When you have a character that’s appeared in multiple movies since 1987, there’s a pronounced need to keep putting them in new and original situations to stop them becoming stale – and surely Chucky’s been in more diverse situations than most.
Slasher, romantic lead, father figure and even part of a Chucky ensemble, horror’s most endearing killer doll has played more varied roles than most (sure, Jason has gone to space – but so has Pinhead), but in the third episode of the second season of his series, the red-headed little fucker takes on a persona that few would dare attempt – cute. That’s right, after thirty five odd years of reigning chaos down on everyone around him, the Good Guy is actually becoming a… good guy? Say it isn’t so!
However, while the thought of the infamous devil doll turning over a new leaf may cause long term fans to break out in a cold sweat, rest assured that the notoriously off-beat show pulls it off in a typically bizarre way.
After finally managing to take the scout Chucky prisoner, both Jake and Devon find themselves at loggerheads when trying to determine the fate of the scowling, plastic spy. Devon, naturally, wants to kill the living shit out of him, but Jake, still feeling remorse for all the death he’s witnessed, has another plan. Finding that Chucky is far too much of a sadist to break under torture (“If you’re gonna pull my hair, at least tell me I’m pretty.”), Jake hits upon the idea of a spot of MK Ultra type brainwashing, Clockwork Orange style and so before you can say “human rights violations”, the killer doll has bobby pins propping his eyes open and hours of violent footage and death metal music overwhelming his senses. Unbelievably, this sort of seems to work, with a second phase of unicorn-themed cartoons making the formally maniacal doll as docile as a Teddy Ruxpin, however the bad news is that his memory seems to have been utterly wiped clean along with his famously murderous tendencies and thus can’t give any info on the master plan. Group newbie Nadine is elated but Lexy finds a caring Chucky way too unsettling to deal with, especially with her bully, Trevor, blackmailing her about her drug habit and suffers a full blown panic attack.
Elsewhere, the strict Father Bryce finally cottons on to Jake and Devon’s sexuality, something that’ll no doubt have serious repercussions somewhere down the road, but a more worrisome event is the arrival of yet another Good Guy sized package that contains a type of Chucky we haven’t seen before: one that has a swole, He-Man type physique that has the unnerving ability to punch a fucking hole clean through a human torso. This Chucky, has gotten his pump on.
So after last episode’s visit with Tiffany and Mica – not to mention that Glen and Glenda cliffhanger – it’s back to the Catholic School of the Incarnate Lord for a whole episode for yet another bout of vaguely Hitchcockian farce that once again spends chunk’s of its episode having people run around after dolls that have mysteriously vanished. This obviously leads to mixed results as that’s essentially what the entire first season was and if those first eight episodes taught us anything, it’s that Chucky is a far more fun show the more it frantically zig zags about. However, what saves Hail Mary from being something of a derivative wander-fest is three aspects that make all the difference with the first continuing to be the goofy delights of Bella Higginbotham’s adorable whacko Nadine who proves to be a refreshingly irreverent antidote to the spiralling tense trio of Jake, Devon and Lexy who all have their stressful, Chucky-adjacent issues to deal will. Whether squealing with delight at a “nice” Chucky or casually dropping that she took four years of Krav Maga in aid with her babysitting, it continues to be interesting to see what the show has planned for as her bubbly mania would prove beneficial as both a sidekick or a happy-go-lucky villain turn.
However, the main draw here is that we get something of further evolution in Chucky himself as his ginger-haired hive mind has now finally given us Chucky’s that have been altered for certain tasks with the most obvious candidate being “Good Guy Chucky”. Wiped clean into a virtual state of infancy by multiple viewings of among other, The Thing and Psycho II (a neat nod to original Child’s Play director Tom Holland), this version of the doll is cartoonishly virtuous, asking after Lexy’s boyfriend despite the fact that he (technically) murdered him as he goes about life with a continuously glazed look plastered on his plastic features – even Lexy has to concede he looks cute eating an apple. Whether this Chucky is a fun gimmick or yet another disposable form for its iconic villain is yet to be seen, but if he is due for an early check out time it’ll most likely be at the hands of the other Chucky on campus, one who is absurdly buff and strong as an ox. Not only does this “Pumped Chucky” mean that both creator Don Mancini and voice actor Brad Dourif now have carte blanche to cook up a whole new era of weaponized Chuckys (Dourif even gives the guy a deeper, tough-guy voice) and God knows what the show will come out with next.
With the arrival of this ripped plaything comes something else the season has been noticably missing and that’s some truly rousing kills as everyone who has bought it so far has bit the dust off-screen or had a wimpy heart attack, however with the surprise death of Lexy’s bully, Trevor, when the thuggish muscular Chucky draws back a thick arm and performs a death blow right out of Mortal frickin’ Kombat that leaves the underutilised turd with a chest as empty as a keg at a frat party. It’s a spectacular moment and far more gratifying than the same Chucky choking out a priest with his own Rosemary beads earlier in the confession box – but it does make you wonder why they bothered to make Trevor a threat at all if they were going to let Chucky go all Kano on him. Still, I guess its just an excuse to pour more stress on our leads who now have a dead body to dispose of on top of everything else (a holey body for a holy institute – geddit?) and their quick remedy for hiding the carnage thanks to a surprise room inspection probably means that a corpse disposing side plot has been added to the season.
Still, chugging along nicely, episode 3 finally digs into that deranged, unpredictability that every Chucky appearance should contain and if we get more on Glen and Glenda in the next installment, then season two might finally make it over the top.