"They think you're delusional." "I don't know how to prove I'm not!"
REVIEW: Four episodes from the end, there's a sense of the show hurdling towards the finish line and trying to bring some closure to the larger stories. Maybe. In this episode, for example, previously unknown childhood traumas are brought to the fore so that, in Frank's case at least, he can overcome it and come to some kind of resolution regarding Season 3's despair. The loss of his wife, his betrayal by Watts and the Millennium Group, his obsession with the coming apocalypse, and the various manipulations from demonic beings, have sent him to a dark place. His memory of a boy who drowned, indirectly because of his own fear of water, and the guilt that has haunted him since that time, is turned on its head and used as a metaphor for the light that allows one to see in the dark. By seeing the other perspective - and he flashes to a victim's POV rather than a killer's, in this episode, as a sign of the change - he turns to hope.
The past haunting the characters is a strong theme in Seven and One, and yet it takes place in context with the future. Frank is beset by his past - someone akin to the Polaroid killer sending him pics, his hiatus breakdown used against him, an impressive hallucinatory flooding bathroom sequence, even the temporal hiccup of the birthday candles having to be blown out twice - but the episode starts with Jordan's birthday. She's the one he should be hopeful for, and metaphorically, she is the child he replaced the dead one with. She's the future. Note how she receives a Polaroid camera as a gift, repurposing a symbol of Frank's malaise in an entirely different context, one that is cute and happy. Emma's great fear is to be buried alive, something we don't have time to explore during the episode, though it might be related to her dead sister Melissa. A line might have been nice here, though the terrifying buriel doesn't need a phobic justification to be effective. Witnessing her own suicide is more mysterious, though no less traumatic. Does it hide Frank's transferred despair. One gets the feeling watching the back half of this season that Emma has taken on Frank's key negative traits - his paranoia and sense of futility - while he has (somewhat) walked away from them. Where is Emma heading, and will she make it there before the series wraps?
And who's to blame? Special Agent Boxer (Breaking Bad's Dean Norris) leads a witch hunt claiming a dissociative Frank is doing all of this himself, up to and including his therapist's murder. As it turns out, Boxer is another shapeshifting demon who takes on various appearances (the Polaroid killer, Boxer if he was ever real, perhaps even the suicidal version of Emma) to manipulate and frame the leads. I say "another" demon, but this could be Lucy Butler. If she's the Devil with a capital D, there's no reason that entity needs to manifest as her. It may just have burned the Lucy identity. The irony is that instead of falling further into despair, this demonic influence has given him hope. Of course, the episode takes things so far, it's hard to believe the investigation into Frank's possible breakdown just stops. Does Boxer just disappear? Is Frank brought back into the fold after being asked to leave? Does the psychologist's murder just go unsolved and unpunished? Those questions may or may not be answered as move forward, but it really does feel like the episode could have done with an extra 5 minutes of running time.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - A strong character-driven episode, but it seems to blow up the format, and then won't be able to follow through on it.