The Millers look at a house that could charitably be called a fixer-upper and honestly be called a tearer-downer. They take their baby with them as the realtor opens the house. It is strange that once Keith sets the baby’s carrier on the floor, he is completely ignored. In fact, I must have blinked and missed him being carried into the house — until I rewound 30 seconds, I actually thought it was a ghost-baby they couldn’t see.
The realtor is required by TV-law to tell them that a murder occurred there 30 years ago. Keith says that is OK if it saves them $100,000. Seeing this house, he must be expecting the seller to pay him $75,000 to take it off his hands.
Flash-forward to the Millers living in the house. Keith comes home from the hardware store which Arriane takes as bad news, as she thought he was at an Alcoholic’s Anonymous meeting. He awakens that night hearing shouts from the night of the murder. Like any responsible parent, he pulls a loaded pistol out of the nightstand to investigate.
As he begins the titular renovation, a door slams and he hears a more voices from the night of the murder. Arriane comes in and suggests the “christen” every room in the house. She suggests starting in the dining room, which is indeed suggestive. I wonder if the writers intended that.
As they start making out, we see the murderer in the background and Keith gets a chill and leaps up. He gets crap from Arriane who suggests that he see a therapist. That night, after dreaming of M&Ms, he awakens to see the murderer enter their bedroom. He watches the man grab a bottle of hooch from the closet and finish it off. He tells Keith, “Get some more!” and tosses the bottle against the wall.
When Arriane comes home from work the next day wearing a suit that would have seemed very 70s in the 80s. She finds that Keith has pried the padlock off the basement. You might think they would have checked out the basement before buying the place. Next week, take a look at the backyard — I hear good things.
She finds the baby’s crib in the basement and comes back up to find a different crib in the baby’s room; also an empty whiskey bottle. Keith, holding groceries in one arm and their son in the other, seems a little tipsy. He then takes a belt right in front of his wife. When she starts to nag him, be punches her out at the urging of the murderer.
As Keith is talking to their baby, Arriane emerges from hiding in the bathroom and does two very unlikely things. 1) she plans to get away and leave her baby there, and 2) when Keith asks where she is going, she gives the least believable answer possible: “Looks like you might need some more whiskey so I thought I’d run out and get you some.” He’s crazy and a drunk, not stupid and drunk. She might as well have said she was going out to buy him some brass knuckles.
As Keith’s actions are paralleling the night of the murder 30 years ago, he takes a pistol out of the sock drawer. Christ, is there a drawer in this house that doesn’t contain a gun? BANG — he shoots her in front of the baby just as his predecessor did.
This was a fairly standard tale until the ending. It really looked like they were going to go for something truly shocking. Then it looked like they were going to settle for something somewhat shocking. Then it was clear they were going to completely puss out. Then we close on a shot that is supposed to be . . . profound? A revelation?
No-Neck Rollins: “They say you can’t go home again. But haunted by the ghost of his past, Keith Miller couldn’t go anywhere else.” Wait, what? Is Butt-Chin saying that the baby who witnessed the murder 30 years ago grew up to be Keith? Was there the slightest freaking clue to this in the actual story? How then did this baby with the blonde hair grow up to be the black-haired Keith?
After close review, there actually is evidence for this twist, but you really have to work for it — the M&M dream turns out to be memories of colored balls in a baby’s toy. That same toy is seen in the crib which was moved up from the basement. They botched this in a couple of ways, though. First, the toy is half-hidden under a blanket. Second, it was never established that the toy belonged to the original baby.
This twist might be even more botched than I give it credit for. Arriane finds a white toy rabbit in the basement crib. It is never established which baby this toy belonged to, however, new baby was seen in the company of a brown bear. So if the rabbit belonged to original baby, why was that still in the basement while original baby’s ball-toy was upstairs? Arriane carries the rabbit back upstairs as if it belongs there, so maybe it does belong to new baby.
And while we’re at it, they could have done a better job with the crib. I do give them credit for making the original crib a dark color and the new one white. However, they seem to have made this episode for NSA cryptographers. We get to see literally about 3 inches of railing during the original murder.
But the hair thing really bothers me. And if the original murderer was Keith’s father, wouldn’t he have recognized him during the hallucinations? Granted, he was a toddler at the time of the murder, but wouldn’t he have seen pictures? Or known this was the house he had lived in? He was young, but he remembered the colored balls (which inexplicably whack him in the face in his dream).
So maybe it wasn’t him as a baby.
Although, having both men be drunks was probably intended to suggest a family history of alcoholism. I’m thinking of suggesting it right now.
So maybe it was him as a baby.
I really have no idea.
- Title Analysis: Hunh? OK, Keith was renovating the house, but that didn’t really impact the story. I guess it was his personality also being renovated. Just seems like more of a stretch than they could make work in 30 minutes.
- I was running out of gas at about the 300 word mark, then heard Tattoo-Boy’s closing. Maybe I should start listening to the Cryptkeeper’s segments. Nah.