Friday, May 25, 2007

Demon Days: Season 3, Episode 5 -- "The Chamber of 32 Doors"

Note: In my recap of the previous episode, "House of Leaves," I made a rather egregious error -- I stated (repeatedly) that Willem and Edgar explored the house as a pair, when clearly it was Willem and Dan who did so. This has been corrected, and I give my apologies. (And thanks to Rene, who managed to spot the error I couldn't, even though he's recovering from minor surgery and is floating on Vicodin.)

Previously, on Demon Days...
  • The Hunters found an emblem representing the names of Bazemore's vampire leaders. Later investigation turned up full sets of initials, which corresponded to the initials of four classical composers: Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, and Haydn. Further information lead them to believe Beethoven (LVB) the most important.
  • Sunday was arrested by her fellow mages for aiding and abetting Evets, her fugitive friend. She was imprisoned in "mage jail" and left there to rot. The Hunters went in to rescue her, but quickly found themselves lost in the space-bending labyrinthine hallways. Lucy and Dean found her, but she was unconscious and unresponsive.
  • Willem and Dan found a vampire named Victoria (or so she says...) locked in one of the cells. When she told them they need "dead flesh" to open the door to get out, they release her and drag her along. She quickly said too much for her own good, and Dean paralyzed her with a quick staking...but not before she could tell reveal a startling revelation to Lucy: "I'm your mother."
"The Chamber of 32 Doors"

Lucy is, understandably, rattled. When she says that this can't be, that her mother is dead, it's pointed out that so is the vampire before her. She doesn't have long to process the information, though, because Sunday starts coughing -- she's awake. She overjoyed to see the Hunters, though obviously unhappy to hear that Simon is missing and Edgar is blind. And then there are the problems with being stuck in a mage jail.

SUNDAY: I feel...naked. Powerless.
DAN: You don't have your raincoat.
DEAN: Or your magic.
SUNDAY: Oh. Yeah. That, too.

Sunday does give them some good news, though: she's helped design a few of these mage prisons, so she has a good idea of how to get around. The bad news, of course, is that didn't help design this mage prison, so it's not going to be that easy. She does confirm that they'll need Victoria to open the door, though how much of her dead flesh they'll have to use she doesn't know.

Dean and Lucy reluctantly decide to remove the stake from the vampire's chest. Dean pins Victoria down and patiently informs her of the consequences of betrayal. She swears -- not for the first time -- that she would never betray the Hunters. Never.

Sunday remembers an, um, interesting way to navigate the prison. She has Dan put his face against the wall, and if he detects an odd feeling in the fillings in his teeth, then they're onto something. When he does so and detects an odd vibration, she happily leads the group in the right direction.

She tells them that in order to get back to the front door, they first have to find the chamber of 32 doors -- a final test they'll have to pass before reaching the end. One of the doors in that chamber will lead to the entrance; the other 31 lead back into the chamber itself.

Along the way, Lucy tells Victoria she can't be her mother. Victoria responds by reeling off Lucy's birth date, birthplace, birth weight, and even that she had a red birthmark on her left shoulder. "I don't know if it's still there," she says, though both Lucy and Dean know that it is. Lucy's rather tepid response is, "You could've gotten that information anywhere."

"Even the birthmark thing?"

The next puzzle room they find isn't the chamber of 32 doors, but it's a new room, and that's a good sign, Sunday tells them. Luckily, the puzzle isn't that hard -- it's a take on the old counterfeit coin puzzle, which they solve fairly quickly. They move on, with Lucy still glowering at Victoria when she gets the chance.

As Sunday pauses to determine the next route they should take, Dean talks with Victoria. He asks why she never returned to her family after her Embrace. She tells him he didn't have a choice, which he thinks is nonsense. "You wouldn't understand," she says, and Dean confirms that he doesn't. Lucy grills her for information regarding the night of her death, and Victoria has all the right answers. Lucy grows more uncomfortable.

Luckily, Dan gets a strange feeling in his fillings -- "You taste tomato soup. Good tomato soup, with cheese" -- and Sunday leads them on to the next puzzle. A door with no handle; the handle hangs above the room on a string. The floor is covered with sand, and six faucets line the walls. Lucy digs a bit into the sand and finds a drain buried near the door. Dean's idea is to shoot the handle down -- "You're going to shoot a string?" "...No!" -- but Dan has a revelation while building a moat for his sand castle (yes, he built a sand castle). Digging trenches into the sand, they lead water from each of the faucets to the drain, and the handle drops to within reach. (Ah, diverting water to open a door -- it's like Myst all over again.)

