Night Visions – Harmony (09/19/02)

nvharmony02Teenager Pete Hartford is working on his homework when his mother opens the door without knocking.[1]  As soon as she sees that he is not ruining his mind listening to the rock-n-roll, she leaves.  He then puts on a pair of head-phones so he can ruin his mind with the rock-n-roll.  He should be more concerned about his mind being ruined from lack of oxygen as Mrs. Hartford comes back in and strangles him with the cord.  Another senseless death that could have been saved by Bluetooth.

Eli’s car breaks down, so he walks the 11 miles to Harmony.  He approaches a woman to ask about a mechanic.  It is strange that both of these encounters are played exactly the wrong way.  Well, maybe not exactly wrong as in diametrically opposed; but just wrong. It is hard to tell what he is trying to do.  At times, he seems to be hitting on her, and at times he seems to be indicating that he is homeless.  These aren’t usually successful in conjunction.

Similarly, when Pete’s mother strangles him, we can tell by the look on his mother’s face as she approaches that something is wrong.  There is no shock because we have had several seconds to prepare for something to happen.  You could say her approach was to create suspense, but her face does not convey the proper menace for that.

nvharmony05Luckily the mechanic is willing to get him fixed up on a Sunday.  He even directs Eli to a B&B.  Sadly it is not a B&B&TV as it has no televisions or radios.  Charmed by the small town, Eli whistles the tune to The Andy Griffith Show.  This brings the proprietor back in who claims that whistling sets off her migraines.  She institutes a no-whistling rule.  And frankly, I don’t think she hears all that many.

That afternoon, he sees a group of people dressed in black walk by the B&B.  He follows them to a cemetery.  Hey — there’s Pete’s mom!  He also sees Lucinda who had sent him to the mechanic.  She says that Pete died falling down a flight of stairs.  Her little brother Tim seems not to be a fan of Harmony as he says Pete was his only friend here.

That night, Tim breaks into the garage to steal some CDs from Eli’s car.  Lucinda tells Eli maybe this town isn’t for everyone.  People are happy here, but it comes at a price. That night Tim ups his game to B&E at the B&B as be breaks into Eli’s room.  He doesn’t steal anything, he just says “the people in this town are crazy.  They’ll kill you. They’ll kill us both.”

nvharmony04Tim knows that Pete was killed for listening to music.  That is why there are no TVs or radios, and why the landlady flipped out when Eli whistled.  He had also noticed at the funeral that they spoke the words to Amazing Grace rather than singing it.  I hope those were Jerky Boys CDs Tim stole or he is doomed.  He tells Eli that there is a “beast” in town.

Eli takes a flashlight and goes out to the cemetery.  He finds headstones for Thomas Warren (1851-1865) and Virginia Rogers (1839-1855) — teenagers who broke the rules. He sees Pete’s mother kneeling over his grave with a shotgun in her mouth.  She asks if he believes in “the beast”.  She blows her own head off, which is something you don’t see on TV everyday.

The mechanic helpfully delivers his car . . . to the cemetery . . . in the middle of the night . . . gassed up . . . his shit packed.  He is concerned about Lucinda, though.  He finds a group with baseball bats and probably some pitchforks although YouTube is too low-res to see for sure.  They have caught Tim with the CDs.  The group tells Eli that the beast is awakened by music and it will kill anyone in its path.

Turns out no one has actually seen the beast for 150 years.  The townsfolk say it is because they are careful, but Eli — who has been in town one day — claims it is a myth. He says, “You forbid music. Why?  Because music makes you feel joy, ecstasy, longing, sexual desire.  Those are all feelings that music brings and that is what you are afraid of.”  He tells them they are the beast.

nvharmony08Just to prove it, he starts singing Amazing Grace.  Then Lucinda starts singing.  Then the mechanic starts singing.  Then the landlady starts singing.  Then Reverend Shaw Moore starts singing.  I was starting to get worried, but thank God Eli was wrong — the beast appears and kicks ass.

I love a small town with a big secret.  This one has a little Gatlin (teenage deaths, a beast behind the rows), a little Stars Hollow (having to hide CDs), and a little Bomont (no music).  It is a fun ride, well performed.  I’m not a stickler for great effects.  The final beast, though, is pretty underwhelming.  However, Lucinda’s final cry that she never should have listened to Eli — and the looks on their faces — more than make up for it.


  • [1] Shame on me for not working in a masturbation comment.
  • Space Trivia:  The Mechanic is Saul Tighe from Battlestar Galactica.  The actor portraying Tim is named James Kirk.
  • Title Analysis:  Meh.  I get that harmony is related to music, but how is it related to the story here?  Does it mean only harmonizing groups like barber shop quartets will be killed?  Because I could get behind that.
  • It would also work if the curse of the town’s curse enabled them to live in special harmony — dare I say, in concert — with each other.  However, there is no particular bonding or quality of life here that would make them tolerate the murder of their children.  Does the beast also hate U-Hauls?
  • Books-on-Tape must be huge here.  Why else would the kids have CD players? Yeah, I said Tape.

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