Tuesday, November 30, 2021

[Review] “Chucky” Season Finale Leaves You Ready for Season 2 With a Smile On Your Face

A lot of ground has been covered in just seven episodes of Don Mancini‘s “Chucky” series. Jake Wheeler (Zackary Arthur) overcame his isolation and rage to find a family in Lexy (Alyvia Alyn Lind) and Devon (Bjorgvin Arnarson). Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) once again found herself struggling to get the love and respect she so desperately wanted from Chucky (Brad Dourif), causing her to turn to a terrified Nica (Fiona Dourif). Then there’s Andy (Alex Vincent) and Kyle (Christine Elise McCarthy), who’ve been on a road trip across the country to snuff out every piece of Chucky’s splintered soul, unaware that Tiffany’s helped him build up a new army.

It all comes to a head in “An Affair to Dismember,” a chaotic finale to the show’s debut season – a second is on the way! that wraps up loose ends and raises all new questions.

The finale puts multiple dolls in play, with Chucky bringing the patricidal Junior (Teo Briones) to his childhood home to meet Tiffany, a Chucky-inhabited Nica, and an entire squad of Good Guy dolls eager to do his bidding. Phase one of their nefarious plan targets the town’s Frankenstein fundraiser screening, finally clicking into place Chucky’s overarching goal. Not even a few significant blips on the way can stop this blood bath.

CHUCKY — Pictured: Björgvin Arnarson as Devon Evans — (Photo by: Elly Dassas/SYFY/USA Network)

The entire season hasn’t had much time to give legacy players Andy and Kyle, and the finale further highlights that. Despite finally arriving in Hackensack to stop Chucky, albeit separately because of last week’s murky development, neither character feels all that relevant to the plot. Save for a few moments of fan service and one sped-through sequence that raises massive questions, Chucky and Kyle feel superfluous to the inaugural season. Though as requisite setup for a second season teases, that won’t be the case in the future.

“An Affair to Dismember” dedicates its focus to the story that began “Chucky,” with Jake and Hackensack finding closure one way or another. Where other elements might seem rushed, it’s this defining arc that receives the room to breathe. Jake, Lexy, and Devon have come a long way since the premiere. Jake and Lexy let go of the hate in their hearts and found strength in friendship. It allows Jake to see Chucky’s acceptance of him and his sexuality for what it was- emotional manipulation- and confront him once and for all.

Nature versus nurture has been the central theme running through “Chucky,” which reaches a satisfying conclusion for Hackensack. The body count reaches peak levels, and the finale ensures that the series will leave a mark. Not everyone survives, leaving very few standing when the dust clears. The one flaw to this is an unceremonious offing that happens so fast and haphazardly that it surely must be a dangling thread… or Don Mancini has some explaining to do.

Between flashbacks, Hackensack’s central narrative, Chucky and Tiffany’s machinations, and supporting storylines by legacy players, “Chucky” had a lot to juggle over eight episodes. So much ground needed to be addressed in the finale to stick its landing. Some aspects feel rushed, and the legacy storylines ultimately act as connective tissue between seasons, a vital but slow-burning narrative meant to fuel the central plot.

For the most part, though, “Chucky” juggled all its varying components well and offered no shortage of brilliant kills, one-liners, characters, and the killer doll reveling in his latest murder spree. Tilly matched him in just about every way, as well as Dourif’s remarkable performance as Nica, Nica-as-Chucky, and Charles Lee Ray proper. Mancini’s creative, singular vision instills implicit trust for the franchise’s future and is almost always a complete joy to watch. The series’ showrunner never fails to surprise, either; the finale’s third act brings an unexpected but very welcome gift. The choice to stage a final blood bath in a theatrical screening of Frankenstein, the James Whale classic? A subtle and brilliant stroke of genius. A final, gleefully demented coda? A perfect summation of how season one leaves you; with a smile on your face and ready for season two.

“Chucky” airs on USA and Syfy on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET.


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