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‘NOS4A2’ Series Premiere Recap: ‘The Shorter Way’

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Last year I read Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 and thoroughly enjoyed the novel. While Hill’s novel is over 600 pages long, I was engrossed by his writing.  I wanted to continue reading the novel while I had the flu. Upon hearing AMC would attempt to adapt the novel into a television show I grew excited. Knowing the show cast Zachary Qunito as Charlie Manx I grew even more excited. With so much source material I imagined the possibilities the book could provide not only for its initial season but for numerous seasons to come.  Considering we are meeting teenage Vic and knowing where the book goes, I am curious to see what timeline develops within the series.  Until we have some answers, as I do not want to spoil anything for anyone who has not yet read the book, it is time to explore the premiere episode of NOS4A2.

The Opening

The opening sequence kicks NOS4A2 off with a bang. Audiences learn the goal of Charlie Manx (Quinto).  He feeds on children who are in homes with a lack of supervision.  Neglected children.  They will be better off with him. The only issue with this is he literally feeds on children’s souls.  While the word vampire is never mentioned in the pilot, Manx is a vampire.  He is Nosferatu.  His age is irrelevant because of his immortality.  Manx tells Danny, the boy he kidnaps, that he is as old as his nose is long.  Some of us can assume the vague remarks is because as you age your nose and ears grow larger.  Regardless, we go from seeing a child yearning for love, yearning for comfort, to a child beyond frightened.  A child forced to watch a man murder his mother as he is taken away.

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Christmasland

Christmasland is for only good little girls and boys.  This is a magical place that Manx takes the children he has captured.  Once he feeds off their youth, to regain his own as we see throughout the premiere episode, they morph into quite a dangerous creature.  They essentially become vampires themselves.  The transformation that takes place on the way to Christmasland appears slow at first.  This is due to the fact that similar to most children, Danny sleeps most of the road trip there.  By the end of the car ride, Manx is completely refreshed.  Audiences in turn view a much younger version of the show’s primary villain. As the show progresses will learn more of the world that Manx has created for the lost children of the world.  Think of him as a vampire version of Peter Pan with heinous tendencies.

The Characters

While the inclusion of the numerous characters we are introduced to within the premiere episode of NOS4A2 there are four that we will see multiple times this season.  Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings), Maggie (Jahkara Smith), Charlie Manx, and Bing (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson).  Vic McQueen is our heroine and so far a much more likable character than the pages of the book revealed.  This always seems to be the case with most adaptations where the main character is rough around the edges.  Bing falls under this premise as well. I am still shocked that Vic interacted with him in last night’s episode. I am however glad they have put Charlie Manx in the literal driver’s seat of the series villain.  As for Maggie, she is the character to watch out for this season. Time will reveal why.

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The Shorter Way

Charlie Manx is out for destruction.  While in his mind he is not even remotely a villain, audiences know better from the opening sequence of the show.  He captures each child with precision.  When someone upsets that process he makes sure to exclude them from his team.  They are no longer worthy of Christmasland.  He proves this further with the man he throws from The Wraith (his car).  This was the tenth child the man had helped him locate, which is a detail that will become vital later on in the series.  Danny does not seem phased by the fact that a bad man is no longer going to Christmasland with them.  After all, he hurt his mother.  He murdered his mother.  As they continue driving Manx realizes there is a threat to his immortality that happens to be in Havenhill, Massachusetts.

That threat is none other than Vic McQueen.  Devoted to her artwork and desire for her parents to stay together, Vic stumbles upon her unique gift.  She realizes that she can take a bridge that allows her to find objects that were once lost.  The Shorter Way Bridge. The first instance is at a party at her best friend’s house on the lake.  Willa’s mother gives Vic a credit card that her mother was looking for previously.  Vic chalks this up to the fact that they were cleaning Willa’s parents home earlier.  Her best friend’s mother clearly found it.  No big deal. The writing on the wall of the bridge meant nothing. However, once she crosses the bridge back to a diner she was eating in previously with her parents to find her father’s watch she knows she has found a portal of sorts.

NOS4A2's Shorter Way Bridge - Vic McQueen
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As she exits the portal though she becomes crippled by what she can only describe as a migraine. This is a detail of the bridge that will hopefully come to light later this season.  However, she does know that only she can access the bridge. Her art teacher explains the bridge’s demolishment took place years prior.  Many questions arise at that moment.  How could Vic have been on the bridge the day before? Why did she have this power?  She is not the only person with these special powers within the show though.  Maggie has powers of her own that pertain to her Scrabble tiles, making the opening credit sequence beyond creative.

These two young women live in completely different states. Despite their locales, Maggie realizes The Brat, Vic’s nickname given to her by her father, can assist her.  She is the key to finding Danny. Though considering Danny’s appearance of sharp razor blade teeth and defined veins in his face, finding him might become a moot point.  However, together they are the only hope for future children that will be lured out of their homes.  Future children who have yet to be discovered. After all, viewers have already learned that Danny is the tenth child’s soul alone that Manx has stolen.  It is only a matter of time before he needs to feed again.  After all, Manx has to keep up his beauty regimen somehow.

NOS4A2's Danny
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The Filler

What I liked the least about this episode of NOS4A2 was all the filler.  Yes it is important that audiences know that Vic is not in the most stable environment.  After all, Manx only takes his children from dysfunctional homes.  We did not needed was the duration Vic partaking in the party at the lake house with Willa and her friends.  With so much in the novel this came off as unnecessary filler for the most part.  However, the filler does manage to set a precedence that Vic is not good enough.  People think she will end up just like her parents. Smart but will not have a penny to her name.  She will never get into art school because she simply cannot afford it.  This is the only way the filler is almost acceptable within the episode.

Predictions

We will learn more about Bing’s past.  As of right now he merely falls under the creepy janitor at every high school ever. I hope we will learn how Charlie Manx picks the children he ultimately abducts.  Considering that it is snowing I hope that viewers finally have a chance to view Christmasland too in all its glory.  We will learn of how many children’s souls he has consumed, but not their pasts.  There are far too many of them at this point for that to even be plausible really.  I’m also hoping in the upcoming episode that there is a way that Maggie and Vic meet.  I want these events to take place within this season regardless of the reveal episode. This season will shock viewers.  Joe Hill’s words are dark and riveting.

NOS4A2's Maggie Scrabble Tiles
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The premiere episode of NOS4A2 lends itself to a season of excitement and character growth unlike any other show on television currently.  That is worth watching.Did you enjoy the premiere episode of NOS4A2?  Do you plan on continuing to watch this season?  Let us know what your thoughts below and make sure to tune in to AMC this Sunday at 10 pm EST for a new episode of NOS4A2.