This review contains MAJOR SPOILERS for “12:04 a.m.,” the eighth episode of “Moonlight.”
“12:04 a.m.,” has proven that “Moonlight” has truly come into its own as a series. Not only has it becoming a well-crafted, stylish show, but as it gets deeper into its own mythology, the stories have become more engrossing.
The story starts with the execution by lethal injection of a Charles Manson-like serial killer named Shepherd (Gideon Emery), who has Kurt Cobain hair and public appeal. Somehow, though, key witness Audrey (Sarah Foret), a young woman who as a child witnessed the murder of her parents by Shepherd, is being stalked by the dead man.
Beth (Sophia Myles), with Mick’s (Alex O’Loughlin) help, has Audrey stay at her place for protection. While there, Beth and Audrey bond over their similar traumatic childhood experiences. While Audrey is terrified, Beth felt she was always safe, because she felt someone was watching over her.
It’s not even safe to take a shower if you’re Audrey. She finds the words “scream my name” written on the shower door just as she is attacked by a follower of Shepherd. Fortunately for her, Mick arrived in time to rescue her. After the capture of psycho-fan, Audrey still claims shes seen Shepherd outside, watching the apartment.
Mick spends much of the episode investigating Shepherd. His investigation leads him to movie producer Jerry Drake (Mark Totty), who was doing a biopic about Shepherd. Drake was partially responsible for building up Shepherd’s cult idol status, and encouraging his followers to avenge his death for the sake of making a hit movie.
In the meantime, the district attorney who prosecuted Shepherd has gone missing. As the case progresses, Mick suspects Shepherd is really stalking Audrey, and that he is a vampire. Mick looks for his body in the prison morgue. He finds the DAs body there instead.
Mick views prison security tapes to see if someone sired Shepherd. He soon learns it was the priest who came in to take his last confession who turned him.
Shepherd, exuding a distinctive “The Lost Boys” vibe, kills the movie producer.
Mick has Beth and Audrey stay at his place for protection, since Beth’s place was no longer safe. While at Mick’s place, Beth, snooping where she shouldn’t, finds a file with photos of her as a child and a teenager. She realizes at that moment that it was Mick who saved her life when she was a child, and had protected her as she was growing up.
This moment of reckoning suddenly changed the direction of the entire episode, and was a major event in the mythology of the series.
Mick and Shepherd have a confrontation. Mick drops his very expensive phone, which leads Shepherd to his place to find Audrey. Mick ultimately catches up to him, and immobilizes him.
Beth reveals to Mick in a very poignant scene, that she knows he was the one who saved her life as a child. Even as she moves to kiss him — on the cheek – Mick is conflicted over her knowledge and their relationship.
This episode had a lot of great things going for it. It had the right blend of humor and horror, and grit and romance. I didn’t even mind the voice-over narration because it has become part of the rhythm of the show.
The connection between the horror story of the serial killer and the revelation for Beth that Mick was her guardian angel was so smooth and well made that I never saw the latter part of the story coming.
Gideon Emery channeled Jack Nicholson in “The Shining,” John Glover as Lionel Luthor, and a psychotic lion as Shepherd. “A lot of people thought he was the voice of a generation,” a line in a news report describing Shepherd, may also have been an in-joke. Emery’s career has consisted largely of doing voice work for animated series and video games. Whether that was the case or not, he really needs to be seen more in front of the camera.
There were several references to movies in the episode, including the movie “300.” There was a mention of a film called “Sparta” as the “highest-grossing March non-sequel release” by the movie producer. In real life, that is the status of “300.”
Shepherd slicing the producer’s throat open and using a glass to drain the blood was reminiscent of a 1987 vampire movie called “Near Dark.”
The use of music to heighten the dramatic impact of several scenes worked well, especially in the moving final scene between Mick and Beth.
What Didn’t Work
The two-dimensional portrayal of the goth/grunge set, especially at the beginning of the episode, tends to irk me. Wearing a Mohawk or multiple tattoos does not mean someone is part of the underbelly of society. That’s a stereotype used far too often in television. I realize it was to emphasize the cult status Shepherd held for a fringe element, but in real life, most of the people Ive known who look like his groupies are very sweet, gentle people. The imagery also serves to discredit more serious people who oppose the death penalty.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
“12:04 a.m.” was written by Jill Blotevogel and directed by Dennis Smith.
“Moonlight” airs on CBS Fridays at 9 p.m. ET.