The seventh episode of NOS4A2‘s first season, “Scissors for the Drifter”, aired Sunday night on AMC. In last week’s episode, the episode opened up with a flashback that gave viewers more information about the relationship between Charlie (Zachary Quinto) and Jolene’s (Morgan Lindholm). Back in present day, Vic (Ashleigh Cummings) is put under psychiatric watch and is forced to stay in the hospital. She happens to share a room with an older Jolene (Judith Roberts). Jolene is the only other person who could know what Vic has gone through. Jolene shows Vic how her powers work and even gives her advice about how to deal with Charlie. Meanwhile, Charlie gets some unexpected visitors.
“Scissors for the Drifter” opens with Vic being back home with her mom. She wakes up in the middle of the night after hearing the phone ring. She answers the phone and is shocked to find out that Hayley (Darby Camp) is on the other line. She asks Vic about Charlie’s whereabouts, which completely stuns Vic. Later on, Vic discovers that her mother (Virginia Kull) sold her bike while she was in the hospital. Vic pleads her dad (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) to help her search for a new bike. Her dad tries to bond with her but things quickly spiral out of control. Elsewhere, Charlie seeks Bing Partridge’s (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) help after Vic and Jolene injured him. They devise a plan to buy a new water pipe for the Wraith but run into an unfortunate situation. While all of this is going on, Maggie (Jahkara Smith) is trying to adjust to regular life.
This episode really stepped up with the elements of horror, especially with the phone calls from Hayley. Since Vic is the only one that can hear the phone calls, the feelings of shock and fear in Vic’s face are palpable. The ominous Christmas music that starts to play whenever they call Vic adds so much more to the horror. It’s quite clear that the kids are completely under Charlie’s control since they refer to him as “Father Christmas.” Knowing this isn’t only terrifying but also a bit sad since it’s a reminder for Vic that she couldn’t save Hayley. These conversations serve as a reminder of Charlie’s power and how menacing he can truly be. This sort of horror would have been as effective had it been included in the first few episodes.
It appeared as if we had seen the last of Bing, but it’s fantastic to see his story continue on the show. Bing is more devoted to Charlie than ever, but this blind faith may soon be gone. He discovers something about Charlie after Bring has a confrontation with Vic. This revelation immediately grabs his attention. Bing tries to talk with Charlie about this but is immediately reprimanded for thinking that Charlie would betray him.
All that Bing has ever wanted is to go to Christmasland but doesn’t want to end up dead like Manx’s previous partner. Charlie manipulates him into thinking that these are all just fake accusations on Vic’s part. Quinto’s acting during this scene is incredible since he fully manages to manipulate Bing into believing him. He gaslights Bing into following him without question.
As mentioned in previous reviews, the relationship between Vic and her parents continues to be a thriving force within the show’s overall arc. Their relationship is explored even further in this episode. Vic automatically feels betrayed by both her mom and dad when her mom decides to sell her bike. Her bike is her Knife, the only way to access The Shorter Way. Any move she makes on Charlie would be futile without the bike.
Vic lashes out at her father not only for letting her mom do this but also for having to grow up in an abusive home with alcoholic parents. Cummings manages to channel years of frustration into one of the best scenes from the entire season. At one point, Vic tells her dad that “it’s not my job to be the adult.” It’s a powerful line that ultimately gets her point across.
With three episodes left this season, things will surely be escalating very quickly. Vic will have to find a way to deal with Charlie before more children go missing. Gone are the days of simple high school life for Vic McQueen. She’s come a long way since the start of the season. She wasn’t able to save Hayley or Maggie, but she’s surely not going to let Charlie continue to terrorize others. The ending of this episode provides an interesting direction for the show to take. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Vic ends up having backup during her inevitable confrontation with Charlie Manx.
One thing’s for sure, those kids in Christmasland will surely give me nightmares with their game of “Scissors for the Drifter.”
NOS4A2 airs Sundays at 10 pm EST / 7 PM PST, only on AMC.
Final Rating: 10/10 Rounds of “Scissors for the Drifter”