The relationship between Margot (Amy Forsyth) and Jules (Aisha Dee), as well as Margot and her “father” are in sharp focus in season 2’s penultimate episode, appropriately titled The Damage. The previous episode of SyFy’s anthology series Channel Zero: No-End House saw the two friends fleeing from the house’s memory stealing power given life in the form of Margot’s deceased father. With much of Jules’ memories already stolen by the embryonic creature that stalks her and Margot’s new lover, Seth, revealed to be an ally of the House itself, the two best friends had a great deal to lose. Indeed, Dylan, Lacey, and the false JD payed the ultimate price along the way. But whereas that episode sent the group on a sprawling quest throughout the house – including revisiting its first five rooms – The Damage confines the action largely to Margot’s bedroom and living room as the girls recover from all they have seen, all unknowing that both the Father and the mysterious Seth are closing in on them.
Penned by veteran Twin Peaks writer Harley Peyton, The Damage really lets us see how badly the girls have suffered for having their minds forcibly erased, and Peyton seems to use his experience working on David Lynch’s surreal and amnesiac series to create a similar confused and uncomfortable atmosphere here. Particularly compelling is what the episode doesn’t say, particularly with regard to Jules. The imagery of her sobbing as she recalls both the embryo creature and the bathtub goads the viewer to unpleasant conclusions about what might have happened.
John Carrol Lynch, who plays the Father, John Sleator, is in fine form as always, particularly since he assumes many emotions throughout this episode. At one moment he is the ravenous monster, greedy to take whatever he can from his “daughter,” at another he is vulnerable and genuinely fatherly, craving only the real relationship they might have possibly had. It spirals to a grim confrontation that displays some truly impressive makeup effects, all leading to a heartbreaking final shot. One of the friends is forced to realize that everything she thought she had saved from the house may truly be lost once and for all.
The only weaknesses in The Damage is that it gives such loving detail to the plot points that it glosses over some things that feel like they need more addressing. Aside from one jump scare that leaves Jules shaken, the girls don’t seem to even think about the loss of their lifelong friend JD. Then there is Mrs. Sleator’s unexpected encounter with something she never expected to see. It is true that she is a background character, both in the show and in Margot’s life, but it’s such a shocking scene that one can’t help but wonder how she will process what she saw.
The Damage may have been confined to one house rather than a sprawling extradimensional space, but it sets up the inevitable return to the No-End House in thrilling form. Channel Zero’s pacing and escalation of tension has been excellent this season so far and The Damage has set the stage for a gut-wrenching season finale.