Television

FROM Season 2 Episode 9 Review: Ball of Magic Fire


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This season has been a slow-burning affair — a lot less in your face and much more subtle in its intensity as the town fell further and further into mayhem.

FROM Season 2 Episode 9 was the set-up for the end, and often, penultimate installments can be real barn burners. The kind of gasp-worthy episodes that have you counting down the hours until all is resolved in the finale.

But that’s not really FROM, and it never will be.

Talking Together - FROM Season 2 Episode 9

FROM isn’t about jumping from one plot to another and tying up everything with a nice bow. Once you understand that, it makes the viewing experience even better.

I can admit that I haven’t always seen the vision, more desperate for concrete answers than just trying to understand and enjoy what’s happening in front of me.

Sheriff About Town - FROM Season 2 Episode 9

But somewhere around FROM Season 2 Episode 6, the pinnacle of the series’ short lifespan, I became less obsessed with getting answers, even though there are still plenty of questions.

The answers are coming, albeit extremely slowly, but they are coming.

If you think about this season as a whole, as compared to the first season, it hasn’t focused quite as much on getting home but has been more about trying to understand the town as it mutates into an even bigger supervillain.

Staying inside after the sun sets is one thing, but not being able to fall asleep is another.

It’s giving A Nightmare on Elm Street on steroids vibes, honestly.

Jim Pleads - FROM Season 2 Episode 8

Boyd was really out of his depths after finding Paula’s mutated body, and you could tell that he was thrown on what to do next. He’s the leader, through and through, but he doesn’t know what he’s up against, making it so difficult for him to effectively lead.

Keeping everyone awake for the night was a start, but what happens once dawn breaks?

I wondered who would find Jim and Donna in the woods, and Julie luckily supplied that information just before the darkness rolled through.

After what he saw outside the clinic during FROM Season 2 Episode 8, Randall decided that kidnapping Donna was the right move. Perhaps she was the one inside helping move the experiment along.

Jim has been willing to indulge Randall for the most part, but he wasn’t and shouldn’t have been down with Randall’s plan. Jim has been there long enough and seen enough to know that Donna wasn’t a part of anything.

Pleading With Randall - FROM Season 2 Episode 9

Involving Randall was always going to be a mistake, and Jim found out the hard way. He’s lucky Boyd showed up when he did because he and his bad ribs weren’t going to be a match for Randall.

Randall has been one of the more frustrating characters on FROM because while you can understand his skepticism (everyone has been there), it’s his stubbornness puts people in danger.

Throwing the van keys was childish, but Randall has been a petulant nuisance since he arrived, so we shouldn’t have expected anything more at that moment.

But the funny thing is that Randall puts up a front but clams up as much as everyone else when things get tense because there are just way too many explainable things happening in that town for it to all be some man-made experiment — at least not entirely.

I love Donna more than I ever thought possible when we first met her on FROM Season 1 Episode 1, but why in the world did she, and subsequently Boyd, believe it was a wise idea to give Randall a gun?

Helping Donna - FROM Season 2 Episode 9

Putting Randall in potential danger over themselves, I can understand. But Randall could have turned around and shot them just to prove they wouldn’t die, and everything is just one big game.

Randall chickened out, not surprisingly, and his decision to escape into the woods may have cost him his life, though he didn’t become a victim of the monsters.

Things were tense in the RV, but for once, as a viewer, I was less frightened by the monsters and more concerned with what would happen once that music stopped.

Somehow, someway, Boyd has got to get back to the woods, find that music box, and destroy it. Everything started there, and that msut be how to at least get rid of the current plague on the town.

‘It comes for three’ seems to have double meaning now that we had three people affected by the dream (Marielle, Elgin, and Kenny), and by the end of “Ball of Magic Fire,” we had three people under attack by the cicadas (Randall, Marielle, and Julie).

Boyd To The Rescue - FROM Season 2 Episode 9

I can’t see how they’re all connected, but at least with the knowledge of the demented nursery rhyme, they should be able to piece together the significance of stopping the music because that’s what it all boils down to.

The cicadas seemingly have the three incapacitated, not dead, so whatever happened to them is different from what happened to Paula, who did fall asleep and then was killed.

Julie: Boyd. What’s going on? What happened in there?
Boyd: Something killed Paula.
Julie: But it’s not dark yet. I don’t…
Boyd: There’s something else here now. Something new.

Since those three had their dreams, has the evil now been unleashed, and you’re a goner if you fall asleep? At least until the music is stopped for good?

