This post contains spoilers for Chucky. Check out our last review here.
Chucky is proving itself to be a wildly ambitious ride but is also trying to do too much. The latest episode “Cape Queer” suffers because each scene either furthers or wraps a separate subplot. A tangle of creative directions unfolds like a frantic attempt to introduce new narrative elements while ongoing arcs still scream underdevelopment. The return of Alex Vincent and Christine Elise as Andy Barclay and Kyle should feel more momentous, and yet their renegade Good Guy doll assassin schtick is but a blip on this sixth chapter’s radar.
The burdens of established subplots are already overwhelming, with the inclusion of Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly) and Nica-Chucky (Fiona Dourif) — Nica’s soul battles with Chucky (Brad Dourif) for bodily control — as Hackensack’s newest couple. Jake Wheeler (Zackary Arthur), Devon Evans (Bjorgvin Arnarson) and Lexy Cross (Alyvia Alyn Lind) were once the main protagonists of Chucky, but now Tiff and Nica steamroll their hunt for a doll-version of Chucky that’s befriended Lexy’s sister Caroline (Carina Battrick). The show’s universe has built itself around Jake’s bullying victimization, his sexuality liberation and Chucky’s influence as a serial slasher mentor — but that all feels long gone. Flashbacks and legacy characters have since been shown more importance, as the newbie cast of Chucky is feeling less authentic and valued by the week.
“Cape Queer” — a cheeky nod to Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear, which is referenced throughout the episode — takes swings that feel disjointed within the 40-minute package.
Andy and Kyle are reintroduced like Quentin Tarantino rogues, who pump bullets into another possessed Good Guy doll hiding in South Carolina for an action beat. Then we transport to 1987, where younger Charles Lee Ray (Fiona Dourif back in costume) and Tiffany (Blaise Crocker) buy a lipstick-red convertible they use as their getaway vehicle, complete with Chucky reading “The Ultimate Book Of Voodoo” in the front seat. After that? Older Tiff confesses that Nica’s regaining of consciousness at the sight of blood isn’t a secret and she fancies the tender, more thoughtful Nica over Chucky at this point.
We get the eccentric and the psychotic, but none of these sequences fit alongside the otherwise dour grimness of Bree Wheeler’s (Lexa Doig) cancer bombshell — she informs husband Logan (Devon Sawa) and son Junior (Teo Briones) — or the out-of-nowhere arrest of science teacher Miss Fairchild (Annie Briggs). Or Junior and Lexy’s breakup moment foreshadowed a mile away. Or the abrupt culmination of Bree’s illness reveal. Or the slighter home invasion aspects later. So on and so forth.
That’s my major complaint throughout “Cape Queer.” Its seriousness and comedic camp seem at odds, neither fulfilling their obligations. We don’t spend long enough with Lexy and Jake to develop the former’s transformation from a disgusting abuser to a reluctant teammate. There’s not enough impact when Junior and Lexy split. Bree’s emotional devastation is used as a quick hitter, the lowest common denominator of storytelling somberness. There’s a lacking performative wherewithal when Lexy proves Junior wrong by not listening or when Logan abandons Bree before confessing her condition to Junior. These interactions should ground Chucky, yet they seem more like afterthoughts once the creators introduced Jennifer Tilly and Fiona Dourif.
Of the time we spend with rubberized Chucky — now in Caroline’s “Tommy” doll, because the burned version has been destroyed — we get two significant deaths in a single episode. Well, “significant” in the series’ universe, at least. Bree smashes through her therapist’s stories-high office window when Chucky rams her with a mail cart and Devon’s mother, Detective Evans (Rachelle Casseus), snaps her neck tumbling down the Wheelers’ spiral staircase. Chucky makes eye contact with Bree as she plummets downward, feigning an accidental shock to taunt, and attempts to sway Lexy to be his latest protégé, but something’s missing — horror.
Maybe that’s my biggest hangup with “Cape Queer?” Even at its goofiest — Seed Of Chucky — Don Mancini’s franchise still finds a nasty streak that balances darkness and humor. Bride Of Chucky is a perfect example. Maybe it’s unfair to compare cable television and cinematic features? Nevertheless, “Cape Queer” doesn’t deliver the same fiery-haired icon that I’m used to seeing, even counting when half his face is droopier than a sloppy pizza with runny cheese. The Bree moment when he’s watching her fall doesn’t convey the same laughable yet sinister sneer, nor does his appearance as both a masked actor and puppeteer dummy excel apart from when he’s blasted with a taser by Devon when the three kids attempt to defeat Chucky in the Wheeler’s mansion. Something just feels off?
“Cape Fear” is pinging Child’s Play qualities that are familiar but there’s something amiss. By attempting to stack every narrative exploration atop one another, too many play out as surface value pops that are replaced by newer diversions given the same treatment (thus far). The Fairchild arrest seems out of place with no reveal to her “delinquent” past, nor does the ambiguity around when Chucky snatches back control over Nica’s body need to remain ambiguous. Dominoes are falling everywhere and the noise can be a distraction, as the show’s jump-about structure is becoming untamable.
For example? I would have adored a focal breakout episode featuring Andy and Kyle as Chucky executioners, so there’s more weight behind Andy’s claim that only one possessed Chucky doll remains alive (in Hackensack). There are just too many options in the toy box and Chucky has a hard time sharing — let’s see how the pieces are cleaned up next week.