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You don't owe your parents a damn thing. They've done nothing for you but make you a pawn in their shitty marriage. Don't lose out on all of this because they're being ignorant. Break the cycle, McQueen.
Willa to Vic


The Gas Mask Man is the third episode of the first season of AMC's NOS4A2. It is also the third episode of the series overall.[1]

Synopsis

Vic strives to live a normal life despite Maggie’s warning. Charlie Manx puts Bing Partridge to work.

Plot

SPOILERS AHEAD


Haverhill, Massachusetts. Essex County Psych Ward. Patient Jolene July’s radio suddenly stops working. All that can be heard is static as Charlie Manx walks down the hall of the psych ward, nearing her room. The temperature drops drastically in a matter of moments. A much older Charlie Manx enters her room. The two are familiars. He remarks that time has not been kind to her and that she had such potential. He suspects her involvement with the Shorter Way, asking if she’s been building her Inscape without him. However, Jolene is bound to a wheelchair. Even still, he’s not sure if she’s telling him the truth. He has a way of learning the truth. He places roller skates on Jolene’s feet. Apparently, they’re her Knife. Manx recalls how fast she could move in them. He lifts Jolene to her feet, but she can’t stand on her own, leaving Manx to conclude that she’s not the Strong Creative he felt. He worries that this new Creative’s interests may be a threat to his, as Jolene’s once were. He throws her to the ground and leaves.

While filing for student aid for RISD, Vic’s laptop freezes and starts to show random images, including that of a man wearing a gas mask, a drawing of a man and a child, and a burning house. Vic slams her laptop shut. Vic informs her father and Tiffany that she’s filling out her application for RISD, but could use his help with the financial aid. She’ll need a copy of her father’s tax return. He instantly becomes defensive. Chris hasn’t paid any taxes since 2005. All his work is under the table and if any of his earnings go on paper then the government will find out and he’ll be arrested for tax evasion. Chris suggests that Vic asks her mother for help instead.

Vic returns home to find her mother gardening in the front yard. Linda apologizes for her actions from the night before. Vic asks for a copy of her mother’s tax return for financial aid. Unfortunately, Linda cleans houses for a living, meaning much like Chris, all her earnings are under the table. Linda explains that maybe this is a sign. They’re not the type of people who go to college. Linda suggests Vic look into Trade School, which Vic turns down. Linda still needs help cleaning the Gates’ and the Brewsters’ houses on Friday if Vic wants to make some money.

Here, Iowa, Maggie gets a call from Sheriff Bly. She asks about Mrs. Miller from the junk yard in Nebraska, however, he has no updates to provide. He asks Maggie to stop investigating Daniel Moore’s case and to put down her Scrabble Bag. She’s the closest thing Sheriff Bly has to a daughter, and he doesn’t want to find her half-frozen on a park bench ever again. Maggie promises him she’ll stop. A young woman enters the library in search of a book of romantic poetry. Maggie and the woman proceed to have sex in the library, though their hookup is cut short by the flickering lights. Maggie shows the woman out and digs in her Scrabble Bag. The Tiles spell out "Wraith Hunts Brat."

Manx pulls up toWilliam White Memorial High School, having aged so much since their last encounter that Bing finds him to be almost unrecognizable. Bing informs Manx that the Shorter Way was an old bridge from years ago that has since been destroyed. However, Manx knows better. He knows that the bridge still exists and that it’s proprietor can’t be far.

Bing takes Manx to the Shorter Way. People stopped using the bridge when they paved the road in. And then the town eventually tore it down. A demolished bridge from a bygone town. Manx concludes that the Strong Creative he’s after has an old soul and a sentimental attachment to broken things. Manx spots the bats from Vic’s bridge flying around in the sky, however, only he can see them. The bridge tells them that they’re looking for someone who like to traverse geographical locations, who perhaps longs to escape their circumstances. Bing has a difficult time understanding how someone can use a bridge that is no longer there. Manx explains that there’s many things in the world that don’t require sight, but rather intuition.

They cross paths with Haley, who is in search of her cat Mittens. Manx asks her if she knows who rides the Shorter Way bridge. Haley claims that she doesn’t, but Manx knows that she’s lying. Same as he knows her name. He wonders who’s looking out for Haley and offers her a candy cane, one in which she doesn’t not accept. Bing grabs her aggressively on her arm. Haley kicks him in his leg and runs away. Manx scolds Bing for mishandling Haley, a child.

Vic rides over to the Brewster’s house in pain as the high-pitched noise has returned. She looks at the Brewsters’ front door and sees a bloody Christmas wreath, though only for a moment as she looks back and it’s gone. Willa greets Vic at the front door and tells her that she can help her with getting into RISD. As they get high, Vic shares with Willa how her parents are as she describes, fugitives from the IRS, having not paid taxes in years. Vic also tells Willa how she’s living with her dad and his new girlfriend who does jewelry. Willa doesn’t like the fact that Vic’s dad is refusing to help her and suggests that Vic forge his signature. She’s been signing her mother’s since the sixth grade. However, Vic refuses. Willa assures Vic they’ll figure everything out. She’ll talk to her mother, and they’ll take a trip to Providence.

Bing unlocks the doors to the schools to allow Vic to retrieve her portfolio from inside. He tells Vic that he’s starting a new job, but he’s nervous after having already messed up once. His boss is giving him another chance, but he doesn’t know if he can. Vic advises him to be himself.

