The third episode of Channel Zero: Candle Cove ended on a brutal twist last week as Mrs. Booth and the children of her class mercilessly took down Daphne and Tim after the latter two had fled into the woods following their rough treatment of Mike Painter. Episode 4, A Strange Vessel, sees the body count increasing even further with a death that is even more abrupt and shocking.
The episode sees Mike dealing with problems of his own. His daughter Lily has just appeared on his doorstep in the middle of the night. Can whatever is controlling her really be the spirit of Mike’s deceased twin Eddie? And was Mike’s slaying of Eddie that we keep seeing in the flashbacks really as straightforward as we’ve been lead to believe? A Strange Vessel begins casting doubt over things we’ve taken as true so far. Then there is Amy Welch who, after being forced to arrest her own boss and take over his job as acting sheriff, is beginning to know too much. The scene of Jawbone taking over computer screens while she remains oblivious is chilling, but not nearly so chilling as what follows.
Ultimately, the episode has a terrible surprise at the end. The payoff of the cat-and-mouse game between Sheriff Welch and Mrs. Booth’s brainwashed children isn’t what this episode hits the viewer over the head with. The fear has been escalating with each episode of Channel Zero but with the shocking ending of A Strange Vessel we finally begin to experience full-blown horror. The only thing missing from this episode is an appearance by the Tooth Child, but Candle Cove and its puppets are so firmly in control at this point that Tooth Child’s absence doesn’t even detract from the ultimate ugliness and surreal fear that are taking the Candle Cove arc into its endgame.