‘Them: The Scare’ Recap (Episodes 1-8): Everything That Happens In Season 2

Racism and abandonment form the crux of the deeply tragic horror story Them: The Scare. Sadly, though, the two extremely important subject matters don’t quite gel well, thanks to the writers’ inability to find a seamless blend. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad show, though; it’s just that the latest season of Prime Video’s horror anthology series falls quite short of being something truly great. The in-your-face yellow filter also plays a role in that. It would have been much better had the show done away with it. What really works is the absolutely terrific acting performance by the cast, led by the magnificent Deborah Ayorinde, who returns to play a new character. Pam Grier is very impressive as the mother of Ayorinde’s lead, although she could have been utilized a lot more. And never in my life would I have imagined seeing someone like Wayne Knight (Seinfeld, Jurassic Park) in a show like this, but that’s exactly what has happened here! Let us now take a closer look into what happens in Them: The Scare and how the whole thing turns out overall. 


Spoilers Ahead

What Happens in The Show?

LAPD detective Dawn Reeves is assigned the case of the gruesome murder of foster mother Bernice Mott. The year is 1991, and Reeves appears to be the only black female cop in the entire department. What’s worse than that? Her partner in the murder case, detective Donald McKinney, is a huge racist. Not to mention, McKinney is a terrible cop as well, who has a knack for closing cases quickly by putting the blame on whoever he doesn’t like (read: you are doomed if you happen to be black). Elsewhere, down-on-his-luck actor Edmund Gaines tries his best to find a break, but luck doesn’t seem to be on his side. Befriending Rhonda, the receptionist of a casting agency, initially appears to be a romantic possibility for Edmund, but he clearly doesn’t seem to care about that, as he soon freaks her out. With each passing day, Edmund keeps losing himself to insanity.


The investigation soon leads Dawn and McKinney to Curtis Maynard, a strange man who somehow feels something bad is about to happen to him. McKinney, being the embarrassment to humanity he is, harasses Curtis thanks to him being black. Curtis soon falls victim in the same manner. Just like Mott, he also happened to see this red-haired man outside his house before his death. The only difference is Dawn had met Curtis before his death, unlike Mott. Despite the similarities between the murders, the police department still doesn’t want to call this a serial-killing case, as they’re already under internal scrutiny for an ongoing investigation. I do feel the writer of Them needed to provide some detail on this thing and also the “Southside Slayer” case instead of just making these throwaways. However, Dawn soon goes public with the news that LAPD is ignoring serial killings, and as a result of that, McKinney is dropped from the case. Thanks to Dawn’s recommendation, Detective Diaz comes on board in place of McKinney, and he seems to be excited about the prospect of working with her. Things become more obvious when Dawn finds out about another murder that happened a while ago—in exactly the same way. The victims were twins in this case, two Korean teenage girls who also saw the red-haired man. 

Meanwhile, McKinney continues to heckle Dawn, this time by harassing her son Kel for smoking pot. Furious at McKinney, Dawn stalks and follows him, finding him in what should be considered a support group for racist pigs—just saying! Dawn is understandably spooked, but she still holds her ground and warns McKinney to stay away from her family. She also finds out about McKinney’s past deed of getting away with a murder and subsequently getting his fellow officer fired—all thanks to white privilege. However, it soon becomes quite clear that, despite being a dark hole of a person, McKinney is not the red-haired man who’s responsible for the serial murders. Even though Dawn and Edmund’s arcs seem to be very much separate from each other—the moment Them: The Scare does the big reveal of Dawn actually being an adopted child and Edmund being her biological twin—everything gets pretty much clear. The flashback from two years ago, where Edmund gives Dawn a visit but doesn’t get to reveal his true identity, also clarifies that the timelines of Edmund and Dawn are separated by a span of two years. 


After getting to know about a Mexican boy named Benito being exercised because of seeing a “red-haired man,” Dawn and Diaz obviously pay him a visit. Considering there’s a possibility of the killer giving Benito another visit, Dawn decides to do a stakeout outside the house. Things turn utterly chaotic when an exorcism is performed, and Benito starts having violent seizures and collapsing. Diaz calls an ambulance, but Dawn makes a judgment call by deciding to take Benito to the hospital by herself instead of waiting for it. On the way to the hospital, Benito’s seizures only become more violent, and he dies. Just like the other victims, his bones also get crunched, resulting in a disfiguration of the body. This leads to Dawn being apprehended and being investigated for Benito’s death. Most of the authorities are understandably against her, and McKinney is over the moon. But this can’t just end Dawn’s life and career, despite ruining a whole lot of her reputation. 

It doesn’t take much longer for Dawn to reach a conclusion about the whole thing. She is not just a detective who’s trying to solve a case of serial killing; the person who’s behind it is actually doing everything to get her attention. It would not be right to call it just a person, though, as by now we know that the supernatural Raggedy Andy doll has a lot to do with Edmund doing everything. As Kel starts seeing the red-haired man, it becomes quite clear that Edmund is now coming after his twin sister. With Athena confessing about how she gave away Edmund to Bernice Mott after her husband’s death, the motive also becomes clear: abandonment. All that was left in this story is a chaotic confrontation between Dawn and Edmund, and we get to see that in the Mott house. Edmund has now fully morphed into the all-powerful ghost, but Dawn still succeeds in making her twin understand that none of what happened to him was her fault. Them: The Scare ends on a rather scary note, though, with Dawn seeing the tap-dance man, a character from season 1. The reveal of Dawn and Edmund being children of Ruby Emori, another character from the fifties-set first season, might play a role in the third season, if we get one. 


Final Thoughts 

I thought it was unnecessary to tie things up with the first season just for the sake of some chills. This clearly doesn’t add anything to the story, which is set four decades after what happened in the first season. It wouldn’t have mattered if Dawn and Edmund’s mother were someone other than Ruby. Clearly, the makers tried to do an American Horror Story kind of thing here, but not everyone is Ryan Murphy, after all!

Them: The Scare also misses the mark at the social commentary angle. At the end of the day, Edmund’s action has nothing to do with McKinney or the whole racism angle of the story. I mean, thanks to Jeremy Bobb’s fantastic acting performances, you do feel like skinning McKinney alive, but the entire arc doesn’t quite fit in the actual story. Also, revealing Edmund as Dawn’s twin and his storyline being set two years prior to Dawn’s is something that we’ve seen before. It is not exactly an original thing and seems like a parlor trick, to be honest. Not to mention, whoever came up with the idea of using the yellow filter, another thing that has become very dated, needs an intervention before the third season happens.


But at the end of the day, Them: The Scare still works for you. The main story does manage to keep you hooked till the end. The actors, especially Ayorinde and Luke James in the role of Edmund, give award-worthy performances, which certainly elevate the overall quality of the show. And despite the social commentary not gelling that well with the supernatural horror part of the show, it does seem relevant enough to get concerned about. There are many areas where Them: The Scare could have done better, but what we have is not too bad either. You wouldn’t regret it if you are into this particular horror sub-genre and have a thing for supernatural thriller stories like this one.

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Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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