On the latest episode of AMC’s NOS4A2, the series returned to its most intriguing location, one that doesn’t come from the Joe Hill novel the show is based on: Parnassus. The bar at the end of The Night Road is a gathering place for the worst of the worst, including kidnapper and killer Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto) — and its reintroduction is a tantalizing tease of things to come.
“I can’t remember whose idea it initially was in the writer’s room, but I remember we talked about it like the Star Wars Cantina,” showrunner Jami O’Brien told Decider. “We also just saw it as an opportunity to have some fun, and give Charlie Manx contemporaries that he can have a scene with. Because the scenes with Bing [Partridge], bless his heart, they can only go so far.”
In Season 1, the introduction of the bar included a few unnamed, but obvious cameos: Pennywise the clown from IT; the Overlook Hotel’s bartender Lloyd from The Shining; and a pre-burning Freddy Krueger, among others. It also introduced Abe (Reg Rogers), an original killer for the series and fellow Strong Creative — someone who is able to create physical spaces or exhibit incredible powers using their mind.
“Jami felt like there are all these nightmares drifting around America and there’s got to be some place where they can all get together and hang out and raise a pint to one another and cut deals,” Hill said. “I love that because it does open up the world, and introduce the possibility that there’re other strong creatives out there who could enter into the mix either for good or for ill.”
In this week’s episode, titled “The Night Road,” Manx heads to Parnassus after unsuccessfully attempting to kidnap his rival Vic McQueen’s (Ashleigh Cummings) son. He’s looking for advice to take her down from Abe, and access to another bad Strong Creative named The Hourglass Man. More on him to come in future episodes, but for now just know he’s bad news.
The trip also includes a cameo by none other than Tom Savini, the effects guru who also directed an episode of Hill’s Creepshow reboot on Shudder and cameoed in Hill’s Locke & Key on Netflix. You might not have recognized him under the snake-skin makeup, but to Hill having Savini and the other baddies show up is a fun shout-out to one of the writer’s favorite comic books.
“I love the Parnassus episodes because they remind me of that issue in Sandman where they had the serial killer convention in a Days Inn, off the road someplace in Georgia,” Hill continued. “I’ve been rereading Sandman because I’m doing a Locke & Key/Sandman crossover [comic]. So I don’t know if Charlie will ever pull up in front of Keyhouse, but Sandman‘s going to be on Netflix. Maybe Morpheus will drop in for a cup of tea. Who knows?”
Crossovers aside, Parnassus serves as more than just a cameo machine. It’s also a way for the show to open up the limits of the novel, which focuses mostly on the rivalry between Manx and McQueen.
“For the world of NOS4A2, Parnassus represents a kind of gateway, and Manx goes there to specifically have his interactions with Abe,” Quinto said. “But I think it’s a launching point and potential springboard into other stories that we could explore and other characters that we could bring into the world. So to me, it’s more significant for the life of the show than it is necessarily for Charlie Manx.”
O’Brien agreed with Quinto’s assessment. “If we are lucky enough to have multiple seasons of the show, I do think that the book gives us a roadmap for traveling beyond it,” she said. “And that is, it implies a larger world than Vic and Charlie. And so whatever happens with Vic and Charlie eventually, there are other characters, and other inscapes, and other worlds that would be really exciting to explore moving forward.”
NOS4A2 airs Sundays at 10/9c on AMC.
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