Monday, June 26, 2017

Recap: Goosebumps "Stay Out of the Basement Part 2"

Previously on Goosebumps, an unemployed dad started hanging out in the basement and making his family worry about him and the odd plants he's growing down there.

Just like "The Haunted Mask," if you take away the supernatural elements, you've got a recipe for drama.
Picking up right where we left off with him, Casey continues to eavesdrop on the basement from outside as a prehensile vine gets a little grabby with him. Margaret manages to rescue him, and Casey starts babbling about the argument he heard in the basement. But there is no more arguing coming from the basement, since Dr. Brewer is now standing right behind them, demanding to know why they're dropping some eaves on the basement.

Casey: "That plant tried to choke me!"

INSERT LAME CHOKE WEED PUN HERE.

Dr. Brewer: "You shouldn't have been near the window."
Margaret: "Well, Casey heard a fight in the basement."
Dr. Brewer: "There was no fight."

The kids find Dr. Brewer's firm insistence to be less than convincing. Especially since he also claims that Dr. Marek suddenly left with nobody seeing him. Things are understandably awkward as Dr. Brewer tries to determine if his kids are spying on him.

Casey: "You're not a mad scientist, are you, dad?"
Dr. Brewer: "No, I'm an angry scientist."

Too late! I already made that joke in the first part.

"Or you could argue that, since this episode aired twenty years ago, the episode made the joke before you did."
Yeah, well...

"Yes?"
You win this round, Slappy.

Dr. Brewer sends both his kids to their rooms, thus winning the conversation by default. His work in the basement continues, and it apparently involves syringes and some unseen guy in a closet, presumably bound and gagged.

So that night, it starts storming, meaning that there's a suitably spooky atmosphere for Margaret to make another discovery about her dad. She heads into the hallway, finding both Casey and some odd noises. The two are unrelated, since the odd noises are coming from the power drill that Dr. Brewer is using to put a lock on the basement door. He tells his kids that he's done the same with the basement windows, so there's absolutely no way they can get in while he's gone.

Margaret decides to call their mom after Dr. Brewer leaves, but finds that the scrap of paper with Aunt Eleanor's number on it mysteriously missing. Three guesses who took it.

All things considered, Margaret isn't doing too well. Her dad's behavior has left her erratic and scared. Casey, on the other hand, is making the most of his dad's absence by going to town on a jar of peanut butter.

Kid's got priorities. I can respect that.
Despite Margaret's theories, Casey has trouble believing that their dad wants to keep them from calling their mom. So Margaret reminds him of all the other weird stuff that's been going on, the most suspicious of which is the mysterious disappearance of Dr. Marek. So Margaret decides to sneak into her dad's room in the hopes that he hid the phone number there... rather than simply throwing it away, which would be both an easier and more foolproof method of preventing his kids from dialing the number.

The place is an absolute wreck, though, so Margaret can't find anything anywhere. Not even in the plant in the corner.

Which I think we can all agree is the logical place to look for a scrap of paper.
Margaret keeps looking around as the phone rings. Casey has a bad feeling about the incoming call and tells Margaret to leave it alone. The caller, it turns out, is Dr. Marek's wife. It seems as though Dr. Marek hasn't come home, and Mrs. Marek was wondering if the Brewers know if he said anything before he left their house.

But suddenly, Dr. Brewer returns home, having forgotten something. In her haste to stay out of her dad's bedroom, Margaret accidentally knocks over the answering machine. With no time to escape after she sets it back up, Margaret hides under her dad's bed while Casey stalls him in the hallway.

Dr. Brewer: "What are you doing out of your room?"
Casey: "Uh, I needed to go to the... bath... room."

Nailed it.

Dr. Brewer: "Where's Margaret?"
Casey: "She's in her room."

"I see no reason to go inside her room to verify that."
Dr. Brewer sends his son to bed before heading to his own room and sitting on the bed. Speaking of the bed, that's what Margaret is currently hiding under. Margaret can't see anything from her vantage point apart from the extras from "Go Eat Worms" that fall out of her dad's sleeves.

Hey, that's the one from the spaghetti scene!
Well, there's also the wallet Dr. Brewer drops on the ground. Dr. Marek's wallet.

Mere inches away from worms, evidence of some sort of crime, and being discovered, the moments that pass are fraught with tension. One mistake and the game's up. If Margaret believes in a higher power, you bet your butt that she's asking for a little help.

"Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret."
But Dr. Brewer heads out once again, pausing only to talk to his kids' bedroom doors.

Dr. Brewer: "I'll be back in an hour."
Casey: "Okay, Dad."
Dr. Brewer: "Stay in your room while-"
Casey: "Yes, Dad."
Dr. Brewer: "You too, Margaret."

"Yes, Dad."
"...."
"Whoops."
But Dr. Brewer leaves, giving Margaret a chance to finally escape and rendezvous with her brother to tell him about the wallet. And just when things couldn't get worse, the two of them wind up discovering an entire colony of worms beneath their dad's blanket.

Worms in a bed. Not something I'd expect to become a recurring motif, and yet here we are.
You know, call me crazy... but I think something might be wrong with Dr. Brewer.

Sure, he tried to feed his kids foul green muck, but plenty of dads are terrible cooks. And a lot of guys like to switch up their hairstyle every now and a gain. Dr. Brewer's just letting his leaves grow out a bit. And I wouldn't be surprised at all if he left the toilet seat up when he was done washing green gunk out of his wound.

