For most of the episode, Shining Vale 2×06 “Chapter 14: What’s the Matter with Sandy?” feels a bit like filler. It’s here to pass the time, something to get us from early in Pat’s pregnancy to…whatever the horror show is that’s coming by the end. And that’s obvious right from the jump, as months and months roll by before we ever get to the opening credits. Even so, the episode is plenty entertaining — there’s nothing wrong with taking an episode to just…relax every so often. Not that anything about the Phelps family’s life is exactly relaxing…but still.
But even if most of the episode has that feeling about it, that’s far from the whole story. By the end, everything comes together in a pretty big way and ends in a stunning place that really ramps the horror back up. Not to mention, “Chapter 14” simultaneously gives us a very important answer — while leaving us with plenty more questions that have us ready to do whatever it takes to see what comes next.
Movies Books don’t create psychos; movies books make psychos more creative
Pat’s book is rising to the top of the bestseller list, but it comes with a cost. As in, men are paying for their wives’ literary pleasures with their own lives. And it’s happening to so many husbands, in fact, that neither Pat nor Kam can keep track of the numbers. Is whatever plagued Pat in Season 1 spreading to other women through her book? If so, what was it — something demonic or just mental illness? And if not, what does that say about the situation? Fangirls that we are, it’s impossible not to think about Billy’s “blame the movies” motive in Scream. Except now, instead of using the excuse of too many violent movies, these killers are forcing blame onto the events in Rosemary’s Revenge.
“They’re not serial killers — they’re one-offs! …ten one-offs. Look: You sell a bunch of books, women are going to hatchet their husbands. It’s statistics.”
Snuck-in joke about misunderstanding correlation and causation aside, the whole dilemma in Shining Vale 2×06 just acts as something to get us from where we thought we were to whatever comes next. Conveniently, bringing back Sandy Woodcock in her extreme Pat Phelps stan era gets the mayor out of the way — thus opening the door for Laird’s lady love to go splat. And with this seeming connection between the thing that made Pat unravel and so many other women doing the same, that gives her a reason to reconsider her own break from reality. Or, rather, it gives Nellie a chance to manifest and urge her to look into it. Whichever.
It’s difficult to handle, not because everyone’s suddenly getting a little stabby-stabby, but because of how familiar it all feels. Despite a lot having happened since those days when she
and Rosemary wrote the book, nothing much has actually changed for Pat. Even with our surprise demon baby and all the increased sex from a combination of her pregnancy hormones and Terry’s testosterone habit, Terry’s still into brushing off Pat’s very real concerns. And no matter which is true — either Pat thinks they zapped the crazy out of her only to find out she’s actually still very much in need of help, or she thought she was free of hauntings only to find out that’s not the case — there is still something happening. And nobody sees it but her.
It’s a frustrating situation for our main character, sure. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy Shining Vale 2×06. With an episode like this one, we can just kind of sit back and watch Courteney Cox work. Whether it’s the sharp turn around and warning look when Terry has his overblown rage moment at the beginning or just…the tone in the way she squints her eyes as Kam tries to minimize the whole megafan/murderous-readers situation, it’s wild how little Cox has to really do in order to convey so much. Throw in the tons of emotion in her eyes as Pat watches her session tapes, and it’s not like we ever really needed plot anyway.
“No. My mother is, so I am not.”
There is something very subtle in “Chapter 14” that runs the risk of being overlooked, so we’re going to take a few moments to highlight it. After she gets over her initial irritation and defensiveness from seeing Ennio reading her journal, Gaynor makes it a point to shut down his comment about her being a writer. Because she’s not her mom. Whatever Pat is, Gaynor is trying very hard not to be that. (Watching them together, though. Well. Ship’s sailed, kiddo.)
“I can’t believe this whole time, you’ve been investigating me when there’s a 100-year-old pregnant woman downstairs inhaling sausages.”
