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?
Wikipedia Plot Summary: Micki (Louise Robey) and Ryan (John D. LeMay) head to a small farming town where three people turn up dead each harvest. While investigating, Ryan becomes attached to a young boy Jordy (Nicolas Van Burek) who witnessed his father’s death.
- Director: Pilot helmer William Fruet makes his Friday return
- Writer: Marc Scott Zicree (“Doctor Jack” and “Tales Of The Undead“) is credited for the teleplay
- Famous Guest Star: Patricia Phillips would go on to War Of The Worlds and the first episode of Alias Grace
Cursed Antique of the Week: A scarecrow that promises a good Harvest once it has decapitated three victims
Setting: A small farming town (I definitely missed the name)
Best Death: After confronting Marge (Phillips) about murdering his entire family, Charlie (James B. Douglas) is hooked in the back and hung from the barn ceiling with a plethora of scarecrows
Quirkiest Add-On: This is the second Jack/Chris Wiggins-free episode of the series, though at least this time there’s a postcard that reveals that he is tracking down something called “the Icarus Feather”
Character Bits: Ryan reveals – via a triggering baseball that Micki literally throws at him – that his brother was hit and killed by a truck when Ryan was nine
Corny Finish Line: There’s no specific corny line, but it’s a little silly when the scarecrow stand falls over in the field at episode’s end
80s Fashion Closet: What’s more offensive: Ryan’s wannabe Sherlock Holmes hat or Micki’s corset belt that closes with the help of a vertical line of GIANT safety pins? And no, I can’t talk about her gaudy gold bracelet or her terrible black headband
Kissing Cousins Incest Watch: There’s too much screaming for incest
I have to say that when the episode began, I wasn’t really feeling it. The scarecrow design wasn’t straw-based enough, Marge is revealed to be the killer immediately and Jack is still MIA.
Then Trudy Cobean (Norma Edwards) gets a chase scene that sees her basically decapitated right in front of Micki. It’s gruesome. And threatening. And things just get better from there.
All of the sudden we’ve got character development in the form of Ryan’s never before mentioned brother. There’s an actual Sheriff (Steve Pernie) involved in the proceedings and he even has a role to play. Marge commits a weird sexualized murder in a barn and then hoist an adult male’s dead body up into the rafters (bonus points for all of the hanging scarecrows, which is a legitimately creepy sight).
And that’s all before we even get to the final fight sequence at the inn. That’s when everything gets dialled up to 11. The scarecrow pops out from under the covers like Jason Voorhees. The Sheriff is full-on stabbed by a giant pair of scissors. Ryan jump kicks (!!!) the scissors out of Marge’s hands while she holds Jordy (Nicolas Van Burek) at knifepoint and she later kicks him so hard that he falls and breaks her foyer table. Micki escapes her locked room using the Kool-Aid Man technique of crashing through the door. She and Ryan then take turns jumping on the scarecrow and getting spun off like a Disneyland teacup ride! And the whole time everyone – Charlie, Micki, Marge, Ryan and Jordy – are screaming their fucking heads off.
A lot of the credit has to go to William Fruet’s direction; he really makes the episode scary and atmospheric. The scene when the scarecrow chases Micki through the overgrown derelict field at dusk is so startlingly reminiscent of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that I audibly gasped. It’s gorgeous and perfectly edited and, most significantly, it feels dangerous, which is something that the series rarely, if ever, captures when one of its leads is in danger.
Overall “Scarecrow” is AMAZING. I lived (and died) for this episode. It’s a season best as far as I’m concerned.
What Doesn’t Work…
I mean, I can quibble that this is just another episode where Micki is in danger, but she and Ryan hold their own so well in that final battle that it feels disingenuous to complain.
Maaaaybe they should have identified Marge as the homicidal killer sooner? She acts like a complete psycho the entire episode, but I suppose if you didn’t really know what you’re looking for, perhaps you would be able to excuse her odd behaviour?
