Chucky somewhat missed the mark in its series premiere, but its strong second episode put the show back on track. With an equally captivating third outing, this series is certainly hitting its stride just in time for Halloween, making Chucky the perfect show to enjoy this spooky season. Whereas last week’s episode focused on Jake’s descent into darkness, this chapter ponders the difference between born killers and those who are created by traumatic circumstances. In doing so, the series again delivers an excellent standalone story that leaves the viewer on the edge of their seat.
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The decision to explore the psychological roots of murderers is commendable in itself, as it seems easy to strike out on this hit-or-miss topic in the confines of a weekly series. The complexities involved in any discussion of the matter are impossible to perfectly capture, but Chucky‘s thoughtful consideration throughout “I Like To Be Hugged” doesn’t just encourage the audience to question what drives people to murder. Instead, by the time the ending credits roll, this story profoundly forces us to stop and really think about the issue.
In this episode, the dichotomy between the corruption of Jake and the inherent evil within Chucky flawlessly continues the story from last week and sets up that intriguing analysis of the difference between the two profiles of criminals. Flashbacks from Chucky’s childhood, including a smoothly crafted twist in the closing minutes, offer some much-needed insight into the man inside the doll. Casual viewers and passionate fans alike continue to wonder what turned Charles Lee Ray into a killer, and as it turns out, to borrow from Lady Gaga, he was born this way.
Scenes from young Charles’ birthday party, when he has a little too much fun smashing a piñata and slicing a cake, clearly foreshadow the journey that produced the villain we all know and love. Another trip down memory lane, where Chucky recalls seeing an intruder murder his father, might just be the inciting incident, as it seemingly ignites his own killer instinct. But the unmistakable hints of the boy’s looming inclination toward brutality, such as his dark grin when he cuts the birthday cake, help the reader connect the dots in this showcase of the character’s origin story.
Meanwhile, Jake’s innocence was gradually stripped away from him in “Give Me Something Good to Eat”, and now he has to deal with the consequences. He must ask if himself if he’s really a killer, as much as he wants revenge on his tormentor, the easily hateable Lexy. In this process, Jake takes some baby steps; he tries out different weapons and practices stalking his “prey”, as Chucky calls it. The boy is certainly in the catbird seat, as he’s getting a MasterClass in murder from an all-time great. Chucky indeed takes Jake to school, and these studies are showcased in a witty voiceover that sees Chucky indirectly compare his murderous ritual to that of someone who’s trying to find “the magic moment” on a date.
Still, though he’s equipped with these lessons, Jake has ample opportunities to take Lexy down, and he doesn’t pull the trigger. He blames this shortcoming on the risks involved with killing a classmate, but Chucky knows his student is struggling with “completion anxiety.” Essentially, Jake can talk the talk, but he can’t walk the walk. When he realizes that he might not have what it takes to end her life, he eventually gives in to Chucky’s offer to do it himself. As a result, Lexy’s doom is seemingly sealed, and Jake grapples with this truth in a tragic scene where he visits his parents’ graves.
Knowing he has signed off on the death of a classmate, Jake apologizes to the tombstones that bear the names of his mother and father. In a moment that deeply resonated with this viewer, he expresses his regret for failing to be the person his parents wanted him to be. By showing this remorse, Jake proves that there’s still some hope in the battle for his soul, but when a cliffhanger leaves Lexy’s fate up in the air, it’s fair to wonder if the consequences of his actions will derail his potential redemption.
Whereas last week’s episode set Chucky up success, this outing starts to deliver on that potential; with two superb chapters in a row, this story is quickly shaping up to be much more than even the most hopeful viewer could have hoped for. Those who tune in for the nostalgic appeal this franchise carries will be pleasantly surprised to learn that there’s plenty of heart to be found here.
Thankfully, horror fans won’t have to wait too long to see what’s next. New episodes of the Syfy and USA Network series will be released weekly, so catch Chucky, along with our review, every Tuesday.