This Still Isn’t Real: Channel Zero Final Review

Last month, I did a mid-season review of Channel Zero: No-End House. Because it’s such a short show — 6 episodes — I’m able to give my final assessment this month.

There Will Be Giant Spoilers!

There’s no real way to review the final half of a season without spoilers. So if you haven’t watched it and want to, don’t read any further if you don’t want any of the revelations of the show spoiled. You’ve been warned!

Overall Thoughts

I mentioned that I found the first season of Channel Zero to be disappointing in the end, and I’d hoped that this season would be different. Unfortunately, I was disappointed pretty early on and didn’t find a whole lot of ongoing reasons not to be.

My main issue with this season is the writing. I found it to be very herky-jerky, and there were a lot of things that seemed like they were written because the writers needed X in order to get to Y. Not because X was important to the story itself, but because the writers couldn’t find a better way to get to Y without X. And there were some random bits tossed in because the writers thought they’d be scary. Not because they made any sense in the story itself. I find this sort of thing really frustrating.

Jules, approaching the memory-eating bubble.

Jules, Margot’s best friend who had an entirely different experience with the house than anyone else, seemed almost schizophrenic in the way that one moment she was this weak, almost will-less human being, and twenty seconds later is grabbing Margot’s hand saying, “We’ve got this. We can do this.” She became an instrument of the writers, rather than a character. The writers needed a certain Jules in different scenes, and it didn’t matter that scenes with two entirely different versions of Jules ended up back to back.

One thing I did find really interesting and wish they’d have spent a little more time on is the sacrifice of Margot’s dad. In the first half, but especially in the early parts of the second half of the season, he made it clear he didn’t want to hurt Margot, but also that he didn’t want to die. In the end, he kills himself to help Margot get out.

Sacrifice.

What I found especially interesting is that he was a construct of the house, meaning that the house created him. He was a part of it so there is a certain level of self-preservation involved. But he was also created out of Margot’s memories of her dad, later to include the knowledge that, in real life, he sacrificed himself for Margot and her mom. I think the dichotomy between the house’s self-preservation and the dad construct’s make-up (i.e. — Margot’s understanding of who her dad was) is an interesting tug-of-war. I would have liked to have seen a bit more about that, though it was done as well as it could be within the time constraints of a 6-episode season. I think a bit more about the internal things he was facing would have been really cool to watch.

More Giant Spoilers

But my biggest problem with Channel Zero: No-End House, as with the first season, is the ending. The show was set up as a haunted house story, with the house itself as the Big Bad. But in the end… in the end, it was actually just about some straight white dude collecting women in pursuit of whatever it was he wanted and casting them aside as they got hollowed out by the house.

Returning to Room One.

While this can be taken as a larger life lesson — even when there’s a crazy house on the loose, eating people’s memories and killing them, straight white men are always a bigger threat, so be scared! — I find that tedious here. I find it annoying in a bait-and-switch sort of way. This was supposed to be about a supernatural psychotic house! Not a social commentary on the dangers of cis, het, white men. This sort of commentary has its place, and I’m not one to say that there shouldn’t be any social commentary in my entertainment. But this was set up as a pure, scary, haunted house story. And it didn’t deliver on that at all, in my opinion. And if you don’t deliver on your basic premise, you don’t get leeway for social commentary.

Escape.

We never find out anything about the house itself. We never learn why it does what it does, where it comes from, or even what it might be. We never discover why in some cases it’s almost impossible to leave and in other cases it’s easy. We never know if there were any consequences for the house when Margot’s construct dad killed himself. Basically, once we find out Seth is the “real” Big Bad, the house storyline is just left hanging. Seth gets killed by his house-created family (which begs the question of how Seth was even able to cage them within the house without the house letting them out — again, we never learn how the house actually works), and then everything is hunky dory. Ugh.

Conclusion

This was Channel Zero’s last chance with me. I won’t be watching the next season. I think what disappoints me the most is the opportunity lost. This had the potential for being super scary and really exciting. And it just feels squandered. That gives me a big sadface.

Did you watch Channel Zero? What do you think?

All images are courtesy of SyFy.

1 Comment

  • Shara White November 9, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    I’m sorry to hear this hasn’t won you over. I’ve not seen either season, but I was so excited about it when I first learned about the show and that it was an anthology series! Oh well: there’s SO MUCH great tv out there, and time is a precious thing….

    Reply

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