Initially, when she finds out she’s actually the one the priest is here to look into, Gaynor may feel like she’s been lied to — and boy, does Gus Birney lay on that sense of betrayal. But, once that wears off, there’s only one natural way for Gaynor to respond: latching onto the supernatural possibilities. She wants so badly to not have the same illness as the other women in her family, she begs for an exorcism. It doesn’t matter that what she really needs help with is the fact that she’s caught in the middle of a shitty family situation. Nope. Gaynor just wants him do something, anything — even if it’s nothing more than a fake ceremony for placebo effect — to make her stop feeling this way.
Throw in what we now know about Pat, and um. That’s a wildly-interesting twist on Gaynor not wanting to be like her, isn’t it?
More on Shining Vale 2×06
- More dancing, less traumatizing poor Roxy. I’m begging.
- “The baby’s gonna be born with dents.” “This baby’s gonna be born with heart disease. I love me some protein, too, but honestly this is getting…ridiculous.” And she just keeps nomming away anyway. A mood.
- Obligatory Friends reference since we already made the Scream one above: “Made your favorite! Morning meat.” I can’t explain it exactly, but the way Pat presents the “morning meat” to Jake is very Monica Geller coded. (It can’t at all have anything to do with it being the same actress. Totally swear.)
- Greg Kinnear’s timing on launching into that roid rage bit, then right back out of it, is exquisite.
- “No. I don’t read trash. I just come from it.” Anyone else feel seen or.
- Also on the line above: I continue to adore every single exchange between Cox and Birney.
- “And don’t tell me to calm down.” Get him.
- “…if that means shooting up a little testosterone and HGH, chugging some racehorse urine, so be it….” Really liked Terry better when he had no idea who he was.
- “My life is over. I’m just letting the clock run out.” Laird is me. I am Laird.
- “Are you sure it’s a phone?” “Positive. I looked it up on my phone.” Hell of a delivery from Dylan Gage. Also really love the way he does the awkward pauses and higher-pitched voice when Jake’s stumbling through turning down the pot.
- “It doesn’t have a screen. It’s like it’s from the future.” Kill me now.
- …excellent use of “fuckstick.”
- “Just so you know, food-shaming doesn’t affect me. I’ve got plenty of other shit to be ashamed about.” Literally me. Tell her, Pat.
- “Because JK Rowling has a great PR team.” “I wouldn’t say great…” I’m with Pat. if Transphobe Jo had a great PR team — or even one that wasn’t completely worthless! — they’d make her STFU forever.
- “Bitch. I fucking love you.” Let’s be real: If I encountered one of my faves in that way, I’d probably say the same. Shoot your shot, restaurant employee chick.
- “I’m angry, I fuck, I curse, I’m impulsive. My…general attitude sucks.”
- “If the Vatican really thought there was a demon, they would send old man. Not a young priest in training who is a first time exorcist.” There’s literally an entire television series about sending a priest in training, a psychologist, and a tech/construction-type expert to investigate these things but ok.
- “Say some Bible verses and blast me with holy water.” “This is Purell.” When they tell you they have hand sanitizer as a “safety” measure against an airborne virus…
- “I’m pretty sure that’s not how psychosis works.” “Really? How do you think psychosis works?” “…I wasn’t expecting a follow-up question.”
- Love the tacked-on “until third grade.”
- Did not know I needed High!Jake in my life, but here we are.
- So good on the horror elements when Nellie comes up out of that bathtub and reveals herself to Pat in the middle of her nightmare.
- And that “file” bit between Cox and Mira Sorvino was a delight. Just hilarity out of nowhere.
- “To Jenny, I fucking love you. Or whatever. You’re the writer. But write. that.” Kids, if you go to an autograph signing, a word of advice: Stick to the “whatever. You’re the writer” part, maybe throw in a please and thank you, and leave the creepy intensity out of it.
- “You saved my life! Normally, I’d be angry…” Laird is so real for this.
- Pat watching those tapes…whew. Fan-fucking-tastic “found footage” horror, with a dose of Courteney Cox just killing it.
- And that final shot is pure art.
Thoughts on Shining Vale 2×06 “Chapter 14: What’s the Matter with Sandy?” Leave us a comment!
New episodes of Shining Vale release weekly on Starz.