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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The Queer Horror of “Chucky”: Episode 8 – “An Affair To Dismember” and Horror’s Newest Final Boy

Each week Joe Lipsett will highlight a key scene or interaction in Don Mancini’s Chucky series to consider how the show is engaging with and contributing to queer horror.

It’s been a long, weird road to the season finale of Chucky and we’ve had plenty of great conversations about various queer facets of the show. It delights me to no end that we get to end the first season with a discussion of the Final Boy.

The definitive interpretation of the slasher trope is Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. Of course, there’s a legacy of trauma wrapped up in Patton’s experiences making the film (Trace and I chatted with Mark for our live episode of Horror Queers on the film, and there’s a whole fantastic documentary called Scream, Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street that we strongly recommend). While I wouldn’t wish Patton’s mistreatment on anyone, the queerness of NoES2 was a beacon of light for gay men of a certain age, who finally saw themselves represented on screen. Importantly it wasn’t simply as a victim, or a best friend, either; NoES2 remains a fixture of queer horror history because Jesse survives to become a Final Boy.

What’s changed in the 36 years since then is evident in “An Affair To Dismember.” Not only do both Jake (Zackary Arthur) and Devon (Björgvin Arnarson) live to fight another day, but Jake gets to deliver the killing blow against Chucky (Brad Dourif) in direct response to an attack on his queer sexuality. 

Jake’s whole arc over these eight episodes has led to this: from a difficult “coming out” to his unsupportive father (Devon Sawa) in episode one, to wooing Devon and kissing him in episode five, to identifying his Chosen family in last week’s episode. The most significant difference between Jesse and Jake is that Jake has never been coded queer; from the very beginning, Jake has been out and (mostly) proud. He’s remained true to who he is throughout, which is something Jesse couldn’t be at the height of the AIDS crisis in Reagan’s homophobic 1985 America. 

The other frustrating aspect of NoES2 is that Jesse doesn’t get to be his own hero. He is consumed and discarded by Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), so the duties of dispatching the villain falls to Final Girl Lisa (Kim Myers). Jesse only returns for the denouement: he’s a hero who gets sidelined in his own climax.

By comparison, Jake remains firmly in control of his own narrative. He orders Devon to rescue Caroline (Carina Battrick), then faces Chucky down. And while he doesn’t exactly become Sigourney Weaver, Jake more than manages to hold his own. Like his father and his uncle before him (there’s that cyclical familial violence in action), Jake opts to use his own hands, pinning Chucky against a wall to deliver the killing blow. 

There’s no subtlety in writers Mancini and Harley Peyton’s dialogue in this scene (by design, I would argue). Chucky, ever the manipulator, suggests that he was Jake’s only friend and that Jake’s father Lucas would never have “accepted him.” Jake laments that Chucky’s actions never gave him a chance to “work it out” with his father, who he argues would have come around if he could have met Devon. Chucky retorts “That is so gay,” a microaggression that equates “gay” with “bad” and is basically a softer version of using the F slur. It’s in keeping with Chucky’s intolerant colloquialisms throughout most of the episode, particularly evident in his interactions with Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly), which similarly leads to violence.

“That’s so gay” proves to be the last straw for Jake and he chokes Chucky until his eyes pop out of his plastic head. “Watch your fucking mouth, that’s my boyfriend you’re talking about” he tells the doll corpse, which is itself a significant milestone considering that Jake corrected Lexy (Alyvia Alyn Lind) when she used the same label to describe Devon and Jake earlier in the episode.

Obviously Jake is not the sole hero of this tale – Lexy’s moral rescue of Junior (Teo Briones) and his sacrificial death are arguably the finale’s emotional climax. Still, there’s no doubt that the moment’s greatest “fuck yeah” moment belongs to Jake, an out and proud Final Boy for a new generation of horror queers. 

He kills the bad guy, lives to fight another day and gets the boy. What a legend.


Season one of Chucky is now available on Peacock. For more coverage, see Meagan’s review of episode eight. 



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3693913/queer-horror-chucky-episode-8-affair-dismember-horrors-newest-final-boy/

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