Maggie waits for Vic on the road outside Tiffany's house to warn her that she’s not safe. Her Tiles are never wrong, and they’re telling her that the Wraith is in Haverhill, and he’s hunting Vic. Maggie explains that sometimes Strong Creatives can sense each other, so he must sense Vic or her bridge. Maggie asks what else has Vic seen, but Vic doesn’t answer. She wants nothing to do with the Wraith or her bridge. Maggie’s Tiles called to her, something they’ve never done before, not that Vic cares. Vic has a chance to go to college and get out of Haverhill, and she doesn’t want to risk that, even if she is the only person that can stop the Wraith, as Maggie claims.

Vic puts her portfolio together in preparation for her trip to RISD. Just outside, her father takes a look at Craig’s bike. He offers to give him a ride to the site and help him fix his bike afterwards. Vic joins them as she awaits Willa’s arrival. Chris is proud, though Craig seems less enthusiastic. He’s worried if Vic should be leaving after her eye was bleeding a few days ago. Vic assures Craig that she’s fine and leaves with Willa, Drew, and Simon. Drew tells Vic to ride shotgun and makes Simon get in the back.

Maggie pays a visit to the Essex County Psych Ward, where she reads to the patients. The hospital still has no leads on what caused the power outage. People are starting to suspect the facility is haunted. Maggie reads to Ms. Callahan, a patient who suffers from clinical depression.

Vic and Drew tour RISD while Willa and Simon look at Brown. They visit an art gallery and discuss the various paintings and their desire to attend. Afterward, Vic sits down with Celeste Henderson, someone who can hopefully help facilitate getting Vic to RISD once she’s applied. If her parents won’t release their income information, Vic does have the option to declare herself independent. Normally, she would have to be 24 years old to do that, but if she meets certain criteria, exceptions can be made, such as enlisting in the military, being married, and or an orphan. However, Vic is none of those. There’s also an exception for those who can prove abuse in their home. Celeste has already been informed by Angela some of Vic’s home life. Almost instantly, Vic’s head starts to ring. She sees glimpses of Charlie Manx and Daniel Moore before rushing out of registrars’ office in a panic.

Vic is so overwhelmed by her visions that she blindly walks into the street and is nearly hit by a car. Drew pulls her back onto the sidewalk and asks about her eye. Vic regrets coming to RISD. She believes she should’ve listened to her mother when she told her McQueens don’t go to college. Drew argues that they can do whatever they want if they work hard enough for it. He believes that there’s more to life beyond what their parents have intended for them. Also, he tells Vic that this is the most fun he’s had in years and grabs her hand.

Maggie notices a flickering light outside a patients room. She enters to find Jolene July in bed. At Jolene’s feet lies a candy cane, leading Maggie to conclude that Manx had been there. Maggie explains that she’s a medium and her Scrabble Bag told her that Manx was hunting a Strong Creative in Haverhill. Maggie questions why he visited Jolene. She then finds an old photo of Jolene on her night stand wearing roller skates. Maggie deduces that the skates are her Knife. She looks to Jolene and then looks over to the wheelchair sitting in the corner and realizes that it was Manx who crippled her.

Bing gets dressed in his green MCS work uniform, hiding his name tag and company logo with duct tape, before putting on a gas mask. Bing, also known as the Gas Mask Man, breaks into the Smith house just after dark. He finds a used condom in the kitchen trash can. He proceeds further into the house. While Sharon Smith takes a shower, he locks her inside the bathroom and fills the room up with gingerbread smoke, rendering her unconscious. Bing then heads upstairs, where he sprays Haley with gingerbread smoke and takes her from her room. Bing meets Manx outside, puts Haley in the Wraith and returns to the house to take care of Sharon. As Manx awaits his returns, he comes across Mittens and snaps his neck.

Vic and Drew meet back up with Willa and Simon, all of whom claim to have enjoyed themselves. Willa is impressed with the fact that she can create her own major and drop a class a week before finals. Drew claims that he and Vic are both applying to RISD in spite of his parents’ plans to send him to Exeter-Harvard to become a doctor.

Maggie calls Vic to inform her that the Wraith is in Haverhill. She got confirmation from another Strong Creative. An old woman whom he paralyzed. Maggie also got another message from her tiles; "Wraith hunts Smittens." She asks Vic if the word "smitten" means anything to her, but Vic claims it doesn’t and tells Maggie to go home. She then approaches Willa and asks for her help in forging her father’s signature. Willa claims she can forge anything and tells Vic they can do it on her laptop once they get home. Despite her desire to attend RISD, Vic is still apprehensive about forging her father’s signature. Willa explains that she doesn’t owe her parents anything given that all they’ve done for Vic is make her a pawn in their marriage. She encourages Vic to break the cycle.

Vic returns home and fills out her application for RISD on the front porch. She hides the tax return form from her father and once he’s gone, mails the application. Vic then gets a call from Steve, asking for Haley. However, Vic hasn’t seen her. She realizes that Haley must’ve been taken by Manx and calls Maggie. It wasn’t Smitten that the Wraith was hunting. It was "Mittens". Vic rides out to the Smith house, where she finds police officers already on the scene talking to Steve. Christmastime is Here plays over one of the patrol car's radio. Vic finds Mittens’ body tossed to the side in the grass.

Cast

Starring

Guest Starring

Co-Starring

  • Misha Osherovich as Simon
  • Owen Burke as Steve
  • Kayla Harrity as Maggie's Brunette
  • January LaVoy as Celeste Henderson
  • Mike Jablon as Security Guard
  • Daniel Washington as Orderly
  • Susan Wyoral as Ms. Callahan
  • Morgan Lindholm as Young Jolene

Trivia

  • The Gas Mask Man is a reference to Bing Partridge, who wears the gas mask he was given by his father.

Multimedia

Promotional

Behind the Scenes

Videos

Episode Guide

References

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