Slasher S4E6: Face Time

by thethreepennyguignol

Any episode following last week’s was going to be facing a bit of an uphill struggle.

Because, and I can’t stress this enough, Slasher’s Family Ties was an absolute banger, perhaps one of the best single episodes of TV the show has produced yet, and certainly one of my favourite hours of television this year. And whatever came next was always going to be a little less impressive by comparison – I mean, the only way to make such a gleefully silly and inventively nasty episode shine is to couch it in others which explore different aspects of the show, even if those ones might secretly be my favourite.

And I’m sure that this week’s outing, Face Time, is probably one I’ll like a lot better watching it as part of a whole, but honestly, it’s not an episode that super hits the spot for me first time around. Which is a shame, because it’s Paula Brancati’s episode, and I’ve been a huge fan of her in the show since her lead role in season two; I was really looking forward to her getting centre stage, especially with how well the show has been doing with its flashback/spotlight episodes so far.

Part of the problem, I think, is that it doesn’t really feel like her episode at all – it feels like Aphra’s, and, though their stories certainly share a lot of overlap, I’d have liked to see more of just her.

Now, to be fair, the Aphra stuff is appropriately scandalous when it comes to Slasher’s own twisted sense of family – Aphra’s been scamming Mister and Mrs Seamus, and is much older, more mature, and more calculating than she originally seemed. The show doesn’t seem interested in just pulling an Orphan on us, as it might initially seem; Aphra, though not exactly truthful, does seem to be coming from a place of a genuine desire for affection from Seamus and Christy, however poorly she manages to express it (and however much of Christy’s face gets chewed off as a result of her taking it back). It’s an interesting approach, especially as Aphra appears to head off into the clear blue yonder with the Gentleman at the end of the episode, indicating perhaps some sort of alliance between the two, but I wish it had had an episode all of its own. On top of that, the overlapping plots left me quite confused about what exactly was going on with Aphra – I get the gist, but some of the details feel a bit hazy, and though there’s clearly still time for the show to clear that up, it took the sting out of the reveal a bit.

And I wish we got the same for Christy, too. As another one of the incomers to the family, she could have offered a unique perspective on them, and I wanted to know more about where she came from, how she got involved with Seamus and the family in the first place, how that changed her, how it didn’t. Her heartfelt admission of love and care for Seamus in his episode is one of my favourite things the show has done this season, and I wished we got to see a little more of what led to that from her side. Not to mention the fact that everyone in the show now seems to agree that Seamus was and had always been gay, which seems like a bit of a departure from the sex he seemed to enjoy with not just men back in his episode, plus his apparently pretty healthy relationship with Christy.

Even though what we do get is pretty solid – Paula Branciati is a really great actress, and seeing her navigate through the chaos of her own grief, shock, and imminent face-chewing is still a nice slice (pun intended) of insight into her character. But, given that she buys it at the end of the episode, I can’t help but feel a little let-down that we didn’t get more of her, or at least a full episode to herself that didn’t overlap so heavily with Aphra’s backstory.

We’re whittling the cast down (and, while I know it’s necessary, God, am I sad to see Sabrina Grdevich go – her performance and character might be one of the best things this show’s ever done, and I will severely miss her deranged art school vibes and big ponchos) as we draw up to the end of the season, which gives us more time to spend on the people who are left – and I’m hoping that the last few episodes will give us some real focus on who has survived so far. I think it’s a major compliment to this season to say that I’m not super bothered about finding out who the Gentleman is (anyway, he’s at least three different people as far as I’m concerned, so there’s that, plus the actress playing Spencer’s first wife has main cast billing on Wikipedia, which Must Mean Something), but more interested in delving into these characters and their lives; I just hope that the next few episodes can deliver that the way I’m craving.

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(header image via 1428 Elm)