Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block– Episode 5: “The Red Door”
Starring: Olivia Luccardi, Holland Roden, Krisha Fairchild, Rutger Hauer, Angela Narth, Diana Bentley, Linden Porco, Andreas Apergis, Bradley Sawatzky, Brandon Scott, and Tyrone Benskin
Written by: Nick Antosca, Justin Boyd, and Mallory Westfall
Directed by: Arkasha Stevenson
”They haven’t told you what you are after. You will be very…very…HUNGRY.”
“Anything is better than going insane.”
Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block just continues to DO the goddamn thing in its exceptional penultimate episode “The Red Door.” Written by the triple trouble of showrunner Nick Antosca, Justin Boyd, and Mallory Westfall and directed within an inch of its life by rising star Arkasha Stevenson. “The Red Door” is blood-soaked, constantly unnerving, and consistently beautiful. It brings back to mind the glory days of television horror. When Hannibal was on the airwaves and shows weren’t scared of being just shitsplat insane and daring an audience to come along with it. I know I have been beating the drum pretty hard for this show since the start. You guys, after walking through “The Red Door,” you’ll have no choice but to join my chorus.
I am gonna be honest with you all. I haven’t the slightest damn idea how I am going to do this episode justice, but I will certainly try. SO, after both sisters find themselves ascending the staircase into the Peach’s flesh worshipping domain, the show flips their roles with a simple, but effective twist. Alice, now freed of her madness, finds herself quickly adapting to the Peach’s way of life, embodied by a vampy, but still vulnerable Olivia Luccardi.
Now on the other side of the debate and frighteningly aware of life in the “Summer House,” Holland Roden’s Zoe becomes the caretaker. She emplores her sister with huge, beautifully emotive eyes to run away with her and save her soul. I have spoken a lot about Roden and Luccardi’s performances through this season, mainly because they have been stellar. But seeing the two together again and essentially flipping their core character’s with relative ease is a true revelation. The two actresses have really impressed throughout this season. “The Red Door” could very well be their finest moments during Channel Zero. This hopefully will lead them to all manner of work, genre or otherwise, afterward. They are truly luminous presences on screen.
But down below in the city, Louise is dealing with macabre problems all her own. Using her skill as a taxidermist and guile as an investigative journalist, Louise SAVES Officer Luke after a seemingly mortal wound he received last week. Standing as the perfect distillation of the episode’s visceral visuals and poetic soul. We are treated to a scene of Louise methodically SEWING LUKE’S NECK SHUT. She also delivers a soulful monologue about her own history with a troubled sibling. The whole affair tenderly delivered by Krisha Fairchild and cleverly staged by Arkasha Stevenson.
At first, we don’t see what Louise is working on. We only see her bloody fingertips, the wickedly long and curved stitching needle, and the heavy cord. Krisha acts her goddamn face off in the foreground. Her hands are steadily working on and off frame. She dips below the viewer’s eyesight and coming back up with fresh blood on the stitches and her fingers. THEN Stevenson snaps into an overhead shot, showing Luke’s body up on her worktable. The first of this plot’s many well-deployed shocks. It’s also great having Brandon Scott’s Luke back around as well, though voiceless and communicating through impromptu written notes. His inherent drive to save people and stubborn goodness is a welcome and refreshingly un-toxic male presence amid the show’s powerful female leads.
Verdict: Jesus Christ, Just Watch It Already. For My Sake.
Honestly, I haven’t even scratched the surface of this episode’s dark delights. Which includes an unholy first appearance of the Peach’s “Pestilent God.” It looks like a blasphemous union of Hannibal’s Wendigo and True Detective’s Yellow King lair set design and Stevenson’s wily, Sam Raimi-esque camera moves. But, where words fail me, the episode will speak for itself. It spreads its bouquet of horrors across your screen and dares you to join in the feast. Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block has been good from the jump, but “The Red Door” elevates it (yet again) to essential horror viewing.
Until next time, you gorgeous ghoulies, be seeing you.