Bad Luck For Music Contests
Episode: Three Thirteen
Airdate: October 13, 2000
Derek Barnes: Ethan Embry
Chloe Tanner: Lisa Sheridan
Jason Tatum: Karim Prince
Lan Williams: Lizette Carrion
Vince Elsing: Dennis Christopher
Vicky: Jennifer Aspen
"Three Thirteen" Overview:
When a couple tells Derek that a spirit is possessing their unborn child, he thinks they're crazy until he hears the truth on the piano.
A man who fears his pregnant wife may be possessed tracks down Derek through the Freakylinks web site. "A demon or something wants to either kill my wife or take our child," Ted tells the skeptical Derek, who becomes even less interested when he learns the major manifestations of possession have been humming and buying classical music CDs. Yet as she stares into the unborn baby's crib, Vicky sees an image of sludge with a hand popping out to take a teddy bear. When her husband finds her, she's nearly catatonic.
Derek asks Chloe to take time away from her psychiatric studies to help him out with Ted and Vicky, whom she believes must be mentally ill and must not be left alone until a social services agency can step in. At 3:13 a.m., Derek and Jason find Vicky playing the piano, a first-rate collection of classical melodies, though she has had no training. When he watches the scene on video, Derek notices that Vicky also plays what sounds like a commercial jingle, and that the blocks in the baby's empty room have been rearranged to spell the name of a girl -- Delaney Park -- a gifted young pianist who has been missing from the town for months.
Vicky recognizes Delaney in photos, and recalls giving her a ride, learning that Delaney was pregnant and offering assistance, but not intervening after she dropped the girl off when Delaney's angry boyfriend Max confronted her. Derek believes Delaney has posthumously taken Vicky up on her offer to help, but he can't understand the messages from beyond. Vicky collapses, saying, "Stop her, she's killing me!" with sludge pouring out of her mouth. In the hospital she is once again catatonic. Derek believes they must find Delaney to save Vicky and her baby.
A television commercial for a convenience food chain leads them to the former site of a store where Max used to work. Jason finds a drainage hole with sludge lining the bottom. Deep inside, Derek finds Delaney, a corpse with her skull bashed in. Vicky and Ted's baby Emily is born safely at 3:13, but Vicky remains catatonic. So Derek visits Delaney's mother, hoping to find a clue in the girl's room. He spots a large trophy dated March 13. Suddenly he hears the dead girl screaming, "Stop her, she's killing me!", and sees blood covering the corner of the trophy. "You did it," he realizes, turning on the mother, who admits that Max didn't kill her pregnant daughter -- she did, for throwing her talent away. The mother has a vision of her daughter at the piano, then throws herself over a balcony leading to the music room. She dies; Vicky recovers.
In some ways Freakylinks is like having The X-Files back on Friday nights, without the phenomenal chemistry and talent of Duchovny and Anderson. Because there's not much to the characters, the new series has to make itself weirder, grosser, and more flip. Derek's initial scorn for Vicky and Ted seems awfully nasty coming from someone who has seen his own dead brother as a demon. Yet he's the believer to Chloe's skeptic for much of the episode. It's like Mulder and Scully as full-of-themselves teenagers.
Again, we encounter the horror movie rule which says that teens who have sex -- especially teenage girls who get pregnant -- have to die, and Delaney dies gruesomely, still alive and bleeding when her mother threw her in a drainage ditch to try to frame her daughter's boyfriend, covered with filth and rotting when we finally see her in what's left of the flesh. The Parks' Martha Stewart home is a little too perfect, especially all the photos on the piano -- no one who plays the piano seriously would permit rattling picture frames to mar the vibrations of the instrument -- so the mother is a suspect long before she should be to keep the drama alive, while loser Max is too obviously a false lead.
Mothers are trouble all over this episode. Ted admits that his died in a mental institution, but claims that doctors killed her. Chloe says expectant mothers are hormone factories, and maternal instinct can twist into psychosis. Indeed, if Delaney hadn't wanted to be a mother, and had been willing to have the abortion her boyfriend desired instead of admitting her condition to her mother, she'd have survived.
There's some nice repartee between Derek and his business partners, particularly Lan, who replies to Derek's question about whether they sound like an old married couple by snapping, "No, I sound like your mother, and frankly I'm getting a little tired of it." The pacing picks up in the second half of the episode, but I'm betting a lot of viewers tuned out by then. Despite the self-promotion of the Freakylinks web site, this show needs stronger characters to make its spooky stories matter to viewers.