TV Series Recap: NOS4A2 (Ep. 1-6)

NOS4A2 is the highly anticipated show arriving on AMC June 2nd based off the 2013 novel by Joe Hill. The series is helmed by showrunner Jami O’Brien (Hell on Wheels, Fear the Walking Dead) and stars Ashleigh Cummings (Hounds of Love), Zachary Quinto (Star Trek Into Darkness), Olafur Darri Olafsson (True Detective), Virginia Kull (Big Little Lies), Jahkara Smith, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Girls).

Per the official AMC synopsis, NOS4A2 introduces Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings), a gifted young woman who discovers she has a supernatural ability to find lost things. This ability puts her on a collision course with the evil and immortal Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto). Manx is a supernatural villain who feeds off the souls of children then deposits what remains of them into Christmasland – a twisted place of Manx’s imagination where every day is Christmas Day and unhappiness is against the law. Vic strives to defeat Manx and rescue his victims – without losing her mind of falling victim to him herself.

Ashleigh Cummings as Vic McQueen in NOS4A2

I’ve been a fan of Joe Hill since I first read his 2005 collection, 20th Century Ghosts. Since then he’s gone on to make some of the best horror fiction novels with NOS4A2 being one of his most famous. Full disclosure, I haven’t finished reading the book as I wanted to wait till after I watched the series, but what I can say is that though there are major differences between the two, the show does a fantastic job of bringing the spirit of Hill’s story into the series. Taking place in Haverhill, MA, we see a teenage Vic McQueen fighting a supernatural evil while coming to terms with her own psychic abilities. Furthermore, she’s also caught in-between her parent’s tumultuous marriage and the hope that someday she will leave the town she grew up in for something better. For me, I think having both those opposing elements was one of the reasons I enjoyed NOS4A2 so much.

I’ll be honest, NOS4A2 hit me on a really personal level. I grew up about 40 minutes outside of Haverhill, MA and I had a desperate need to escape the life I was living. I found myself relating to Vic’s character more than I have with any character in quite a long time. Oftentimes, Massachusetts is portrayed as only Boston with people milling about with thick accents, Red Sox caps, and Dunkin Donuts coffee 24/7. I can’t thank the creators enough for not falling back on these tropes and though the characters did exude that familiar Boston accent, it wasn’t overly done to the point of annoyance. For once, my home state was depicted in a way that was relatively accurate and reminded me of home in a way that not many shows from Massachusetts have.

As for the performances, I loved them all. Ashleigh Cummings is absolutely brilliant and after you watch her in this, I highly suggest watching Hounds of Love. She’s an actress with immense talent and I’m constantly amazed at each and every performance of hers. It hurt my heart in a way to see her struggling with coming to terms with her parent’s separation as well as the knowledge of her psychic abilities and what that was doing to her well-being but I was also happy to see a strong female heroine at the forefront of a horror television series. As for Zachary Quinto, who plays the titular villain Charlie Manx, he delivers as always but most importantly, we get to see his incredible physical transformation from an ancient “vampire” to a younger tormentor through his feasting on young children’s souls. Though the series gives hints as to his background I can only hope that the later episodes divulge more into how he became the person he is today. Some have commented on how the practical effects look dated or silly, but I couldn’t disagree more. I thought the makeup team did a phenomenal job of bringing Charlie Manx to life and transforming him into the character that Joe HIll created. With all that said, I have to also give a shout out to Olafur Darri Olafsson who absolutely nailed his portrayal of Bing. He was able to bring forth a character that readers, and now viewers, will find themselves torn between wanting to hate him but also feeling emphatic towards his character. Lastly, I’m really looking forward to seeing how Maggie Leigh, portrayed by Jahkara Smith, fairs when everything is said and done. She has her own unique special abilities which are pivotal in fighting against Charlie Manx and helping Vic. Her backstory is another one that I hope fans will get to learn more about later in the season but from what I’ve seen so far, she’s her own force to be reckoned with.

Zachary Quinto as Charlie Manx in NOS4A2

As for the story itself, I was really drawn to everything that was unfolding – whether it be the more realistic moments with Vic and her parents or the supernatural ones when Charlie is front and center. I’m a sucker for any form of entertainment which shows children being anything less than angelic and I definitely got more than my fill with NOS4A2. The true terror, however, lies in whatever happens at Christmasland when Charlie brings the children there. Speaking of Christmasland, I couldn’t wait to see that world brought to life and though I only got to see a snippet thus far, I wasn’t disappointed in the least. That said, the production design for the show is top-notch and its clear they took great care in making sure Joe Hill’s vision was translated properly for the screen. And for those of you who are waiting to see Minx’s notorious Wraith, you won’t have to wait long as the car is just as integral to the show as it is to the novel.

I’m sure it’s obvious that I really love this show. Not only has it really affected me on an emotional and personal level but the overall production is stellar with phenomenal performances and a storyline that will keep you coming back each week. At the end of the day, the series makes me want to go back and finish the book so that I can compare the two but until then, I will be waiting with bated breath for each new episode to premiere. Prepare for a new kind of vampire tale that’ll take you through the shorter way bridge where unimaginable horrors await when NOS4A2 premieres on AMC June 2nd at 10/9c.


Shannon McGrew
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One thought on “TV Series Recap: NOS4A2 (Ep. 1-6)

  1. After the first two eps I’m starting to feel like ditching it as it feels too slow and not really that scary. I love Hill (The Fireman is my favorite book of his), and would read anything of his, but the show so far seems to hint at more than it can deliver. Love you review. Love the site.

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