Welcome to the Friday The 13th The Series rewatch. Each day throughout October, we’ll watch one episode of the seminal 1987 television series and tackle the highs, the lows and Micki’s hair (of course). Now step into Curious Goods and peruse our cursed antiques, won’t you?
S01E09: “Root Of All Evil”
Wikipedia Plot Summary: Micki (Louise Robey) must decide whether to continue tracking down cursed objects or to go marry her fiancé, Lloyd the lawyer (Barclay Hope), while Ryan (John D. LeMay) and Jack (Chris Wiggins) look for a hexed mulcher.
- Director: This is Allan King’s sole Friday credit, but he would go on to helm more than ten Alfred Hitchcock Presents…
- Writer: New writer Rob Hedden makes his Friday debut
- Famous Guest Star: Enrico Colantoni, aka Papa Mars from Veronica Mars and countless other TV series
Cursed Antique of the Week: A mulcher that ingests people and spits out money based on their net worth
Setting: The Harrington Gardens
Best Death: Charles (Ian White), like many people, is fed into the mulcher, but unlike the others, he’s alive and screaming (and it’s delicious)
Quirkiest Add-On: Jack goes to visit the killer from the opening sequence, Harley O’Connor (Thomas Hauff), in the mental institution where he cackles and spins in his wheelchair
Character Bits: “Root Of All Evil” is a veritable character development piece for Micki and her relationship with Lloyd, who we learn have been separated for two months
Corny Finish Line: Still none, but that’s acceptable considering writer Hedden dedicates the final scene to a really nice emotional beat between the cousins
80s Fashion Closet: The vast majority of the episode is spent with the male characters outfitted in bulky green overalls. That leaves everyone’s favourite redhead to pick up the slack, which she singlehandedly does with her terrible “sexy” clothes, including some hideous amalgamation headband/scrunchy and the most boobalicious silver satin nightgown I’ve ever seen
Kissing Cousins Incest Watch: This episode eschews incest for straight up romance as Micki is torn between her love (lust?) for Lloyd and her loyalty (love?) for Ryan. All kidding aside, the Micki/Ryan stuff is the backbone of the episode and it actually works really well
Let’s get this out of the way straight off the top: there’s absolutely no way that I can be objective when the guest of the week is the incomparable Enrico Colantoni. I have seen Colantoni in dozens of projects, including one of all my all time favourite series: Veronica Mars. Even in this babyfaced role (he still has hair!), Colantoni is captivating as the murderous Adrian, who falls under the influence of the killer mulcher.
The fact that Colantoni is so stellar is impressive considering that we are talking about a killer mulcher, which is absolutely ridiculous. And yet, unlike other episodes (still looking at you “The Great Montarro“), director Allan King infuses the sentient object with personality. Having Adrian kneel in front of the machine in reverence, then periodically cutting to close-ups of its spinning blades of death really helps to sell the idea that there is an unspoken (evil) connection between man and machine.
Naturally the other reason that “Root Of All Evil” works so well is because it explicitly dedicates half of its runtime to Micki and her struggle between Curious Goods and fiancé Lloyd (which I just complained about in the last review!). Let’s overlook the slightly offensive suggestion that Lloyd makes about her fidelity (in fairness, I joke about incest in literally every one of these posts) and focus instead on the good work that writer Rob Hedden and Robey do.
This is the first time that the series has allocated a substantial amount of time and energy to character development and this really helps “Root Of All Evil” to stand out. Micki is understandably torn between taking the easy way out and sticking around to aid Jack and Ryan finish what they’ve inherited. The episode does a great job at giving Micki’s anger and frustration at the situation, as well as her eagerness to make Lloyd understand why she hasn’t returned home, ample time to play out. Friday The 13th had its work cut out for it with this storyline in the pilot so it’s refreshing to see it become a substantial story arc eight episodes later.
What Doesn’t Work…
Admittedly I’m unsure how I would feel about the mulcher storyline if I weren’t such a fan of Colantoni. While I appreciate the unique angle Hedden writes into the cursed antique by having wealthy victims be more financially valuable to the murderer, Adrian’s plan never really materializes. Particularly aggravating is the blackmail storyline (again!) which is introduced by a drunken friend of Adrian’s who touches on his hard-run past, but this is immediately dropped and never revisited.
Friday The 13th has yet to really figure out how to afford their villains enough time to rise above their one-dimensional trappings, which puts a lot of emphasis on the charisma and vitality of the guest actor. When it’s Colantoni or last episode’s David Ferry, it works, but only just.
Stream of Consciousness Musings
- Another checkmark for this episode is the super icky sound effects the bodies make when they go into the mulcher. It sounds…wet
- Let’s talk Lloyd’s accusation that he believes there’s another man. This is actually kind of far, because of course Ryan is crushing on her. BUT (and it’s a big one) Micki has NEVER done anything to suggest there’s someone else. So Lloyd is still a total American Psycho dudebro asshole in this situation
- Smitty (Jack Mather) the head gardener seems perfectly lovely so naturally he has to die
- How much is $500 in 1987 dollars? That seems like an outrageous sum to blackmail a second fiddle gardener who just started his job a few weeks ago. Also: don’t raise the price exponentially in front of someone! Have the number figured out before you say it aloud or else you just come off as greedy
- “A kissy faced pimp” may be the best insult I’ve ever heard and I want to use it all of the time now
- I appreciate Jack’s pragmatism when he tells Ryan that Micki needs to work out her issues on her own, but it still comes off a bit cold, no?
- Undeniable proof of Lloyd’s douchebaggery: “How many burglars do you know that wear Brooks Brothers virgin wool?” Woof!
- Widow — and eventual target — Mrs. Harrington (Kay Tremblay) also seems genuinely nice. I’m glad she doesn’t wind up getting (too badly) hurt
- Seriously, what is the point of the institution scene? It plays out like Grade A filler
- Love the callback to the pilot with Veda the doll!
- Either the lighting is atrocious and Micki and Lloyd are hooking up during the day or there’s some wonky time inconsistency going on because the crosscutting features Jack and Ryan working undercover during the day. It’s…not great for continuity if it’s the former sitch
- While Lloyd is the main dick of the episode, Ryan is also a bit of a shitheel for slutshaming Micki for wanting to a) have sex and b) abscond with her effing fiancé. Sorry you’re a celibate loser, Ryan
- Also: bonus points to Micki for slapping him
- When Ryan is running away from Adrian and he randomly trips and knocks himself out? I…don’t understand
- You know that Lloyd’s goose is cooked when Micki demands he do something to save Mrs. Harrington and he does nothing
- I get that Adrian was driven by money, but I don’t buy (heh heh) that he would dive into the mulcher after it. That seems a little loco. Then again, he was running around killing people with a mini-scythe in plain sight, so…
- Much respect for ending the episode on a silent, emotional moment between Micki and Ryan. They’ve had their ups and downs (just in this episode alone) but “Root Of All Evil” puts the idea of Micki abandoning their cause to bed for good. Now, let’s get back to all of that sexual innuendo, shall we?
I’m taking a breather this weekend while I take a brief vacation to Salem. See you back here Monday for Friday The 13th The Series episode ten: “Tales Of The Undead”