim, mild-mannered nurse to a woman in a rage hell-bent on…
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Relationship Recap: John and Sara
[Warning: Spoilers for “Belly of the Beast” and “Memento Mori”] If you’ve read me for a while (thank you!), you know two things — I lean way, way in on the characters I adore and I loathe love geometry arcs. So, I’m torn about where we are and where we…
Louriza Tronco Talks The Order Season 2 [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Season 2.] The Order’s second season is dark yet delightful entertainment on many levels, and one of its biggest sources of joy and snark is the sassy Gabrielle Dupres. Last season, she was assertive and deadly and fairly annoyed with the world. This season, she’s been…
Previewing Netflix’s Virgin River
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] Full disclosure: I have a Netflix account for my Mom, but I’m not a regular viewer. If I get a heads up on something, I’ll go look for it, but I don’t have a wander across its offerings, which, as I understand it, is how most…
Final Thoughts From the Killjoys Team [Exclusive]
This is the day of the week I’d normally hit you up with a Killjoys preview, but now that we’ve put the series to bed and released Team Awesome Force into the wild, I have one more treat for you–some final thoughts excerpted from my conversations with the Killjoys folks….
Michelle Lovretta Talks Wrapping Up Killjoys [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the series finale.] To quote Miss Jackson, “That’s the end?” Yes, friends, it is. And like I promised you, everything would be, was, and is alright. I went to the Killjoys source, series creator Michelle Lovretta, who wrote the last episode, to break down that delicious finale….
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…