The next room is filled with fire. Dean pulls a fire extinguisher out of his bag and puts out the flames long enough for them to get to the other side. In the next room, they find no puzzle, but they do find a crazed mage out of his cell. He's got a gun, and he's decided to use it to shoot imaginary people sitting the corner. Dean takes no chances and simply shoots him.

The key to the next room's exit is guarded by a fierce lion, but Second Sight reveals the lion to be fake, so the key is easily retrieved. Sunday feels they're getting close to the exit.

The Hunters continue to idly chat with Victoria. When someone mentions "Mozart," she is puzzled for a moment, then remembers -- "Oh, right, the composers." Since she's from out of town, she doesn't exactly understand how it works, but says those aren't their real names. They simply noticed the coincidence and, at "Beethoven"'s insistence, starting referring to themselves by those names. She can't tell the Hunters who the composers are or where they are -- "I work for the Queen," she tells them. The Queen, apparently, is the most powerful of the city's vampires. She says that the Queen might be one of the composers, but she's not sure. "You don't ask the Queen for her name."

The possibility of Victoria betraying them comes again, and she denounces it again.

VICTORIA: If you knew anything about me--
LUCY: That's just it, isn't it? I don't know anything about you, do I, Victoria?
VICTORIA: That's what I mean. That's not even my real name, it's--
LUCY: Shut up! Shut the fuck up!

Finally, they reach the chamber of 32 doors. As Sunday described, it's filled with doors -- but only ten of them are at ground level. The others are built into the wall high out of reach, with no apparent access. Hanging from the ceiling is a small bowl-shaped disc; directly underneath it on the floor is more Greek writing. The Hunters still can't read it, and neither can Sunday, so they turn to the cryptography expert -- Victoria tells them it reads "440."

This is useless nonsense to them -- 440 what? There are only 32 doors, after all. After watching them futz around for a few more minutes, Victoria lets out a pointed sigh and gives them an answer: "It's a frequency." She stands in the center of the room and sings: a solid, true note, unwavering and in perfect pitch. Certainly like the kind of singer Lucy's mother was reputed to be.

DEAN: It's getting harder and harder to believe she's not telling the truth.
LUCY: ...Yeah.

The bowl above them (a magical microphone?) picks up her note. The room starts to shift around them. The doors shift around the walls like turtles in the ocean, with one door finding its way to the floor...and then onto it, ending up at the very center of the room. When it's opened, they realize they're standing above the chandelier in the entrance chamber. Lucy is worried about leaving without finding her brother, but Sunday assures her that the seals preventing her from using magic are weakest at the entrance -- if they can open the door, she should be able to use her spells to determine if Simon's still in the house.

They climb onto the chandelier and find the switch that lowers it to the ground. Back at the front door, Victoria removes her own flesh -- she rips off her right thumb and drops it onto the scale. Sure enough, the door unlocks and pops open. But the second it does, both Sunday and Victoria call out, "Wait!" Thanks to their supernatural powers, they've both detected the presence of a horde of Kindred waiting for them outside. (Yes, it's now nighttime, though they don't think they've been in the house long enough to get to sunset.) What's more, Simon is outside, facing all 30 (!!) of them single-handedly, holding a pistol up and challenging them to a fight. Even more surprising, they look out the door to see their old nemesis, the Stinger, leading the vampires. Guess they didn't kill him, after all. Victoria (using her vampiric disciplines to read the minds of the attackers outside) tells them that the vampires put a tracking device on Dan's van (again!) and followed them here. "They don't even know I'm in here."

Victoria tells them they'll never make it out alive, that there's too many of them, but offers a solution: "Trade me." It's unlikely to work, but they dragged her all the way from Nevada to Bazemore for a reason, and it must be a pretty damned important one. The Hunters aren't interested, though, and come up with plans of their own. Sunday's magic is still a little weak thanks to her imprisonment (and because she's lost her raincoat, which she uses as a magical focusing tool -- this was implied in the episode itself, but never stated directly), so she can't help, but the Hunters have it covered. Willem gives Dean some of the explosives he bought from the North Texas Militia, and the Avenger activates Hide and sneaks out.