Oy vey.

Elgin’s dream being the key to everything and his remembering it being triggered by Fatima’s pregnancy was a fascinating coincidence, especially as Tabitha has been on the other side of the town relating everything to the children she keeps seeing.

Tabitha & Jade Work Together - FROM Season 2 Episode 9

If the children are the key, Tabitha owes it to herself to test her theory and somehow get out into the forest so she has a chance at coming upon that light tower.

Now would be a perfect time for the boy in white to return, and I’m hopeful we’ll see him again on FROM Season 2 as he was brought up here as a part of Elgin’s dream. Overall, he’s a creepy but helpful child, and it’s been a bit curious he’s been MIA this season.

If Tabitha can find that tower, then maybe we can get some answers to the plethora of questions that remain.

Elsewhere during this hour, Sara and Kenny were forced to spend time together overnight, and it was about as awful as you’d expect.

Kenny has had a rough go of it as he watched the woman he loves fade away from him, and he learned the actual circumstances surrounding his father’s death. It’s caused him to shut down in many ways, only really shedding that anger burrowing under his skin when he had to step into life-or-death situations.

What's Next? - FROM Season 2 Episode 8

But when tasked with one-on-one time with Sara, all that pain was back, and he wasn’t here for anything Sara had to say.

It’s a testament to FROM’s writers that I’ve born complicated emotions regarding Sara. She did some terrible, unforgivable things, and even feeling sorry for Sara doesn’t mean she should be forgiven for everything, but the amount of hostility thrown her way can feel so painful.

It’s a challenging situation, for everyone, including Sara. You can tell she’s remorseful and recognizes how unstainable it is for her to still be there in town, essentially free and serving no consequences for her crimes. But she also doesn’t do much to change her situation.

She’s talked about leaving and not being built for what people are throwing her way, but she also hasn’t left again, either out of fear or a genuine belief that she can be helpful again.

Sara understands the town in a way that others don’t, perhaps a side effect of all those voices that spoke to her. But everything she said to Kenny made a lot of sense, especially the idea that others’ fears were manifesting themselves within the town.

Tian Chen Outside - FROM Season 2 Episode 9

Fear is one of the most powerful emotions on the planet, and a place like that would 100% feed on it and absorb it. The monsters certainly do, and everyone has known that since FROM Season 1.

What if the people who died here- what if their fears become part of the forest? What if that really is Nathan’s nightmare out there?

Sara [to Kenny]

Sara’s claim that she didn’t want to be Kenny’s monster anymore was devastating because you could tell how much she meant it. She doesn’t want to be something Kenny fears.

I’m not sure there’s a clear path from here because no one wants Sara to die. Kenny can talk about the box all he wants and this idea that maybe she’ll make it, maybe she won’t, but he knows that if Sara went in there, she would die.

He pushed her toward that gun yet stepped in when there was a real chance she would die.

So, how does he learn to co-exist with Sara? And how does Sara figure out a place within that town that doesn’t break her even more?

Looking Around - FROM Season 2 Episode 9

Maybe the bigger question here is whether any of those questions even matter because if Boyd doesn’t find that damn music box, they’re all about to meet Freddy Krueger, their demise in their dreams?

One more hour left, y’all. What the hell is about to happen next?

Loose Ends

  • I am not one to harp on little details because it’s TV. But unless I missed something, I have no idea when they retrieved the van keys from the woods. Or did they get them and didn’t have enough time to run to the van, so they had to retreat back to the RV?
  • Ethan has been so strong since his family crash-landed in that town, but he was bound to break down at some point. Can you imagine being that young and seeing all that terror all the time?

Brother & Sister Time - FROM Season 2 Episode 9

  • Elgin spilling the beans to Boyd about Fatima’s pregnancy before Boyd got a chance to was so sad for Boyd! He couldn’t even react, really, because there were such pressing matters at hand, but the poor guy was probably feeling awful about being left out of the loop.
  • We haven’t seen Tillie in a while, but of course, she came back ready to spill someone else’s news!
  • Death all around, almost drowning in his sleep, and Elgin has continued knitting. I love that for him.

This has been the fasted season in the history of seasons, but to say I’m excited about where the finale will lead us would be an understatement.

FROM Season 1 Episode 10 saw Boyd in quite the predicament, and there’s no telling what cliffhanger we could potentially be stuck with this season! Let me know all your predictions in the comment section below, and come back here after the finale for all my latest ramblings!

Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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