Before we get started, Creepshow’s available to stream on Shudder! This time, we’re diving into Season 2, Episode 3: “The Right Snuff” / “Sibling Rivalry.”
Also, SPOILERS AHEAD!
“The Right Snuff”
Is “The Right Snuff” up to snuff? Does this article have “space” for more puns? Let’s find out!
In Season 2 Episode 3’s first segment, Major Ted Lockwood (Breckin Meyer) and Captain Alex Toomey (Ryan Kwanten) are on a landmark mission in space, testing Ted’s invention, “the gravity wave”: the machine that can create a gravity wave and control and direct gravity.
In the opening moments, their ship, Ocula, is about to be rammed by a piece of debris, but by working together, and with a last-minute idea from Alex, they narrowly avoid disaster.
The next day, Ted and Alex have a remote interview with reporter Ann Poole (Kara Kimmer), who’s back on Earth. During the interview, Ted makes sure to give Alex credit for coming up with the idea that ultimately saved them from disaster just one day earlier. Alex doesn’t seem to notice the gesture, as he’s more focused on how Ann doesn’t seem interested in talking to him except to bring up his famous father, who was the first man on Mars. Living in his father’s shadow and under the gravitational pull of his expectations has left a lifelong chip on Alex’s shoulder.
Ted doesn’t quite understand why Alex feels so insulted by the reporter’s conduct, but he does his best to make Alex feel better. Ted regularly gives Alex credit for what he brings to the mission, reminders of how important this mission is, and reassurances that Alex is making his own mark in life, even if Alex’s father’s never acknowledged it.
Before Ted can break through Alex’s chip to get them back to their pre-interview camaraderie, the duo’s suddenly given a new mission. It turns out, the near-collision wasn’t with a piece of debris: it was with an alien probe, which carried a message and a wealth of information. Now, their mission is to make the first contact with this alien race. This exciting news is undercut by the revelation that only one of them will make first contact, and that the higher-ups have chosen Ted.
Ted realizes what a blow this is to Alex, and continually reassures and shows understanding toward his partner. He strives to connect with Alex, pointing out their shared history of dreaming of traveling and exploring amongst the stars. But Alex is so haunted by his father’s disappointment and crushed by the weight of his never-satisfied expectations that he rebuffs every single one of Ted’s attempts to connect. In fact, Ted spends almost all of his time trying to get through to Alex.
Despite this, Alex can’t see past his father’s shadow and makes sure Ted’s out of the way to make sure he’s the one who gets to make first contact. Alex uses the Gravity Wave to control gravity around Ted, increasing it to literally crush Ted into the floor.
The aliens (puppeteered by Jake Garber, Gino Crognal, and Jeff Himmel) have quite a colorful design that’s really creative and fun to see. They’re not humanoid by any means, but their design is so fun that they don’t seem threatening or sinister.
After the language barrier is breached, the alien ambassador reveals that this was all a test for not just Alex, but humanity. As in, Alex failed the test, and all of humanity will pay for it. Suddenly, it makes way more sense why Ted was spending so much of the mission trying to connect with Alex: Ted, as a member of the alien race disguised as a human, was trying to prove that humans are a worthy species.
And, as it turns out, the aliens are not a threat: failing the test doesn’t mean they’re going to destroy the human race. Instead, they won’t be exchanging any further technological information with humans. These aliens believed enough in the human race to send an ambassador despite insistence from others that humans are “primitive” and “war-like” in order to prove those others wrong. And yet, in doing so, their ambassador was killed by a member of the very species they sought to prove worthy.
It’s a shame humans will be missing out on that alien technology because Alex’s misuse of the Gravity Wave influenced the gravitational pull around them so much that it created a seismic shift that’s sent the moon hurtling towards Earth. On one hand, perhaps that technology would’ve helped in such a situation. On the other hand, if Alex hadn’t been so laser-focused on succeeding at all costs, such a situation wouldn’t have occurred.
Ultimately, “The Right Snuff” is a morality tale, showing how closing oneself off from connecting with others and using sabotage as a selfish way to get ahead can backfire spectacularly and render meaningless any accomplishments you might achieve. If you allow others’ negative perceptions of you to crush you, your feelings of inadequacy and jealously will end up crushing others…and maybe even the entire Earth.
This episode’s second story is definitely much lighter, although also much bloodier. Sibling relationships can be close, but even the closest siblings go through times when you just can’t see eye-to-eye.
Much of this episode is told in flashback, with Machester High School freshman Lola Pierce (Maddie Nichols) in a school counselor’s office, telling her counselor, Mrs. Porter (Molly Ringwald), that she believes her brother, Andrew (Andrew Brodeur), is trying to kill her.
Unfortunately, her winding tale contains more tangents than a precalculus test. Mrs. Porter jumps in numerous times to point out the alarming parts of the story that Lola’s glossing over, but each potential red flag either gets explained away by Lola—like when her best friend, Grace (Ja’ness Tate), wakes Lola up during a sleepover by kissing her—or turns out to be different from how Lola initially described it—such as Andrew researching weapons…which turn out to be medieval weapons that could easily be for a school project.
Since we’re seeing and hearing this flashback tale from Lola’s point of view, every tangent, every detour, and every exaggerated memory is on full display for us to see.
But what’s funny for us is, understandably, irritating for Mrs. Porter. It’s little wonder that, during the course of Lola’s winding, tangled yarn, Mrs. Porter goes from serious questioning, to distracted listening, to flat-out frustration and eventual complete disbelief.
The seeds of this story’s eventual plot twist were not too difficult to catch for this reviewer. A character repeating a sentence word-for-word with a musical sting to accompany it clued me in. But, there are so many twists upon twists packed into a few minutes of revelation towards the end of the episode that one would be hard-pressed to predict all of them.
Some of the wildest parts of Lola’s story are true…though not for the reasons Lola initially thinks. This tale takes a turn when it turns out that, instead of being about a murder plot, it’s about vampires. When Grace was kissing Lola that night, she was actually biting her. Mrs. Porter was right to call out this part of Lola’s original story, though not for the reasons she thought.
The vampires do have a neat design here, undergoing a full facial transformation when going from human to hungry vampire, even having a snake-like tongue.
After the revelation, the conclusion comes pretty quickly. It’s a bit unclear why Andrew has to become a vampire himself in order to confront Grace when Lola was right there as backup. But perhaps we can chalk that logic up to them being teenagers who crack up at using “SAT words.”
“Sibling Rivalry” is a fun ride. Even if you’re a viewer who can pick up on clues and piece together what’s coming down the path, the detours in Lola’s storytelling keep the path a fun one to travel. This story’s less focused on its ending than the fun, twisting (and twisted) journey to get there.