Are you sure you don't want something to eat?
Move over, Bryan Fuller, because your protege Nick Antosca has been taking notes on making viewers squirm.
Without a doubt, Channel Zero Season 3 Episode 3 was one of the most grizzly of the series so far, but it was also one of the most fascinating as we still know very little about what's happening.
The themes of family and mental illness continue to run through Butcher's Block, making it difficult to ascertain if we're watching an outright horror story or a parable about mental illness shrouded in the horrific ravages schizophrenia does on the brain of those who have it.
It's not as easy as just rolling with it and having a good time because of the number of characters and places that signify something more to Alice and Zoe.
None of this started until they arrived at Butcher's Block, already fighting a crisis because of Alice's disease. Upon her very first meeting with her new boss, Nathan, Alice heard a story frightening enough about the town to where they just moved to trigger her own paranoia and unleashing her schizophrenia.
Louise: So what's going on?
Luke: My dad, he, he seems to be connected to what you saw in the park yesterday. The Staircases. I saw my dad's men set a murderer free in Medallion Park yesterday night. I saw that man meet another man and the two of them walked up a staircase in a park and they disappeared into a doorway in a park...
Louise: Yeah, and those people, the Peaches, are suddenly very interested in Alice and her sister.
Luke: Wait, why?
Nathan: Peaches? Like Peach's Meats? When I was a kid they told stories about finding human sacrifices in that guy's basement. When kids are like, 'Oh, the Butcher will get you'? That's all based on that guy.
She even told Alice during "All You Ghost Mice" that she thought Joseph Peach unleashed something in her head. If none of this is real, what Nathan told her could have done quite the job on their first meeting.
Alice keeps having flashbacks to what her mother did to Zoe, and all of the women in town are mother figures good or evil. Scissor lady literally wants to cut them, while Louise is caring for them, but still is a little off kilter with her taxidermy collection.
It's such a fascinating suggestion that this is all happening inside the mind of a girl who has just tumbled into the clutches of schizophrenia that I can't let it go.
Especially because even while she's fighting to cling to normalcy, she's still questioning the percentages and whether or not she'll get it. It's always on her mind. It seems so unfair to know the odds of something coming your way, doesn't it?
Good god, what a terrible disease. If you know it's coming and if you don't, there's nothing you can do.
I felt sorry for Nathan getting stuck in the middle of things, but laughed when he showed up to give Alice the simplest advice.
The thing about a job is, uh, you kind of have to show up?Nathan
Poor Nathan. We hardly knew you, but you did put all of this into Alice's head and then Zoe's by reference, so it is all your fault they're going through it.
He had a lot of information to share by showing up when he did, reminding everyone about the tall tale he told Alice when they first met. It's reason enough to get a Peach to kill him.
But long before that happened, we have other clues about this all being a mind frak.
Zoe's milk bath that went from a comfort to a tale of terror. She was leaving it at cutting her leg shaving, but I don't know anybody who shaves their legs with a knive and would continue going if they were in the flesh that deep.
That was one of the most brutal scenes I've seen on television in quite some time. Part of the brutality was coming from her mental anguish at doing it. Zoe didn't want to but to keep from eating something or someone else, she felt it was her only alternative.
Then the way she held the meat of her leg in front of her mouth, allowing it flicker around like it was alive, only made the scene more savage. It was a rough one to watch.
Connecting the knife Zoe had in the tub with the one Alice later saw in her mother's hand stabbing herself sustained the feeling of unreality.
Alice didn't know what Zoe used to carve her leg meat, so it could only be connected if the two were merged in her psyche somehow.
All of the men, from Joseph to Robert to Luke and his father have something otherworldly about them. While the women represent maternal figures, the men (with the exception of Nathan) are more difficult to pinpoint.
Could it be because Alice and Zoe don't have a father figure?
Luke, who Alice wants to trust because he's a lawman, doesn't trust his father and believes him a part of the conspiracy covering up whatever the Peach family is doing. That shouldn't make sense given how long they've been working together, but when you toss in mental illness, it makes much more sense.
Robert's peculiar personality is a complete WTF. Dancing in the hospital is a bizarre one. But the hospital closing down and Zoe being its last patient makes sense. There will be no help for Zoe when she needs it.
Nothing about Luke waiting to shoot Robert until he went around the glass made sense unless he knew something we didn't such as the glass was bulletproof. Why not at least try shooting through it to save Nathan's life? Luke knew he couldn't take Robert to the station as his dad would merely release him again.
I don't know why I'm worrying about Nathan since there are only a few more episodes, other than he was reintroduced during the hour and offed just as he provided some comic relief. I wish I considered Robert's dancing funny, but he's so evil I cannot.
We'll find out how much of what is really happening whereas the group split going into Channel Zero Season 3 Episode 4. That's not to say Alice and/or Zoe can't imagine a world where Louise and Luke continue to search for them in their schizophrenic minds, but if the sisters are upstairs, that means something, right?
Because Edie Peach made her move on Zoe. Or maybe Edie is taking Zoe away in Alice's mind just like their mother did when she was well, a long time ago. I honestly don't know, but I'm up for either story.
Zoe: Why are you dressed like it's the 1950s?
Edie: Because that's the last time I went shoppin' honey.
Edie, in her 1950s getup, is rather trendy and nifty in her way. Sure, she's forcing human flesh onto people, but mostly those who want (or need) it. She's offering a family and a seat at the table. Her loving arms probably aren't going to end up looking like those of other moms, but if you need the love, you need the love!
Or meat. You need the meat.
She might be right pissed to learn her husband was shot a few times after being such a kind sort.
So tell me, people, what kind of story do you want this to be? A deep dive into mental illness or just a kickass horror story? Do you think it might wind up being a combination of both?
What's behind the door? What kind of weird world is awaiting us? Can you even wait?
Did that "eat your leg" scene freak you the hell out?
How will Alice in Wonderland fit into the narrative? What about all the clues dropped along the way? What are "Ghost Mice"?
I have a lot of questions, do you have any answers for me?
You can watch Channel Zero online to get more information for your turn debating your viewpoint in the comments below. Let's talk it out!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.