But Mrs. Brewer has been gone for, what, a day or two? And the bed is already this messy? Not even the biggest slob is going to accomplish much more than getting drink stains and food crumbs on the sheets at this point. And since all the revenge-seeking annelids are busy dealing with a kid named Todd, we have to assume that these worms didn't crawl in all by themselves.

The worms are the last straw for Margaret. She wants the truth, she wants it now, and she knows exactly where to find it: the basement. They grab a wrench and some weed killer from the garage to protect themselves before getting past the lock on the basement door. It's quite a sturdy lock, too. Too bad the screws keeping the lock on the door aren't.

Fun fact: This is how actual burglars manage to get past actual locks like this.
And so, the Brewer kids venture back down into the emerald glow of the basement. This time, however, the plants are decidedly more lively. And loud.

They find a green, leafy hand among the other horrors. But none as horrific as the plant that tasted Margaret's blood, which now seems to be growing a human face.

Speaking of human faces, they find another one in a nearby closet. But this one seems to be attached to the rest of a human, too. A human that looks suspiciously like their dad. Margaret wants to untie the bound figure, but Casey points out that their dad left the house. So obviously, this can't be him. Plus he's got leaves growing out of his head, just like their real dad does, meaning that this probably... isn't... him? Hm. Some flaws in Casey's logic here.

The two manage to reach a compromise as Margaret decides to ungag this mysterious doppelgänger to hear him out. For simplicity's sake, I'll be referring to this Dr. Brewer as Basement Dad and the one that left the house as Grumpy Dad.

Basement Dad claims to be the real Dr. Brewer, having been locked up in the closet for days by Grumpy Dad, who's really an evil plant clone who's been masquerading as their dad.

Basement Dad: "I have no time to explain. Just untie me. Quick."

Of course, the problem here is that an evil plant clone would also claim to be the real Dr. Brewer, so there's really no easy way to verify Basement Dad's claims. But Margaret unties him anyway. Once free, Basement Dad gets a wild look in his eye and grabs a crowbar. Not because he wants to murder his children, but because he wants to murder Grumpy Dad, who just showed up.

Each one accuses the other of being the evil plant clone. Basement Dad angrily shouts at his doppelgänger, whereas Grumpy Dad has the calm demeanor of a sociopath as he tells his daughter to kill Basement Dad with the weed killer.

You'd think that the weed killer would only work on the plant copy and not the real Dr. Brewer, but the real Dr. Brewer's had some odd things happen to his DNA. Maybe weed killer will kill him. I don't know. All I do know is that Margaret is panicking, trying to determine which one to murder.

It'd be much easier if one of them always lied and the other always told the truth.
But Basement Dad makes one last impassioned plea.

Basement Dad: "Please... Princess."

And with that, Margaret sprays the other one.

Margaret: "There's only one person who calls me Princess. My real dad."

Things quickly get back to normal after that. The plants get shipped to the university, and Dr. Marek invites Dr. Brewer back to the university on the behalf of the board. Dr. Brewer, quite understandably, wants to take some time off to let his hair grow back, since he shaved off the leaves. And he probably wants to spend some time with the kids, too.

Margaret: "I still don't understand how the whole thing started."
Dr. Brewer: "Well, it was an accident. I cut my hand on a slide and some of my blood mixed in with some plant molecules. And I ended up with something that was part plant and part human."

Which, as plant-based origins go, is probably the lamest one I've ever seen. Poison Ivy, Swamp Thing, Man-Thing... even the Floronic Man has a more interesting origin than that.

Mrs. Brewer: "You never told me any of this."

What's with the big smile on her face? Her husband just told her the story of how he ended up with an inhuman clone of hims... oh.

She's thinking "threesome."
Dr. Brewer: "I should have. But I was too wrapped up in my work. then I went too far. I created a plant that was an exact copy of me."
Margaret: "Except that it was evil."
Dr. Brewer: "Well, to us, yes. But like most organisms, it wanted to dominate its environment."

What? Most organisms don't want to "dominate" their environment. Heck, plants don't "want" anything. And most animals simply care about eating, sleeping, and mating.

I'm just saying, I don't think the bird tweeting outside my window right now is looking out over my yard with dreams of conquering this territory and reshaping it according to its avian will. It just wants to build its nest and tweet at any other birds to keep them away.

Dr. Brewer: "It overpowered me. And I think that it wanted to make plant copies of us all."

Wow. That's heavy. I mean, this family just narrowly avoided dying and being replaced with doppelgängers.

Mrs. Brewer: "When Aunt Eleanor was getting better, she asked me about you two. I said you were both growing like weeds. I never realized how close to the truth I almost was."

...What is wrong with you, lady?

Dr. Marek takes off with the plants, so Papa Brewer offers to make his family a nice, healthy, salad lunch.

Dr. Brewer: "No, I'm only kidding; I got hamburgers for everybody!"

And so, everybody runs off to go prepare lunch, except for Margaret. She stops to tie her shoe, only for a nearby flower to talk to her in her dad's voice.

Flower: "Psst! Margaret! Margaret, help me. Please help me. I'm your father."

This was actually a fairly good twist in the book, since it cast the happy ending into doubt and just left it like that. But here, the flower is joined by a bunch of other flowers claiming the same thing, meaning that it's more likely that none of these flowers are the real Dr. Brewer. And by speaking up, they've probably earned themselves a healthy dose of weed killer.

So... not much of a twist ending, all things considered.

Either way, let's review.

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