The premiere episode of Chucky season one, ‘Death by Misadventure’, gave me everything I wanted as a longtime fan of the Child’s Play franchise. I find the dynamic between Chucky and Jake to be quite interesting.
It takes a whole lot of creativity and dedication to keep a decades-spanning iconic horror franchise alive without disappointing fans. It’s clear that Don Mancini loves what he’s created and there are still a lot of stories for him to tell. According to the promo material, the Chucky TV series is quite important to him with Mancini, more or less, making Jake Wheeler (Zachary Arthur) resemble how Mancini was as a queer teen. I liked Jake as the protagonist. There’s a lot going on in his life that Chucky’s clearly started to exploit.
‘Death by Misadventure’ opened with a creepy Halloween-esque scene that didn’t make sense to me until the final moments of the episode. For those of you who don’t know, the Chucky TV series will dive into the backstory of Charles Lee Ray. He’s the serial killer whose soul’s been taking over the Good Guy Dolls (and other people) throughout the franchise. And I’m here for it!
We then jumped to Jake finding a Chucky doll at a local yard sale and taking him home. Jake’s a budding artist and he’s into creating weird-looking (and creepy) sculptures by using a variety of doll parts. His home life hasn’t been the same ever since his mom (also an artist) died in a car accident. His father, Lucas (Devon Sawa), found it difficult to cope with such a loss and the ever-present financial problems.
Lucas is also in denial over 14-year-old Jake being gay. Their relationship’s quite abusive, with Lucas showing a level of affection toward Jake during certain scenes and immediately blowing up in others. Things with Lucas’s twin brother Logan (also played by Devon Sawa) aren’t any better, with Lucas refusing to accept Logan’s financial help. There’s also something up with Logan’s wife, Bree Wheeler (Lexa Doig). Apparently, she’s hiding a secret of some kind.
Along with trying to handle his father, Jake’s also being bullied at school. His cousin Junior’s girlfriend Lexy (Alyvia Alyn Lind) surprised me. I wasn’t expecting her to be so mean toward Jake. Junior (Teo Briones) was also mean to Jake, but I think he’s the type who will make fun of Jake during family gatherings instead of embarrassing him in public. Also, I want to know why both cousins are so cold toward each other. What happened between those two?
There’s a bit of happiness in Jake’s life, though. He’s got a cute little crush on Devon Evans (Björgvin Arnarson) who has operated a true-crime podcast that Jake enjoyed listening to. According to Devon, the murder rate’s gone up in Hackensack. In my opinion, the uptick in murders could be linked to the ending of 2017’s Cult of Chucky. We know Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) and a possessed Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) are supposed to appear soon.
Anyway, while Jake hasn’t told Devon about how he felt about him yet, I think Jake opening up to Devon might be a bit difficult because Devon’s friends with Junior. I really liked the scene where Devon refused to think of Junior as Jake’s bully. The interaction felt real to me. A lot of times, someone won’t believe what you’re saying about Person A because Person A doesn’t act in a problematic manner in front of them. It’s very, “Hmmm. Are you sure he’s a bad person? He’s always been kind to me.” I could understand why Jake was frustrated with Devon when he didn’t believe him.
‘Death by Misadventure’ was all about introducing the current cast before the OG folk entered the narrative. From what I could tell, Andy’s already called Jake to warn him about Chucky. I can’t wait to see Andy (he’s the kid from the first Child’s Play movie all grown up now) team up with Jake to take down Chucky.
However, don’t think that all those new character introductions slowed down the storytelling pace, because it didn’t. The moment Jake picked up Chucky from the yard sale, the franchise’s signature scares occurred, including Chucky freaking out a bunch of people. I loved the tension between Chucky and Jake’s cat because you knew the cat’s days were numbered. Also, Chucky introducing himself with the automated “Hi, I’m Chucky” still gave me goosebumps. The fact the show brought back the OG voice of Chucky, Brad Dourif, is greatly appreciated. The scenes where Bree found Chucky inside the closet in Jake’s bedroom and Lexy was left alone with Chucky in the science lab were impressively done.
Also, this time, Chucky’s a bit unhinged (more than usual). He decided to talk to an entire crowd of people during the school’s Talent Show. Yes, he made it look like Jake was a ventriloquist, but, in my opinion, the moment conveyed that due to the modern-day setting, Chucky could walk and talk when he wanted and people were likely going to chalk it up to him being a very expensive animatronic. The 2019’s Child’s Play reboot movie did a similar thing, but as the Chucky TV series showed, a supernaturally possessed doll acting like a little animatronic meant for kids will always be scarier than a robotic doll with a messed up AI.
With the first season of Chucky being eight (one-hour) episodes long, you are definitely not going to get as many kills compared to the bloodbath in the Child’s Play films. But as long as I get at least one kill per episode, I’ll be happy. ‘Death by Misadventure’ gave me that and I’m looking forward to seeing the iconic doll use more creative ways to off people and make it look like an accident.
You can already tell that people dying will make Jake come across as a major suspect. Also, Chucky’s already a father to a queer child (2004’s Seed of Chucky). So, there’s a chance he might be interested in adopting Jake and wants to work on pushing him into a life of crime and murder. The final moments of the episode actually showed Chucky justifying killing a particular person (I don’t want to spoil it for you), and saying that he did it for Jake. As I have mentioned already, Chucky’s exploiting Jake’s vulnerability, and it will be very interesting to see if Jake’s able to escape from such an emotionally manipulative trap laid by a psychotic doll.
I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Also, two thumbs up for whoever’s in charge of the Chucky soundtrack!
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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