Night Visions – Now He’s Coming Up the Stairs (07/26/01)

nvupthestairs05We first meet Dr. Sears when the parents of an anorexic girl hire him to heal their daughter.  He has the “talent or a curse” that he can “feel what other people are feeling.”  He can draw their illness out of their mind into his own.  Moments later, the girl is chowing down.  In a really clever shot, Sears later sees his reflection in the elevator door and perceives his reflection as a fat bastard.  Well done.

In the next scene, he has ordered enough room service food to cater a wedding.  As he gazes upon this borgasmord laid out in front of him, he perceives the grub as rotten and covered by roaches, beetles and literal grubs.  He forces himself to dig in.  I’m not sure this makes sense — isn’t anorexia more about body-image and not about food being gross?  But it works.

His doctor is concerned that it is taking Sears longer and longer to row back from absorbing his patients’ maladies.  Taking a few days off, he is tracked down by a woman seeking help for her son Mark.  She takes Sears to the boy’s bedroom where is is rocking and repeating over and over, “Now he’s coming thorough the woods. Now he’s coming nvupthestairs10through the yard.  Now he’s coming in the house.  Now he’s coming up the stairs.”

This started after an accident where his mother ran over a pedestrian. The victim’s head smashed into the windshield right in front of the boy. Sears feels his pain and the boy suddenly runs downstairs to his mother.  Their maid goes to see Sears and he has collapsed on the bedroom floor. After a handful of psychotropic drugs, or possibly hawaiiantropic drugs given the fruity mixture of colors, he feels much better.

Everything is both hunky and dory as Sears is back on his feet, then sitting down at their kitchen table.  Mom and the nanny are happy, and the boy is chirpy.  Until he isn’t.  The boy is suddenly terrified.  He runs back to his room and starts his “Now he’s coming thorough the woods” shit again.  Sears goes to the window to show him that there is no one nvupthestairs13coming through the yard, but is interrupted by the man coming through the yard.

The kid continues his screaming four sentence play-by-play more obnoxiously than John Madden as the man comes in the house and up the stairs.  Sears is baffled and says the condition can’t manifest itself physically.  The non-manifested condition pounds on the bedroom door.  Sears believes this is all in his head, but Carol tells him she and Mark are real.  He screams at her that she is not real and suddenly finds himself alone in the silent bedroom.  He walks out into the house and finds everyone brutally murdered before he is himself attacked by the mystery man.

That’s it, end of story.  You can validly interpret the killer as a “physical manifestation” or the doped up doctor.  The gravitas of the two murdered women and the child effectively trumps any churlish plot issues.  Except it is not the end.

Snap — we loop back to the just-cured boy running downstairs to his mother.  The nanny goes upstairs as she did in the first iteration.  She finds Sears sitting in the corner blankly rocking back and forth repeating those same four sentences.  The end.

nvupthestairs15Thumbhead’s closing remarks did not offer any revelations this time. I am at a loss to explain how something this egregious comes from a good writer, gets past a story editor, and into the final product.

Nevermind the logic of the hallucination, what really bugs me is the very ending.  The zinger is that Sears is sitting on the floor rocking back and forth just like the boy.  But that should be no surprise — it is his standard reaction. Just the way curing the anorexic girl gave him the symptoms of anorexia, it is perfectly predictable that he would have reacted by mimicking the boy.  In fact, following the logical course, shortly thereafter he should have metabolized the symptoms and be back to normal.  It’s a happy ending for everyone — who wants that?

In fact, so wrong is this ending, that I think it would have improved the episode to have the two iterations in exactly the opposite order.

Post-Post:

  • The episode kept reminding me of The Empath on Star Trek.
  • I really enjoyed Allison Hossack as Carol.  She was believable as the mom and also believable as the anonymous, slightly androgynous cutie in the restaurant (not that they would be mutually exclusive types).
  • The nanny, on the other hand, was a mess.  She seems to have been coiffed by Ayn Rand’s hairdresser on a bad day.  Or was she the nanny?  Maybe they were a couple.  Carol was rocking that man’s blazer and a snappy short haircut.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Not.  At.  All.
  • Theresa falls up the stairs, Theresa falls down the stairs.

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