Oh and the scarecrow isn’t technically a cursed antique, so this episode doesn’t actually have one.
Stream of Consciousness Musings
- I love how the episode opens with Jordy’s father casually raising the terrors of capitalism by cheerfully boasting that they’ll be nearly destitute when they pay off all of their bills
- Direct quote from my notes: “Why is Ryan wearing a Sherlock hat?” But seriously: what’s with the hat?
- The initial attack on Micki by Nick (Todd Duckworth) is a good misdirect. It’s a touch unclear if he’s actually committing the murders before he is shot to death by the Sheriff later, or if it was always a supernatural being and Marge just dressed Nick up as a fall guy
- Not unlike the last episode, Marge’s cheerful/creepy description of her inn as the sole option in town immediately labels her the town loon, if not its psycho killer. Maybe tone it down a touch Marge?
- I’m still unsure why so many of the murders on this series (in general) feel like they were intended for 3D. Here the scarecrow’s chase of Trudy features several scythe-swipes directly at the camera
- For a hot second I was worried that Ryan and the Sheriff wouldn’t believe Micki’s story about seeing Trudy’s body. Luckily this isn’t one of those “no one believes me” cases: Ryan and the Sheriff not only see the body, they both believe Micki about the scarecrow (to varying degrees, obviously, since the Sheriff hasn’t spend the last few months collecting cursed antiques like Ryan has)
- Another direct quote from my notes — this time with regards to Micki’s outfit: “WTF Micki – you’re in the country! Dress appropriately”
- The old dude that spouts off exposition about the Cobean family sure is a character. Bring him back for another guest spot because that guy had character actor written all over him. I particularly liked his sly wink at his friends, which captures his disdain for the idiot big city kids who overpay him for an antique water pump
- The rewatch title comes courtesy of Marge, who delivers the most vulgar and ick-inducing line of the episode when she eggs Nick on by suggesting that he has to “break [Micki] before you can ride her. Break her good!” Excuse me while I shower off the grottiness
- Jordy and Ryan’s tussle continues the Friday The 13th The Series tradition of kids knocking over able-bodied adults with little to no effort (You’ll remember it began back in episode four “A Cup Of Time“)
- I’m unsure why Micki finds a basket of rotten peppers? Or are those meant to be apples?
- Between the scarecrow mask that looks like human flesh and that chase scene in the field, I seriously got TTCM vibes
- Sheriff Comins is my kind of guy. After shooting Nick dead, Comins deadpans Charlie’s loss: “Man lost his whole family in one night”, then immediately takes a big swig of booze from his flask
- He also has a hilariously Canadian accent. Listen for the “eh!”
- Even knowing that Ryan feels a kinship to Jordy because of his brother, his familial instinct feels odd considering that the writers typically present Ryan as childlike
- The single oddest part of this episode is when Marge leans in to pretend to kiss Charlie to get close enough to kill him and he goes for it. His wife and son were just murdered in the last 24 hrs and the dude is macking on the woman he knows killed them. It’s so bizarre…
- …but I do love that wail he lets out when he goes down
- Fruet does a great job building up to the reveal of Charlie’s body hanging from the rafters. The slow pan across all of the hanging scarecrows (creepy), followed by the pool of dripping blood, then the slow tilt up from Ryan’s POV to reveal the body. It’s very much like a slasher movie
- Of course Micki mistakes the Sheriff for the killer because, like I Know What You Did Last Summer, everyone in this dumb town has the same fucking black slicker
- Could Marge be more creepy when she tells Micki “I’ll take care of EVERYTHING”. Way to telegraph your villain status lady
- All of the commotion from the moment that the scarecrow sits up in bed to the point that Marge is decapitated = chef’s kiss. Just so much batshit craziness. Totally loved it
- Finally, do you think the dog (goat?) chasing after Micki and Ryan’s car as they drive out of town was planned or just a fun, weird visual that Fruet decided to keep in for shits and giggles?
See you back here tomorrow for Friday The 13th The Series episode twelve: “Faith Healer”