After seven episodes of comedic deaths, maternal cults and family drama, HBO and Sky’s limited horror comedy series The Baby comes to a close.
Spoilers for episode eight…
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Episode 8 “The Possession”: Natasha (Michelle de Swarte) decides to give the baby (Albie Pascal Hills and Arthur Levi Hills) exactly what he’s after amid growing concerns from her father Lyle (Patrice Naiambana), Bobbi (Amber Grappy), and Mrs. Eaves (Amira Ghazalla), who each go to great lengths to ensure her survival.
Concerns were raised after last week’s penultimate episode, which appears to end with Tasha, a woman who never intended on having children, resigned to the fact that she was saddled with one. It was a dour, depressing turn for a progressive series, so there’s something encouraging about the fact that the finale “The Possession” treats Tasha’s new normal as something of a horrific tragedy.
There’s a non-specific time jump between episodes seven and eight and, in that period, the feisty, wise-cracking woman we fell in love with has been completely replaced. In her place is a timid, quiet and exhausted woman whose every waking moment is spent doting on her infant son. She can’t do anything for herself or let anyone else take over, lest horrible consequences befall them (RIP Rebecca Clay‘s Nurse, we barely knew you).
As a wry observation on motherhood, the complete dominance by her baby is evocative of the first episode when Tasha bitterly complained that Mags (Shvorne Marks) was unable to do anything other than parent. Obviously because The Baby is a horror comedy, the real issue for Tasha is that anyone who occupies even a moment of her attention is likely to wind up dead.
These are the fates that nearly befall both Tasha’s father, as well as her sister. There’s a few quick, but memorable staccato-edited sequences where Tasha glimpses the fate of her family at her own hands as we learn that the “possession” of the title refers to the fact that Tasha is being used to do the baby’s murderous dirty work.
One issue with the finale is that while the episode clocks in at a slightly longer than average 25 minutes, the plot still feels as though it is too tightly constrained to fully explore all of its concepts. Part of “The Possession”s humour is the recurring bit where someone new arrives at Tasha’s apartment, only to wind up in a pool of blood in the bedroom or with a plastic bag tied around their head in the closet. As a joke, it lands; as a dramatic plot development, however, Tasha’s spiral is too fast and offers too little time for the supporting cast to have their due before the credits roll.
The resolution is similarly pat: it’s so easy for Tasha to scream that the child is a monster, drive to that same familiar cliff and have Mrs. Eaves take the watery plunge in her place. If it were truly this easy to get rid of the baby, wouldn’t someone else have done it in the last few decades?
No matter, as the final scenes of hard fought peace make up for the rushed conclusion. Plus: for horror fans who are primed to see an unkillable villain return for a sequel, there’s even an obligatory tease that finds the baby crawling out of the water and across the beach. Perhaps there is a little more life left in this limited miniseries?
- Possibly one of the most insidious visuals in the finale is when Bobbi searches Tasha’s house and finds it completely overtaken with children’s toys and supplies. The idea that she has back ups of back ups to ensure the baby never wants for anything (and therefore never becomes homicidal) is quietly terrifying. Kudos to the set designer and props teams for creating a visual aesthetic that connotes this shift in a quick and easy to understand manner.
- While I would have liked more of a “fuck you” moment between Bobbi and ex-girlfriend Sam (Genesis Lynea), it’s more emotionally mature and appropriate for Bobbi to simply admit that she was putting too much emphasis on a baby filling a void in her life. Still…fuck you, Sam
- Tasha’s final scene at the picnic with Mags, her baby, and a heavily pregnant Rita (Isy Suttie) is a perfect full circle moment that revisits their rocky hang-out in the first episode. What I like about this last scene is that Tasha is now more comfortable and understanding about babies and motherhood…but she makes no claim to wanting to one herself. That’s a big sigh of relief considering the mixed message of episode seven‘s cliffhanger.
- It’s a bit tacked on, but there are also happy endings for Bobbi and Mrs. Eaves. The former embraces what she learned at Jupiter House to embrace being a children’s entertainer, while the latter finds romance with a female hiking partner. Both cute, both a little too pat to fully satisfy.
The Baby has now finished airing on HBO and Sky