In the few minutes that follow, words are exchanged between the Stinger and the Hunters, as he asks to come out and fight. Dean sneaks into position and lobs grenades, hoping to mass damage, but unfortunately Willem got ripped off -- the explosions are fairly weak and inefficient. Dean still has Hide activated, though, and walks through the vampires undetected, hoping to get to the Stinger...but then one of his wasps lands on Dean's face and stings him, and the Stinger locates him more or less instantly.

Things are bad and getting worse, as now Dean is in the middle of a couple dozen vampires with machine guns. He manages to use Respire to weaken the Stinger and take him hostage, but it's still a no-win. When the Stinger starts to heal his damage, Dean uses Cleave to kill him once and for all, but now he's lost his hostage.

Out of options, Dan takes Victoria's advice. He grabs her, holds a gun to her head, and drags her outside. She calls to the Stinger's second-in-command, a muscular Kindred named Adam -- "You! Adam, right? Let them go, and they'll let me go. Please. Please."

Adam thinks for a moment, and then...agrees? The other Kindred lower their weapons, which Dean promptly collects. The Hunters demand a car, and Victoria demands one for them, one with no bombs or tracking devices -- "A clean car!" Adam provides a car for them, which Dan inspects and finds to be clean.

Victoria is released. Simon sees her, and later dialogue makes clear that he recognizes her as his mother. The Hunters and Sunday get into their car and start to make their getaway, but the car is halted by a pair of blood-juiced vampires the size of bridge support columns. "Kill them!" Adam cries. They start to exit the car to fight, but--

ADAM: For what?
VICTORIA: Let them go.
ADAM: Huh?
VICTORIA: Let them go.
ADAM: I...I don't think that's wise.

And a new facial expression comes across Victoria's face. One of rage. One of disdain.

VICTORIA: I don't think I asked for your opinion, did I? Did I?
ADAM: ...No.
VICTORIA: Let them go! Now!
ADAM: ...Yes, Queen.

And the hulk Kindred let them go.

DEAN: Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!

They had the Queen of the Vampires in their grasp, and...

They return to the hospital, where they find Evets and Edgar playing Pictionary. Evets is beyond relieved to see his friend alive again, and volunteers to take the entire group out for a celebration at a place he knows downtown. (He gives them all a ride in his massive Hummer. "I can't believe they keep finding you," Simon says.)

At the restaurant, they cap the long, long day by gorging themselves on every kind of food imaginable and listening to bad karaoke. Simon explains that when he stepped through the door everyone else did, he wound up on the roof at night. When he jumped down (injuring his ankle in the process), he saw the vampire army and pulled his gun. A few moments later, the Hunters exited the house behind him.

They ask Sunday about the Man in White they met during the subway incident, but she has no idea. Dan also tells her about Faith, the woman in white who was looking for her, but Sunday also has no clue -- "I don't know anyone named Faith." Lucy asks Dean when he wants to get married, and he says he's waiting for her. "I could go tomorrow." He also states conclusively that there will be no open bar, much to Dan and Willem's dismay. Lucy says she wants to do it very soon: she wants "just one day" where they don't have to worry about any of this supernatural nightmare. "I wouldn't count on it," Dean responds. (You can always count on him for some good-natured cheer, huh?)

Simon goads Lucy into singing some karaoke. As she performs her song (Sarah McLachlan's "Building a Mystery," which could be interpreted as a song for Lucy's soon-to-be husband, if you read the lyrics), something that Victoria said occurs to Sunday. "That's not even my real name..."

SUNDAY: Simon? What was your mom's name?
SIMON: Victoria.
SUNDAY: And that was her real name? Not a stage name or anything like that?
SIMON: Well, yeah, it was her real name. It wasn't her first name.
SUNDAY: What was her first name?
SIMON: Lucia. That's where they got Lucy's name.
SUNDAY: Lucia...Victoria...Belmont.


Storyteller's notes: Yes, children, he planned the whole thing like that! You'll remember, way back in the sixth episode, Lucy could lift the curse Sunday placed on Edgar. Why? Because she's the daughter of the Queen! Man, I've been waiting for this reveal for a long, long time. In your unoriginal note of the week, "The Chamber of 32 Doors" is a song by Genesis. (Written and sung by the band's original lead singer, Peter Gabriel, whose "Kiss That Frog" directly inspired the frog episode and indirectly inspired the chronicle as a whole.)

Next week we submit to my sappy nature and give the Hunters a little break. Yes, it's time for the obligatory wedding episode, entitled "Just One Day."

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