The fifth episode of NOS4A2‘s first season, “The Wraith” just aired on AMC. In last week’s episode, Vic (Ashleigh Cummings) is on the hunt for Charlie (Zachary Quinto) and the Wraith in hopes of rescuing Hayley (Darby Camp). Vic blames herself of selfishly thinking she could have a normal life and letting this happen. During her investigation, she discovers that Bing Partridge (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) was involved in the kidnapping. Bing’s backstory is revealed during a series of flashbacks. He was bullied by his father when he was younger. One day, he accidentally caused the death of his father out of a fit of rage. Back in present day, Bing is trying to avoid being caught, which leads him to murdering Hayley’s mother (Elizabeth Stanley). Vic ultimately confronts Bing and finds the body of Hayley’s mother in a nearby field.
“The Wraith” directly deals with the repercussions of last week’s episode. Vic is slowly losing her mind, which affects the relationship that she has with her father (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and his girlfriend. The police try to get Vic to testify about what happened but she knows she can’t tell them the truth. Meanwhile, Charlie finally makes contact with Vic and asks her to meet him. Vic talks to Maggie (Jahkara Smith) about this and they make a plan to confront him together. Vic doesn’t want anyone else getting hurt and decides to confront him alone. However, things quickly take a turn for the worse as not everything goes according to plan.
The opening scene of “The Wraith” was quite captivating. Vic tries to make sense of what’s happened and decides to draw. However, her drawings start to get darker when she starts drawing her visions of Charlie and Bing. She’s descending into madness from the things that she has no control over. It’s at this point where her desire of a normal life has completely disappeared.
She’s scared and angry that she ends up destroying the art studio that belongs to his father’s girlfriend. This bring up even bigger issues since her father seeming agrees his girlfriend when she says that Vic should be living with her mother. This may be the best performance that Ashleigh Cummings has given on the show. Her slow and steady descent into rage and horror flows well within the overall feeling of the show.
The relationship that she has with her father isn’t completely ruined as seen in a scene where they’re talking inside his truck. He tries to relate with her by telling her about the time that he spent serving in the military. He goes on to tell her how he held everything in from that experience but that she shouldn’t hold in what she’s feeling.
After not being able to find Hayley and finding her mother’s body in a field, it wouldn’t have been surprising had she gone to talk with other people. But it’s hard to imagine how she could explain any of this to her father. It’s evident from the previous episodes that she cares for him, which gives viewers an idea as to why she decides to keep quiet.
I’m not sure if this comes with getting older, but it’s hard to really care for a party scene in any film or tv show. The one included in “The Wraith” is no exception, especially with everything that’s been transpiring in the previous two episodes. It was great to see Vic and Maggie attempt to have normal lives, but it seemed to come out of nowhere. Had something important to the story happened at the party, it would have made more sense for the scene to be there. However, it was great to see a potential romance brewing up between Maggie and Willa (Paulina Singer).
Further in “The Wraith,” Maggie and Vic decide to make plans for when they confront Charlie. The main theme that came out of their conversation was friendship, To be more precise, an emphasis was put on the fact that they need to stick together. While Maggie seems to have more experience using her gift, it’s clear that she and Vic aren’t particularly experienced with taking on someone like Charlie. This is a near-impossible task for the two of them and they’re being thrust into danger. I was beginning to wonder if any sort of reflection on this would be made at any point in the season. I’m hoping that they add more to this in future episodes.
Aside from the opening sequence, the confrontation between Charlie and Vic is the highlight of the entire episode. Charlie has been on the hunt for the user of the Shorter Way since the start of the season. Sooner or later these two opposing forces would have to meet. As soon as Vic walks up to him, Charlie body language gives off a menacing feeling. Their conversation was both unsettling and creepy. I was suddenly reminded of the scene from Silence of the Lambs where Clarice first meets Hannibal Lecter. Even though Quinto’s dialogue and mannerisms embody true horror, it was at times hard to look away regardless of how terrifying it was.
This show never ceases to surprise me. Not only has the storytelling improved since the first episode, but the elements of horror have kicked in to full throttle. Charlie has quickly proven to be a true villainous force. Being a Creative sure isn’t something that can be taken lightly. Vic and Maggie find themselves in quite the predicament at the end of the “The Wraith.” It’ll be interesting to see where the show goes next.
NOS4A2 airs Sundays at 10 pm EST / 7 PM PST, only on AMC.
Rating: 9/10 Rolls-Royce Wraiths