Fear Itself – Eater (07/03/08)

It takes two cops to bring Duane “Eater” Mellor into the station.  They install him in the kind of cage that we need more of — unpainted, crumbling walls, exposed bricks, a metal toilet.

After the officers leave, he pulls a butt-plug out of his sleeve, rattles it, and begins chanting.  Upon closer examination, it might be some sort of voodoo paraphernalia.  It has feathers on on end, so would be ticklish in either case.

At the night shift roll call, the guys are making fun of Officer Dani [1] Bannerman [2] for reading a horror magazine.  The Sargent advises them that Eater is upstairs.  “Over the last two years, he has killed over thirty people in five different states [3].  In each case, he took the victims home, usually killing the males outright; keeping the females alive for days, sometimes weeks, playing with them, torturing them, and eventually eating them.”

Dani is quite the horror fan, correcting the other dopes when they get facts wrong about Silence of the Lambs.  She can’t wait to get her hands on Eater’s file to check out the grizzly pictures.  The other cops are fairly dickish, teasing her for being a girl-cop.  She is slapped on the head with a magazine, food is rubbed on her uniform, and an inflatable sex doll is hidden in her locker.

As Dani reads the file, she imagines the scene where Eater cuts off a captive woman’s tongue and fries it up.  Despite not being very bloody, this is admirably horrific for network television.  When he goes back for seconds and raises the tin-snips to her nose, I was genuinely disgusted.  Kudos to everyone involved.

Dani goes upstairs to take a fan-girlish look at the killer.  She is worried when she sees him motionless under a blanket in the cell.  The rest of the episode is an exercise in suspense and mistaken identity.  Eater is a Cajun which — like being African American on Tales From the Crypt — automatically means he has voodoo powers.  You rarely see mystical Asian stereotypes because that would mean they would have to hire Asians. He has eaten the hearts of Dani’s fellow officers Mattingley and Steinwitz, and is thereby able to shape-shift into their form.  In fact, he is so skilled at the blackened arts that he is able to shape-shift into their differently ranked uniforms also.

That is both the appeal and the curse of the episode.  Mattingley and Steinwitz as themselves were obnoxious jerks of Trumpian proportions.  When possessed by Eater, they become even worse — fidgety, sweaty and grotesque.  As the last half of the episode consists of each them alternately alone with Dani as she figures out what they really are, they wear out there welcome very quickly.

Finally, the Sargent comes back and Dani shows him the two officers’ dead bodies. Unfortunately, there is a third dead body.  As in Triangle, Timecrimes and others that don’t leap to mind, its head is conveniently covered.  When Dani unmasks him, it is the real Sargent — dead with a hole in his forehead.  This is strange as the ritual was said to require a still-beating heart — so why the head-shot?

The end is abrupt, silly and awesome.  Another good episode from the short-lived series. They got away with some surprisingly gruesome images and a pretty graphic blowjob gag (no pun intended).  Elizabeth Moss as Bannerman really made the episode.  Russell Hornsby as the Sargent and Stephen R. Hart as Eater were both solid, but were not on screen as much as Moss.  Maybe the other two cops needed to be repulsive to make the story work — if so, well done.


  • [1] IMDb credits Elizabeth Moss as Danny, but that just doesn’t work for me.
  • [2] A clear reference to Stephen King.  Sheriff George Bannerman appeared in five King novels / short stories.
  • [3] I have to give Fear Itself credit — they don’t believe in half measures or full lives. The killer in Family Man with 26 must be humiliated net to this maniac

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